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Operating system humor: No funny business

Dec 15, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

This week in one of my Netware newsletters from Network World Fusion, I lament the announcement from Novell that NetWare 4 has reached the end of the line. Many people, though, might prefer to see NetWare 4 continue while Version 5 gets retired – just as some would prefer the Windows NT 4 be preserved and Windows 2000 be rolled out to pasture. But software vendors don’t see the strength of those arguments.

As far as they’re concerned, when you introduce a new version of the operating system, its time to get rid of the oldest version still shipping – even if it offers advantages (such as the applications it supports) that interim versions don’t. When I opened the newspaper this morning, the answer to this dilemma was right there on the comics page.

No, not the latest Dilbert story line (although it’s as good as ever), but the annual poll that my local paper (the San Jose Mercury News) conducts on the comics. There are more comic strips available than can fit in the typical daily paper, so publishers try to maximize the potential draw by periodically removing one or two that have grown stale and replacing them with something new and exciting (at least, that’s how they describe it).

All last week “the Merc” offered a ballot to let you could vote for the six comics you thought best and the six you could most live without. While the editors say that popularity alone won’t be decide which should stay and which should go, I’d imagine that if more than 50% of the respondents suggested that the time had come for little Billy and the rest of Family Circus to get on with their lives that the editors might agree.

So maybe Network World should run a list of server and desktop operating systems each year. We could indicate which we wanted to keep around (NT 4 and NetWare 3, for example) while also voting for which to discontinue (Windows ME should “win” handily). While the poll wouldn’t directly decide which continued to be offered and which withdrawn, it could be used to put pressure on the vendors to consider users’ thoughts when making operating system decisions. This might not solve all of our operating system problems – but it couldn’t hurt.

Tip of the week covers financial news aobut publicly traded companies, and recently its colunist Ronna Abramson poked under the covers of some Linux vendors. The resulting story, Linux Reality Doesn’t Match Hype, is fascinating reading.