Saturday, August 1, 2009

STEVE BALLMER SHOWS MICROSOFT'S TRUE COLORS: "Raise the Price of Netbooks" Here's an open letter: "Fat chance, fat man!"

Open Letter to Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft Corporation:

Dear Mr. Ballmer:

In a recent presentation to stock-market analysts at Microsoft headquarters, you admitted that Microsoft wants to raise the price of netbooks.

You are admitting what I have accused your partner in crime (Intel) of, numerous times in posts here: bait and switch. When Asus came out with its revolutionary Model EEE, which is to computing what the Model T is to cars, you used the monopoly power of Microsoft to drive Linux off the Asus mini-laptops and later almost completely off "netbooks" (a term established by Intel) by practically giving away a Windows product, XP, that you had discarded. Now Microsoft's profits are down 29 percent for the last three months, based on cheaper XP dragging down Windows revenue ; and you hope to "upgrade" everyone with Windows 7, which means extracting much more money from home and enterprise users, especially, those who use small, cheap computers.

You have said you hope to use Windows 7 to bring up the price of netbooks. Actually, that would be the tail wagging the dog: Netbooks are bigger than Microsoft, and your latest OS introduction will be a flop, just like Vista.

I have news for you: The basic law of microelectronics is not the well known Moore's Law (named after the cofounder of your partner in Wintel, for those who still don't know), which says maximum transistors on a CPU will double regularly. The basic law of microelectronics is not Moore's Law and it's not "More is better," meaning use the more complex chips for more performance (speed) and "featurism" -- 1001 features that almost no one needs on an operating system or application program and that just slow down the computer and get in the way of the user.

The Basic Law of Microelectronics Is ...

It is Van der Rohe's Law (not Moore's): "Less is more." I wrote one of the early books with "microelectronics" in the title, and I have been interested in this since long before the PC came out.

Electronic components like microprocessors get smaller because people want cheaper and more portable end products. At first it was radios, TVs, tape players, and other consumer electronics. Of course it's the same with computers -- of course.

People can find 15-inch laptops for $300 in the Sunday advertising supplements, and any day of the week in Walmart or electronics stores. These cheap laptops use your operating systems. Do you think you are going to get people who have been exposed to these to go back to notebooks or laptops selling for 3-10 times as much just because you are introducing a new Windows 7 OS with new bells and whistles and eye-candy?

Mr. Ballmer, with all *due* respect, you are not going to be able to turn back the clock. You have baited people with $35 XP, but you won't be able to switch them to Windows 7 on computers costing $500, $1000, or multiples thereof. Maybe you were foolish for staying in the cheap-computer fray as long as you did. You have let the horses out of the barn.

Less is more. You and all in the computing game will soon see. I eagerly await the introduction of Windows 7 on Times Square in New York and seeing it on the famous electronic billboard. I eagerly await crowds of yahoos standing in the cold outside the doors of the Best Buy in Brooklyn (Ohio) at one in the morning (just as they did for Vista) to get the first copies of Windows 7. I will be watching on my $100+ mini-laptop from

Yours truly,

Clayton L. Hallmark


  1. The Alpha 400 can handle web video? I thought the only way it would do Flash at all was if you downloaded an swf file and opened it in a separate viewer.

  2. I will use my Asus for that.

    That's a good catch, thanks once again.