Instead of, why not...

Anthony Atkielski atkielski.anthony at
Tue Feb 15 17:23:43 GMT 2005

Ted Mittelstaedt writes:

> Many wordprocessors write in Microsoft Word format these days.

Currently I use Quark XPress instead of Word, as Word is too bloated and
too uncontrollable, and does not produce output suitable for
professional printing.

> That is what AW used to layout my book, as a matter of fact.  It's
> currently the defacto standard in the publishing industry because
> they can go directly from it to a printing press.

Yes, that's why I like it.

> But it is rediculously expensive at $1,045.00 SRP.

That's cheap. In Europe, it sells for about €2500, and it requires a
dongle. But it is likely to disappear slowly in the future, as it is
overpriced and is taking a beating from the steadily rising InDesign.
Unfortunately, Adobe isn't much better than Quark in its attitude, and
that will only get worse.

> IMHO this is self-defeating.  Very few book authors would spend this
> for writing software, and the publishers (like AW) spend millions a
> year in retyping costs to take manuscripts from printouts and such
> to stick them into Quark.  Quark is really vulnerable from being
> disloged from this monopoly.

It is indeed vulnerable, and the battle has already begun.  Quark
severely abused its dominant position (such as with the price gouging
mentioned above), and now nobody wants to buy its more recent versions,
leaving it with a dwindling revenue stream.  Adobe is attacking with
InDesign, with increasing success.  It may going out of the frying pan
and into the fire with InDesign, though.

> I can see that Quark is already starting to fight a rearguard action
> as they are dumping copies of it at the educational price into the
> academic market, now. (where a lot of books originate)

Too little, too late, IMO.

> You should at least check out Scribus
> This is an open source project that is aiming to replace Quark
> There has already been one book published with it.  While perhaps
> you might not be able to use it now, give it another 5 years and
> it might do it.  I would have probably used this for writing mine
> if it had been available then.

DTP programs are unusual in that they need only be able to write clean
PostScript to succeed.  The native file formats are relatively
unimportant.  I was able to move from PageMaker to Quark with relatively
minimal fuss, for example, as they both produce clean PostScript as

> YOU personally might not.  But you were originally arguing that
> FreeBSD was unsuitable for a desktop OS.  Now I see this is subtly
> changing, you are now only arguing that FreeBSD is unsuitable for
> YOUR desktop OS.

No, I'm still arguing that it is generally unsuitable for the desktop.

When my mom and dad can run FreeBSD with the same ease and advantages
that they can for Windows, I will know that FreeBSD is suitable for the

> Now, most people aren't going to be using Winterms but the point is
> that people have wildly varying needs, and many of them could in
> fact use FreeBSD successfully as a desktop OS.

FreeBSD could be used as an OS on the desktop under certain conditions,
but a "native" FreeBSD desktop might not look anything like Windows.

For example, the FreeBSD console itself is in fact a desktop, it just
doesn't look like anything that lovers and haters of Windows would want.

> Tell that to Microsoft then.

I've tried.  In fact, I tried this very day, without much success.

> The new versions of Word, Excel, etc ARE ANOTHER PROGRAMS the training
> required to bring most of the office users up to speed on them is
> considerable.

An increasing number of sites just don't bother to upgrade at all.  I
haven't upgraded Office since 1997.  And even the 1997 version still
does more than I want or need, but that was the current version when I
bought it.

> I know this from experience I used to work as a sysadmin for a number
> of years and worked at several companies. I always hated when
> Microsoft brought out new versions of software because users would
> pester me with support questions for MONTHS after updating them. The
> worse offenders in fact were usually the same people who were the
> biggest pushers to get updated.

They are probably people who really weren't doing much with their PCs.
People who have time to worry about and pine after updates are usually
wasting their machines.  People who have to do real work never are
interested in updating anything unless the update is required to allow
them to do something essential that they cannot currently do.

> And the few times I tried telling the user's supervisors to tell them
> to go get training, I was rebuffed with the "that's what we are paying
> you for" line.

The job of a sysadmin is a thankless one.  Hopefully they got the idiot
they deserved after you left.

> So, don't give me the bullcrap about people wanting to stay with what
> they know.  They don't.

They do if they are doing serious work.  But if you have a lot of
goof-offs who spend their days just playing on the PC, they'll
constantly whine for new updates, so that they can have new toys.  I
don't recall ever encountering a user with a serious need for a computer
begging for an upgrade.  It was usually more like "do I have to?"  But
the goldbricks were always chomping at the bit to install something new.

> You just don't get it.  It just doesen't work like that in reality.

It depends on your user base.

> In reality, what happens in these companies is that you get 1 or 2
> power users, or more commonly, people who think they are power users
> but are just wannabes, who read the marketing literature saying how
> the new version is going to be so much easier and faster.  They then
> go get copies of the new stuff (often expensing it in violation of
> internal company policy) and load it on their PC, then call in IT when
> that blows up something on their PC because now they can't work and
> it's an emergency.

Just say no.  If management doesn't back you up, you're working for the
wrong company.

I know lots of places where users will never upgrade anything unless
they are forced to, and even then IT has to do it for them, since they
don't know how.  They never ask for updates or upgrades.  They just use
the PC for work, and then they turn it off and go home.  There are no
games on their machines, the machines are old and barely work, the
monitors are faded beyond anything I'd tolerate, but they don't care.
It's just a tool to them, like a stapler.  As long as it works well
enough for them to do their jobs, they are indifferent.

> Has it really escaped you that the vast majority of the US adult
> population is very uninterested in this activity?

No.  That's why Windows is the best choice.  Anything else on the
desktop requires a lot more thinking and time and effort, and most
people don't want to waste time and thought on their PCs.

> easy does not always equal best.

It does for people who just do not care about computers.

> The principle and most obvious reason is cost - an Open Source solution
> is cheaper - assuming the costs we are talking about are overall, long
> term costs.

If the _only_ cost were licensing, that might be true.  But that's not
the only cost.

> Think of it this way.  Supposing that you personally were not required
> to output in Quark file format to your customers.  (we will assume for
> the moment that all other file formats you output in can be produced
> by open source software)  Suppose you have another 30 years of work
> before you retire.  Suppose that you generate your current and future
> income from these desktop applications.
> Right now you only know your Windows desktop apps and your looking
> at the UNIX apps and thinking about the big learning curve that
> you would have to go over to switch to them before you could become
> as equally productive.  (I'm of course ignoring the gaming apps which
> are transitory and produce little of anything of value, and can be argued
> that time wasted on them is being stolen from much healthier games
> such as physical activity games that will keep you from having a coronary
> at age 50)
> You know that during that learning curve you will be spending a lot
> of time on it, as time=money, this represents a significant cost to you.
> SO your asking why spend the money?
> The answer is that if you stay with the commercial software, over your
> lifetime you will have spent a much larger portion of your income on
> commercial software, than if you take the cost now of switching over,
> beause those commercial companies cannot survive without a revenue
> stream, and they get this by constant upgrading.  That upgrading also
> raises your lifetime hardware costs significantly.

But they cannot force me to upgrade, and I don't.  Most of the software
I'm using now has not been upgraded in years.

As you say, the software companies need to sell upgrades in order to
maintain their revenues streams.  A corollary of that is that users can
avoid upgrades to reduce expenditures.  And that's what I and an
increasing number of other users are doing.  And it worries a lot of big
software companies.


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