Thursday, March 08, 2007


comparing expectations

Mildly interesting exchange this weekend on a CNet forum. Thread began with "which was MSFT's worst OS?" Everyone agreed it was MS-Windows Millenium Edition. That was their last distribution with the Windoze 95 kernel before they scrapped it.

Someone opined that no OS is reliable, they all need to be reinstalled routinely, they all get "registry corruption," etc etc. I've only known MS-Windows users to say things like that. They use words like "touchy" and "iffy." People who use other computing environments expect them to work right, in the absence of malicious/careless users or hardware failure. The only other OSes people use on PCs or Macs are unix, so this was taken by two MSFT fanboys as yet another silly "macs are better" thread. As far as I know VAX/VMS, AS/400, and the mainframe OSes are just as good, but that didn't come up. We're talking computers consumers use.

But what stood out was the MSFT Power Users' absolute conviction that no computer operating system is reliable. I mentioned the only time I'd seen a Linux file system corrupted so badly it couldn't be recovered was when the drive had failed. I have heard intruders can destroy a file system with a buggy rootkit also. Power failures and accidental resets, recoverable. Running for years under load, no corruption, no lost files. Both of them said that must be a lie.

It seems to me that's another adverse impact of the monopoly. People don't expect computers to be reliable any more. That would be a good thing if it prompted people to do backups and make recovery plans, or be suspicious of critical systems. (Computers in hospitals, banks, power plants, airliners...) But I don't see that coming out of it. It's like spam: people just accept it as inevitable instead of asking why.

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