# MS 'Monopoly'? was ENGR WinNT Reliability

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#### Michael Griffin

At 13:32 03/07/01 -0400, Jeff Dean wrote:
&lt;clip>
>As another person touched on - longevity is also important. I would not use
>or recommend Linux, because I do not believe it will last ...
&lt;clip>
> but remember that
>the public is fickle and can turn on a dime; IBM has a history of
>[effectively] abandoning operating systems (OS/2); and Compaq has shown it's
>ability to abandon investments that don't make money (Alpha, AltaVista). How
>long will these companies pour money down a hole?
&lt;clip>

IBM abandoned OS/2? I thought that Microsoft abandoned OS/2 and IBM maintained it for years afterwards so as not to leave their customers in the lurch. Whatever other bad things you may want to say about IBM, please don't
blame them for this one. OS/2 was a joint Microsoft-IBM project. Microsoft abandoned OS/2 because they wanted to pursue Windows NT (without IBM) instead. That probably turned out to be a good business decision in the long run for Microsoft but it doesn't change the fact that OS/2 was Microsoft's original replacement for Windows 3.1.

As for Compaq closing down investments that don't make money, that's true of any company, and not just in the computer business. What any company claims as being a core product today could be a terminated product tomorrow,
or for that matter, the whole company can be terminated. If your company depends heavily upon the availability of a particular product from a single source, you had better start putting some contigency plans in place.

Which brings me to the question which I had in mind. I was busy working on a question about the future of "Windows NT Embedded" and "Windows CE" when the above quoted letter arrived. This seems like an appropriate place to ask it.

What is the future of these two products? I have some co-workers thinking about the suitability of these operating systems for certain
applications. These are more or less OEM rather than end user products, but it is still possible they might appear in a proposal for a test system. We want to know if we should be avoiding either of these two if they may become terminated products, or changed radically in the future. I'm not concerned about "Windows CE" when it is in a sealed OEM product, only if it is used inside something which might be considered user repairable or maintained.
Please, these are serious questions and I would like only serious answers.

We have found some problems with long term maintenance of computerised test equipment because newer hardware may not be compatable
with older versions of Windows, while newer versions of Windows may not be capatable with the application program (or various data aquisition board drivers). Sometimes, even minor changes in the operating system revision have been enough to cause problems. So far we've always been able to sort things out in the end, but it has never been easy. I imagine we could be in much more serious trouble with odd versions of Windows (NT Embedded or CE).

These are the kind of problems which people building these systems rarely see. They have however caused us much more trouble than any actual unreliability or unpredictability of Windows. Our operators are fairly used to rebooting the computers when they act funny so that particular problem never gets mentioned to anyone unless you question them carefully. The types of problems I have outlined above though can put us in a serious bind.

**********************
Michael Griffin
**********************

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#### Davis Gentry

> From: Curt Wuollet <[email protected]>
> Your opinion of supportable and mine probably
differ. My customers
> have my home phone number. .......I'll bet you have
never run Linux.

Davis Gentry

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#### Curt Wuollet

It is most interesting that Ford of Europe is leaning toward OSS. Linux solutions could gain a lot of traction in one fell swoop.

Actually I think it is timely, germaine and important to talk about open systems and Linux. And contrast them with the status quo. For one thing we now have people who have never used anything other than Wimdows. For another thing there is an awful lot of traffic that deals
with the infelicities of Windows etal. in automation. The really amazing part for me is the resigned acceptance that "that's the way it is" and nothing can be done about it. I can think of no other instance where people are so willing to accept whatever a megacorp tells them they should be buying. Quite apart from the zealotry is this phenomena, unparalleled in any other product, of putting up with terms, conditions, and unbridled averice that no other sector could get away with for some fairly intangible benefits. To gain some
experience with something else, even by proxy, provides valuable insights and will prove valuable when there is a choice to be made.
Having real choices benefits everyone except perhaps those who have tried to prevent it. And there is no downside.

I liken it to the auto industry. American cars were the greatest until people actually had a choice. This produced chaos for a while, but
american cars are now at the very least competitive, and soon will be the greatest globally. It took change and choice to make that happen. Moving forward in this industry will only occur when the roadblocks fall and the game changes. We are bound in a matrix of barriers and
roadblocks with most of the energy expended in making them higher. The last island of proprietary computing in a sea of open prosperity.
It's important to talk about any possible way out.

Regards

cww

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Just to add a bit more fuel to the fire, perhaps some of you folks have read about the "improvements" M$has planned for WinXP. Take a look at the excerpt/links below, and consider what havoc some little script kiddie could wreak on your automation system that's connected to the admin network. From Steve Gibson's mailbot at [email protected]: "During the first few weeks of May, GRC.COM was the target of several distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks launched by a 13-year-old hacker using a tool he did not write. Using this tool, "Wicked" commanded multiple sustained attacks from 474 security-compromised Windows-based PC's. The whole tale turned into a pretty good read, and is something I imagine you may enjoy. You can read the entire page online on our web site, or you can download the PDF file for offline reading or printing. The page on our site: &lt;http://grc.com/dos/grcdos.htm> The PDF file: &lt;http://media.grc.com:8080/files/grcdos.pdf> Windows XP: The experience with Windows-based denial of service attacks focused my attention on Microsoft's planned release of Windows XP with its planned inclusion of "Full Raw Socket" support. Full raw sockets are a powerful and dangerous Internet API that exists in all Unix-based operating systems. But under Unix they are deliberately protected by the rigorous requirement for "root" privilege. (Similar to Microsoft's "Administrative" privilege.) However Microsoft has done away with this distinction in the Home Edition of Windows XP which threatens to populate the world with a needlessly dangerous capability. Microsoft and I have been arguing about this quite a lot recently. Last Thursday, this culminated in an eight-way telephone conference: My page explaining the XP threat: &lt;http://grc.com/dos/winxp.htm> About our phone conference: &lt;http://grc.com/dos/xpconference.htm>" Carl Ramer Controls & Protective Systems Design Space Gateway Support, Inc. Kennedy Space Center, Florida Unsponsored professional comment R #### Ralph Mackiewicz The argument below is not consistent. There is either a monopoly with no choices or there is no monopoly because there are choices. Its clear that you do have choices and you have taken them. There are choices. Therefore, there is no monopoly. Monopolies can't exist without the law to enforce them. The distribution of electricity in most areas of the world is operated by a monopoly. Software operating systems are not provided by a monopoly. There are hundreds of choices for operating systems. Regards, Ralph Mackiewicz SISCO, Inc. > In my current sphere of operations they have nearly a complete > and total monopoly. I can't do what I need to do with Windows. it's > not reliable enough and it's too expensive to develop in and maintain. > The low level stuff is all secret and you can only do what MS allows > you to do. ...snip...snip... > The status quo supports no choice with the exception of a few > independent IO vendors and they almost always require Windows in some > way, shape, or form. You are probably not aware of that because you > haven't tried to work outside this monopoly. Would it be a monopoly if > using anything forced you to use Linux? I think you'ld agree that it > would. > I have two choices, leave automation or build an alternative. > Automation pays my bills and matches my skill set perfectly. Obviously > I have chosen the latter and am installing a robotic machining cell > this week that replaces a lot of GE proprietary hardware and software > with Linux. ...snip...snip... > In your broader discussion, the question of monopoly is academic. In > the automation world, it is simply a matter of fact. The path we are > on is the only reasonable solution to the problem. There are many > folks who agree and some of them are willing and able to help. In my > case it has become a better technology thing and I think it can > revolutionize automation and drastically lower costs. E #### Eminent Hi, Agreed, the comparison of Microsoft Vs. Linux is more suitable on Linux and Microsoft users lists. An Automation list should discuss automation issues based on automation products. lets talk in terms of Wonderware Intouch is........ on Microsoft platform. AutomationX is ....... on Linux platform and so on. Availability of control blocks, special functions, problems in I/O field instrumentation etc. I have also faced blue screens and hanging of system and the messages from Dr. Watson which required that the system had to be rebooted. But due to proper selection of the architecture there was never a production loss. I have also seen ssytems that failed on NT due to improper architecture and reliability analysis. UNIX too has had its setback We are raving about Linux. Linux does seem to hold a lot of promise, But once Linux sets onto the Desktop, there will definately be viruses and trojans and bad systems on linuxes which may cause failures. Lets move on with automation issues. Anand M #### Mark Blunier > From: Ralph Mackiewicz [mailto:[email protected]] > The argument below is not consistent. There is either a monopoly with > no choices or there is no monopoly because there are choices. Wrong! Sometimes I think Parker Brothers have done a disservice selling so many copies of a particular board game. A monopoly does not mean they are the only one in the market, but rather that they can control the prices set in the market. Mark Any opinions expressed expressed in this message are not necessarily those of the company. S #### S Moore Do you think Bill Gates is the devil? Are we near the end of the world? Maybe OSS is the second coming. Or maybe Linus is? -- People are implementing robust, reliable automation solutions with NT and not experiencing any barriers. Curt Wuollet <[email protected]> wrote on 07/03/2001: >It is most interesting that Ford of Europe is leaning toward OSS. Linux solutions could gain a lot of traction in one fell swoop. > >Actually I think it is timely, germaine and important to talk about open systems and Linux. And contrast them with the status quo. ...<clip> < A #### Alex Pavloff > Just to add a bit more fuel to the fire, perhaps some of you folks have read > about the "improvements" M$ has planned for WinXP. Take a look at the
> excerpt/links below, and consider what havoc some little script kiddie
could
> wreak on your automation system that's connected to the admin network.

In this specific case, I'm siding with Microsoft.
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/technet/security/raw_sockets.asp

The biggest problems with XP are the product activation features. Change the hardware too much, and *POOF* it goes into non-functional mode until the system is "re-activated". This could cause some concern for people putting XP into user-servicable applications. For what its worth, the system is already in place on Office XP.

http://www.a1-electronics.co.uk/Operating_Systems/WinXP_Activation.html

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#### Ralph Mackiewicz

> You obviously haven't seen the mess that was made of the General
> Motors L-6 project. Windows NT and Nematron Open-Controls.
> Reliability went right out the door. You should see the faces of the
> production managers when you tell them some critical piece of
> machinery has to be rebooted and it take the line down for 10
> minutes.

> Of course, the upper management doesn't think there was any
> problems with the L-6 project (other than having troubles keeping up
> with production quota's). No body in GM is brave enough to tell Homie
> Patel that this little experiment was an absolute diasaster. -----

The more interesting issue here is WHY do the machines require so much rebooting?

Besides specing Nematron for the project, all non-I/O communications were required to be DCOM based using the OPC API. What happens when you loose a DCOM connection? How do you reestablish the communications channel? Answer: you reboot the machines. Is this the reason for the rebooting? If yes, that has nothing to do with Nematron. There were other communications solutions being considered that had a long track history of reliable operation in GM plants that were discarded in favor of the "safer" DCOM route. Maybe that was the key mistake? Lumping Nematron into this might not be fair.

Regards,
Ralph Mackiewicz
SISCO, Inc.

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#### Michael Griffin

At 07:34 05/07/01 -0400, Carl Ramer wrote:
>Just to add a bit more fuel to the fire, perhaps some of you folks have read
>about the "improvements" M$has planned for WinXP. Take a look at the >excerpt/links below, and consider what havoc some little script kiddie could >wreak on your automation system that's connected to the admin network. &lt;clip> The page on our site: &lt;http://grc.com/dos/grcdos.htm> &lt;clip> That was quite an interesting set of articles. What some people may additionally find interesting is that the articles mention that the new sockets feature in Windows-XP which will make it the target of choice for internet hackers is already in Windows 2000. Anyone who is using Windows 2000 for anything would find this set of articles very informative. An automated system which is connected to the internet would seem to be the ideal target for a hacker. An example might be a pumping station which is monitored remotely over the internet. It would be always on and normally unattended, which are the features a hacker wants. Such a system would also likely have been set up by an engineer who knows just enough about Windows to think that he actually knows what he's doing. I got the distinct impression that properly securing a computer system is something that even full time computer administrators have a hard time keeping up with. With the internet reaching further and further into the average plant, this is something to give some serious thought to. ********************** Michael Griffin London, Ont. Canada ********************** J #### Joe Jansen/ENGR/HQ/KEMET/US Mr. Mackiewicz. Please refer to zdnet.com for information regarding the US appeals court decision. MS does, in point of fact and law, maintain a monopoly in the desktop operating systems market. Furthermore, MS has, in point of fact and law, violated section 2 of the Sherman Anti-trust law. You can say and believe what you want, but the facts are evident as attested to in mind-numbing and sleep inducing detail by the courts. >>Monopolies can't exist without the law to enforce them. ??? Laws exist to prevent monopolies, not protect them.... And, as stated above and by the courts, this one does exist. I would also question the accuracy of your "hundreds of choices" reference. In closing, neither you nor I are a lawyer, but the judges are. You may not like what they said, but MS does fit the legal definition of a monopoly, and has fulfilled the legal definition of violation of US Anti-Trust law. Therefore, by definition, they are a monopoly. --Joe Jansen PS. Maybe we should get another catagory for the A-List for these discussions, such as OS: so that it can be filtered by those who do not want to follow this discussion any further.... &lt;Moderator's note: Joe, I'd be glad to, but alas, the listserv allows only a finite number of possible categories, and they're all in use. Given the longevity and sometime complexity of this discussion, I think it would be easiest to leave it be, rather than move (return?) to the most related "real" category -- SOFT(ware) -- which is also heavily used, and which would probably annoy just as many innocent bystanders. In the meantime, please remember that if anyone must digress into something that's *really* not automation related, it would be considerate to take it offlist. --Jennifer Powell> D #### Dale Malony >I liken it to the auto industry. American cars were the greatest until >people actually had a choice. NOT. We Americans THOUGHT our cars were the greatest until gas prices went so high we were willing to try out those little Japanese things. WOW were we surprised to find out that they were actually better cars. Why did the Japanese put so much effort into making little econo-boxes? >This produced chaos for a while, but American cars are now at the very >least competitive, and soon will be the greatest globally. NOT. American auto makers have focused on improving quality to the point that it is better than ever for America, but quality is NOT job one at Ford, GM, or Chrysler. This is the same approach to quality that M$ takes IMHO. They have been challenged by Linux reliability and they will improve it to the point that the typical consumer thinks that it is as reliable as Linux.

This will be just as much of a snow-job as the JD Powers surveys of "Initial Quality." Who in the world really believes that customer perception in the 1st 30days is an indicator of how good a car is? The sad answer is, Most Americans !!! And we are fools in general. We have fallen for the marketing ploys.

We? Not I, and not MANY of the people on this list when it comes to reliability of an OS, which is what started this whole debate.

I used to sell cars, GM and Toyota at different dealerships. The GM buyer usually believes his new car will be "as good as a Toyota." The Toyota
buyer would only buy a GM if Toyota didn't produce what he needed, but would do so with a pain in his gut. Many rejoiced when Toyota developed a full-size pickup and Minivan on a larger than Corolla chassis.

I believe the same will happen when Rockwell ports RS View to Linux, and other pipe-dreams that may just come true.

Oh, I work at Honda of America Mfg now in Marysville, Oh. I bought my '90 Accord for $6500, 5.5 years ago with 98,000 miles on it. It now has 244,000 and the engine has never been opened beyond replacing the clutch at 180k. And I drive it HARD !!! I change my oil every 5-10k miles and stretch my Maint to double the recommended intervals. I proudly say that my Honda has had fewer problems in 244,000 miles than most American cars in their 1st 50,000. It's broken down on me only once ... at 105k with a bad distributor bearing that Honda covered under warrantee, even though I was well out of coverage. Why? Because they knew they made a mistake and took responsibility for it. Would an "American car company consider a bearing which lasted 105k miles a design defect? Doubt it. Why did M$ wait until Win2k was released to admit that WinNT ought to be rebooted every 90 days or so? Why are they now presenting themselves as so
focused on reliability? Why are they FUDing open source and "sharing" their own source? Answer ... They are going to improve a little bit and snow the masses to believe they've improved to equal the new benchmark. Just watch.

Dale Malony

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#### S Moore

In either case, Ralph is correct. Prices are not being controlled by MS. Linux is an example of that.

This list if full of people that believe in giving software away for free. I don't know what the fuss is about MS. It appears the courts see it the same way.

On one side you have a group of people that are developing what they say is the best software ever written. Nothing is as robust or reliable as this software. Yet, this software is free for anyone to use. On the other side you have this big company that has made a bunch of money selling software. The people that see little value in software are upset about the big
company. They say that big company is making bad software. Stop it big company! We will show you. We will develop all this software and everything
will change. Wait... What's going on? How can the big company sell software when the greatest developers in the history of computing are giving better stuff away? Oh... it must be all the people are stupid except for the greatest developers in the history of computing. Time to start telling everyone that the big company is bad. They are really bad. Guess what they
are controlling the price of software! They shouldn't do that. They are not allowed to charge too much for software while we are giving it away. We want the big company to do what we are doing. This is the free enterprise system. Everyone should be giving things away for nothing! All those thousands of programmers that work at the big company need to work for free
so the big company can give software away. Once that is done we can all go live in boxes in a field and eat mushrooms all day and paint colors on each others faces and change our names to things like Sky and Free and Breeze.

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#### Curt Wuollet

I'm not sure why you have problem with the concept of a monopoly when even MS now concedes they have one. but I don't need the term
to describe the problem. Let me be more explicit Ralph. As far as I can tell, None of the PLC wendors, NC vendors, etc. have tools running on Linux. In order to use their equipment, I have no choice but to use Windows. Your argument doesn't make a lot of sense. The problem is that there is no particular reason that doing automation should require one to use Windows especially since it would be hard to find a less suitable platform for critical applications. I don't believe there is a worse platform generally available, yet it is the only one supported. I would be interested in hearing the engineering rationale involved. It's like marketing is the only thing that matters and engineers and other technical people who ought to know better are
agreeing with it, and even vigorously defending it. Even to the point of warping and twisting automation to fit the model. Don't you find that the least bit strange?

Regards

cww

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#### Curt Wuollet

> Do you think Bill Gates is the devil? Are we near the end of the world?
> Maybe OSS is the second coming. Or maybe Linus is?

No, actually I am profesionally concerned with the lag betewwn the general computing world and the important field of industrial automation. The
automation market is stagnating while the general computing world is advancing exponentially. The advancement in the general computing world
can be largely attributed to the advent of universal connectivity and ubiquitous commodity networking. I think a great deal of the stagnation
is the direct result of balkanization through rejection of common standards and the enormous burden and waste of development of hundreds of
functionally identical yet totally incompatible solutions. The evidence shows me that this is a failed model. And it concerns me that the only thing they have in common is total dependence on technolgy that has nothing to do with automation and is poorly suited for the task and further, is manipulated to the detriment of the industry, its practitioners and its customers. Any change
from this failed model would be positive and I am trying through reason and argument as well as direct action to effect change. I am not fanatical or radical or any of other brushes people use to paint over uncomfortable reality. I am an engineer who has the detachment to see what are some extremely strange goings on and remark on those that are contradictory to reason and what
an objective observer might think. I am not an entirely objective observer but I do have the perspective of having performed useful work in dozens of systems and environments culminating in Linux which is the best overall I have used to preform useful work for reasons that I am trying to explain. You'll have to gain the spirituality from somewhere else, this is strictly business.

> --
>
> People are implementing robust, reliable automation solutions with NT and
> not experiencing any barriers.

As long as everything is Microsoft and only Microsoft. The mafia are great guys too, as long as you pay the protection money.

Regards

cww

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#### Ralph Mackiewicz

Wrong! The definition of the word monopoly that I use is not derived from a board game or from some popular misconception/misuse. The definition is derived from the dictionary.

Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines monopoly as: 1) exclusive ownership through legal privilege, command of supply, or concerted
action 2) exclusive possession, 3) a commodity controoled by one party 4) a person or group having a monopoly.

While MS has a monopoly on Windows (granted by copyright and patent *LAWS*) they do not have a monopoly on operating systems.

This is not nitpicking. Language is important. MS may be a despicable company with unethical business practices but they are not an O/S
monopoly. Everyone has a choice. MS customers voluntarily make their purchases. There are no laws that require you to purchase MS products. Even by your own definition of price control MS fails the monopoly test. They certainly do not control the price of operating systems as evidenced by Linux and the hundreds of other operating systems that are available.

Regards,
Ralph Mackiewicz
SISCO, Inc.

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#### Ed Mulligan

There is no such thing as long term support in the PC world.

http://support.microsoft.com/directory/discontinue.asp?sd=gn
"The following products, on a product-by-product basis, have been determined to have reached the end of their product lifecycle. Microsoft has
discontinued support for these products." Note that the list contains W95, W98, W98 SE, and NT4 Workstation. With the new OS versions on the way, how long will NT server last? I think that the MCSE exams for NT will not be given much longer. Hardware is no different. Try to find the motherboard, video card, etc. that you bought two years ago. How about the non-IDE hard drive from 10 years ago? The traditional automation suppliers have longer support cycles, but I'm
sure we all have worked on systems that were operating just fine on equipment that is no longer supported. Expect the life cycle to get shorter and shorter in the non-PC world, too.

Ed

Speaking for me, not for Starbucks. . .

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#### Jay Kirsch

>> From: Ralph Mackiewicz [mailto:[email protected]]
>> The argument below is not consistent. There is either a monopoly with
>> no choices or there is no monopoly because there are choices.

>From: "Blunier, Mark" <[email protected]>
>Wrong! Sometimes I think Parker Brothers have done a disservice selling
>so many copies of a particular board game. A monopoly does not mean they
>are the only one in the market, but rather that they can control the
>prices set in the market.

What we all learned in school today is that dictionaries, economists, and federal Judges are not all in agreement about the definition of a
monopoly or what to do about one.

Microsoft has a monopoly on operating systems that employ a graphical user interface running on desktop computers with Intel based micro-processors made between 1995 and 2001 AD. Microsoft controls the price of these operating systems. It is their property and their right to dispose of it as they please. Does this mean we are paying a higher price for this product than we would if there were a major competitor in the exact same market ? No one knows. Economists are
not in agreement on the nature of monopolies or on monopoly pricing. Some economists say they make prices higher, others say just the
opposite (http://www.mises.org/fullarticle.asp?record=331&month=14 ).

Hoping to make the price of these operating systems drop and to protect the "right" of others to a share of the market, a number people would like to see that Microsoft's freedom to run their business as they see fit be curtailed. Instead, Microsoft should be run by others, on some notion these others have about what is in the best
interest of society.

There is a huge problem with this related to the automation industry. Many of the leaders in this industry depend on Microsoft following through on commitments they have made to develop some of the technologies we use. Many HMI makers are
working with some confidence that Microsoft will continue to develop and support Active-X, OPC, .NET, and the like. Many of us use these products.

Economists and politicians, whether we agree with them or not, are not qualified to run Microsoft. If they do, those of us who choose to apply this technology will no longer be able to base this decision on experience and reason, but instead, we will have to stick our wet fingers in the air to see which way the political winds are blowing.

I don't presume to have the ability to change anyone's strongly held beliefs about American capitalism. All I can say to those who use their voices, votes, and dollars to bring regulation into this industry is "Careful with that axe, Eugene."

Jay Kirsch