HAL must die!

Chad Perrin perrin at apotheon.com
Wed Mar 16 00:55:29 UTC 2011

On Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 08:37:53PM -0400, Jerry wrote:
> The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to
> choose from.

. . . and most of them are supported on any given platform that isn't
pathologically closed.

> Microsoft has approximately 90% of the desktop market share with
> everyone else dividing up the remainder. If you are on a Microsoft
> platform you use their products. The same applies to other platforms
> and their utilities.
> Corporate media, giants or otherwise, are in business to make money.
> They obviously are going to focus on the largest possible paying
> audience. Simple business 101.

The largest possible paying audience is generally everybody capable of
using an open standard.  Thinking that MS Windows users who browse the
Web with IE constitute the largest possible paying audience is a classic
mistake of not thinking things through.  Modern versions (post-6.0) of IE
support a nontrivial percentage of open standards; so do Firefox, Opera,
Safari, Chromium, and others.  If you select standards supported by all
of them, you get better than 98% of the user base, and if you select
Microsoft technologies, you may get 100% of IE users (post-6.0), but you
only get something like 70% of your potential paying audience.

People don't target a given proprietary platform that appears to hold the
majority of the market because they're targeting the largest possible
user base.  They do so because they're lazy thinkers.

> Now, as far as HAL goes, the fragmented open-source community cannot
> even begin to agree on its replacement. Every distro is busy trying to
> reinvent the wheel. Here you want the majority of users to be dictated
> to by a minority of users who cannot even agree on a common platform
> that is uniformly used throughout all the non-Microsoft community. That
> reasoning is totally irrational.

I haven't really been following the goings-on with HAL, so I'm not sure
exactly what all is going on there.  All I know for sure is that HAL
never lived up to its own promises.  Clearly, it needed to be either
overhauled in a major way or replaced.  Just as clearly, there's some
kind of confusion over how the solution will look when the dust settles.
Beyond that, I'm not sure what's going on.

I do know, however, that the state of the disunion over HAL is no more or
less annoying than the disconnect between API versions in one poorly
implemented, incompletely specified, secretly propagated MS Windows
version's software framework and another.

The real tragedy, I think, is that the majority opinion in any major
development space (Apple, Microsoft, Linux, et cetera) is unlikely to be
anything clean, elegant, and sane, except in rare cases.

Chad Perrin [ original content licensed OWL: http://owl.apotheon.org ]
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