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BIG NEWS ON USA MICROSOFT: Slavery to It Is Ending
Por Clayton Hallmark - Saturday, May. 28, 2005 at 9:03 AM

Mass-produced computers can KILL Microsoft and free the world's computer users. They'll be too cheap to accommodate MS Windows -- MS's bread and butter. Computers will go the way of TVs and VCRs -- cheap offshore (non-USA) production. They'll be cheap, simple, general-purpose (FREE SOFTWARE), all-electronic (no disk drive) -- in other words, real electronic computers, finally. READ ABOUT THE OPENING SHOT, MOBILIS, FIRED IN BANGALORE, INDIA, ON MAY 26, 2005.

mobilis_with_keyboard.jpg, image/jpeg, 350x208

If you like this idea, remember, above all, avoid Microsoft traps like the "Windows XP Starter Edition." It's a $30 loss-leader for developing nations -- with price-gouging to begin soon after. If you are outside the USA, be like Munich, Germany -- declare your freedom by going open-source for your enterprise. Beware of the US spies at the USAID and beware Microsoft's so-called "Local Economic Development Program for Software," which is insurgent in Brazil and Jordan. Read a US judge's decision on how MS strangles the US market ( and avoid this for your country.

A respected US group, the Gartner group, warns against the Windows "Starter Edition" at .

To read about Microsoft's designs on your country, see . The head of the USAID (US Agency for International Development) is Andrew Natsios, a nephew of famed CIA spy Nicholas Natsios.

For non-US persons looking for freedom from Microsoft for their enterprise, consider the Munich example at: and Germany's example at,1564,568696,00.html . Bergen, Norway's second city, is planning to switch its computers to Linux.

For balls, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballsmer has threatened Asian countries -- sovereign nations, mind you -- with lawsuits if they employ the Linux open-sourse operating system. He threatens them under the aegis of the World Trade Organization.

However, the hundred-dollar Linux computer will be the end of Microsoft's dominance and possibly the company itself. Do you care? Can the Indian MOBILIS beat Microsoft? Can Wal-Mart beat Microsoft in America? Since you are reading this on a computer, you are a slave to MS and you should care. Freeing us from MS and its robber baron could raise the US productivity by several points. It can free foreign governments from aggression by Microsoft. I'll show how. To have fun, usable, efficient computers, it is necessary. To finally realize the dream that Bill Gates aborted, we need a computer that is: Cheap----Instant-On----Simple----General Purpose. Only India has one, for $200 ("good globalization"). We (the rest of the world) don't. This might not be the machine, but more are coming, and they will starve Microsoft.

At $100 or $200 there is no room for Windows, unless MS gives away its XP "Special Edition" or its CE -- as a trap.

If the computer becoming a commodity is a threat to MS, the company is only encouraging that trend with its foray into home entertainment. They are doing this for one reason: to keep game consoles from competing with PCs and Windows. That's why you won't see windows on game boxes. This will backfire. No American company can long make money in the manufacturing and marketing of home entertainment. It will be "deja vu all over again": When a new must-have Next Big Thing makes a market in the US, the Asians make it and take it. (The list is long and started with the transistor: portable radios, all radios, B&W TVs, color TVs, VCRs, CD players, digital clocks, watches, cameras -- and now, the computer.) Home entertainment systems are a booby trap for American companies and they will be for MS, too. Microsoft's participation in this will help ensure the commoditization of computing -- the opposite of what they planned.

At $100 or $200 there is no room for Windows and Microsoft, because the price charged manufacturers -- $70 to $83 for each computer using Windows -- precludes it. That is a tax that most of us have to pay when we buy a computer. Microsoft also has a $30 Windows XP version for what they call "entry computers" in developing countries ONLY -- but it is a trap -- much higher prices, like subscription charges, will follow. DON'T FALL FOR THE $30 WINDOWS "STARTER EDITION" TRAP!

$220 AND FALLING (See photo.)

(May 24, 2005) Today's "personal computer" is not even a true computer, in that it is not a general-purpose device but a proprietary Wintel (Windows and Intel, working in collusion) device. The PC is a corrupted version of the microcomputer vision that we had in the 1970s. I was there. That vision failed when Microsoft pirated away the microcomputer/small computer/home computer as we variously called it. I will show that we have the tools to take back the vision of the computer as a universally available intellectual tool -- take it back from Bill Gates, the Blue Beard of computing. I will show that globalization is not all bad. It will take more than Linux or free open-source software (FOSS), much more, as explained below.

Famous computer visionary Nicholas Negroponte of the MIT Media Lab is developing and promoting a $100 laptop with proposed specifications including a 500-MHz processor, 1 GB of memory, an XVGA display, and free Linux. He envisions 200,000,000 million of them being distributed to countries like China in two years. However, the Indian company Encore Software already is marking a small computer, the MOBILIS, with much more modest specs, for about $220. The Mobilis may not have the features many of you want, but it is a crack in the dam. As cheap computers flood the US, upgraded versions soon will appear -- much cheaper because of no MS tax -- and much better. Both of the above computers employ the open-source Linux operating system (OS). already sells a good, cheap OS-LESS computer -- you get to choose one. These machines might not change the world, and nonproprietary operating systems besides Linux might become more important, but all this shows what is coming.


The Indian Mobilis has some of them. They include:

1. Cheap (nearly free) nonproprietary operating system (Linux or other) and cheap nonproprietary basic applications -- word processor, browser, etc. --- This would make the small computer a general-purpose device, as a computer should be -- not tied to Microsoft, Apple, or Palm. Above all, the small computer must AVOID MICROSOFT INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND BE ABLE TO PROVE THIS IN A COURT OF LAW. Microsoft basically is a publishing company full of lawyers. (Did you ever see a publishing company get this big or a publisher get as wealthy? Not even Hearst of "Citizen Kane." They exploit the law and technological ignorance.) Avoid Apple, Microsoft, and all proprietary software as much as possible. An operating system is one of those things you shouldn't have to pay for -- certainly not on the basis that the publisher (Microsoft) excludes other software companies from YOUR computer. You don't pay for an OS when you buy home entertainment devices (though some probably would like to put an OS in a kitchen toaster).

2. Instant-on operation --- no waiting for the OS to load from a hard drive. Keep the OS small enough to fit economically in nonvolatile solid-state memory (flash, etc.).

3. At last, an ELECTRONIC computer. --- What we have now, the PC, includes an electromechanical device, the motorized hard drive -- an electromagnetic device like the relays in the Harvard Mark I of 1943. With "general purposeness" and all-electronic operation (OS on chips, not a disk drive), we would finally have something that meets the traditional definition of a real electronic computer. Watch the price of flash memory go down and you will see the possibilities for taking the "D" out of "DOS."

4. Simplicity. --- Since the operating system would be on semiconductor chips, it would be much smaller than the monstrous "whatever the traffic will bear" Windows. A small operating system is a simple one. Remember DOS and the early computers? To start "computing" (limited, admittedly), one had only to know how to turn on the power switch and insert the boot disk. Computer simplicity alone could add several points to a nation's labor productivity.

5. Driver software for common hardware such as Epson printers and HP scanners.

6. Ability to view, print, edit, and exchange files in Microsoft formats (.doc, .xls, etc.) and to convert to and from standard file formats, including proprietary ones where legal.

7. Ports for expandability to include connectivity (modem, Ethernet, etc.), hardware devices (printer, scanner, etc.), and more storage (e.g., Lexar JumpDrives). The Mobilis uses UPS for expansion.


Of course they are, and Microsoft cannot do anything about this. In fact, their CEO, Steve Ballsmer, says he wants to see a $100 PC, with a trap, of course: Windows "Starter Edition." See and also see

THE NEWS NOW: India already has the Linux-based Mobilis that sells for $220US and has its OS on chips -- where, by the way, viruses can't get to them. It is simple to use because it is a simple machine. It has to be simple because you cannot build Wintel complexity into a $200 computer. And you can't build a MS Windows computer for $200, much less $100. Who needs Windows? We really need to ask.

FOR AMERICANS: "What this country needs is a good C-note computer" [says I]. Can we have it? Yes, and Wal-Mart could bring it to us. With that company's merchandising clout, it probably could hope to market profitably a small computer such as the Indian one for $100. Since Wal-Mart is a global operation, there is a strong incentive to do this. Wal-Mart was the first major US retailer to offer PCs without Windows preloaded. Already (Wal-Mart's e-commerce site) offers a $498 Balance laptop that runs Linux-based Linspire .

For desktops, offers a $398 desktop from Microtel, with a 1 GHz Duron processor (includes disk drive but no monitor). It runs a version of Linux from Sun Microsystems, the famous maker of Java workstations and Java software. All of these Wal-Mart prices do not even require mail-in rebates!

FOR THE WORLD: The fabled MIT Media Lab (Nicholas Negroponte) is developing a $100 laptop now This will be worthwhile ONLY as long as it is based on Linux or other open-source software rather than Microsoft.

Via Technologies, a chip-set maker in Taiwan, has designed the Terra PC, which it will license worldwide and which will sell for $250. It should be available in India and elsewhere in autumn of 2005. It even includes a monitor in the $250 price. The Terra appears to not be infected by Windows or Microsoft yet.

AVOID THE AMD PIC (PERSONAL INTERNET COMMUNICATOR): The US chip maker AMD has designed the PIC to sell for $185. The India version of this has not made a dent in the market, fortunately. This will run on Windows CE and is another Microsoft trap -- like "Starter Edition" XP, or Windows Lite -- for entry-level users. Once MS has you, it's hard to break loose. Generally, non-US hardware is safer for those wanting to avoid Microsoft/Windows software. Any Via solution is preferable to AMD. AMD's chairman, Hector Ruiz, is an advocate of $100 computers, but he has sold out to Microsoft. See .

FOREIGNERS BEWARE! All of the American software and electronics companies are sometimes friends and sometimes foes of Microsoft. All American companies would like their own sweetheart deals with Microsoft. Take, for example, Sun:


It is only a matter of time before the computer becomes a commodity available at the nearest Wal-Mart store for $100 or $200. I have a $7 twelve-band short-wave radio from China via Odd Lots. A few years ago I would have had to pay almost $100 for a Grundig G-1000A to get as much functionality and quality (and I have been at this for many years). I wouldn't have believed it economically possible until I saw it and grabbed it.

Could Microsoft stop Wal-Mart? No. Microsoft really is just a windbag (puffing 10 times more features than you need for 10 times the price) and a moneybag (lots of cash -- and market capitalization, based on hype and stock splits). If Wal-Mart doesn't do it first, someone else will.


It comes from Encore Software Ltd. of Bangalore. It has a small VGA (color-screen standard) LCD screen and rollup keyboard, weighs about one and a half pounds (three-fourths of a kilogram), and opens up to a desktop configuration. It has flash memory (electronically erasable, programmable read-only memory) instead of a hard drive.

The software is based on Linux and developments sponsored by the government of India. Already it has the most-used applications of a computer: word-processing, email, Web browsing, and a spreadsheet. Nonproprietary software (by which I define "general purpose") and all-electronic operation provide, finally, a real, general-purpose, electronic computer for home and office use. This appears to be safe from Microsoft for now.


Cheap nonvolatile semiconductor memory is making it possible to put the OS on chips and eliminate the hard drive, as in the Mobilis. Abandoning the hard drive involves avoiding bloated monstrosities like Windows XP, which squanders at least 64 MB of storage (128 MB is recommended) with bundled application programs, some of which you probably haven't even noticed, and with bells and whistles that are "helpful" like too many cooks in the kitchen.

The game that MS and Intel have used to amass huge capital, and power (but I repeat myself), is reminiscent of the Fifties and Sixties "horsepower race" of American car companies (foolishly reprised with SUVs, a 108-day supply of which is on car lots now). Microsoft develops a new operating system that works less than optimally on current computers. Then Intel designs a new microprocessor with a higher level of integration (a much greater density of circuit components) and enough power to run the latest generation of Windows. A few years later, MS raises the ante and we are in for another round of computer replacements (those of you who fall for this). The rest (non-MS part) of the software industry mainly is engaged in making applications programs -- new programs for work and entertainment -- that exploit the increased power of the Intel and Windows hardware and software. Microsoft bundles as much software with Windows as the traffic, or price, will bear -- making Windows as expensive and problem-prone as they can get away with. The result: Two thirds of the software on a computer runs the other third.

Of course it can be either Intel or Microsoft that initiates the next round of planned obsolescence in computer. HOWEVER -- and this is key -- the next stage, the next level of integration, going from 0.09-micron wafer fab process to 0.065, will cost Intel $6 billion, which only they and IBM can afford. One of the reasons for the "tech wreck" in stocks probably was the diminishing returns on higher levels of circuit integration. Physical limits to processor circuit density -- in tandem with the dumping of boatloads of computers -- will end the horsepower race, but Intel and Microsoft dominance will continue for a season.


How ridiculous is this? Consider the amount of memory needed to accommodate various operating systems. The following shows how operating systems have grown (the MINIMUM amount of RAM required by operating sytems). Most of the growth since Microsoft got involved with MS-DOS version 1.0 has been the result of the Microsoft-Intel horsepower race (between themselves and computer buyers' gullibility). Basically this list is in reverse chronological order (most recent first):

Windows XP ---------------------------- 64MB (minimum, 128 MB recommended)
Linux Red Hat (Unix clone) -------- 32 MB
Apple Mac OS 8.6 -------------------- 24 MB
Windows 98 --------------------------- 24 MB
Windows 95 ----------------------------- 8 MB
Commodore Amiga OS 3.5 --------- 8 MB
Windows 3.11 --------------------------- 3 MB
Apple Lisa -------------------------------- 1 MB
MS-DOS 6.22 ------------------------- 512 KB
Windows CE (for Pocket PC) ----- 512 KB (in ROM)
Apple Mackintosh OS 1.0 ---------- 128 KB
CP/M --------------------------------------- 20 KB
MS-DOS 1.0 ----------------------------- 16 KB
TRS-DOS (Radio Shack) -------------- 4 KB

One hundred and twenty-four megabytes for the operating system is "the dumbest fool thing I have ever heard!" (Bill Gates rhetoric I cleaned up). The OS should fit on an inexpensive amount of flash memory. Eliminating the hard drive gets rid of a lot of cost, size, weight, and Windows to boot (no pun).

I wrote a book in the late 1970s (see list at end) that included Tandy Leather Company's offering, the Tandy-Radio Shack TRS-80. A few years before that, I remember programming microcomputers, as we called them then, bit by bit -- this was basically a microprocessor development system using machine language. I remember my relief a year or so later when I could build a Heathkit H8 and program it four bits at a time using a hexadecimal keypad -- this was basically a microprocessor development kit or demonstrator. I remember Don Lancaster's "TV Typewriter" in the mid Seventies -- this was basically a dumb terminal. It could be coupled to a time-sharing computer system, but mostly it was used just for displaying 512 characters on a screen and for amateur experimentation (chatting by text via ham radio, for example). Then, in the late Seventies, with the TRS-80 and its contemporaries, which melded CRT screen and keyboard, it was possible to program a home computer in a higher level language at last, BASIC. At the time, our dreams for computing didn't go much beyond balancing a checkbook (I never heard of anyone actually doing this with those relics). This was an era of open systems 25-plus years ago: Many people designed operating systems for the TRS-80.

While we were playing with these things and naming ourselves "hackers" after model railroaders who hard-wired complex train controls beneath their layout tables (no connotation of malware back then), Doug Engelbart was fathering the mouse and graphical user interface (he invented windows with a small "w") at Xerox in Palo Alto. He, not Microsoft, invented the windowed or paned interface. Theodor Nelson (the man who coined the word "hypertext" as in http and html) was dreaming of the useful and usable computers we still don't have -- and of something like the Web and Marshall McLuhan's "everything all at once." Nelson also dreamed of putting the corpus of human knowledge on the equivalent of an e-commerce network (which Google seems headed towards finally). We all were dreaming of useful and usable computers for the masses -- and we still don't have them, thanks to Microsoft, Intel, and people of small technogical visions and large greed. At this time (the Seventies) Bill Gates was dreaming of how to make money with software while most others were counting on doing it with hardware. He never lost his lead at this, but his company never invented anything significant. The last time I was thrilled by his company was when they came out with MS-BASIC.

Bill Gates killed the dream.


Progress toward the dream -- cheap, simple, real computers -- will begin again when the cultural imperative becomes global and bigger than Microsoft. This will not be good for Microsoft, but it will be for nearly everyone else. This is about a kind of freedom for the people of the world. The time is at hand.


Microsoft's leading executive, CEO Steve Ballmer, is trotting about the globe "warning nations about the potential for patent lawsuits if they use Linux." This is sovereign nations Ballmer (maybe we should add an "s" in his name) is addressing. The sovereign State of Microsoft knows no limits to its boldness, but Ballmer and Gates and company are harboring an illusory hope if they think they can duplicate in the world at large their US marketing windfall.

The Mobilis could become the MobilUS; and when it or some other cheap, simple, real computer hits US shores, the emperor of Microsoft will be exposed (financially, too) and we will be on our way toward much, much more useful computers.


"Microelectronics" (1976) -- Probably one of the earliest books with "microelectronics" in the title.
"Computerist's Handy Databook-Dictionary" (1979) -- Yes, that's what we sometimes called computer users then.
"Computerist's Handy Manual" (1979) -- This shows how much less visionary I was than Engelbart, Nelson, and Gates.

$220 AND FALLING (See photo.)

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