Branding vs. Programming

Branding vs. Programming

Summary: Unix can't compete on a branding level with Windows. We have too many players, each with their own agenda, to put out a unified message. It's really up to you, no matter what flavor of Unix you use, to drive this message home.

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Paul Murphy, formerly of this blog, has a great piece out today, a short history of Unix.

The short form. Unix is Unix, and has been since the Beatles were together. Windows is a brand, and underneath there is much inconsistency.

Microsoft says that Windows is backward-compatible, but under the hood it's not. I often have to retire old programs because my new Windows machine just won't run them. In a programming sense, as Murphy writes, " there's essentially no continuity of ideas between the 3.0, 95, NT, and Longhorn Windows generations."

Yet people still believe that Windows is Windows wihle Unix is, well, a Tower of Babel.

Not true. Every flavor of Unix has its own quirks, of course, and special functions. There are many different license terms, as we have discussed here often (and will again). But in terms of programming knowledge, skills translate. Whether your first love is Linux, Solaris, BSD or AIX, it won't take much time for you to get up to speed on something new.

My point today is that Windows' marketing advantage should not be discounted. People believe branding. To many people, maybe to most people, anything below branding is detail, something for specialists -- specialists like you.  So it's up to you to set them straight.

Unix can't compete on a branding level with Windows. We have too many players, each with their own agenda, to put out a unified branding message. It's really up to you, no matter what flavor of Unix you use, to drive this message home.

Deep down inside, Unix is Unix. Under the hood, Windows is not always Windows.

Topic: Operating Systems

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  • And MS does it to thwart compatibility deliberately.

    Case in point: OS/2

    When MS wished a corporate divorce from IBM, they got the new code and IBM was allowed to use Windows 3.0 embedded in OS/2. Along came Win32s for 32-bit compatibility in Windows 3.x. Microsoft changed that for every incremental release just to make life tougher for those who used OS/2.

    There are plenty of others. MS just sees things as profit crises and doesn't CARE about anything else.

    When money gets prcedent over all else, that's when the problems truly begin...
    HypnoToad
  • Its about stability or lack of

    Microsoft has to keep changing the underpinnings of windows, because they have yet to come out with a kernal that is as stable, and as efficient as the Unix/Linux kernals. If they ever do they won't have a need to make new versions incompatible with the old.
    jfp
    • Basic requirements

      [i]If they ever do they won't have a need to make new versions incompatible with the old.[/i]

      If the new version isn't incompatible with the old, why not keep the old?

      This gets back to the observation that (for instance) Linux is made to be [b]used[/b], MSWindows is made to be [b]sold[/b].
      Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Believing specialists

    You're right about the importance of branding.

    But let's say that you tell someone that there are greater similarities among different varieties of Unix than among different versions of Windows.

    The answer will be: And?

    You could add there will be more difficulties in continuing use of some Windows programs than in converting programs from one version of Unix to another.

    The answer will be: And?

    You could then conclude that the solution is to use Unix instead of Windows.

    The answer will be: Ah.

    I've seen long explanations followed by quick dismissals.

    The problem is, people tend to believe specialists have their own biases or agendas. People who review their medical conditions are more likely to spend time on the internet than talking with their doctors.

    And people also like to believe that they have seen past these prejudices to the reality being obscured. So their decisions can be pragmatic.

    Believing that Windows can run programs written for Windows, maybe after some tweaking, does, as you imply, make pragmatic sense.

    The fact that a specialist disagrees can emotionally appear to be validation.

    So I'd say that a specialist is not necessarily the best person to argue about the significance of the family resemblance among Unixes.


    You wrote:
    My point today is that Windows' marketing advantage should not be discounted. People believe branding. To many people, maybe to most people, anything below branding is detail, something for specialists ? specialists like you. So it's up to you to set them straight.
    Anton Philidor
  • Unix/Linux alway backward incompatible!

    Windows much more backrward compatible. Most problems related patch requirements in Unix/Linux occur with this backward incompatibilities!
    Wagadonga
    • Could you rephrase that?

      I'm really not trying to make fun of your English (which is doubtless better than my anything-else) but I'm afraid I just could [i]not[/i] parse that post.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
      • Neither could I. (NT)

        .
        roaming_z
  • Branding is a double-edged sword

    "My point today is that Windows' marketing advantage should
    not be discounted. People believe branding. To many people,
    maybe to most people, anything below branding is detail,
    something for specialists ? specialists like you."

    For a hot brand like Apple it's a plus, but increasingly people are
    associating windows with malware. The windows brand will
    become a disaster if this continues (and I don't see anything to
    stop it from MS anytime soon). People simply don't like the idea
    of their credit cards details being sent off to Russian crime
    gangs.

    "Unix can't compete on a branding level with Windows. We have
    too many players, each with their own agenda, to put out a
    unified branding message. It's really up to you, no matter what
    flavor of Unix you use, to drive this message home."

    Or we use this observation as an advantage, continual to remind
    computer users of the malware problem with the windows OS
    (there is no shortage of articles and experience to draw from).

    Then every-time MS advertises their brand, it simply leaves a
    bad taste in people's mouths.
    Richard Flude
  • I don't think this article is very honest

    To say that "Unix is Unix" assumes that in general all Unix software is designed to be multi-flavor-compatible. That hasn't been the case in my experience.

    I've worked in both the Unix world (during the 90s) and in the Windows world (the last several years), and I think people will find more compatibility on the whole in the Windows world than the Unix world, at least when using software that uses native APIs.

    During my days as a Unix developer, every commercial third party application we bought, typically system software, had to be purchased for a specific brand and version of Unix.

    There was a commercial third party library we had that was compatible across many flavors of Unix, but it had to be tweaked in very specific ways in order to make it work with any one of them. I can remember I had an instruction manual that told me which compiler flags to set and what I needed to set precompiler definition values to in order to compile a compatible library for the OS. They provided instructions for about 10 flavors. Impressive. Further, the Unix library cost $1000. The Windows version of that same library worked on Windows 95/98 or NT, and cost only about $200. No need to set compiler flags or precompiler values. I just needed the DLL, or static library, which was included. Even so, source code was provided in both versions. Both had the same royalty-free license.

    In later versions of the Unix library, the company made them Unix-flavor-specific, and only offered it for 3 flavors of Unix. The flavor we used in house was not one of them. They weren't compatible back to early versions of the OSes either. I couldn't even tweak them anymore to make them work on a different flavor than what they were designed for. I'm guessing this was due to the new features they had added to the library, and making them compatible across flavors was too complex. However, they generously didn't require us to pay for duplicate licenses if we needed a version that worked on a different flavor. So if we bought a version for one Unix flavor, we got the versions for the other flavors for free.

    I understand that at a certain level, each version of Windows IS different. There used to be significant differences between Windows 9x and Windows NT/2000. Since they unified the kernel with XP those types of incompatibilities don't show up as much.

    At the application level, typically there are not incompatibilities, or if they are, they're annoyances. They don't cause the app. to not work at all.

    At the system level, for things like antivirus software, hard disk management tools, drivers (particularly), glaring incompatibilities will show up from version to version. But I can take a Windows 3.0 business or graphics application from 15 years ago and run it on Windows XP just fine. I can take one that was written for Windows 95 and do the same. Forward compatibility is more of a challenge, as it would be for any system when new features and bug fixes have been added to the OS over time.

    In my experience, the narrowness of the Windows world has led to an easier software compatibility experience than with Unix, though Unix and Windows have some of the same compatibility issues.
    Mark Miller