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osOpinion: Ease of use vs. sweat equity

Nov 24, 1999, 07:22 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Wesley Parish)

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"Being filled with boundless naivete, I felt the current success of Linux could probably be boiled down to this: if you undertake something knowing that it is reputedly very difficult, yet worthwhile, you don't do it with inflated expectations of immediate success. You do it with a certain amount of respect. Eg, a lot of people pick up the guitar and whack out a few chords, and give it up, certain that if that is guitar-playing, they'll never be as good as Jimmi Hendrix. On the other hand, if you decide to take up the renaissance lute, the difficulty of getting information on the instrument, the slim chance of finding people to play with, and the difficulties of getting an instrument, mean that you have probably considered the options much more carefully, and your chances of succeeding are correspondingly higher."

"Thus it is with Unix. People have been repeating the story of Unix's difficulty of use for so long it has become one of Information Technology's sacred texts. Whereas with NT, we have been inundated with the news of its 'ease of use' that we have accepted it uncritically. So people pick it up, expecting it to be as 'easy to use' as Microsoft's other products, and forgetting that it is now operating in a totally different environment, where the desktop certainties frankly don't hold. (But let us never forget that the 'Letters to the Editor' columns in most computer magazines are filled with complaints about Windows failing somewhere along the line.) "

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