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Sergey Brin: Windows Is "Torturing Users" 645

jbrodkin writes "Google created Chrome OS because Windows is 'torturing users,' Google co-founder Sergey Brin says. Only about 20% of Google employees use Windows, with the rest on Mac and Linux, and Brin hopes that by next year nearly all Googlers will be using Chromebooks. 'With Microsoft, and other operating system vendors, I think the complexity of managing your computer is really torturing users,' Brin told reporters at Google I/O. 'It's torturing everyone in this room. It's a flawed model fundamentally. Chromebooks are a new model that doesn't put the burden of managing the computer on yourself.' Google claims 75% of business users could be moved from Windows computers to Chrome laptops."
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Sergey Brin: Windows Is "Torturing Users"

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  • by Rhywden ( 1940872 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @09:58AM (#36106148)
    I love how "With Microsoft, and other operating system vendors, I think the complexity of managing your computer is really torturing users" becomes "With Microsoft, I think the complexity of managing your computer is really torturing users"
    • by Rary ( 566291 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @10:05AM (#36106270)

      A more accurate headline would've been "Sergey Brin thinks managing your own computer is 'torture'."

      More interesting is the implication that, with the exception of about 20% of their employees, the brilliant engineers at Google can't handle managing their own computer. I use Windows at work. I can't say that I spend a whole lot of time "managing" my computer. I'm too busy getting work done— and hanging out on Slashdot, of course ;).

      • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @10:10AM (#36106334)

        I use Windows at work. I can't say that I spend a whole lot of time "managing" my computer. I'm too busy getting work done— and hanging out on Slashdot, of course ;).

        If you're working for a company of any appreciable size, there is a very good chance your IT department is using AD to ensure that the amount of work you have to do in terms of managing your computer is nil or as near as possible nil.

        If you're not working for a company of any appreciable size, the amount of work you'd have to do is pretty small anyway.

        • If you're not working for a company of any appreciable size, the amount of work you'd have to do is pretty small anyway.

          Yet far too many home users don't want to do even that much work. How much work is it to avoid installing fake antivirus?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by cpu6502 ( 1960974 )

        >>>"Sergey Brin thinks managing your own computer is 'torture'."

        I think Sergey Brin is just off his rocker. I've had Windows XP for almost ten years now, and I don't have to "manage" anything. Every year or so I wipe the drive with a fresh XP-CD install, and need to reinstall my favorite programs, but that would be true of any OS, whether it's Mac, Lubuntu, or Chrome. Otherwise WinXP just works. Like my car. Or my microwave*. Or my stereo.

        * The lightbulb burned out, but it still works after

        • by Altus ( 1034 )

          I have had my Macbook pro for 4 years. I have never wiped the mac partition and it still runs just fine. I can't say that I really have to manage it all that much either.

          • by murdocj ( 543661 )

            I've been running various Windows computers for 20 to 25 years, don't recall ever having to wipe the partition and reinstall. I don't do a whole lot of management either. I'm baffled by the whole "Windows is so hard for the average user to manage" argument. Maybe if you are managing a server farm you are way better off with Linux, but for the average desktop user it's just not a big deal.

            • by tuffy ( 10202 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @10:43AM (#36106820) Homepage Journal

              If you've been using Windows for 20 years, naturally it's not going to seem very hard to manage. But for computer illiterates, stuff like files and folders are baffling - not to mention what happens when they're faced with the control panel.

              A lot of people just want some appliance that lets them read email and browse the web with a minimum amount of maintenance. That's why they're out buying iPads and that's where this CromeOS thing is aiming for also.

              • by murdocj ( 543661 )

                Sure, for some people, managing ANY computer system is not what they know about or are interested in. What I'm responding to is the statement that managing Windows is somehow magically much harder than managing Ubuntu or a Mac. I'm also not sure, even on a browser based setup, how you are going to avoid some sort of hierarchical folder / file structure for organizing your mail / bookmarks / photos / videos / documents / whatever. If people are confused by files & folders in Windows, they are still go

                • by tuffy ( 10202 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @11:28AM (#36107534) Homepage Journal

                  I'm also not sure, even on a browser based setup, how you are going to avoid some sort of hierarchical folder / file structure for organizing your mail / bookmarks / photos / videos / documents / whatever. If people are confused by files & folders in Windows, they are still going to be confused by that in Chrome.

                  Computer illiterates don't organize things hierarchically, at all. Look at their desktops. Once in awhile they'll put things of value in a particular folder, but most of the time everything's just spread out all over until their screen is filled with icons. Or their email box is one giant list of messages they'll either scroll through, or use the search box to sort out.

                  For these folks, that sort of organization isn't something they understand the value of, or would be able to accomplish if they did. It's "computer maintenance" stuff which is taking time away from the other things they'd rather be doing.

              • But usually they require lessons first.

                Complex machines require training - make it too easy for the untrained and/or idiots and it'll either lose functionality or become a PITA for people who do know what they're doing. I don't want a car with a max speed of 20mph that flashes a red light and does its horn if I get within 6 foot of a kerb , and nor do I want a computer that hand holds me all the time.

          • >>>I have never wiped the mac partition and it still runs just fine.

            Now that I think about it, the last time I wiped XP off my PC was 2004, and it too ran fine up to November 2010. Then I wiped it clean again. So that's what? 6 years? I don't think a six-year-old Mac would even be able to run Safari 4 or iTunes 9, due to planned obsolescence.

        • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @10:36AM (#36106732) Journal

          . Every year or so I wipe the drive with a fresh XP-CD install, and need to reinstall my favorite programs, but that would be true of any OS, whether it's Mac, Lubuntu, or Chrome. Otherwise WinXP just works

          You have the strangest idea of "just works". Needs a re-install every year is part of "just works"? And, unless you are moving to a newer distro, Linux distributions don't need a re-install every year.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Unless you watch goat porn all day, XP doesn't need to be reinstalled every year either. That's poor management of your own computer, maybe you are their target user... and better suited for a simpler ChromeOS?
        • by name_already_taken ( 540581 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @10:37AM (#36106742)

          I've had Windows XP for almost ten years now, and I don't have to "manage" anything. Every year or so I wipe the drive with a fresh XP-CD install, and need to reinstall my favorite programs, but that would be true of any OS, whether it's Mac, Lubuntu, or Chrome.

          Seriously? Do you really need to?

          I've got a Windows 2000 install that's still going strong at 10 years old, and a couple of XP installs well over 5 years old. We even have a couple of Linux systems that have been running continuously longer than you keep Windows XP around - we only had to restart them during a UPS replacement. The Mac OSes only get upgrades (which counts as an install, I guess) when The Steve unveils a new version, so the system OS install I'm using right now is however old 10.6 is (about a year and a half). I have an install of OS X 10.5 on a PPC Mac at home that is still working just fine after 5 years.

          So, this begs the question, what are you doing to screw up your XP installs in a year?

          Even my boss, the resident malware catcher (seriously, I think he actively tries to get malware on his system) is using a three year old install of XP.

          I think you'd be safe to extend your reinstall interval.

          • For some reason there is a subset of people that believe they need to do this to "keep their Windows clean", though there's really no need to.

            It's the same camp of people that think Registry Cleaners are a good idea, and shutting off services they don't understand will massively help speed up their computer.

            That said, applications on any OS can leave junk libraries sitting around doing nothing, old versions of libraries that exist, etc--and I think that's the primary reason for doing this, but that's not pu
      • by Eric Green ( 627 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @11:16AM (#36107310) Homepage

        So, Rary, what is your backup policy? Do you do daily full backups rotated off-site, or do you rely on a single backup that is overwritten every day? Have you tested your restore mechanism to make sure that your backups can get you back to where you were the previous evening? If you lose a file, do you have a mechanism in place for retrieving it from backups? What if the file isn't on your most recent backup, do you have some way to retrieve it from a past backup? What mechanism do you have in place for validating that Windows updates do not break critical software on your system? Are you using a user ID that has install permissions in system folders? Do you have Javascript enabled or disabled in your browser? Which antivirus are you using? Which firewall program are you using, and what firewall exceptions are needed in that firewall for the software you require for your work to run? What anti-spyware program are you using, and are you *sure* you don't have spyware installed on your Windows system?

        If you're using Windows at work at even small companies, you're using AD, where all these configuration decisions are made by the network administrator team and your desktop is pretty much locked down, with the exact validated set of software and OS patches needed to run, and you don't have administrative access to fubar the system. The usual exception is if you're a developer, where you need to regularly blow things away to test your software. Even there, you're better off using VMware or KVM rather than doing it on actual physical hardware.

        BTW, Linux isn't much better here, other than that it usually comes pre-configured with defaults that work for most folks for everything except backups. I have glumly come to the conclusion that if I want something equivalent to or better than MacOS's Time Machine on Linux for doing time-based incremental backups, I'm going to have to write it myself, and it's going to have to rely on LVM's snapshotting mechanism to do a consistent backup until BTRFS is ready. Yay team. At least we have SQLite nowadays, not like when I designed BRU Server back in the late 90's...

        That said, ChromeOS isn't useful for me. It might be useful for my mother, though. All she does is read email and browse the Internet. The only reason her machine, an HP laptop, isn't a reeking virus-infested spyware-riddled useless pile of plastic is because my brother does all the administrative stuff for her. Otherwise it'd be useless.

      • by Hijacked Public ( 999535 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @11:19AM (#36107378)

        I use Windows at work and OSX at home and if, under the heading 'managing', you lump having to respond to all the little administrative nagging that Windows does I'd have to agree that is is torture.

        Windows can't seem to understand that I'm working on something, even though Microsoft made both the OS and the word processing program I'm using. the OS blits things at me from the taskbar that I don't care about: your AV hasn't been updated recently, updates are available, three or four distinct messages just for plugging in a USB drive, it can't see my wireless network, etc etc. Then you have all the 3rd party crap doing the same thing, which I can't blame Microsoft for directly but can be unhappy that they've enabled that kind of behavior by their ridiculous security model that gives installations free reign over the entire OS.

        By contrast OSX, when it has updates, opens a dialog in the background. If it loses a wireless connection or can't find one it doesn't do anything disctracting. If I plug in a USB drive an icon simply appears on my desktop, no celebration of having accomplished that mundane task is launched.

        Curiously, with iOS Apple can't seem to apply this same practice of getting the administrative debris out of the user's way so they can actually use. If they don't fix notifications before my phone is up it's off to Android for me.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The actual translation is "When you use Windows without Chrome, we can't track everything you do, and use that information to make money".

    • Also, they completely missed the part about how "Using Windows was like living in a town of terror—it was like a terror town".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, 2011 @09:59AM (#36106156)

    Really? This passes for a story, this is a blatant ad.

    I feel no torture as I write this from my Windows box.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      I could see the "torture" thing specifically for Microsoft but it really doesn't fly for more robust products.

      This really comes off like lame iPad propaganda. Except Google doesn't have any legacy products they're trying to trash.

    • I work with Mac OS Leopard and Snow Leopard, Windows (XP, Vista, and 7) and Ubuntu 8 and 10; and I agree. Windows is torture. It has improved over the years, but so slowly. Certain things make no sense. Why for data backup and restore do you use two different control panels? Why is this not integrated into one; like every other data recovery program? Unfortunately it seems that Ubuntu takes a lot of it's queues from Windows rather than taking the best of either or inovating the GUI? ...but I digress...

      And y

      • I've been kicking around the idea for a while that MS ought to be paying us to use their OS, given that they don't seem to have managed to get one out of beta in all the years that I was using them. I'm in the process of backing up my data so that I can leave Windows for good, dual booting only for games until games no longer are supported under XP. It's gotten to the point where, finally, the last few things that I needed Windows for can be done under Linux.

        It's not just the lack of consistency, it's the l

  • Another shocker (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LighterShadeOfBlack ( 1011407 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @10:03AM (#36106226) Homepage

    Company bringing out product says competition bad. News at 11.

    Negative quote about "Microsoft and others" summarised on Slashdot as negative quote about Microsoft. News at 11.

    Is anyone else as bored of this shit as me?

  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, 2011 @10:04AM (#36106228)

    They use Linux (amongst others) because managing Windows is too complex. Seriously?

    • I take it you haven't used Linux or Windows lately. I've spent an awful lot of time over the years on things in Windows which would be very quick to address in other OSes, but I can't conveniently deal with because I didn't spend more money on the better copy of Windows. As much shit as I give Apple, at least they've its got the decency not to release multiple OSes for the same market. Sure you can get a device with the iOS, OSX or whatever specific one they now use for servers, but it's pretty clear that i

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @10:06AM (#36106272) Journal
    At the height of hubris on the IPO of Netscape, Marc Andressen was confidently predicting that the browser could become the standard interface for all applications and the underlying operating system would be reduced to some kind of commodity like the beige boxes. We all know what happened after.

    This time around, the big difference is, Google has a revenue stream, some independence from Windows and management has some proven track record. But they are not competing against Windows95 either. Every niche from phone size all the way to 35 inch cine screen, from sub Gig memory machines all the way up to 128 GB monsters, are fully populated and variety of processors and OSes and business models proliferate. May be Chromachines will cut through the clutter and succeed. Or not. Only time will tell.

    • Who knows, maybe Marc Andressen was right. A ton of infrastructure has been built to support his vision since then. Maybe the time is now.

    • by gmueckl ( 950314 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @10:30AM (#36106606)

      The opportunity for browsers to take over the desktop has been stronger than ever with the rise of such heterogeneous environments on phones, tablets, PCs, home appliances, gaming consoles etc. because it's a sort-of unified platform that faces the user and is simple to use with the juicy meat of the applications neatly tucked away in some server room in a totally controlled, purpose-built and professionally managed environment (for what that's worth - shrug). When you're able to target the browser you don't have to deal with half a dozen completely different system interfaces anymore on the client side, meaning you don't have to rewrite your client big time for every new platform that comes along.

      And Google actually knows how to run the servers and write the software in order to make a profit. So the chances are that Google will take a considerable portion of the market with this. If this is for better or worse, only time will be able to tell.

    • I wish I had mod points for you. This is the most insightful comment I've read so far. Horses for courses.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @10:08AM (#36106316) Homepage

    The things [exclusively] Windows users experience passes for "normal" most of the time and they never realize the abuses they deal with on a regular basis.

    These things simply don't exist in other OSes. Things like shutting down taking almost as much time as starting up? What could be going on in the background in the shut-down process that could or should take so long?

    But to be fair, it's not just Microsoft Windows that is the cause -- it's all those damned vendors who feel like they need to install a "quick load widget" with every program. And guess what happens when EVERYTHING installs one of those? Yup! (Damn you HP and all the rest! We don't want you quick-launchers and your damned ink/toner monitors!! We don't want your convenient drag and drop DVD burner tray applet!!)

    This is what really tortures users. Any one of these things by themselves are not so bad. But any combination of them will cause torture.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      A great deal of the pain of running Windows in a corporate environment comes from all of the "management" that corporations do to Windows. Some of this is clearly necessary in order to deal with n00b users and their tendency to do stupid things repeatedly. However, it does bog down Windows itself and annoys power users that realize that things don't have to be that bad (even with Windows).

      • So give Windows a local permissioning system that works (a Win-chmod?) and come up with some simple profiles to select by default a point-and-clicky way.. stuff like, "Teenager", "Technical Adult", "Non-Technical Adult (n00b)", and "Computer Guy".

    • I agree. Quick load widget = don't know how to write a program without using boatloads of memory.

    • I use Windows 7 daily and I don't feel "tortured" in any way or form. It starts up and shuts down just as fast as Linux does, it's fast, really damn stable, and so far I haven't really found anything to complain about. I might like having more themeing possibilities, but.. that's a really small thing to complain about.

      Then again, it's a fresh install without any vendor-supplied crapware on it. Maybe that explains it.

  • Some people are masochists and enjoy the pain of spyware and virus removal and/or dependency issues, upgrade problems, and lack of software support.

    Some people are sadists and enjoy turning the "you don't own the hardware or software" model into a real life thing which they pretend won't be like leased access to a mainframe.

    Others just want to use something that works for them and don't want to have some multi-billionaire telling them what they should want.

    Sergey, I'm so very glad that your staff enjoys a m

    • Because you don't know what's going on behind the scenes in OSX...and yet you run Linux on home servers. I find that interesting because behind the scenes OSX is Unix. And it's not much different really from any other Unix or Unix-like OS I've used in the past 15 years.

      Open up terminal and you can find out exactly what is going on "behind the scenes" the same way you can on any other BSD or Linux machine.

      There is also Console and a host of other tools in the OSX Applications/Utilities folder as well that

      • by garcia ( 6573 )

        When the machine starts up I don't see anything. A desktop appears. I don't like that.

        When I change a setting in the GUI I don't know what files were modified to make that happen.

        I could go on but you get the idea.

  • by Manip ( 656104 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @10:09AM (#36106322)
    If you read between the lines, this is a play to take away a user's ability to change the system rather than hiding that complexity to make the system easier to use. The difference is, in principle, about who ultimately controls the system. Google are going to roll out an Apple-like OS that locks the users in and make the same claim Apple makes about a better user experience to justify their choices.

    Also, as a random aside, any company which moves their staff to Linux has lost a lot of legitimacy when they claim they have interests in bringing up the standard of usability or the user experience. Linux is far worse than Windows in terms of user experience (& complexity). I wouldn't even compare Linux to Windows 7, I would compare Windows 95 to Ubuntu 11, and honestly feel Windows 95 would win that battle.

    Last point, I bet 70% non-Windows, means at least 60% on OS X, and approximately 10% on Linux.
    • Linux is not worse than Windows in terms of user experience. Perhaps Gnome or KDE are worse than Windows XP desktop (I personally prefer Gnome of the three). But Linux the operating system is not worse than Windows the operating system; most users never really come into contact with either of them, at least, not in a well run corporate environment. However, the point about Chrome is that it is Linux with a Google Chrome like front end. That's not stupid; webOS is a similar concept and a lot of people who tr
    • Last point, I bet 70% non-Windows, means at least 60% on OS X, and approximately 10% on Linux.

      You're correct. Also of note: those stats are for Google employees' work computers, not their home use, and it's because after the China gmail debacle Google decided to switch all users away from Windows. They haven't completed the process, but soon the Windows user share in Google will be down to nearly 0, because already it takes some heavy petitioning to be given an exception to the rule and allowed to keep running Windows. A lot of people are requesting those exceptions, but they're not handed out ve

  • "Brin hopes that by next year nearly all Googlers will be using Chromebooks."
    SSH, gcc, vim, Emacs in javascript?
    No thanks.
    Honestly yes Chromebooks would work for so many people it isn't funny. Even a small business could use Quickbooks online, and sales force. You average user can use GoogleDocs, Picasso, and so on. But local apps will always be faster than web apps. Yes you will reach good enough for a lot of things but at what cost. What benefit is there to a web based calculator vs a local app?
    I will say

  • by Neil Boekend ( 1854906 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @10:13AM (#36106364)
    Most users I know can not be trusted with managing their own system. Common users switch of UAC, clearing the path for virusses. Common users use outdated licenses of useless AV packages (so they will not get updates) clearing the path for virusses. Common users feel backups are a waste of time or forget about them. Common users install stuff to watch pr0n or puppies. Common users click links in mails from friends, even if it's clear the mail wasn't actually send by said friends. Common users don't know shit about how to use a computer responsibly.
    For them a Chromebook could be a good solution.
    I am not a common user (although I am not above doing stupid things). I want to be able to configure my system to MY preferences, not some default that makes me cringe in some corners of usage.
    As with everything: there is no such thing as a single perfect solution.
    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      As with everything: there is no such thing as a single perfect solution.

      But there is a leading solution in the market. And if the solution for "not a common user" like you and me becomes unprofitable, it will stop getting made.

  • by davidbrit2 ( 775091 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @10:15AM (#36106408) Homepage

    I'd like to see a DBA, or anybody in IT for that matter, run Chrome OS nearly exclusively. That would be torture.

    And I don't have to spend any undue amounts of time "managing" my computer. Maybe a new software package here and there, an occasional security update, driver update, etc. It's less effort than the real work I do, that's for sure.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      "an occasional security update, driver update, etc."

      see, you are too entrenched in the habit of maintenance. For most people doing that stuff is worrisome.

      People in IT are in the MINORITY of users. IT's not for us, it's for users.
      This is what most people do with their computer:
      Write docs
      Have some simple spreadsheets
      Some TV.

      Having a device for those people that they never need to worry about. When they go to get a new one, they just buy one and it works with what they do

    • I run OSX at home and the office is now 100% OSX as well. This morning I was greeted by the "Please restart your machine for software update" box when I walked in. I looked at the packages wanting updated, saw a security update, java update, so clicked "Restart and Install". The machine shutdown and I went to get a cup of coffee. By the time I had my cup of coffee and was back at my desk it was installed and ready to go.

      And that is about the extent of the time it takes me to "manage" my computer on a ty

  • I used to think Windows was torture until I tried to get Ubuntu to recognize my goddamned dual monitor setup.

    • I have this configured as a shortcut key:
      xrandr --output VGA-0 --auto --below LVDS
      Plug TV in, CTRL+F8, Presto!
  • Forcing users to a standardized and completely controlled hardware platform allows for easier software development and less potential configuration issues. It also arbitrarily allows blocking competitors or potential competitors out. And after a while you jack prices way up above production cost and hope you get away with it because your users are bunnies that don't like to think for themselves.

    They must be thinking "Apple is doing well with this, let's try it too!".

    Google, if your motto is "Don't be evil",

  • It's easy to criticize the complexity of Windows, OSX, and Linux machines when you are pushing a product with very few features.

  • This is a re-run of the old "you don't need a full-blown PC on your desk, you can make do with a dumb terminal" meme that was going around when I was at University. (Scary bit is that's ten years ago now).

    The argument then was that networks were fast enough that you could use a bunch of dumb terminals (cheaper than Windows PCs) and save much of the messing around with things like domains and (then quite new) Active Directory.

    IIRC, it wasn't that great a solution because instead of hiring a half a dozen sup

  • "With Microsoft, and other operating system vendors, I think the complexity of managing your computer is really torturing users..."

    Yeah right, guess who is "another operating system vendor" now.

    "Chromebooks are a new model that doesn't put the burden of managing the computer on yourself."

    Most Windows users are already "not managing their computers themselves". SCNR

  • 90% of the world MUST be masochists.
    But seriously, until someone offers a better, cheaper, and more useful OS than Windows, people will use Windows.

    What do you mean you can't install and configure Linux? What do you mean you don't have $1200 to drop on an Apple macbook?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dc29A ( 636871 ) *

      90% of the world MUST be masochists.
      But seriously, until someone offers a better, cheaper, and more useful OS than Windows, people will use Windows.

      What do you mean you can't install and configure Linux? What do you mean you don't have $1200 to drop on an Apple macbook?

      - Installer asks me about my time zone, user name and password. Everything else can be done on autopilot.
      - Once booted, if there are restricted drivers, I got a popup telling me to install them if I want. Install is a two button click: (1) Install, (2) Reboot. All this 'massive' configuration is done.

      - Installer is pretty much similar to Ubuntu, minor inquiries.
      - Once booted, a lot of hardware doesn't work and I have to install drivers for everything including silly things like CPU driver and

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @10:35AM (#36106700)

    If Google's 4000 Windows users are tortured by their computers, Google should hire some experienced Windows admins.

    At my job, we use Active directory policies to keep users from having to admin their local workstation - in fact, we we restrict them from many admin tasks through AD policies.

    How do you disable USB storage devices on thousands of Ubuntu (or Chrome) desktops because you don't want your sensitive documents walking out on portable storage devices? And then how do you easily enable it again just for your research department because they have a business need for external storage?

    Note that I'm a hard-core linux geek, I run only Linux at home (and on my phone), but I realize that many of the applications my business users want to run don't run on Linux. Office is the biggest one - not everyone *needs* Office, but some people need it to run various macro packages (either self-developed or purchased)... and once we start giving Office to some departments (i.e. finance, busdev, etc), it's easier to give it to everyone for consistency. Plus any new employee we hire will already know how to use MS Office.

  • by Zobeid ( 314469 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @10:35AM (#36106710)

    I get the feeling that some of us aren't clear on exactly what he meant by "managing" our computers. So here's my take. . .

    * installing programs
    * launching and closing programs
    * figuring out where to store files
    * finding files

    And that's without even getting into stuff like antivirus or keeping backups, managing user accounts, etc. I suspect his real complaint is about things so basic that most of us don't even think about, because that's the way computers have always worked. It's the whole applications-and-files model that he's going after.

  • Hi all. Where's my Compiler & distributed revision control? (GCC, GIT), Why can't I rewind a Google Doc? Where's my local LAMP stack? Postgresql? SQLite? Code folding and syntax highlighting in Google docs? Not there? B-But, it's running on top of GNU/Linux. I know it's using some of this underneath, why can't I access it within ChromeOS? This hurts, it's the most limited OS I've ever seen short of on a dumb "smart phone".

    No thanks, I've already got all of the benefits of Google's model of cloud storage... I'll keep using my traditional model of robust "cloud" storage: An editor with auto-save enabled, editing files in a local GIT repo, with a cron job doing git commit & git push every 5 minutes or so. Note: that remote repo -- it's part of my private cloud; I also have a cron job that creates a daily private bittorrent of my media collection -- my other PCs rsync the torrent & use BT to distributively sync the media folders I've selected them to store. Bonus, when I'm offline I still have access to all the important data, and some of whatever entertainment data I'm liking right now.

  • I need Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access and Visio. The first 3 are probably 95% of the 75% of the business community being referenced. Yes, there are OpenSource compatible equivalents for Word and Excel. There are rudimentary equivalent for Access (Base, Wavemake, Kexi, Glom) but none will import an Access DB directly so transition will be difficult for the enterprise. There is also not treal USEABLE equivalent to Visio. The closest equivalent wouldprobably be either "Open Office Draw" or DIA http://dia-ins [dia-installer.de]

  • by cjonslashdot ( 904508 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @10:45AM (#36106850)

    "Chromebooks are a new model that doesn't put the burden of managing the computer on yourself."


    What about thin clients?

    And before that, what about X terminals?

    There is nothing new here. It is still a good idea to some extent: for applications that can always be connected when they need to be. But there is no new concept here. The only things that are new are that (1) the client has become immeasurably more complex and heavyweight (a browser versus a terminal), with very little additional value over what X terminals offered; and (2) there is now an Internet in place so that connecting to the server is easier when it is beyond the local LAN.

  • by wjousts ( 1529427 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @11:06AM (#36107180)
    ...I'm pretty sure Linux ain't the cure.
  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @11:22AM (#36107428)

    I'm a chip designer. While I've always been very good at software, I prefer hardware, and as I have moved more and more in that direction, I have come to feel that software stuff is mostly bullshit. Software is the stuff you write to give high level direction to the hardware. So why is everyone doing such a crap job of it? Ok, I've written GUI-based apps, plenty, and it's not easy to make a really intuitive interface. But I still can't see how CEOs of software companies like Microsoft can look at themselves in the mirror. They spend billions of dollars developing software that is absolutely horrid at automating the most basic of tasks. Computers are fantastic at fast, repetitive tasks. Making your PC connect to wireless reliably is one such task. So why can't they make it work right 100% of the time? I should never ever have to type in something that the computer can look up for itself. I should never have to do maintenance that's obvious. There are many unexpected things that happen as a result of bugs (these are unintentional) and hardware failure (shit happens). These are the times when someone has to look under the hood, because the result is largely unanticipated. This is reasonable. However, if there is something in a textbook that you can teach to someone, then it's KNOWN, and it should damn well be automated. If you can make a human procedure for it, you can make a software procedure for it. (And I'm talking about simple stuff, not computer vision or SPAM detection, although SPAM detection is automated and quite good. Irony?)

    Not EVERY action can be anticipated, otherwise there would be no need for user interfaces at all. It's the things that have to be done the same way every time for everyone that should be automated. Interestingly, some software is trying to be smart and anticipate. Like automatic text substitution and spellchecking. Those don't always work right, but at least they're trying, and they're getting better at it. Similiarly, there's the way browser URL bars and search bars try to anticipate what you're trying to type and give you suggestions based on what others have done. Those are awesome (pun intended).

    I actually use the command line a lot. For instance, I compile stuff using gcc. That's me doing development, not admining the machine. I also sometimes do stuff using bash that could be done using Finder (yes, I use a Mac, but I have Windows in a VM, and I have a Linux server at home). Again, that's me doing something I want to do with my files. But for the most part, you should just be able to turn your computer on, and have it get the hell out of the way of what you want to do. Want to type email? You select the Mail app, click the Compose button, and off you go. Aside from perhaps a few security measures (some of which are also lazy bullshit in the way they're designed), nothing should get in the way of that action.

    Now, some of you out there like mucking about with the innards of their operating system. And that's cool for you. I know about this stuff do, and I do it better than most software engineers or CS grads. (Indeed, someone must know this, so that someone can write the OS and program the automated procedures.) But for MOST people, including those of us who have Ph.D.s in Computer Science, we have OTHER WORK TO DO. And this software bullshit (or bullshit software) is just SLOWING US DOWN.

  • You've got a better chance of walking to Japan from California than you do of shoe-horning Microsoft out of 80% of their marketshare in our lifetime. Won't happen. Their entire business is built on lock-in... Nobody can just "transition out"--they've built every product for maximum lock-in and maximum cash-flow, and are building new products that you have to pay for in perpetuity.

    This may yet be their undoing... Open Office has been "ready for prime time" for a few years and yet we rarely encounter anybody using it or willing to use it. I propose it all the time, but include pricing for MS Office in all proposals that include Open Office because it's the first thing clients want to know--EVEN IF THEY SIGN OFF ON OPEN OFFICE--is "Where's my Microsoft Office? My Outlook?"

    Until you break that mental block, it's a pointless exercise.

It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. - W. K. Clifford, British philosopher, circa 1876