Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.
Re: Jorn's Mega Content Station
Author: Jeremy Bowers Posted: 10/25/1999; 11:08:13 AM Topic: Jorn's Mega Content Station Msg #: 12331 (In response to 12323) Prev/Next: 12330 / 12332
IMHO, moving to "the web" as a platform might not be so bad. Of course, you'd need your gigahertz machines to run Microsoft WebWord 2002, but that's not an insurmountable problem and people would live with it if it works.
After all, what is it really about Windows that makes it die? The OS itself works fine when you first install it. Rock solid, too. The problem arises when you start installing applications, some of which replace that DLL, some of which replace the other DLL, others of which replace some other VXD, start walking on each other's replacements, then you install Real Audio which hijacks your entire desktop (at least, that's the way I feel about it), then maybe you uninstall Word and re-install WordPerfect, then you delete WordPerfect and re-install the next version of Word.... and suddenly you can't boot up without crashing. (Maybe you should try turning off Seti@Home? Or one of the other 20 things that shows up on your task list?)
If we could move to "the web", as I understand it, where the desktop was self-contained, and it interfaced to an application, which was basically a self-contained program that interacts in only the most minimal way with the "OS", and certainly didn't interact in any meaningful way with any other application, then sure, we could build a stable OS. Want to transfer a file? Save it to whatever functions as a disk, and load it into the next program. Without interactions to worry about, without some programs being Special and being able to interact directly with the hardware, the time could be spent working on the programs themselves, and making them extremely robust. It could be done.
In fact, it has been done; this would basically be a graphical DOS w/ Desqview or something where even if two things are going at once, they have no clue that the other exists.
But users won't stand for this, for the most part. They like having 25 RealAudio icons in reach. They like installing RealAudio into the browser. They like editting Excel documents in Word when necessary. So, you want OLE & friends, modular replacements in your browser, software that can make direct use of non-standard hardware, system extensions (in mac terms), a flying clock on your desktop (one of the earliest Java applets that you could put on your Active Desktop), software that replaces your basic MIDI driver with one that can resolve conflicts (but doesn't work with Steve's "My First Windows Program" MIDI Jukebox), basically, if you're going to allow the software to interact with each other, then you're going to have instability ans such crap.
So, is it really the OS? The OS is to be blamed for when the containment fails, although, if the program is fooling with the VXD's in windows, even then it may not be the OS's fault. I don't want a stable OS... I want a stable system that does everything I want and doesn't crash. I can have either of those; if I install windows 95 fresh and only install the service packs and MS Word, it will work great, but it sure won't do everything I need, like play DVD's or automatically download my e-mail and sort it by my criteria.
So, IMHO, a web desktop that happens to enforce that seperation would be very useful... but the first thing that web desktop will do once it's working is try to allow the apps to communicate with each other, even when on different servers (XML-RPC anyone?), and boom, there goes the exponentially increasing interaction problems.
(I find it difficult to fault MS entirely for my windows system performance... I tend to torture the poor thing. I've smashed Linux pretty badly too doing some things I thought were pretty innocent...)
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