Windows 2000 Sales Brisk; and Musings on "Pure Java"

This week, I have some random musings on the state of the industry...

If you're a Linux backer, the impossible happened last week: Microsoft stock jumped 5 percent when the company announced that initial sales of Windows 2000 (Win2K) are far better than expected. Analysts have wondered whether the "low-key" product introduction would get Win2K off to a flying start, but Microsoft says that it has already sold more than 500,000 retail copies in the 2 weeks since Win2K’s introduction. Retail sales are traditionally at the low end of the sales spectrum, especially for a business-oriented product such as Win2K.

These numbers don't include corporate upgrades, and I suspect we'll have to wait a few months before we have any accurate data about them. Microsoft says that it's "betting the company" on Win2K, and although that's a trite marketing phrase, I believe it's true. As the basis for all Microsoft's upcoming OS development, Win2K had better be good. And it had better sell, too. I doubt Microsoft could fall back on Windows CE sales.

However, Microsoft could always fall back on Windows 98 (Win98) sales. According to a survey by WebSideStory, a company that uses HitBox Web audience analysis technology to analyze Web audiences, Win98 use is at an all-time high among Internet users, nearly doubling last year. Win98 accounts for more than 66 percent of all Web users, compared to 38 percent the year before. Meanwhile, Windows 95 (Win95) use among Web users has dropped from 50 percent in 1999 to about 23 percent today. WebSideStory didn’t report on Windows NT 4.0, but another survey I saw recently placed NT 4.0 Workstation use at about 9 percent.

One interesting aspect about this data is that Win98 use rises 5 to 6 percent on weekends, while Win95 use rises during the week. WebSideStory attributes this phenomenon to the tendency of businesses to upgrade less often than individuals. On weekends, workers go home to their more current PCs.

The Java "write-once-run-anywhere" slogan hasn't been bandied about much lately, but I've always thought something about the whole "Pure Java" issue was fishy, though I could never explain why. This week, however, I was researching object-oriented programming (OOP) theory for an upcoming book on Visual Basic (VB) 7.0, and I found this quotation from Bjarne Stroustrup, creator of the C++ programming language; his words really hit home.

"Java isn't platform independent; it is a platform," says Stroustrup. "Like Windows, it is a proprietary commercial platform. That is, you can write programs for Windows/Intel or Java/JVM, and in each case you are writing code for a platform owned by a single corporation and tweaked for the commercial benefit of that corporation."

Sun Microsystems is no longer pushing Java as a platform competitor for Windows, so the point might be moot. Still, I was amazed to see this statement, which completely explained away my disconcerted feelings toward Java. And as I note in a news item in this issue about Sun Microsystem's determination to work outside of standardization, when it comes to developing for closed platforms, sticking with the platform that has the most users makes sense. Guess which one that is? (Hint: It's not Java.)

Finally, I'd like to announce that Windows 2000 Magazine has purchased my WinInfo newsletter and Web site, along with my SuperSite for Windows, a Web site dedicated to the future of Windows computing. I've mentioned these sites in Windows 2000 Magazine UPDATE in the past, but now they're part of the Windows 2000 Magazine family, and I hope you'll take a look at the Web sites and subscribe to WinInfo UPDATE, which goes out daily. If you enjoy the news items in Windows 2000 Magazine UPDATE but want to receive them in a more timely manner, check out WinInfo UPDATE. In addition to Windows 2000 Magazine UPDATE, WinInfo UPDATE, and the SuperSite for Windows, I'll be working on several other projects for Windows 2000 Magazine in the upcoming months. No rest for the wicked, I guess.

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