The Economist: Platforms, Something to stand on

According to The Economist, PROVIDING THE RIGHT platform is sometimes all it takes. This is pitting industry giants against one another in an epic battle t

The Economist gives a brief overview of the platformisation that is pitting the large players in the IT industry against one another.  The real battle raging between Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, Mozilla and others is about just that: each want to be a dominant platform player, each with its own take on the game. There are several fronts in these epic battles, but ultimately it comes down to raking up as much mindshare as possible, hence the purse holder’s attention and interest.  Microsoft and Google might be the only ones attempting to fight it on all fronts, it seems to me for example that Apple isn’t really going after Facebook (might have given up), and Facebook’s platform could be seen as both a PaaS and a SaaS play, they may not want or need to go for enterprise data centre market. Linux is also in the same game, though it’s interesting to see that actually Amazon and Google (soon Samsung and Intel via Tizen?) might indirectly doing Linux a favour. I can’t truly read Mozilla yet, Google being their largest source of revenue makes me inclined to think they root for Google in a kind of kinship manner.

I always find it amusing to read some pundits ripping apart one particular vendor, say Apple or Microsoft, and citing Google as a better role model for openness. Linux is the only player that is truly flying the liberal flag, though Linux is more of a movement and isn’t a single vendor in any way. Every vendor is vying for dominance, taking sides is just as much fanboyism as any. Nobody knows for sure where this will all lead us, but I think the consumer wins when there is choice. It’s always going to be daunting to switchover from one platform to another

Here’s The Economist article: Platforms: Something to stand on.

Could Microsoft’s Windows 8 turn out to be like Novell’s Netware 4 story?

According to Paul Thurrott, Windows 8 is tanking harder than Microsoft is comfortable discussing in public, and the latest release, Windows 8.1, which is a substantial and free upgrade with major improvements over the original release, is in use on less than 25 million PCs at the moment. That’s a disaster

I couldn’t help seeing a parallel between Windows 8 story as told by Paul Thurrott in his latest blog post and what happened with Novell and Netware 4. I was triggered by this phrase:

Windows 8 is tanking harder than Microsoft is comfortable discussing in public, and the latest release, Windows 8.1, which is a substantial and free upgrade with major improvements over the original release, is in use on less than 25 million PCs at the moment. That’s a disaster…

What’s ironic is that, Microsoft was the one who pushed Novell to outdo themselves, and they came out with Netware 4, from which they never recovered.  I remember well when Netware 4 shipped and changed everything.

The blog mentioned: “Threshold” to be Called Windows 9, Ship in April 2015

Dijkstra on Haskell and Java: the violin shapes the violinist

Ed Dijkstra nailed it when he wrote this (as quoted by the blog post I linked): “it is not only the violin that shapes the violinist, we are all shaped by the tools we train ourselves to use, and in this respect programming languages have a devious influence: they shape our thinking habits.”

I just came across a posting that graciously publishes an essay apparently penned by Dijkstra to the members of his university’s budget council. A favourite take out of mine is the following:

It is not only the violin that shapes the violinist, we are all shaped by the tools we train ourselves to use, and in this respect programming languages have a devious influence: they shape our thinking habits

This is a very good point that can hardly be overstated. What is more, the programming models and the software applications that become dominant actually shape the entire industry for better or for worse. When everybody jump into making photo sharing apps and web sites, or that very large companies fight it off for the supremacy in giving people a place to share photos and thoughts, that’s just a waste of brainpower and resources.

This letter of Dijkstra reminds me something similar I blogged about a few years back, I was sharing thoughts on the impact of adopting programming frameworks. Essentially I had the same concerns in mind, people are shaped by the quality of their learning. Here is my blog posting discussing frameworks.

Dijkstra’s letter, short and sweet.