>>>> Microsoft has never had a monopoly in OSs.
The MicroShip(tm), also known as The Big White Super
Boat, sailed in late 1970. The ascendancy of Windows
was inevitable, in hindsight; Microsoft came out first,
and continued to build on its successes.
Its first port of call was the best word processor (at the
time -- or maybe just the most popular) in the business,
in late 1983. X is arguably a more rugged design, but
is far slower (from a market point perspective) than the
Windows vessel. Various prototypes of X9 were available as
early as 1985, but it was still being built, and X11 proper
didn't come out until late 1987. By then, it was too
late, and Desqview/X, which might have saved Quarterdeck,
ran aground. (For its part Quarterdeck apparently ran into
a Microsoft minefield -- the Big White Boat does sport
a working minelayer -- and its flagship product (EMM386)
crashed and burned. X is doing reasonably well, with its
twin hulls, strangely enough. More on that below.)
Its second was the OS market. It savaged OS/2 through
a form of betrayal (a masterful tactic, BTW, which the
Boat is still trying to utilize again), from which IBM's
offering never recovered, and trounced 4DOS and GEM through
various strategems (the disappearing beta message was a
masterstroke, scaring much of the market off alternative
DOS platforms and thereby torpedoing the 4DOS flatboat).
Win95 simplified the world for many -- anyone else
remember those horrid CONFIG.SYS DOS protocol stacks? --
and generally improved the GUI experience, making the
Microsoft ship a diesel-oil driven privateer among the
relatively sedate sloops and galleons. The AppleYacht(tm),
by contrast, was a nice looking sailing vessel but had
too much gold weighing it down.
Its third was the browser. Despite a late start, by that
time Microsoft had so much capital that it committed a
large amount of engine power/NRE to a better browser --
IE4 -- than Netscape's NS4 at the time. Netscape was
left to founder, though in a rather startling mutation of
metaphors, became instead a submarine with some rather
nasty attack capabilities. (Microsoft would do well to
invest in depth charges. So far, all IE7 has is a new
paint job, RSS feeds, some stolen tabbing and search
technology, and a better page zoom. For its part the
Mozilla submarine has mutated into several variants
-- Seahorse and Iceweasel are the ones I know about.
Some smaller speedboats, submarines, floating fish,
ground-effect aircraft, three paddleboats (Dillo, Links,
Lynx) and a guy on a wooden plank (w3m), are still out
there in the Pea Sea. For its part Java is an oil rig,
but .NET's floating harvester can't seem to catch it,
despite .NET having a more powerful engine. (Perhaps its
propeller became entangled in some contractual seaweed?)
BeOS was the last ship to sail from the OS shipyards,
before (or maybe during) the advent of the Linux
speedboats. It actually looked rather luxurious, but,
a bit like the Titanic, ran afoul of a floating mine,
courtesy of Microsoft's agreements with equipment vendors.
That ship foundered and sank, though salvage operations
are proceeding. Variants such as BlueEyedDOS have
been built attempting to copy the general look of
the rather majestic brigantine.
The MicroShip is currently, however, having to deal
with some rather nasty leaks, mostly caused by its own
bad construction. These leaks are exploited by various
fish which get inside and wreak havoc on the innards.
While the submarines are not immune, they tend to attract
different and generally rarer varieties of swimming fauna.
Canoes and speedboats have their own issues, though for
the most part the fish avoid them.
The Linux speedboats come in various sizes. Some are
little more than dinghys, canoes, bermuda rigs,
wavebreakers, or kayaks -- DamnSmallLinux, Puppy, KNOPPIX
-- but somehow manage to run rings around the MicroShip,
which is now a full megatonnes in displacement, even when
carrying no load at all. The larger Linux boats look a
lot like outriggers, multi-hulled catamarans, gofasts,
or hovercraft, and have surprising speed. (They also
allow easy docking of submarines, even though the Boat
does offer a custom-shaped moon pool.)
Some of the boats contain dorsal fins and are painted
black, in a subtle dig at the mostly white MicroShip.
Linux flyboats or flycraft aren't really boats at all,
but function more like ground-effect ultralights (with
catamaran landing gear) as they noisily but speedily glide
over the water, when the wings are deployed.
Still others might look like large kites.
And all of the Linux boats have interchangeable parts,
leading to some very odd-looking hybrids -- at least,
to those whose only sailing experience was with the Big
White Boat, which is now looking more like The Big White
Patchwork Quilt, or maybe a pachyderm painted with whitewash.
But it's still afloat, mostly because of the efficiency
of its bilge pumps, and those pumps double as sprayers to
any watercraft nearby -- the Linux kites and flyboats are
particularly vulnerable, being light but with large areas
of foulable canvas. Thus far, experts in the field have
categorized the bilge spewed from these pumps as consisting
of the following components.
- Fear, a kind of oil noted for its flammability, can douse
the craft. While calming the waters nearby, disaster can
rage in a massive conflagration if deliberately fired,
or accidentally touched off.
- Uncertainty, small sticky gluelike globs, interfere
with various aspects of the craft, though pose no
direct fire danger. Linux kites and flycraft are
particularly vulnerable. The globs can be
scraped off if the craft can be brought into drydock.
- Doubt, a gas evolved simultaneously with the
bilge-spewing, can cast a poisonous fog over the
proceedings, and requires some careful navigating for
patent mines that might be floating in the water.
Because of these components, the Boat can't really be used
as a fireboat. But oh well, this metaphor is running
low on bunker fuel anyway.... ;-)
Thus far, no one has sighted a Linux warship. Hypotheses
on The Boat -- those that have been intercepted by ground
listeners, anyway -- abound as to the exact nature of this
as yet undetermined threat:
- A large, metallic, multisection monster dwarfing
The Boat. This hypothetical craft would be configurable,
sort of like a gigantic Transformers(tm) or LEGO(tm)
toy with detachable parts, surrounding the Boat and
overwhelming it with sheer size. Depending on opiner,
the MetalMonster will either stand in the water, with
thick, multijointed legs, or simply float with enough
draught to keep the weapons platform from sinking.
A number of drilling rigs of the correct size have in
fact been seen -- the latest one is termed LosLobos --
and are occasionally touted as Linux successes,
but are not designed for warcraft.
- The MonkeyBomber, along the lines of the
Spruce Goose or a B-52 or B-2B "Batwing" equipped with
pontoons. The exact size and capabilities of such
a flying monster has been debated among aficionados,
especially when the submarine docking port is included
- The MoonBalloon(tm) (or Flying Croissant). This gigantic
crescent-shaped inflatable dirigible would descend
on the Boat and attempt to overwhelm its inherently
limited air defenses using detachable catamaran "bombs"
and small flykites. The main drawback is that no one's
entirely sure how big it should be, since Linux craft
vary so much in size.
- The Rocket Rodent. This modified catamaran with fuse
will transform itself into an airborne attack missile,
with (hopefully) devastating impact. Thus far, the
details yet to be worked out include the length of the
tail, the size of the payload, and how exactly the pilot
is supposed to get out of the boat after lighting it.
(Other variants of this concept include The Hot
HedgeHog, the BangerKangerroo, and the Mighty Morphing
- The Sucker Bait. This craft is actually an amalgamation
of a catamaran and a giant plunger, built to publically
available specifications of The Boat (and generally
immune to FUD, as it's nonflammable and unmanned).
Once attached to a suitable spot, it would simply stick
there, impeding maneuverability. Given enough of these,
The Boat will be unable to move effectively.
The drawbacks include the type of rubber to use and
how exactly one gets it to stick on the side of The Boat,
which is covered with barnacles from old malware attacks.
- The HellKite(tm). The general idea is that
a large kited craft would swoop down on the Boat --
which has no inherent anti-aircraft defense, it turns
out -- and wreak havoc. Thus far, experts are divided
on what color to make the kite fabric (many favor red,
though there are virulent green and malevolent yellow
contingents, and a very few suggest the sail should be
transparent to render the craft almost invisible), and
the exact nature of the delivered payload. Because all
of The Boat's specifications aren't publically available,
experts are unsure as to exactly how to attack --
bomblets, glue, napalm, water, weighted round gold slugs,
paint, and flowers have been suggested. Of these,
the flowers have the most appeal to the general public
(especially if they're on deck at the time, with gold
a strong second if they can dodge the gold and their
fellow passengers fast enough), though experts caution
such flowers would have little or no effect on The Boat's
actual working components.
There are also some concerns that the operators of the
HellKite might get confused if Rocket Rodents are nearby.
Something about birds of prey...I don't remember
- The Space Splat (or Blob). This one's actually a
rather simple affair; the general idea would be for some
sort of rubber band launcher to launch a satellite into
orbit, which then comes down on The Boat. Design of
the unit is continuing, though experts are unsure as
to its exact capabilities, including surface albedo
(just in case someone on the deck of The Boat carries a
spyglass) and the size of the rubber band. One expert
has suggested combining this with The Rocket Rodent,
but the idea has thus far gone, well....splat.
- The Space Squid. A bigger version of the Splat, where
the arms would contain various payloads. The project
has been weighed down by unfortunate arguments about
nicknames (Squiddly Diddly, Deep Purple, and FishBait
being the main suggestions, with obvious drawbacks)
and the odd requirement that the arms house anything
from submarines to kites.
- The Breakboater. This is actually more of
a submarine than a boat, and might masquerade as
something the Boat would navigate, until it got too near
to its desired port of call; the Boat would then founder
and be destroyed on the Breakboater's sharp edges, as
it heaves. It would also double, of course, as a port
breakwater, smoothing the waves for Linux watercraft,
a power generator (extracting energy from the waves),
and as a fairly decent deepwater submarine, looking a bit
like a chain of boxes. Issues include the exact size of
the boxes, especially since The Boat keeps changing size
(the Win3.1eroo variant was tiny compared to any of the
current Empress Vista fleet [Basic, Business, Premium,
Ultimate, etc.]), and technical challenges such as how to
keep the boxes from being opened in the Boat's moon pool
by the MicroShip's crack team of customer support personell.
- The Bridge To Safety. Purists scoff at this solution,
which looks like a gigantic fan in deployment with many
filaments (actually, pontoon or suspension bridges).
In operation, the device unfolds itself, surrounding the
boat; the general idea is similar to the MetalMonster
but instead of crushing The Boat, invaders would cross
the bridges and take over the deck, or evacuate all
passengers, or simply allow the passengers to exit (with
hints left on the ends of each bridge); the Boat would
then be left to drift.
Design challenges include what variety of alcoholic
beverages to serve as the passengers cross; most
wine experts suggest cabernet sauvignon or merlot,
though a few are holding out for the bubbly stuff.
- The FreeShip(tm) [*]. This ship, which is even larger
than the aforementioned drilling rigs, would not only
be much larger than The Boat, but would also envision a
multidimensional experience -- sort of a cross between
a cruise vessel, a high-priced resort, a submarine
port, a silicon foundry, a salt extraction factility,
a park (with harvestable trees), and an active if moving
airport for Linux kites and flycraft. The sides of the
FreeShip(tm) would be made out of a new, as yet secret,
type of plastic, and be largely stick-proof to remove
the threat of Uncertainty, non-flammable to slough off
Fear, and react chemically to the poisonous fog of Doubt,
rendering it mostly harmless. (It would also double as
a power source, extracting energy from sunlight.)
Detachable parts of the Freeship can also spin off
as more traditional Linux vessels, or the entire ship
can disintegrate in a more or less controlled fashion,
with the resulting parts sailing, chugging, sculling,
flying, or just rowing away. While the FreeShip(tm)
has no attack capability of its own, it makes for an
awesome floating platform for various business weapons.
Stay tuned, sailing buffs. ;-)
[*] with apologies in advance to Norman Nixon -- the
Freedom Ship at www.freedomship.com
like a pretty neat idea, if he can get it afloat.
Not sure I'm going to vote for him for President, but
that's also an option for those so inclined. I do
hope he's given some thought to recycling, and I
have no idea as to his notions for actual engine power.