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Jewish World Review
June 15, 2007
/ 29 Sivan, 5767
Fans of certain comic books, and one particular episode of the hit sitcom
"Seinfeld," will know about "bizzaro world," a parallel universe in which
up seems down and vice appears to be versa. As the temperatures rise there
seems to be a bit of a parallel universe opening up in the computer biz,
Is the sky falling? Hardly, but there seems to be something of a malaise
in the Windows-based computer industry. I don't see the kinds of things
happening which might be expected right about now, such as a buoyancy in
The launch of Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system earlier this year
was nice, but no groundbreaker. There's not been the kind of rush to Vista
that many had hoped for, even if it's practically the only kind of
operating system you can get on that new system from the "big box"
wholesale club or over at Best Buy. I've just not seen the kind of
jubilation that has attended earlier launches of Windows versions, either
in the stores, or from corporate boardrooms.
Vista is a very nice operating system, and it's performed well on the
computers I've used that run it. However, it's not really revolutionary,
nor does it promise the kind of performance or convenience gain one would
hope for in a major operating system upgrade. That may be part of the
reason for a lack of excitement.
Indeed, the companies that once dominated the PC business are having some
problems, to say the least. IBM Corp. sold its PC hardware business to
China-based Lenovo. That's fair enough, give the once-Big Blue's interest
in software and services. Readers may recall, however, that it was IBM
which invented the PC, so that departure stings just a bit.
Dell Inc. dropped its CEO, Kevin Rollins, rather unceremoniously earlier
this year. As with IBM shedding a business unit, such a decision is that
of management, and shareholders can decide, via their proxies, whether it
was wise or not. At the same time, it should be noted that Dell is being
rather scarce in providing review units of its computers: I've been
promised something for more than a year, and yet, nothing's arrived. Their
loaner fleet may be overtaxed, but I do wonder when a company does things
like that. I wonder even more when I hear of the constant complaints
individual Dell users - coworkers at my last two day jobs have had
about the systems they have to use.
While Hewlett Packard's HP and Compaq brands are doing well - both
nameplates appears on some very good machines these days, the firm seems
to be alone in its field, which isn't always an encouraging sign, in my
view. It would be nice to see some other firms come and play in the same
arena with the same level of quality. So far, though, it hasn't really
happened, except with niche players such as Alienware and Voodoo, which,
in turn, were bought by bigger firms such as HP and Dell.
Where will all this leave the computer market? I don't know, at present.
But it's worth imagining that the graphical, solid, Unix-based and
user-friendly Apple Macintosh OS X runs on the same processors most
Windows PCs use. Some tweaking from Apple could "liberate" the OS to run
on those computers.
A move like that would ignite some activity in the PC business, and
pronto. And it would be interesting, not to mention ironic, to see Apple
wake up the PC playground. The likelihood of that happening any time soon
is slim, but those on the industry's sidelines, dejected as Redskins fans
in January, might yet cling to some hope.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.
© 2007, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com