124 posts • joined 13 Mar 2007
A good idea
What you seem to miss is that your comment completely undermines your point. Web apps *have* failed miserably in certain respect *precisely* because they are not part of the core strengths of the Web.
Your post starts acknowledging this and then rams into a wall of bad logic. It all starts with your definition of what the "Web" is. Just like Google, you seem to define "Web" as "Browser." It doesn't matter if it is portable, or consistent across platforms, or distributed, or completely open; as long as it executes within a browser it is "Web."
A good idea
I am one of the only one who seems to think that native client is not only a good idea but something that is needed by the web?
What most seem to forget is that for a lot of things web apps have failed miserably.
- Gaming is one of them: why do web games look like some 2D thing out of the 90' ? Why can't I play battlefield 3 or Skyrim from my browser if my computer has the 3d hardware to do so? The only thing that currently looks like a decent "console quality games on the web" is OnLive and that's because all the processing happens on the server (and it needs a plugin anyway)!
- Video is only remotely good with the flash plug-in. Youtube exists for years now but the only way to get decent (meaning hardware accelerated) web video on desktop and mobiles is still flash with no useable standard in sight. and don't get me started with video editing in the browser.
- Mobile web apps are also a failure. Initially the iPhone was supposed to support only web apps, no app store. Have you seen how well that turned out: developers are fighting to get into the app store and the Android marketplace!
This is required for the precedent.
I think that this lawsuit is required just to avoid setting a precedent. If manufacturers are allowed to change the feature set of their products after a sale is made this is the door open to infinite abuse. If we let this go Sony could for example remove the network play features from the PS3 when the PS4 is released and force you to upgrade just to keep playing online. Of course they would say that it for security reasons, as the PS4 would be much more secure than the PS3...
For kids and senior citizens.
If you look at the broader picture, I think this is a machine aimed a kids and senior citizens. The strong points of the iPod touch, iPhone and now iPad are casual games, music and a simple interface. The fact that Apple recently removed all the "sexy" apps from the app store sends a clear message: the iPhone / iPad / iPod are for kids, adults should purchase an Android based device. Like it or not, I don't think any modern device aimed at young adults can survive without some "adult entertainment" being available, so this is clearly for kids or senior citizens.
This is actually justified
I actually think this is justified. I have no problem with Windows being pre-installed for people who actually want to purchase it. What I have a problem with is people going to high street shops to purchase a computer to install another operating system being told: Sorry, we only sell laptops with Windows pre-installed. if you want to purchase any computer you HAVE TO purchase Windows. This is actually a forced sale: you can't buy a PC without purchasing the OS. The comparison with graphic cards don't hold, because it is very easy to purchase a laptop without dedicated graphics for example. You usually have a decent choice of ram and HDD sizes as well as a choice in processor brand and speed. The only thing you actually have to buy is Windows. The "assemble yourself or have it custom made" argument does not hold water either: shops that assembled computers on demand have almost all closed (so you have to purchase a branded computer pre-installed with Windows), and this was never a solution for laptops.
I think that the current situation of PC being available only with Windows benefits Microsoft (more Windows copies sold) and the big OEMs (easier support etc...) but at the disadvantage of the consumers (no choice in operating systems).
Not good for intel
This is bad news for Intel. The chip giant is at the start of a war for netbook supremacy with chips based on the ARM architecture set such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon: http://www.tech-no-media.com/2009/05/netbook-processor-wars-atom-x86-versus.html
The problem for Intel is that the snapdragon not only consumes less power than the Atom, but also includes an HD video decoding engine which the Atom lacks.
Since playing HD video is probably the most CPU intensive thing a netbook will have to do it is very important for intel to get a low power chipset that supports HD decoding ASAP, or they will lose out to the ARM competition.
MS should do the opposite
Instead of discouraging home users from installing your product you should actually try to compete with Linux give your product for free: http://www.tech-no-media.com/2009/05/windows-7-activation-technology-starter.html
Well, not the full version, but something like Starter Edition. MS could then make money by selling added functionality (Aero glass, codecs etc...) and selling pro versions. Just mention in the license agreement that the free starter 7 is for personal use only and all the professional users will have to pay anyway, and these will pay to avoid fines, not because of WGA, which could then be eliminated.
Culture clash between MS and Europe
In continental Europe it is quite common to impose stricter rules on a dominant player than on minor players, which explains why MS is targeted and not Linux or Apple: http://tech-no-media.blogspot.com/2009/04/eu-and-microsoft-culture-clash.html
An almost monopoly that tries to impose a proprietary standard that would keep out competition (which is what IE6 & IE7 actually are) should at least be investigated.
will be gread with VDPAU
What is very interesting is that now a some Linux media players like VLC are supposed to support VDPAU, which is the Nvidia video acceleration for Linux.
With a VDPAU enabled player you should be able to decode 1080p HD video smoothly on these babies. Now all we need is a proper Blu-ray player software for Ubuntu (so that we don't have to mess with keys to play movies we legally buy).
BTW, I have an ubuntu 8.04 netbook with 1 Gb ram and the paging file is almost never used (well, if I open the GIMP, Inkscape, Firefox, a media player and a few nautilus windows all at the same time it is sometime used a little bit, but we are already into power used territory here), so 1 Gb is probably more than enough for most uses.
Blu ray not ready for mainstream adoption
Indeed, when you look at Blu-ray production from the point of view of an independent or amateur movie maker it is a disaster:
Between the incompatibilities, abusive licensing fees and the obligation to include AACS copy protection to have your discs pressed it is not very interesting!
The problem with silverlight.
The problem with Silverlight is that it is not available on enough platform, and that the version level varies depending on the platform.
On windows and intel Macs it's on version 2, on Linux it's on version 1 and it is not available on non-intel mac and on the Wii. It is also available only for Firefox, IE and maybe the Mac's native browser (I don't have a mac, so I can't confirm this). There is no support yet for opera or Chrome.
Microsoft should first ensure that the plugin is available on more platforms at a consistent level before pushing the technology in the mainstream, or it will antagonize the user and give the technology an image of "do not work" with the public.
The Olympics were a big debacle for Microsoft because it was the time when the Linux Netbooks were starting to be very popular and the Linux plugin was not yet ready, so the olypics videos didn't play on the latest gadgets. This resulted in a black eye for NBC and a lot of people going to torrent sites instead of NBC.
Recently i went to a site with my Linux Netbook and the site asked me to install the latest plugin, and redirected me to moonlight (the Linux version of Silverlight), only after i installed the plugin it still told me I was missing the plugin because it expected Silverlight 2, which is not yet available on Linux. The result: SILVERLIGHT DOESN'T WORK!
Flash on the other hand works on Linux and the Wii, meaning that Silverlight suffers badly in the comparison
First make it work on all the platforms that tour competition supports, then promote it! Going the other way around WILL antagonize the users to your technology.
Let's put this in perspective
Three months ago semiconductor manufacturers expected a drop in sales of about 30% ( http://tech-no-media.blogspot.com/2009/04/microprocessor-market-contracts.html ), so a fall in sales of PCs of only 7% doesn't look that bad to me.
Also it is to be expected that Netbooks (or rather mini laptops) will do well, since "normal" PCs are now overpowered for most peoples usage. Why pay more for power you don't need, especially in these troubled economic times.
The meaning of retail sales?
I would like to know what exactly is the meaning of "retail sales" following NPD?
Here in Belgium and France the Linux version of most netbooks is sold almost exclusively online instead of "Brick and mortar" shops, so if NPD doesn't count online sales (and I think they don't) this means that much more than 4% of the netbooks ship with Linux.
I think that part of the problem with "brick and mortar" is that a lot of consumer didn't know about Linux and thought they bought a windows machine, leading to disapointment as they did actually expect a mini "windows notebook" and not a linux netbook. Consumer who shop online are better informed about Linux and there is actually quite a lot of demand for Linux netbooks online.
1 Gb of Ram?
What worries me the more is the recomandation of 1 Gb of Ram. Most computers (especially business ones) only have 512 Mb of Ram, because that is the amount that is required to run XP and the very large majority of business applications.
I suspect a lot of companies have dropped out of the upgrade cycle at that hardware level and are now only replacing machines as they break. This means that deploying Windows 7 would either require memory upgrades all around (granted, memory doesn't cost much anymore, but the manpower to actually perform the upgrades still does) or wait that most machines bought before 2007 have failed (which probably won't happen until 2012 -20013 or so).
If you add to that the trouble to make application that are working on XP but not on Vista work on Windows 7, this makes any migration to windows 7 a very costly proposition.
Subsidies only work with real revenue.
Subsidies will only work with real "guaranteed" revenue, such as a 3G or internet connection contract, not with advertising.
The difference is that with a contract you know that you will get revenue from the subsidized computer, while with advertising you can only hope.
The other difference with what was done previously is that the price of netbooks is much lower that the price of computers during the internet bubble. With Linux as the OS you can probably get a computer for less than $300, and toward the end of the year you'll probably be able to get an ARM based one for less than $200 (well, you already can, but since these are based on an older ARM generations processing power is lacking somewhat).
the problem as Microsoft evolves Silverlight more and more is that it will probably become much harder to keep multiplatform compatibility, especially on "non personal computer" devices.
Moonlight is still limited to version 1 compatibility and they are already talking of the version 3 of Silverlight and adding new features. They should first get Silverlight 2 working on more platforms before pushing with 3. What about Linux, the iPhone, the Wii etc... Currently it looks like Silverlight 2 is only working well on windows and intel mac, which is very different from flash which works on many more platforms.
I don't think that the future of web based apps is on the traditional PC, but rather on netbooks and smaller mobile devices. Pushing a PC/Mac only solution doesn't seems productive to me. If you look at the netapplications stats, in Feb 2008 the Windows+mac market share was 99%, in feb 2009 it is only 98%, which means that non traditional platforms such as Linux, the iPhone and the consoles doubled their market share in 1 year. Clearly this is where the growth is.
People a fed up with upgrade cycles
I think that a lot of people are fed up with desktop upgrade cycles. The average 3 to 4 year old PC running Windows XP is performing quite well for all the tasks the average user needs, so why spend a lot of money (not to mention getting the compatibility headaches) for a new PC. There are no desirable features in a new desktop.
The main appeal of Notebooks or Netbooks is that they add an element of mobility, and I think the sales are driven by peoples who just want to mobilize their computing experience. A lot go for Netbooks because they are quite happy with the performance of the Atom processor.
To recover the computing industry must move beyond the traditional windows / Intel PC, which is now pretty much a comodity (even if Microsoft is still selling it's OS at premium prices). The money is in Kindles, iPhones, Android, Arm powered Netbooks etc... Equipment that offers a really different computing experience. People who already have a traditional computer will probably keep it until it breaks from now on, so that market will get stagnant.
The netbook catagory will split.
I think that the category of machine will split in two by next year. We will have:
1) Mini notebooks with a screen size of 10 to 12 inches, an HDD, an Atom or Nano x86 processor, about 2 Gbs of ram for a price of around 400€ or more. Most of these will run Windows 7 home and a few will run Linux. They will be aimed at people who want a full x86 computing experience on the go.
2) Real Netbooks with a screen of 5 to 9 inches, an SSD, and ARM processor, about 1 Gb of ram and priced around 200€. these will run Linux or Android with a few machine going for Windows CE. they will be aimed a people who want a machine to surf, listen to music, watch SD Video and do basic office tasks on an expendable, very portable machine with a long battery life, even if it means they don't get the full computing experience they are used to.
They need only 3 versions:
- Netbook for hardware-limited budget devices (because promoting an OS that has a 16 GB diskspace requirement for SSD based devices is complete nonsense).
- Home (with mediacenter).
- Professional (with enterrpise management tools)
And these should be the only differences between versions. Anything else will just confuse customers. Any limited version will only make windows look bad compared to Ubuntu and OSX.
Cost of migration has become too great.
For Big corporation that have invested heavily in internally developed software, migration to any OS which is not 100% compatible with windows 2000 / XP is way too expensive to justify.
In 2000 - 2001 when companies moved from NT4 to 2000 or XP there was much less custom client side software deployed in companies, most relied on mainframe and terminal emulators. Windows 2000 /XP provided clear stability and security benefits compared to NT4, and still many corporation dragged their feets for years because the compatibility issues were already almost too big to justify the migration.
Now companies have had years to develop many more custom applications AND Vista doesn't really solve any big problem corporations have. How do they expect to convince them to upgrade this time around when it will be much more costly to do for much less benefit I don't know.
Platform migrations now cost huge amounts of money and take years. A company I know started migrating it's internal client applications from VB6 to .NET in 2007 and now hope to finish in 2010, that's 3 to 4 years just to migrate. And I am not yet talking about the pre-VB 6 apps that still need to be used day to day (apps developed with exotic frameworks like visual age etc...).
To make a migration to Vista cost effective MS should ensure that all that third party legacy "crap from the 90s" still works on the latest and greatest OS, but apparently they don't, so companies don't migrate, as simple as that.
The problem goes beyond just competition.
I think the problem goes beyond just competition and can slip into standard ownership.
1) If IE is the only browser included with Windows it will automatically have a majority of the browser market share, because a lot of users don't know how to replace it.
2) If IE has a majority of the browser market share it means websites must be compatible with it.
3) If websites must be compatible with IE it means that the must follow any non standard change that Microsoft makes to his rendering engine.
4) Any non standard changes Microsoft make to IE rendering engines are proprietary information of Microsoft, and they can chose not to disclose it to anybody else.
5) As a result Microsoft controls the "real" web standards, no matter what the "official" standard is and can pretty much force every machine designed to display a web page to buy IE & Windows for the guarantee of a 100% compatible standard experience.
This was (and I think still is) Microsoft's plan. The only reason why alternative browsers such as Firefox managed to gain some market share is that MS became very sloppy and failed to update IE for a long time and that some users started to accept that some pages wouldn't render properly in exchange for the convenience of tabbed browsing (not to mention the hundred of devoted Firefox supporters that reported non compliant websites etc...).
If Microsoft had executed properly we would still be using IE6 rendering engines with some proprietary extensions (but inside a browser looking more like IE8) and only Windows would be able to render most web pages correctly. Mac and Linux would have much smaller market share than they have now, there would probably be no iPhone or it would run windows mobile and pocket IE (but of course it would not have the success it has because of the horrible browsing experience).
legislation is needed to avoid a repeat of the situation of the mid 2000 where IE 6 was the "de facto" standard for the web and Microsoft's property.
Most linux distros include serveral browsers
Most Linux distributions install several browsers. If you install a KDE based distro you usually have koqueror and Firefox installed and enabled by default. Also most open source browsers are featured in the package managers (or in the add / remove programs on Ubuntu) and can be installed without having to fire the default browser even once.
You can also remove Firefox from most distros, and you (or PC manufacturers) can easily make a custom install CD that doesn't install Firefox at all., so you have a lot more freedom of choice with Linux.
The idea of having a demo version of Windows instead of everybody having to pay for the full version weather they need it or not is quite nice. People without an internet connection could just buy an activation code at the shop, and anybody installing Linux wouldn't have to go through all the trouble to get reimbursed.
When you look at what Microsoft did in the last year I am actually surprised the loss are not bigger:
- PC OS: Vista is a complete failure that doesn't match with consumer expectations and is overpriced.
- Netbooks: The only way MS got market share in the segment is by practically giving XP away, and even then Nebooks on XP seems to perform worse than the ones under Linux (even if they sell better to the uninformed masses).
- Mobile: outside of the enterprise Windows mobile is absolutely nowhere compared to the iPhone, Android and WebOS
- PC Gaming: The live service got an awful reputation by being a service you have to pay when all other services were free (fixed since, but still..). The absence of DirectX 10 on XP made the market technologically stagnant as most gamers are still on XP (because some games require twice the hardware on Vista vs XP).
- Online Strategy: being destroyed by google.
- Zune: When do you want your music player to be bricked?
The only MS product that I found interesting last year was the XBOX 360: nice new price point, new dashboard etc...
In short, Microsoft did very little to interest the average consumer in its product last year, no wonder that demand is slowing down.
I am not sure this will be a success
I don't see much of a market for this. Most people either want their laptops to be their primary machines and will take something quite powerful, or have a powerful desktop at home already and will just buy a cheap netbook for on the go surfing and media playing.
The only market I see for this are people who want a very cheap laptop that has a big enough screen and keyboard to be used as a primary machine, but who can't (or won't) buy a "full" desktop replacement laptop. In short they would probably compete against the 12 inch machines with an atom processor and the cheaper (sub $500 / 400€) 15 inch budget notebooks with Celerons.
The only chance I see is if they manage to compress the prices to the point where a 14 or 15 inch laptop cost as much as a Netbook (like $399 / 350€ max), at which point they would displace the budget laptops.
The problem is in informing the user
The problem that the bundling causes is that for many of the less technical users, Internet Explorer ends up being the internet. It may sound stupid to us but it is a fact: a lot of people are still not really aware that you CAN use another browser than IE to access the internet because by default IE is used.
That is where the competition issue lies: Microsoft is not making users aware than IE is just an application and that it can be replaced. What should happen is that the first time a user wants to access the internet it should start a small application that will connect to a page called "how do you want to browse the internet" and allowing the user to select a browser (a bit like an app store page). If a non-MS browser is selected that browser is automatically downloaded and installed. This should also give the option to easily disable IE (for those who don't trust it for security reasons).
There is nothing user-unfriendly about this and it would make the user aware that a choice of browser exists.
BTW, on most Linuxes more than one browser often installed by default (for example if you have KDE you automatically get Konqueror in addition of Firefox) and in the case of Ubuntu alternative browsers are displayed in the add/remove program applet for the user to install.
What about backward compatibility?
What I would really have liked to see is how legacy PalmOS 4 and PalmOS 5 applications do run. Is there an, emulator? Are all apps compatible? What about the performance?
For me one of the main selling point of a palm device is to be able to transfer not only data but also legacy applications and games when you buy a new device, so backward compatibility is really a critical feature that should get more coverage than it is receiving now!
Isn' this a subnotebook?
I always believed that portables weighting 3 to 4 pounds with 12 to 13 inch screens were subnotebooks, so to me this looks more like the first affordable subnotebooks than a new product category. This doesn't mean that this isn't a smart move (it is), as a lot of consumer want the performance and portability of a subnotebook, but most models were priced for "enterprise" customers (around 1000€).
This will also compete well against budget notebooks, since these machines probably have enough power to be you "main" computer if you don't need too much performance, as opposed to atom powered netbooks that are more secondary machines.
What worries me however is that no mention is made of the OS that the HP will feature. If it is XP or Linux it will be OK as the performance of the AMD processor and chipset will clearly differenciate it from atom based machines, but if the machine is encumbered with Vista the benefits may not be that apparent.
On the other hand if HP bundle the dv2 with a Linux distribution that includes a video player that support AMD's new XvBA video acceleration for Linux this would completely outclass the intel platforms for HD video playback!
Is more power really needed for a netbook?
Honestly, I think that the ARM architecture is probably the most promising.
I have an MSI Wind (originaly SLED replaced by Ubuntu) and perforpmance is excellent for everything except video editing and playing HD videos (720P videos are really at the limit), but then these are not tasks a netbook is designed for.
On a linux machine I don't see why 64 bits or 4 Gbs or ram would be needed, under ubuntu 512 Mb is quite confortable and 1 GB is more than enough (I haven't rebootet my wind in 3 weeks and I am using about 450 Mb of memory and 60 mb of swap, with 3 apps open).
What we need is better video acceleration under linux, and netbooks delivered with a decent distibution, not more powerful processors. More effiicient processors (as consuming less battery) on the other hand that would be interesting...
Now if you wnat to run the archi-bloated windows Vista / 7 then 4 Gbs and a dual core 64 bits processor are probably required for confortable usage, but then I don't call this a netbook anymore.
Fed up with the US only sites
Personally I start to be fed up with the "available to US only" video sites.
It is the production companies and label's fault that "international licensing" is complicated, why is it the honest consumer that is punished by not being able to access the content unless he lives in the US?
Politicians should be useful for a change and pass a law that if someone has the rights to distribute a song or video in a country, he has automatically the right to distribute it internationally over the internet as long as his site is based in the country for which he has a license.
Then maybe when everybody downloads they entertainment from Malta the label will start to do their work, which is to make content available to the most consumer possible!
Stats (real ones)
Ok, to settle the stat issue:
Net application constantly UNDERESTIMATE the market share of Firefox (an Linux BTW) because it uses a Flash advert to collects it's data and a large percentage of firefox users have the adblock or flashblock extention enabled, and as a result are not counted (I wouldn't be counted for example).
W3Shools OVERESTIMATE the market share of Firefox because it only counts visitors to it's own site and these are more technical users than the general population (and thus more likely to use firefox).
A REALISTIC market share for Firefox would be provided by W3 counter: 30% market share for Firefox.
You can check it out here: http://www.w3counter.com/globalstats.php
The register is also an offender.
I can attest that flash ads does require a lot of CPU.
I actually installed Flasblock because a few month ago every time I visited the Register and one of the flash adds for the "memory upgrade" company appeared on the page, my silent PC became a wind turbine trying to cool the CPU!
I don't mind looking at text or even image ads (The Register's staff must eat too, so ads are needed), but badly developped flash usually make the ad so invasive that I want to turn it off.
price & quality of Blu-Ray
- To anonymous coward: even a single code specification such as H264 the quality of the image can vary greatly depending upon decoder parameters. For example if you decode an H264 video with Smplayer on you computer you can disable the loop filter step to play on older hardware but with a significant quality loss, enable the loop filter to get "normal quality (at the cost of more processing power) or add some extra filters such as denoise3d to get even better quality (at the cost of even more CPU power). To a certain extent this is also true of DVD / mpeg 2
- To Stu: actually Blu-ray disks cost a lot more to manufacture than DVD and HD-DVD Last year some production house claimed that duplication cost were about 5 times higher for BD (because the disk are much more different from DVD, so new equipment needs to be bought). One of the reason many people backed HD-DVD was that since duplication costs were much lower it could have entered the mainstream much quicker. BD will stay a premium / luxury product for the near future, or at least until the duplicators have recouped the cost of buying brand new duplication equipment from Sony (which may take year).
Personally I am still not confident enough in the technology to invest: there have been too many issues with compatibility and DRM for me to spend my cash. Also I would suspect the price of disks to stay higher than expected because Sony would want to recoup the investment done in pushing BD the PS3 trough duplication equipment sales. If they implement MMC in a way that allows me to easilymove the content on many other devices (such as my netbook and my iPod) I may bite for the convenience factor (which for me is as important as the image quality), but my prediction is that this will not arrive soon and will probably be botched.
Lame attempt to compete with linux
This is just a lame attempt to compete with Linux on the low-end segment.
One of the big cost advantages of Linux over Windows is that you don't really need an antivirus, so you don't need to pay a yearly fee to an antivirus provider. If this fee is not too significant compared to the cost of a $1000 PC, it is a major part of the cost of a $350 netbook or desktop.
With this Microsoft will try to convince consumers that they don't need to pay for virus and malware protection on Windows either, while still selling an insecure OS.
A netbook is a dsplay device, not a computer or smarphone.
I think that the netbook segment is not too much in danger from full size laptops or smartphones, and here is why:
Against full size laptops there is clearly a size and weight issue: people that buy netbooks are not willing to carry a 6 pound 15 inch laptop, otherwise they would probably have bought one already since they are not that much more expensive than a netbook. I bet that most netbook users also have a desktop at home or in the office for the times when they need to do heavy processing. Netbooks are portable additions to your computing arsenal, not the main piece.
Against the smartphone there is also a size issue, but the other way around: it's too small and doesn't have a proper keyboard. the web is designed for a screen 800 or 1024 pixels wide, and it's impossible to cram that kind of resolution on a screen less than 6 or 7 inches without making the whole thing unreadable. Beside most netbooks are also useful offline to arrange pictures in picassa, read pdf brochures, edit word documents, read ebooks etc... for anybody who isn't connected constantly a netbook is better than a smartphone.
I think the nebook will continue to occupy a fairly large market of users who want a computer smaller than a full size laptop but still big enough to display documents, videos, pictures and web pages with ease. the netbook is a display device, the smartphone is a communication device. The only way I can see this changing is if smartphones start coming up with some kind of foldable screen and keyboard.
Windows is not cost effective anymore anyway
I think that beside the realm of high end gaming machines or corporatetions who have a big investment in Windows software there is very little incentive to still buy a windows machine anyway.
Look now at the netbook market: most HDD equiped netbooks could run Vista (badly, but it could run), however these come with XP or Linux not only for technical reasons but also because no manufacturer is crazy enough to spend $90 for a Vista license for a $400 machine.
The same can be said for most low end PC that will be used to surf the web, write documents, send mails and watch the occasional video or DVD (and Legal DVD playback is easy to accomplish on Ubuntu now that PowerDVD is in the canonical store).
For home usage, the only things that Windows still does better than Linux is hardcore games support (and now that game publishers are pushing gamers aways from computer gaming it is fading from the radar) and Blu-Ray playback which never caught on outside of the PS3 crowd anyway.
To get back market share on the home computer side, Microsoft needs not only to deliver a product that is better than Vista on the technical level, but also at a price in line with what consumers are ready to pay for a low end computer today (typically $400 on the low end), and do this without canibalizing its lucrative entreprise sales and high end sales.
The problem for Microsoft is that windows must fight on 2 different front in the consumer area: with apple on the high end (where cost isn't very important but quality and functionality is essential) and against Linux on the low end (where functionality is less important than a small footprint and cheap price). Delivering a single OS that can compete on both front without major compromises seems difficult.
Blu ray not that superior to DVD
Blu-Ray is not superior enough to DVD to justify any price difference IMHO.
Quality wise Blu-Ray is only sightly superior to standard PAL DVDs if you consider that 1) most people with HDTV only have 720P capable TV sets and 2) the difference between PAL 576 lines and BD 720 lines is only 144 lines, or about 25% (if you live in the USA where they have the crappy 460 lines NTSC standard it's another issue though)
On the convenience level DVD is the clear winner: it's much easier to play DVDs on my laptop or to rip them for watching on my iPod than a BD disk (MMC is STILL missing from Blu-ray). Currently BD is a "play in the living room" format, DVD is a "Rip and play anywhere format".
If you put both in balance, BD is only really worth it for people with state of the art 1080P HDTV and very large displays, which are still a small minority... To attract the general public they need to either bring the price to or below DVD levels or make huge progress on the MMC front soon.
Why keep packard bell?
I find it strange that they keep the Packard Bell brand here in Europe, as that brand has a pretty poor reputation (at least with somewhat technically minded people).
The Acer brand has a somewhat better reputation (but not as good as dell or HP).
Aiptek and Toshiba apparently the same
I think that the Aiptek and the toshiba are actually the same hardware internally, so you probably should go with the cheapest (in France the Aiptek is actually cheaper than the Toshiba, which is why I bought that one).
What I can say about the Aiptek is that battery life is far from stellar, but the it arrived with 2 battery packs in the box, which made up for it.
The video files produced by these cameras are sometimes difficult to handle, however I had good results transcoding the files with the free application mediacoder (http://mediacoder.sourceforge.net/).
Video quality is OK during the day, however in low light condition my Aiptek has problem producing quality video. Don't expect the quality of a £600 HD camcorder in a £200 one.
there are 2 sides to this...
On one side, as a game console the PS3 is grossly overpriced. Here in Belgium the 80 GB PS3 cost 400€ and the 60 GB Xbox 360 cost 200€. Both have an HDD and both play HD games. Both can play online (although you have to pay in the case of the Xbox) and for a pure game machine 60 GB is enough space.
On the other side the PS3 has Blu Ray (which seems to be going nowhere because of overpriced disks and incompatible players, but anyway), free online play and an easily upgradeable HDD. This may be enough of an incentive to some, but not for me (mainly because BR discs are way overpriced for something I can only watch in the living room instead of ripping it to my laptop, my iPod etc...).
As for the DRM, it seems that Sony is as draconian with your movie download purchases as Microsoft is with your game purchases on the Xbox, so I consider them equal on that level.
This will compete with android...
IMHO this will make life hard for palm as Android will be pretty much ready by then.
The reason why a lot of people stuck with the treos is that there are a lot of third party apps that you can easily install on your phone. Neither Symbian (not enough software, not easy to install) or the iPhone (Apple limitations on what can be in the app store) were seen as ideal alternatives. If the appstore of android is as free and as successful as many hope this will make android a prime candidate for palmOS replacement, creating a lot of competition for Palm.
Granted, Windows mobile could be an alternative, but most people with a palmOS device rejected it already...
Google Gears: could be useful
I must say that I am a Google gears user. It would be great if more web apps. used it (especially Gmail).
In the summer I often spend the week end in the countryside where I can't get any form of internet connectivity at all. Being able to take my Google reader articles with me is great. That being said, I don't know if many people often go where they don't even have dial up access for days...
For Google docs, it is also useful to have the offline option, it avoid friends and family phoning in panic because they can't access their documents just because they lost their internet connection (and telling them to use Google docs in the first place avoid them calling in panic because they can't find their documents since they cleaned all those folders on their HDD).
this is justified... to a point.
I expect to see a similar move in Europe too.
The fact is that in the last 6 months prices of computer was far from the 1:1 ratio of € versus $. The eee PC 701 is sold $299 (excl. tax) in the US but can be found for €199 (incl. 20% tax). Netbooks with a price point of $399 (excl. tax) are sold €299 (incl. 20% tax ).
Considering today's exchange rates (1€ = $1.4) and the 20% tax most of this stuff is now cheaper in Europe than in the US.
Look at the situation with the iPhone: it was only available on one carrier, and customers pretty much revolted and unlocked their iPhones.
Problem is that providing a great experience isn't the same thing for everybody: for some people it is having an iPhone, for dome it is having a Treo, for some it is connecting their EEE PC with 3G, for some it's android, for some it's blackberry etc... and it is the same thing for online services.
If carriers want to control what devices get on their networks they either need to support pretty much any device (at which point they lose control anyway) or face user discontent, leading to high churn rates, early terminations, then government intervention because of the early termination fees etc... How many people left their carriers just because they couldn't use an iPhone on their current networks?
Problem is they didn't support linux...
I think the content on Joost was OK (not great but OK).
The problem is that like many techies (which are prime candidates to be early adopters of that kind of technologies) I use Linux on some of my computers, and they never ported it to that platform.
In the end I started watching Miro, Vuse and Zattoo more because I have them on all my computers, while Joost is stuck on the Windows machine downstairs. Now I think the last time I started Joost is months ago...
If this new version is multiplatform maybe I'll give it another try.
These new venture should have realised by now that the Linux crowd is made of a lot of people ready to try new experimental things like this and are an excellent demographic finding influential early adopters. Even if Linux is only 2% of the market it may easily have been a much bigger part of their first user base.
It's about energy storage.
I think that hydrogen in itself is not a solution, but it is a key piece of any renewable energy solution.
The big problem with renewables is not so much production but storage. Wind doesn't blow all the time, sun doesn't shine all the time, and some days there are no waves. This causes a major problem for renewables as modern economies consume power and fuel all the time, so there is a problem unless you have a huge nuclear or fossil burning backup, at which point your renewable infrastructure isn't cost effective to build. Also there is a problem with purely electric cars: battery life is severely limited right now.
If you have an hydrogen economy you can store the "surplus" energy renewables produces on good days (perfect wind, lot of sunshine etc...) and use it with electrolysis to produce hydrogen fuel for cars and possibly as fuel for power station on leaner days. This makes a renewable energy much more cost effective to set up, as even if power demand is low the energy from that solar panel can produce valuable car fuel. This us currently impossible with gas, as you cant turn electricity into benzine.
An added bonus would be that an hydrogen economy would make Europe much less dependant of oil producing countries (middle east, Russia etc...). Once we have this energy portability that would really open a worldwide market for energy. We could imagine that a poor African country with little ressources but a lot of sun could become a major hydrogen provider with solar infrastructure. A remote island with constant wind would become a energy exporter, all it would require is windmill and an harbor for the hydrogen supertanker.
The prices I quotted are all from Expansys.co.uk. with United Kingdom selected as my country (so I have UK prices). I looked there because it offers most of the currently available netbooks, so I Thought it would be a fair comparison.
The linux SSD version is actually £235
The HDD version is around £245
With the original EEE PC at almost half the price on Expansys (£159) and the aspire one available at around £240 I don't think this will be the success many had hoped.
That said it could compete with the XP aspire one and the EEE PC 901 which are both above £300 on the same site.
Shame about the delayed Ubuntu version, personally I feel that an XP license is not cost effective on that kind of machine. My wife bought an XP EEE 900 and I bought a Linux Wind (on which I put Ubuntu) and my machine performs much better than hers. Pretty much all the Linux apps run fine while many of the XP apps seem to struggle at times.
About the monopoly issue, you can see it this way:
Apple has a monopoly on OSX compatible operating systems that is granted to them by the copyright law. That in itself is not so much a problem.
The problem is that they are leveraging that monopoly in the OSX operating system software to gain a monopoly in the hardware business by preventing other hardware manufactures to compete in the OSX-compatible hardware business.
Apple has a lawful monopoly in OSX software that they try to use to gain an unlawful monopoly in OSX compatible hardware.
It is pretty much the same as when Microsoft used their OS monopoly to try to get a monopoly in browsers (IE).
Much will also depend on weather the courts decide that Apple actually has a monopoly with OSX. If you consider that there is a whole ecosystem of software that can only work with OSX then I would say yes (in short, if you have mac software you are forced to buy OSX to continue to use your software when you buy a new computer). If the judge consider that users could switch to another operating system without much loss of functionality (they can run their OSX software in Linux or Windows) then I would say no.
Personally I would say that yes, Apple has a monopoly, since once you have invested in OSX compatible software you are pretty much stuck buying your OS from them. The think is that you shouldn't be forced to buy your hardware from them too.
The "No monopoly" would be only true if for all OSX software you could get a Windows or Linux version for free. This is the case with some software (Firefox, iTunes or DAZ3D's software for example) but not for all software (if you have Photoshop for mac I don't think adobe gives you the windows version for free if you happen to upgrade from your mac to a Windows PC).
I think apples is being very abusive here!
I may be in the minority, but I think Psystar is in the right here.
I find that more and more software makers try to force trough their EULA terms that are unacceptable or would be considered unacceptable to consumers in the real world. If I buy an OS once I paid for it I consider that instance of the OS is my property and that I should be free to do with it whatever I damn like!
What apple (and others in the software sector) seem to be wanting to do is re-write the rules of commerce and ownership to: "We sell you something but we still own it and we still control what you can do with it once you have bought it. Actually you gave us money for nothing."
If I buy a piece of windows software and I manage to make it run under Linux with Wine I don't see an issue (as long as I don't go crying to the manufacturer for support if something breaks), nobody will refuse to sell the software to me just because I don't own windows. Apple is actually discriminating against owner of non apple hardware! Either they don't sell the OS to anyone or they sell to everybody!
It is similar to entering into a shop to buy a Nike sweatshirt and finding a big label on the one you want that says "we don't authorize you to wear this sweatshirt with non Nike sneakers".
Would you consider this acceptable?
Once you bought it it's your property, you wear it with whatever you want as long as you consider it fits well, why would it be different in the software world?
This is not the role of Apple
Apple should not be allowed to apply censoship! If an organization that is appointed and controlled by democratically elected officials has the power to censor or ban some content, I will accept it because ultimately it is the public that controls the process through whoever they elected.
That a private company decide to censor content is an entirely other matter. What's next, applications that automatically censor anything that makes apple look bad? That apple provides an advisory rating such as "this application contains material not suitable for young children" is certainly acceptable, just removing the content because apple doesn't like it is not acceptable!