"Give up Windows and get yourself a life!" That was the passionate plea to IT users from Rich Finkelstein, president of consulting firm Performance Computing, speaking at this week?s Database and Client Server World conference in Boston.
"I don?t want to waste a minute more of my life on operating systems," he told his audience during a panel debate. This session set out to discuss 'Has the Internet killed client/server?', but changed quickly to become a PC versus NC argument. "We all have about 80 years of life and it?s not a trial run. When I gave up my operating systems life, I got myself a life," Finkelstein continued. "I have lots of time now."
"Bill Gates is like Tom Sawyer convincing his friends that whitewashing the fence is really good fun," he went on. "Gates says PCs are fun and Windows is fun. Windows is a giant Tom Sawyer con that we?ve all gone along with. You don?t need it - give it up!"
Finkelstein?s alternative lifestyle has been enabled by the Internet and NCs. "I have a browser, which takes 10 minutes to install and about a day to learn how to use," he explained. ?I don?t need to worry about upgrades or staying up until midnight to buy new releases of software and I don?t need books on ?2,000 secrets on how to get Windows to work?. Most of the time PCs either do nothing or just cause extra work."
He was backed up by Marc Benioff, senior vice president at Oracle, who enthusiastically evangelised the NC gospel according to his boss Larry Ellison. "Every major change in the industry is about lower costs and easier use," he declared. "Windows95 is not the last operating system to be built, but I don?t want us in 2020 to be rebooting Windows20."
Benioff argued that the IT industry could learn useful lessons from other networked industries, such as the power suppliers. "You?ve got a really thin, easy to use front end and all the complexity at the back end," he said. "I don?t need to understand power reactors to know how to plug my toaster in in the morning. If it was a Microsoft toaster, we?d all have to go to college for 20 years just to know how to make toast."
Bob Zwek, vice president of research and development at Sybase, tried to steer a middle path. "We can have the best of both worlds," he claimed, citing the example of his own video camera-enabled Pentium PC allows him to videoconference with his wife and child via the Internet when he is travelling. "If that is not improving the quality of my life, I don?t know what is," he said.
But Benioff would have none of this. "We can?t base the future of the industry on what kind of technology a Sybase millionaire can afford to have in his home," he said. "We can?t have an information age when only 10 per cent of the people can afford the technology."
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