iPad, Windows, Linux and Google. I Use Them All. SO SUE ME!

iPad, Windows, Linux and Google. I Use Them All. SO SUE ME!

Summary: Multiplatformism is not a new concept. Learn to live with it, people.


Multiplatformism is not a new concept. Learn to live with it, people.

My esteemed colleagues have been writing about their identity crises with the use of multiple platforms and if they can rationalize their ideological disassociation from the use of technology lately.

My highly reproductive friend and educator Chris Dawson wants to know if it's okay to use Windows, Linux, Mac and Google at the same time. Our resident Millennial biscuit, the cute as a button Zack Whittaker, is trying to rationalize his use of multiple web browsers.

From the sounds of these guys, it seems as if it is difficult for them to rationalize their activities on a Personal Computing standpoint. Really, I can assure you, it isn't.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

None of this platform schizophrenia is new, as at least as it applies to Enterprise computing. Multiplatformism and Heterogeneity are part of the very basic foundations of Information Technology. I accept them at face value the same way I accept the laws of physics and Darwinism.

For some reason, I still get plenty of questions from readers how I can possibly justify using X when I don't use Y, or why I can somehow use X and W and Z and feel right with myself. I'll tell you why. I've been doing this for many, many years, and I don't intend to stop doing it now.

I've been around the block long enough to watch many waves in Information Technology and Personal Computing. I observed and participated in the emergence of and mass migration from the Apple ][ to the IBM PC and DOS-based systems. Then I was unlucky enough to be a combatant in the first wave of OS wars back in the early 1990s, when IBM OS/2 and Microsoft Windows were both vying for attention as the future 32-Bit multitasking graphical desktop.

At the tender age of 22, I was an OS/2 advocate. On bulletin boards and in local user groups, I preached the superior technology OS/2 had over Windows 3.1, with its ability to pre-emptively multi-task and multi-thread and use protected memory and run applications with its more advanced Object-Oriented GUI. Back when software stores such as Egghead and Babbages used to exist, I did volunteer demos of the software on in-store PCs.

I wasn't even an IBM employee at the time, just a smart-ass kid that liked to get into punk fights with the same exact sort of rabid people that feel the need to show how much "better" they are than everyone else in the ZDNet Talkbacks.

Indeed, these were the very same kind of people with nothing else to do with their time, but the enabling technology to fight with each other was more difficult to use and it could be argued you had to be more intelligent to use it, so the quality of our trolls was much better. Sorry ZDNet Talkbackers, but you're no  COMP.OS.OS2.ADVOCACY on 1990's-era USENET or CANOPUS on CompuServe.

One very good thing did come out of this -- I met my future wife for the first time in person when I was doing an OS/2 demo at an Egghead Software in Paramus, NJ in late 1994. I was incredibly impressed she knew how to tweak her own WIN.INI, SYSTEM.INI, CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files. We then went out for cheap Chinese food and saw Star Trek: Generations. It was a simpler time. But I digress.

When Windows 95 came out, I was still a good soldier and remained convinced of OS/2's superiority, but when Windows NT 4.0 went into beta, merging the GUI of Windows 95 with the systems architecture of Windows NT, I knew that OS/2's fate was sealed. Indeed, it turned out to be a very long decline, but I defected early. People got very angry at me over it.

I learned a very valuable lesson from all of this. I realized what I truly was -- a Multiplatformist. Someone who has no allegiance to any particular technology or system or product, but a person who picks the mix of tools and products that suit their business needs and lifestyle. And as the technology evolves and changes, they re-evaluate their usage and their needs and adjust and switch out accordingly.

Today I participate in and observe the technology industry. As a writer who chronicles the goings-on of the industry, it's a necessity that I use many different types of technologies and products -- different flavors of operating systems, different types of hardware, different types of devices, and so on.

But even if I didn't participate in the media, I probably would still be using a mix of things. Why? Because mixing and matching technology is the only thing that makes sense to me.

I don't believe in religious attachments to technology either. Complete platform lock-in and vendor control is very much a turn-off to me, but if the technology is compelling enough -- such as in the case of the iPad -- which is my first Apple computer product in 27 years, I can make a personal usage case. It's a great product, albeit with some annoying restrictions.

So do I like Open Systems and Open Source? Sure. A lot. I wouldn't have spent more than 10 years writing about it if I didn't. But it's not going to stop me from using stuff made by Microsoft either.

The analogy that I would like to use for the Multiplatformist is the home theater component/audiophile one.

Many people like to go out and buy integrated components from a single vendor, like those BOSE or SONY systems. They sound nice enough, but if you're truly into audio and video, you'll pick best of breed -- receiver from one vendor, amplifier from another, blu-ray from one more, and speakers from yet another.

Is it easier to go single vendor? Maybe. But to us Multiplatformists and true computing enthusiasts, being our own system integrator is the only thing that will ever make sense to us. And I suspect that this is the norm for many, many people who work in this industry.

So yes, I use an iPad, I run Windows 7 on my desktop, I have Linux servers and virtual machines, and I use Google services and Android. Don't like it? SO SUE ME!

Are you also a Multiplatformist? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Disclaimer: The postings and opinions on this blog are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

Topics: Linux, Google, iPad, Mobility, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software, Windows


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Ipad is not an OS you know right?

    I don't care if people uses the ipad just stop acting like it the best thing ever.

    It a itouch you may be able to run iworks it is stupid that in order to save them you must email them to yourself.

    A netbook is better then a ipad.
    • no

      you don't have to email them to yourself. you can save them on the ipad
      and sync via itunes. but why would you care? you hate the ipad anyway,
      no matter how wrong your preconceptions are.
      • You are right

        But you can also work in the cloud and not have to email documents around.
    • I nebook is DIFFERENT than an iPad.

      An iPad is not intended to be a laptop. It is intended to a game machine, a music player, an electronic photo album, and a thin web client, in a single sexy package. It is essentailly an oversized iPod Touch. No more, no less.

      On the other hand, a netbook is a fully-functional (though quite lame) laptop computer. Some want it for its portability and long battery life and they will use it, predominately, as a thin web client, but it is more than that.

      It all depends upon your wants & needs. In the end, a $400 laptop is a 'better buy' than an iPad because it offers the full functionality of a laptop at the same pricepoint. But that comes at the expense of higher weight and (perhaps) shorter battery life.

      A $300 (Linux) netbook seems like a better buy than either one. It offers more portability at a lower price-point and (presumably) longer battery life but at the expense of a lower resoltution screen and a cramped keyboard and marginal performance compared to the $400 notebook.

      As long as you understand the differences, you buy what you want and you walk away.
      M Wagner
      • Where do you get a $300 linux netbook?

        I got one from Dell a while back for less than that, but I don't see any for sale any more.
        • Dell

          Last check Linux was still an option for the OS if you custom ordered.
        • Dell -but it sucks

          Used Ubuntu on Dell Mini 10V for all of two days
          but couldn't take it any more and hackintoshed it.
        • $230

          $230 SVOA netbook based on the Intel Classmate
          reference. 9" screen. 4-5 hour battery life.
          1.3M Webcam. 1GB RAM. SD slot. Typing from it
          now (the keyboard is a little small for the
          hands on my 192cm/120kg body).

          It came with LinuxTLE, but I scrapped that and
          put UNR on it. Works perfectly. No tinkering

          Call SVOA and have them ship you one.
        • $300 Linux laptops?

          Asus Eee PC series (Linux) . Target sold tons of them before MS & the made a deal. Very cute little thing; mine is pearly white and works like a charm. It's my travel computer. My primary tool is a desktop Mac, but I have the standard black Win-PC laptop collecting dust nearby. So sue me too.
      • heh . . .

        "An iPad is not intended to be a laptop."

        I don't think it's meant to be much of

        "It is intended to a game machine"

        For Flash games and maybe simple 3D, perhaps.
        The only reason it does any better than
        netbooks, though, is because games are
        specifically optimized for it.

        The netbook I have actually does have a bit or
        hardware acceleration to it, so it can
        definitely play Flash games, most 2D games, and
        some older 3D games.

        It probably has the same "gaming" capabilities
        as the iPad. It just suffers a bit from a lack
        of games specifically optimized for it.

        "a music player"

        This differs from a netbook - how??

        "an electronic photo album"

        This differs from a netbook - how??

        "and a thin web client"

        This differs from a netbook - how??

        "in a single sexy package"

        This differs from a netbook - how??

        "It offers more portability at a lower price-

        The way Microsoft slashed prices for netbooks -
        not by much.

        "and (presumably) longer battery life"

        I'd say there's not enough good research to
        confirm that.

        "but at the expense of a lower resoltution
        screen and a cramped keyboard"

        The iPad's resolution is only slightly higher
        than the lowest end netbooks. And the virtual
        keyboard probably the same size as a netbook's
        keyboard. Smaller if you have it in portrait.

        "and marginal performance"

        The Atom has higher clock speeds, dual cores,
        and hyperthreading. Don't think the iPad is
        going to compare, sorry.

        About the only thing the iPad may have is
        battery life and a touch screen. Dunno if I'd
        consider those worth the steep price point,
    • The Thought Police Are Out in Force . . .

      "just stop acting like it the best thing ever." Really? What if I think it IS
      the best thing ever or I just think it's a pretty darn _good_ thing? I'm
      not allowed to say it? I'm not allowed to put in my $.02?

      I think the point of the article is a good one. Get over people who love
      different things. Different people love different things. I have tons of
      friends who use and love Windows. Same with Mac and a few who are
      Linux Lovers. What's the big deal?

      I've been using computers of many flavors, DOS, ProDos, Windows (of
      every flavor), Macs (since System 7), iPhone OS, Palm OS, Unix, Linux,
      even an odd duck like Geos OS back in the '80's.

      For everyday use I'm a Mac user, but I fix PCs so I have Windows PCs
      on my network as well, XP and 7. I personally feel that unless your job
      REQUIRES you to use Windows, the security issues are too, well,
      insecure for my tastes. Several banks have warned users NOT to login
      using Windows because of such issues so I have recently added a Live
      CD option to my services for people who want to lock down their
      financial lives online.

      The bottom line is, use what works and what keeps your data safe. If
      you're OK with taking the extra steps to make Windows as safe as
      possible then go crazy. If you love tweaking and finding drivers and
      LInux is your thing, cool.

      If using your finger and leaning back on your couch to surf is your
      thing, then maybe you're an iPad or other slate device lover. It's all

      Just don't tell me what I have to "stop" doing because last time I
      looked that was the GOP's job! ; - )

      • Thank you!!!

        I'd like to say to a small group of Talkbackers:
        "Don't tell me what to like." Quit telling me that
        I'm wasting my time or that I can't possible do
        what I do every day on my computers. If I wanted
        Windows, I'd use it. If I wanted Mac, I'd use
        that, too. I don't. I have different values than
        you do.
      • Good Point

        But it was kind of negated by your crack at the GOP. I'm independent myself, but when you are making a point about open-mindedness, its usually a good idea to leave out comments shooting down other groups
    • For you...


      A netbook is better than an iPad... for YOU. Which is fine. To each, his own. THAT's the pretty much the point of the article, which you missed somehow.

      For me, I don't have any use for an iPad or a netbook. I need the power and flexibility of my laptop.
    • Gee, wow, really?

      Just what Jason referred to .. a super superior being ...

      As a pilot I have preferences but to criticize or suggest that one mode of transportation is better than another would be juvenile.

      Also as a professional engineer pragmatism is no weakness.

      Idealogues are the nemesis of logic .. get the idea??
    • Before you post

      I would suggest learning to type legibly, I can't even tell what you are trying to say in this post. Please, before you sit in front of your computer screen and begin typing away, take a moment and think about what you are posting, and before you post it, look it over and make sure it makes sense.
  • This is why Java is great for developers

    I can write one code base and have it run on multiple
    platforms. Honestly, it just works ever since Microsoft
    stopped distributing an intentionally misbehaving JVM.
    • Multi-platform is great, but I still dislike Java

      I agree that cross-platform tools are wonderful, but I personally detest Java. I find it slow, and dislike how it integrates with the native UI on most platforms. And I find the syntax a bit archaic.

      For multi-platform stuff, I prefer to use Python and Qt or wxWidgets for GUI. I've never come across a problem I couldn't solve with the standard library or a third-party tool. And the code is much easier to read.

      If I need speed or want to mess with complicated syntax, I prefer to use C++ directly.
      Rob Oakes
      • I largely agree

        I view Java as a platform, rather than a
        language. The only thing I find slow about
        Java is loading the JVM, which only gets done
        once. For servers, which is my bread and
        butter, this is fine. The JVM also tends to be
        a memory hog.

        I like Groovy, which has many of the qualities
        of Python & my fingers seem to know C-like
        syntax, so the 'archaic' is a bonus to me. (I
        have used them both, so I'm not trying to argue
        that they are too similar, but they have a
        similar niche). I'm learning Scala, and that
        has the potential revolutionize coding on the

        How is Java 'archaic' to a C++ coder?
    • FWIW, Microsoft's JVM was more compliant ...

      ... with Sun's own JVM compliance test suites than Sun's own JVM was at the time.

      Sure, Microsoft added some features to their JVM to expose platform-specific features so that developers could actually use the Windows platform if the app was installed on a Windows machine, but make no mistake, Microsoft's JVM was very, VERY good indeed.

      So tell me, if Java's so good, where is its support for properties, delegates, lambdas, attributes, a strong security model, etc? Where's Java's answer to LINQ?

      Java stagnated long ago, choked by Sun's vice-like grip. And Java's libraries etc., have proliferated unnecessarily. Too many "frameworks" claiming to offer practically the same features but all dificient in some way or another.

      Java is now a pain in the a$$ to build complex systems and I don't see it getting better in the short-medium term.