$399 Dells are a Dagger to the Heart of …

This party is a Swell Swill junky; thus you could have caught me for the past two weeks watching ABC TVs Wednesday night Swill Fest composed of Lost followed by Invasion. This brought memories of undergraduate days when I had to make such important decisions-> whether to spend 2++ hours researching the latest developments in the National League Pennant race or deciphering Samuelson and Economics 201. In the contemporary case, I chose both Lost and Invasion because they are both teetering on the line between believability and outright preposterous nonsense. And dharmed if as Swill agent I am going to fail to detect the crossing point.

But my deligence and attention to duty was rewarded, I saw an advertisement for Dells new $399 computers. And it is no Swill to say that these swell prices are a Dagger to the Heart of Microsofts Cash Cows. Can you imagine someone spending $350++ for Office on such a machine. Or $300++ for Windows XP Pro. And the future will just bring ever lower PC hardware prices.

Two parties will welcome this event- the Chinese, Eastern European and Southeast Asian software pirates and Open Source software providers. What will get tested first in North America and Western Europe is whether Open Source or piracy will pick up the most new users. Open Source right now offers very good alternative functionality both for the desktop OS and Office , prompt security fixes, an upgrade path for new software, plus paid support services maybe a notch or two better in price/performance than their commercial counterparts.

Pirates on the other hand offer “the real deal” functionality, less certain upgrades and security updates especially given Microsoft Genuine software checks plus the industry moving to hardware specific Activation schemes. And you said Pirate support – lol. And as for Pirates security fixes, better check the CDs for how badly they have been “fixed” with viruses and other scams. Yes you may get more from Pirates than what you didnt pay for.

In sum, in the past Microsoft has relied on Moores law to rescue their bloated software with ever expanding computing power for the same price. Now Moore continues to deliver ever increasing computing power which is largely unused on the desktop(but still eaten up by Servers); so for the relatively fixed functionality of the desktop, Moore offers its other alternative – prices declining by one half every 2 years or less. Microsoft has yet to enunciate a strategy, other than annual licensing, to cope with pressure for exponentially declining PC prices while its own PC desktop sofware prices drift upward.

(c)JBSurveyer 2005