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Now that Microsoft is IBM, it needs to avoid IBM’s big mistake

Whether Microsoft likes it or not, it’s turned into IBM. The biggest difference I see is that when Microsoft makes a mistake, it catches up with them much faster than the same mistake did to IBM.

But IBM’s biggest mistake was its adamant refusal to compete with itself. And that’s what Microsoft is going to have to avoid. Like Computerworld says, Apple says if you don’t compete with yourself, someone else will.Read More »Now that Microsoft is IBM, it needs to avoid IBM’s big mistake

AMD hits 5 GHz

So, AMD announced a new 8-core CPU running at 5 GHz this week. It’s a bit of a hollow victory, since it basically will match the highest-end Intel Core i7 in performance, in spite of its much higher clock rate and wattage. I’m not sure what the appeal of a 220-watt CPU is, and I’m also not sure why AMD is giving Intel a few months to respond to it, because I’m sure Intel could create a 5 GHz CPU with a comparable thermal rating to compete against it, given the desire.

Also note this is the design that shares a math unit with each pair of integer cores. For some people, this won’t matter at all, but for others, it can be a deal breaker. It’s part of the reason that AMD has to crank the clock rate so high in order to compete. The problem is that Intel can play this game too. AMD scored major points a decade ago by releasing chips that were much more power efficient than Intel’s power-hungry P4. The resulting war was good for us, since now we’re getting good, fast CPUs that use 20 watts. But Intel is winning that war right now. So that means if AMD wants to play that game, Intel has more headroom to climb. If AMD can deliver 5 GHz at 220 watts, all Intel really has to do is deliver 5.1 GHz at 220 watts.

So AMD is taking a chance here. But I suppose it means that, for a time, they’ll be able to sell some CPUs to people who insist on having the fastest-clocked CPU, whether it really means anything performance-wise or not. And they probably can use the money.

No, this doesn’t mean Ubuntu and Linux are giving up

This week, Mark Shuttleworth closed the longstanding Ubuntu bug #1, which simply read, “Microsoft has majority market share.” Because Microsoft didn’t lose its market share lead to Ubuntu, or Red Hat, or some other conventional Linux distribution, some people, including John C. Dvorak, are interpreting this as some kind of surrender.

I don’t see it as surrender at all. Microsoft’s dominant position, which seemed invincible in 2004 when Shuttleworth opened that bug, is slipping away. They still dominate PCs, but PCs as we know it are a shrinking part of the overall computing landscape, and the growth is all happening elsewhere.

I have (or at least had) a reputation as a Microsoft hater. That’s a vast oversimplification. I’m not anti-Microsoft. I’m pro-competition. I’m also pro-Amiga, and I’ll go to my grave maintaining that the death of Amiga set the industry back 20 years. I have Windows and Linux boxes at home, my wife has (believe it or not) an Ipad, and at work I’m more comfortable administering Linux than Windows right now, which seems a bit strange, especially considering it’s a Red Hat derivative and I haven’t touched Red Hat in what seems like 400 years.

What Shuttleworth is acknowledging is that we have something other than a duopoly again, for the first time in more than 20 years, and the industry is innovating and interesting again.Read More »No, this doesn’t mean Ubuntu and Linux are giving up

Don’t read too much into the PC sales drop just yet

If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you probably know that new PC sales are in the toilet–out of the five biggest vendors, the only one whose sales managed to hold steady in Q1 2013 was Lenovo, while the other four saw a sales decline. So now Slashdot linked to a ZDNet piece stating that Windows is over, and said it must be true because ZDNet always sides with Microsoft.

Let’s not read too much into that. The author of the piece is a longtime open-source advocate. The points he raises are completely valid, but if there’s one person who’s going to take Microsoft to task, it’s Steven Vaughan-Nichols.

Microsoft has a long road ahead, but there is precedent for salvaging the boondoggle known as Windows 8. And I don’t think Windows 8 is the only factor here.Read More »Don’t read too much into the PC sales drop just yet

The AMI BIOS breach of 2013

A security professional’s nightmare happened to AMI this week. Tons of confidential data, including the source code for the UEFI BIOS for Intel Ivy Bridge-based systems and an AMI-owned private key for digital signatures, turned up on a wide-open FTP server for all comers to download anonymously. This AMI BIOS breach has numerous implications.

The implications are nearly limitless. To a malware author, this is like finding a hollowed-out book at a garage sale stuffed with $100 bills with a 25-cent price sticker on the front. If you’re a budding security professional, count on being asked in job interviews why you need to protect confidential information. The next time you get that question, here’s a story you can cite.

Read More »The AMI BIOS breach of 2013