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Thread: Format Wars, Standards & Competition

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Failure is not an option. It comes bundled with Microsoft Windows

Tech Giants Weather The Storm.


Chronogical Blog Entries:



Date: Thu, 19 Mar 2009 21:28:37 +1100

So far Apple seems to be weathering the economic storm. But the hard times are only just beginning. Certainly the tech-giants, loaded up with great bundles of cash, have a decided advantage when it comes to surviving a depression.

And speaking of tech-giants, I have recently started to receive files in the new Microsoft OOXML format. There has already been a considerable amount written about this format (often referred to as .docx) in the blogosphere. The format that Microsoft have adopted is similar to ODF. In other words it is a ZIP archive containing the necessary files as XML. There are lots of suggestions on how to convert these files. IMHO the best way is to install the latest version of Open Office. This has the advantage of being able to convert to many different formats, including ODF, which you can then upload to Google Docs. The latest release of Open Office works very well on Mac, and if you use a Mac you get all those spiffy fonts that us unfortunate Linux users miss out on.

On the other hand some tech-giants are fleeing into each others' arms. Sun may be merging with IBM. And IMHO it could be a successful merger, Since IBM learnt a little humility last century, they have come round to the idea of Open Standards. Sun and IBM are both large, and most promising is their strengths which compliment one another. Sun's contribution to Open Office and MySQL makes them one of the most significant corporate sponsors of open source. And IBM still has real muscle in the high powered end of computing hardware which they have been optimising for Linux.

Apple appears to be hanging onto its lead in the mobile sector. Even though Apple is not in a position to dominate the market, if they keep moving iPhones at their present rate, they soon will. Although your humble blogger expects some very serious competition from Android. Google have surely designed chrome with a view to integrating it with the Android platform. And provided Apple don't have too much of a head-start, the Android/Chrome platform will catch up. It has the advantage of being completely Open. In hard times that will be a major advantage.

And it has to be said that without the iPhone, Safari might find a lot less places to hang its hat. For the real browser competition, watch the mobile device space!

And despite the fact that some commentators try to talk up the possibility of another browser war, the way forward for all browsers is Open Standards. It is highly unlikely that there will ever be another browser war. And if there is it will be quite different from The Browser War that began in the mid-nineties ... and finally ended a year ago when Microsoft ran up the white flag on Open Standards. Today the contenders will have to compete on their merits ... which is good for consumers.

In this regard, it is interesting to note that IE8 is not being received with a great deal of enthusiasm. It seems that the tide of consumer loyalty has now changed direction. And the tide will not reverse even for a product that is arguably the best browser Microsoft have produced. IE8 is certainly the most compliant (with open standards), and the first one that makes a genuine attempt to address the security flaws so often associated with Microsoftware. Were it any other company, some commentators (such as your humble blogger) would express a little sympathy. Alas the tide of consumer sentiment may seem cruel and fickle, but it doesn't often change direction. Even if Microsoft can produce a superb browser they will struggle to hold on to the extraordinary market share that they once enjoyed with IE6. And they won't ever be as "loved" as they were in the eighties. It will take decades to regain the lost good will.

And it seems that Dell is releasing a new laptop! There has been a huge amount of speculation about Dell Vs Apple, due to the the fact that the new Dell is similar (in appearance only) to the Mac Air. There is the usual rubbish from the usual suspects, mostly uninformed supposition and comparison of the aluminum metal casing and the number of ports. There are some who think that the Dell Adamo is too expensive. Some who think it looks cool, etc, etc. There are some very slick online ads showing some very slick models holding the slick new Dell laptop in alluring poses while some slick music plays.

All of which misses the point. The Dell Adamo will find it very difficult to "compete" with the Mac Air. The primary difference is the operating system ... Funny how none of the commentators mentioned that. Well aren't we supposed to be in the postmodern era of abstracted layers where it doesn't really matter which operating system you are using? -- Don't believe it for a moment! The Mac Air ships with OS X. and the Adamo is shipping with "Vista". If Windows Seven is as brilliant as the microserf bloggers would have us believe, then the Adamo might have been able to "compete" with the Mac Air if it had shipped with Windows Seven ... But with the heavy weight of Vista tied around its ankles like a millstone, the Dell Adamo won't get far. Your humble blogger predicts that in this new unforgiving recessionary age, the Adamo will sink like the proverbial stone.

Meanwhile, the rumour mills are busy pumping out more speculation about a new product from Apple. Apparently there is a new touch screen on it's way to Appleland. Will it be a touch netbook? If I were one to indulge in baseless speculation, I would say that it is hardly likely. The netbook market is all netted out. And the competition is fierce. So whatever Apple plans to do with those screens, it is unlikely to be another netbook.


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