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The Ad-Supported Operating System 330

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the these-files-brought-to-you-by-pepsi dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The appearance of an ad-supported operating system is probably not that far off. This article takes a look at some of the finer points behind an OS which is financed with ad views, and more specifically the logic behind a free version of Windows which could make this a reality. There are a few issues which must be resolved first, but with Microsoft refining Windows Live and shifting some of their focus to advertising, many of the pieces seem to be falling into place."
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The Ad-Supported Operating System

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  • by symbolic (11752) on Friday August 04, 2006 @02:59AM (#15844996)
    ...would I consider an ad-supported OS. Linux is free, and ad-free. Why bother?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 04, 2006 @03:07AM (#15845004)
      Just in case windows wasn't slow enough, Microsoft decided it would be good to also have the software also worry about what ads are running. Just in case you didn't mind windows phoning home already, they added the benefit of logging everything you do so that they can better tailor ads toward you. Ohh, and don't think about having a computer running without an internet connection because Microsoft needs to verify you have all the latest adds running. I'm so glad I bought that widescreen monitor. That way after the adds arrive, I will still have the usable screen space of my old monitor. Forget about uninstalling other peoples adware, after windows, it isn't soo bad anymore. Unfortunately, this is a good idea to cheapen Microsoft products for those who have trouble affording them. The problem is those people will probably also have slower machines which this will place a burden on. Also, I don't want to have to pay a higher premium to get the non-add supported version.
    • by Jugalator (259273) on Friday August 04, 2006 @03:13AM (#15845016) Journal
      So you are just going to make Bonzi starve like that? :-(
    • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Friday August 04, 2006 @03:18AM (#15845032)
      "...would I consider an ad-supported OS. Linux is free, and ad-free. Why bother?"

      That would depend on the features of the OS. Linux is free, but I paid for Windows. Why? Several apps I use are available on Windows but not Linux. Therefore, Windows (sadly) has value to me.

      This isn't a rebuttal, though. You're right. They've got to answer the 'why bother' question. I probably wouldn't ahve bothered replying except for the "never in a million years" bit in your post.
      • by onion2k (203094) on Friday August 04, 2006 @04:31AM (#15845173) Homepage
        Depends on the advert too. If the system was written to download advert material in a similar fashion to Windows Update, and then display it during boot up, or even on the Login screen, I don't think I'd have a problem with that at all. I might even put up with adverts replacing my desktop background.

        In essence, so long as they don't actually get in the way then I'm happy with them. As soon as they make a noise, stop me accessing my PC immediately, or sit on top of windows I'm using, then I'd get irritated by them. The key to Google's ad success is that they're easy to ignore. Well, consciously ignore at least, we all still read them even if we don't realise it.
        • Maybe that is the way it would start. Then they would start replacing window backgrounds, and your browser defaults. You would no longer be able to search google, it would intercept it. Maybe a small strip on the left of the page would always be adds, which would slowly get bigger and more distracting. You would try to make the window bigger, and scroll that past the screen edge, but they would have thought of that.

          Could get really insidious, at which time most sensible people would install a real os.
          • by indifferent children (842621) on Friday August 04, 2006 @08:10AM (#15845631)
            Could get really insidious, at which time most sensible people would install a real os.

            If crashes, malware, and remote pwnership can't make people switch to a real OS, why should advertising?

            I think if Vista came with a USB-controlled cat-o-nine-tails, and you had to take five lashes every morning before you could log in, most people would probably put up with it.

            • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday August 04, 2006 @09:46AM (#15846020) Homepage
              If crashes, malware, and remote pwnership can't make people switch to a real OS, why should advertising?

              As much as I dislike Windows, it is a real OS -- I wish people would stop with this tripe. Sure, it's deficient and suffers from all of the things you mention. But, there are loads of things for which Linux doesn't have any software to do certain things. And, I don't mean some broken POS 0.11 version of something open source. I mean functioning, supported, commercial software which I can actually use -- like my tax software for example.

              Eventually, I decided I needed two machines -- one running XP, and one running my beloved FreeBSD. Because there are just certain things you can only do with a Windows machine. And, quite honestly, my XP box is exceptionally well behaved compared to older versions of Windows. Put it behind a firewall and don't install stupid things on it, and pwnership is a moot point.

              I think if Vista came with a USB-controlled cat-o-nine-tails, and you had to take five lashes every morning before you could log in, most people would probably put up with it.

              *laugh* And, some people might actually prefer it that way, who knows.

              At this point, you can guarantee Vista will sell, because of Microsoft's dominance in the market segment. And they will continue to dominate for the forseeable future because it is the only platform most people know, and the only one which many software titles are available on. Apple is pulling some people away, but for many people, Linux (or FreeBSD or whatever) is simply not a viable operating system for what they need to do -- from their perspective, those aren't real operating systems.

              Cheers
              • by Cylix (55374)
                Yeah,

                I replaced my tax software with a linux friendly version of "Accountant."

                Damn, this human/program works wonders as I don't have to do any work myself. It's voice activated too!

                ie, "Hey, Steve here is this and this and that, I want this and those and something else. See you later Steve!"

                It's just like that folks...

                Not sure if Steve is open source though, but I could ask him later!
      • But this highligths the fragility of Windows "value".

        Like you say: Windows doesn't (for most people) have value because of itself. But only because of third-party support for it. This means the value of Windows falls proportionally with the increased availability of those third-party apps (or compatible ones good enough for your purposes).

      • Several apps I use are available on Windows but not Linux. Therefore, Windows (sadly) has value to me.Have you tried WINE? Every Windows program I've tried so far works fine on that.
    • Yeah, right, that's what I think. Also I'd never use MS Messenger because it's full of ads, and there's a lot of free (as in speech) and ad-free alternatives. But in spite of it, people don't seem to care.
      • MSN Messenger is a good example of the ad-supported Windows "problem". Linux users don't use it (they use GAIM or Kopete or some other Linux-friendly messenger.) so they don't get the ads that come with it.

        But, MSN Messenger has features that other, Linux-friendly IM clients don't have: webcam support out of the box, audio conversations, games...

        The same can be said about the Windows-Linux situation in general. Linux users get a free operating system, with no ads, but they don't get the Windows-only progr

    • by Fulkkari (603331) on Friday August 04, 2006 @03:43AM (#15845088)

      The article didn't consider that many people don't buy Windows - they have it pre-installed. Now, I suppose that hardware manufacturers could sell their computers with an ad-supported Windows for a lower price. And maybe it would catch on, but I doubt it. If the average computer still has something like 1024x768, even if the ads would be text only, they would take screen space. Now, I'm sure most people have no problem of ads taking some of the screen space, but when you start to have ads from the OS, ads from the browser, ads from the IM application etc. there will be a limit. People just have enough.

      This idea has also some serious privacy and security implications [slashdot.org]. Will the average user care? Probably not. But if he knows that the operating system was free, he might go on and try out Linux. He won't consider losing money, if he never paid anything for it in the beginning.

      Anyway, this ad-biz is getting ridiculous. What's next? Ad-supported games? Oh wait... [slashdot.org]

      PS. I downloaded my Windows XP professional ISO for free from Microsoft. What do you mean you can't get legal Windows for free?

    • by kripkenstein (913150) on Friday August 04, 2006 @03:46AM (#15845093) Homepage
      Never in a million years [...] would I consider an ad-supported OS. Linux is free, and ad-free. Why bother?

      Ok, you wouldn't. But the vast majority of people use Windows, which in actuality already is an ad-supported OS. Many (most?) installations of Windows are (1) pirated, hence 'free', and (2) infected with adware, hence 'ad-supported'...

      TFA even hints that the point would be to move the ad revenue from the adware companies to Microsoft:

      This is no doubt why there was news about MSFT buying a adware company, probably so the operating system could essentially be infected with the most permanent adware possible, though at this point the term "adware" would not really be appropriate.

      So, Windows would remain free and ad-supported, as it essentially is right now, but MS would get paid and not the adware companies. An interesting thought, but it's just speculation on TFA's part. MS will probably want both kinds of revenue, licenses (enforced by WGA), and integrated ads.
    • And how! I mean, anyone who actually thinks this is a good idea, please, for the love of all that's holy, go rent the Corporation. Then come back and read this article. And then die a little inside like the rest of us.
    • Linux is free, and ad-free.

      It's also free [gnu.org], an important distinction. :) It doesn't matter if it's free as in zero-cost, as long as it's free as in the-freedom-to-copy-it-to-your-friends.

      • The freedom to copy it to your friends might be important for interoperability. The freedom to modify it to suit your needs might be important to a developer. The freedom to fix and distribute bug fixes might be important if you are experiencing problems.

        The freedom from vendor lock-in is priceless.

    • Who in their right mind would ever want to use an add-invested Windows, even if it is free? I wouldn't want it if they gave me money to use it. I fear, however, that if MS would decide to do this (and I doubt they have enough goodwill left to dare it) the price of the non-spamming version would rise drastically.
    • I assume that an ad-supported version of Windows would most likely involve some type of tracking and loss of privacy. Perhaps some type of spyware would monitor your browsing and searching habits so that advertisers could send you targeted advertising. Is that how it would work?

      I already use a free OS, I use Linux. I do not need an ad-supported version of Windows. I like the fact that most common spyware won't run on Linux. Viruses and worms won't either for that matter. I value my privacy and don't

    • Some people might consider it.

      By that I mean the same people who make life decisions based on television advertising, worry about characters in soap opera's as if they were real people, and think a family outing to macdonalds is a treat (I'm not joking, I know people like that).

      In short, the very poorly informed people who have no proper understanding of the consequences will jump at this.

      Will that be enough people to allow this to succeed? I don't know about that. All it has to do is break even and the lik
      • Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
      • While I don't disagree with the overall point of your post, you would do well to remember that for some people, taking the family out to McDonald's IS a treat. Because they don't have much money, it's relatively cheap, and the kids get to run around and be kids at the nifty little playground. Looking down on these people does you no good.
    • That's like saying "Why consider a $30000 Corvette when I can get a 1975 Geo Metro for free"
    • IF somebody cannot afford the £50.00 to purchase an actual operating system how are they going to afford, what is advertised on the operating system... this whole thing makes no sense at all...
    • As much as I hate Microsoft, if a free ad-supported Windows was available, I'd go for it. While nothing can replace Linux as my primary OS, I still want to play games, and Cedega just isn't good enough. An ad supported Windows means: 1) Microsoft will not make money off me on purchase 2) Nobody will make money off me as I ignore the ads 3) I get to play games on Windows and stick it up to Microsoft in the process 4) Privacy in this case is not a problem because I'm not doing anything other than play a few
  • by grammar fascist (239789) on Friday August 04, 2006 @03:00AM (#15844998) Homepage
    I can't wait to have Explorer force me to view an ad for ten seconds before I can access the hard drive.

    Or play "Punch the Monkey!!!" on my task bar.

    No thanks. I've been sticking with Free Software lately because I like it better for research, but if this advertising crap ever happens, I might just become a convert to the philosophy.
    • Re:I can't wait (Score:5, Insightful)

      by utlemming (654269) on Friday August 04, 2006 @03:15AM (#15845021) Homepage
      I can't agree with you more.

      The problem with an ad-supported operating system is that people expect the computer to work. And when they sit down to do their taxes, balance the check book or write an email they do not want to be hindered with ads about the latest tax, accounting software or email client that is available. Sure, this model may have some people who will do it. Heck, the reason I watch so little TV is because of the ads (and yes I know about Tivo), and the last thing that I want is to be attacked with ads while using the computer; I use the computer when I want to be entertained as is, why would I voluntarily invite it on to my computer? This is just the realization of ad folks that people are starting to spend inordinate amounts of time on the computer and they want to encrouch on where people are spending time. AOL is switching to an ad context, and they are going to offer free service. I think that many people would happily pay for an operating system just to avoid the ads.

      Besides how much do you want to bet that an ad-supported OS would make the malware guys overly happy? Think about it. If a malware guy could take over the ad-subsystem on Windows, then the user might not even know it. So instead of getting reputable ads they start getting penis enhancment products and the like.
      • Re:I can't wait (Score:3, Informative)

        by iamacat (583406)
        I think that many people would happily pay for an operating system just to avoid the ads.

        Isn't that a good idea, given that they can try it for as much as they want first and make sure it's worth the money. I am more worried that the pay option will not be there.
      • Re:I can't wait (Score:2, Interesting)

        by daeley (126313)
        I think that many people would happily pay for an operating system just to avoid the ads.

        If the day ever comes where I have to choose between paying to use an adless operating system and using one with built-in advertising, that's the day I turn off the computer for good.
        • why?
          If you choose to pay of the OS how is that any different from the situation today?

          I mean i can understand not wanting to use an ad suported OS but not wanting to pay for a copy of Microsoft Windows just because they also make aviable an ad supported version.

          If it is because you prefer Linux, then rest assured no adds are comming in Linux - the hackers would never, ever let that happend.


      • So instead of getting reputable ads they start getting penis enhancment products and the like.


        Or, if spam email is any predictor, the hijackers will advertise their services promising to reduce the OS-planted ads. Oh, and also how you can get your ad planted in 10,000,000 people's OS.

        Isn't it just like Microsoft. They rarely try to entice people to purchase their products because they're good. They always are looking for ways to MAKE people by their products because they have to. I'm saying this in rel
    • I think I have already seen one of these ad supported machines at a friends house.
    • I can't wait to have Explorer force me to view an ad for ten seconds before I can access the hard drive.

      I already have to wait ten seconds for explorer to show me the hard drive, you insensitive clod!

      On a more serious note, does anyone know if vista has saner explorer behaviour than its predecessors? I'm sick of having to wait for the CD drive to spin up before I can go into the hard drive.
  • by Ninwa (583633) * <jbleau@gmail.com> on Friday August 04, 2006 @03:11AM (#15845010) Homepage Journal
    Ads in place of a subscription make sense, but how do you justify ads for something with an exact value? When you see enough ads to have payed the price of the OS do they go away? I don't understand.
    • "Ads in place of a subscription make sense, but how do you justify ads for something with an exact value? When you see enough ads to have payed the price of the OS do they go away? I don't understand."

      I'm not sure why you don't understand, it's not like there are plenty of other services out there that stop showing ads when they hit a certain point. The 'exact value' thing is bunk, anyway. If there were an ad-supported OS, part of the income would be re-invested into improving the OS. You see ads in perp
  • ....but I would rather pay $200 or whatever for Windows (or nothing for *nix) than get a copy of it for free but be forced to watch adds. In fact, I really don't think anyone would want to do that - paying a bit up front (relatively) definitely seems to be the lesser evil over being annoyed with ads all the time.

    I suspect that this point of view is not in the minority either. I remember when the ad-powered ISP model was all the rage - even though it was free dial up, it sure didn't last that long.

    • Re:Choice is good (Score:2, Informative)

      by nihaopaul (782885)
      i'd only support advertising driven os if it was
      A) run by the OSS comunity and not nosy fuckers
      B) go directly to the OSS community
      C) i'd have the choice to not watch them.
      D) does not contain flash or malicious content or impact the preformance of the system
      E) does not collect personal information

      thats all i ask
    • "In fact, I really don't think anyone would want to do that"

      I would love something like this. I only use windows for one thing and I don't have the monitor on for it*, so they can have thousands of ads all over and flashing things etc and I'm still happy; I wouldn't have thought I was the only one. It would be good to have as well if you were mostly OSS but wanted to have windows just for the odd application - if you ran it full screen you'd hardly ever see the ads.

      *It's my DS wifi connector - XP onl
  • by mac.convert (944588) on Friday August 04, 2006 @03:16AM (#15845026)
    This Blue Screen of "Life" is sponsored by Blue Shield Health Insurance.
  • Extensions? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Firehed (942385)
    How long before someone creates an adblock extension for it?
    • How long before someone creates an adblock extension for it?

      Or just disconnects the connection, or are we talking something that is totally useless if you don't happen to have net access.

  • Will it allow ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by giriz (966704)
    ... click frauds ??
  • Malware... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RickBauls (944510)
    Right now, I get paid to remove ads from peoples computers

    In the future, I'll be getting paid to install an OS with ads preloaded.

    /not gonna happen
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Friday August 04, 2006 @03:26AM (#15845046)
    From TFA:
    Another example of this is Microsoft. This company makes most of its money off of software but has made it clear that they want a piece of the advertising game. It seems that some of their reasoning comes from a desire to compete with Google, just like their revamping of MSN Search not too long ago, but advertising offers a lot more than just a chance to take some money from Google.


    This article is touting the ad-supported OS like it will have a million entrants, but who are the players that can go for this? Only 3 realistically, Microsoft, Mac OS X, and a company with their own branded Linux.

    An ad supported linux will never take off. The good and free versions are just too numerous and the other trillion reasons that won't work. It will never fly on Mac OS X, that is just too contrary to contemplate. But Microsoft...... why would they want an ad free OS?

    Right now, they make a set amount from each sale. An ad supported OS will not only lower that intake, it will not have long term gains from all the people who will patch their OS to fix it from the "crippled" version to the good version. Total loss for MS.

    This seems to be just somebody's hair brained scheme to "compete" with google, but how does it compete with Google? It doesn't. Google, if they ever release an OS (I doubt), will supply it over the net while MS here just pushes a reduced cost version off store shelves.

    Furthermore, the article states:
    The ideal of ad-supported Windows makes perfect sense under a number of different circumstances. While it most likely won't be appearing in any offices, it would be ideal for libraries, internet cafes, and in the homes of casual users.


    Um, no. Home Users already indirectly pay for Microsoft when they purchase a computer. No win for Microsoft there, either in marketshare or revenue. It would not be ideal for internet cafes, as people pay cafes (at least in Europe) to use those computers, so bludgeoning them to death is neither in the interest of the Cafe owner who sells time (and doesn't get any revenue from said ads anyway) nor their customers. In libraries, again, I have to ask why?

    I chalk all this nonsense to a slow newsday. I swear, this is the dumbest fad that is making every idiots eyes light up as if this is the best thing since sliced bread. The advertising market is already saturated, people are becoming resistant to advertising in general, and the pie is only so big.
    • by NickFortune (613926) on Friday August 04, 2006 @08:03AM (#15845608) Homepage Journal
      Right now, they make a set amount from each sale. An ad supported OS will not only lower that intake, it will not have long term gains from all the people who will patch their OS to fix it from the "crippled" version to the good version. Total loss for MS.

      If it's an either/or deal then you're right. But suppose they're just testing the water looking to make ads ubiquitous on the windows platform.

      Then they'd probably market Vista with a ridiculous mark up - even by Microsoft standards, that is - and then offer an entry level version with full functionality, but supported by adverts. Of course, the ad-supported version costs as much as they think the market will bear, but everyone is so relieved at not being charged One Beeeelion Dollars that they think "phew, what a relief". Likewise when the OEMs start bundling the ad enhanced version by default.

      MS already have the infrastructure to serve the ads via their acquisition of Massive. They'd need to make sure no one turned the adverts off - which sounds like a job for WGA.

      Suddenly the spyware like elements of WGA make sense. MS can mine user activity patterns to serve targetted ads, beat Google at their own game, and get an ongoing revenue stream against the likelihood that the next windows released gets delayed until the Twenty-Second Century. Huzzah! The company is saved!

      You know, I think this might actually be The Plan...

  • by jandersen (462034) on Friday August 04, 2006 @03:31AM (#15845056)
    $ ls -l

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I am the wife of Dr. Mabunga, the former minister for internal affairs in Nigeria, ...
    -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 3409 2005-12-13 14:35 cpuload.c
    -rw------- 1 root root 614363 2005-08-17 19:16 culturalgrammar.pdf
    drwxr-xr-x 5 root root 456 2006-03-23 17:17 cv
    -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 27136 2006-02-03 12:08 cv+cover.doc
    drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 48 2006-08-01 15:56 Desktop
    -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 33995 2006-03-30 10:26 dilbert2006610630330.gif
    -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 49672 2006-03-30 10:35 dilbert.gif
    -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 245760 2006-03-16 15:57 djpenguin.zip
    -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 2005-11-16 17:44 dlmgr_.pro
    drwxr-xr-- 2 root root 336 2005-08-19 15:55 download
    -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 223 2006-07-13 15:23 DVconfig.ini
    -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 6461758 2006-06-13 15:07 E1.wma
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 10583 2005-07-19 10:49 endian

    • Package: Ads4Linux (Bash)
      Description: This package adds the support to display of advertisements on your favorite command line utilities.
      Depends On: Bash, wget, coreutils
      Manual Installation Option:
      Execute this command as root
      echo "alias ls='wget --quiet http://ads1.example.com/advertisement?1321 -O -; ls'" >> /etc/bash/bashrc

      Alternately, you may replace /etc/bash/bashrc with ~/.bashrc if you are doing a local installation.

      You may need to configure the uri to point to your favorite adv

  • Public Terminals (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <[aussie_bob] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Friday August 04, 2006 @03:32AM (#15845062) Journal
    This won't be marketed at home users, at least not to start with. It'll be promoted as an option for public kiosks, and terminals in shopping areas, etc.

    The thing is, all the major software makers are desperate to find some sort of subscription or rental model so they can get a guaranteed revenue stream without having to stay on the product improvement treadmill. Improving software is HARD - Vista is a crystal clear example of how hard - which makes it expensive. If a software house can persuade customers to keep giving them money without improving the product, they're on a win.

    That's why they're tying software to hardware with product activation and pushing DRM or other methods of artificially obsoleting their products. Almost all of Microsoft's OS sales are with new PCs but even then, your ordinary punter, after paying for the OS for the Nth time, is starting to ask "how many times do I have to pay for this crap? It's barely changed in the past five years, but I still have to fork out the same $$ as I did the first time." Expect to see more of this sort revenue model as software becomes more complex.

    What's really needed, of course, is a new way of writing and maintaining software. The programs we use today are essentially bespoke, hand-built items, much the way cars were at the start of the 20th century. The primitive fabrication methods are masked because computer software can be duplicated infinitely without additional cost, but it's still an industry ripe for a new enry Ford to invent the digital equivalent of a production line.

    • by Eivind Eklund (5161)

      What's really needed, of course, is a new way of writing and maintaining software. The programs we use today are essentially bespoke, hand-built items, much the way cars were at the start of the 20th century. The primitive fabrication methods are masked because computer software can be duplicated infinitely without additional cost, but it's still an industry ripe for a new enry Ford to invent the digital equivalent of a production line.

      You are missing something: Programs are DESIGNS. This is an importa

    • This won't be marketed at home users, at least not to start with.

      I'm not so sure abuout that. I think that it will start as sort of crippleware OSes, that when you pull donw a menu and select the "fancy feature" menu item, you will get a pop up saying - Fancy Feature not installed, you can buy it from Os vender, for $$ or you can get the Fancy Feature Enterprise Edition for $$$.

      After that it will not be long before, the ads isn't just about OS enhancemets, they will try to sell all sorts of software. I.

    • it's still an industry ripe for a new enry Ford to invent the digital equivalent of a production line.

      Part of the problem, and one I don't think is widely appreciated, is that the we already do these things. When a problem gets well-understood enough to be automated, someone writes a code-generator for it. Hey presto, job done. All the programmers move on to more interesting tasks.

      The trouble is that this rarely gives the PHB his trouble free revenue stream. After all, his competitors are writing code

  • There is no chance in hell this will fly.

    Thing is, there already exists several free (both senses) OSes. The only one you can successfully sell is MS-Windows and even that only works because of inertia and monopoly-effects.

    Nobody I know argues that Ms-Windows is so much better as to be "worth" what it costs. Instead, if they use Windows, they argue that they need it because some software they need runs only there. Or because that is what everyone has. Or because it's the only thing they know. In other w

  • On the one hand, Windows is at most a couple hundred bucks, and pretty much works for millions of people (like it or not)... Linux is FREE, and also pretty much works for most of the rest.

    Microsoft has spent umpty-billions trying to make something everyone's happy with. IBM, Sun, Novell and many others have spent more billions trying to perfect another family of approaches - with no small level of success. I simply don't see a niche for an "ad-supported" operating system. What possible effort will $2-$20
  • by pieterh (196118) on Friday August 04, 2006 @03:44AM (#15845089) Homepage
    Google is admittedly not an operating system in the classic sense, but it is systematically taking over the functionality that users expect their boxes to provide, and it is entirely supported by advertising.

    Trying to plug an advertising-driven model into traditional "operating systems" is like trying to glue a Mini-ATX motherboard into a Palm PDA. Some things just don't translate. We have learned to accept Google's ads, because they sit inoccuously in parts of the screen that would be blank otherwise. How can Windows even attempt this?

    I don't think Microsoft and Google are competing on the same terms any more, if they ever were. While Microsoft are still selling products that were defined twenty years ago and hit their peak a decade ago, Google is busy reinventing the online world, following its own designs and writing the rules.

    Let me give you an example... Office applications. On the one hand, Microsoft is wondering how to provide online access (advertising supported, metered, whatever) to Office. Now, Google are thinking, "in five years' time, people won't want to write documents this way any longer" and they're thinking of how to use the web to create documents, presentations, totally bypassing the Office metaphor (which is ancient, dating to before the days of the IBM PC). The very first microcomputers, running CP/M, ran office applications (WordStar, CalcStar, etc.)

    I used to write many documents using Word, then I switched to OpenOffice a few years ago. Today, I edit my documents as text, post them to Wikis, and use text-to-PDF and text-to-HTML conversion tools to produce deliverable output. I don't open OpenOffice any more unless someone sends me a document. The only exception is spreadsheets. I've not yet seen a new online abstraction that replaces spreadsheets, though calculations would be a natural feature to add to wiki systems.

    Google gets this, I think.
  • Riiiight. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Short Circuit (52384) *
    At first thought, *maybe* for the consumer market, but *never* for server-market. I mean, who regularly looks at the screen of a server, anyway? You use remote tools for that.

    And as long as their OS comes packaged with OEM systems, why should they worry about selling Windows for less than they're charging already? Win XP is a fraction of the cost of a desktop from IBM, HP, or even Dell.

    And that leave Retail boxes, where demand isn't exactly elastic.
  • I can see the idea of having ads rotate on your desktop as a wall paper. Anything that *interferes* with the usage and operation of the operating system will significantly harm the OS's value to the consumer. Popup ads and drive by ad IMs is exactly the kind of thing that gave rise to the anti-spyware industry.

    However, with the move towards making a visually appealing operating system a priority, I highly doubt MS will, in any forseeable future, introduce ads. The last thing you need is bright yellow flashi
  • by Tom (822)
    Yes, and it'll be called "Vista".

    Except that you have to pay for it in addition.
  • by jkrise (535370) on Friday August 04, 2006 @04:19AM (#15845160) Journal
    I've got Karma to burn, so here goes.... my true assessment of home-computing. A few of my relatives have home PCs - all running pirated versions of Windows. The ads come in the error messages:

    * Program performed illegal operation

    Sends the hapless home user scurrying to get a licensed copy of the OS.

    * Windows did not shut down properly. Files may be corrupted or lost

    And the poor chap goes out and buys a UPS. Never a chance to even imagine that ext3 rarely loses files even during a power shutdown.

    * Photoshop Elements may not work well with this Service Pack

    So the user pays Adobe for the privilege of being lazy enough not to explore better options.

    * Windows encountered an error in lsass.exe and must shutdown

    The user buys an upgrade since there's no support for the old OS any more.

    And so on, Windows has been a huge advertising platform for anti-virus software, UPSs, Backup-software-that-actually-works-but-is-suppose d-to-be-part-of-Windows, anti-spyware, external firewalls, broadband (modem drivers are clunkier in recent OSes), Flash, Support services etc.

    The fact that despite being an antiquated junkpiece several years behind in technology, Windows has succeeded as a platform, proves a coupla' things:

    1. User apathy and lethargy is a very potent force. A user would rather patch a buggy junk, rather than learn something better, simpler and advanced.. like Linux, Opera, Firefox, Open Office, Gnumeric etc.

    2. It's not possible to release Newer OSes forever, that's still prone to viruses and malware... remember You Can't Fool All The People All The Time...

    and so, it appears

    Microsoft has patented Web-Service-OSes that can be metered like Electricity and Gas. It's about time, one would've thought. Suddenly, all these lower-life-forms like anti-virus and backup s/w firms who depended on MS for their living.. would become redundant! There'll be hell to pay, since these guys don't die overnight.

    Symantec, Trend Micro, Citrix or Veritas wouldn't take such initiatives lying down. Interesting times ahead!
    • And the poor chap goes out and buys a UPS. Never a chance to even imagine that ext3 rarely loses files even during a power shutdown.

      I've never had NTFS lose a file either, and haven't seen that error message since my Win98 days (now long behind me, thankfully). Anyone who is still using Win98, well, they get what they deserve if you ask me.
      • I've never had NTFS lose a file either, and haven't seen that error message since my Win98 days (now long behind me, thankfully). Anyone who is still using Win98, well, they get what they deserve if you ask me.

        Not NTFS, but I've lost settings in the Registry on countless ocassions, with Win2K Home as well as XP Pro. Very often, it was a piece of malware that did strange things to the registry, corrupted the modem driver, installed a dialler, and shutdown the system...

        I moved over to broadband on Linux, and
  • by grrowl (953625) on Friday August 04, 2006 @04:33AM (#15845180) Homepage Journal
    Has everyone forgot installing Windows 95/98, and going through the process of deleting the bundled AOL trials, CompuServe this and MSN Online that? It's not "Punch the monkey and win a free iPod!"-style advertising, but it is paid product placement and it is advertising. Also in Windows 95 and 98 was a "Sampler" directory on the CD with games and reference utilities, although most were distributed by Microsoft Games, there was a game from Scholastic and another company. In Windows XP, view your My Pictures folder (or any folder you or windows has identified as a photo folder), and look at the task pane: "Order Prints Online" takes you to a list of paid links to photo printers, "Shop for Pictures Online" takes you to a page [microsoft.com] with two microsoft links and one to 'BizPresenter.com'. It's not a new concept! It's just been subtle, but I doubt it'll get too much more obvious (viewing a 10 second advertisement every time you boot up, or "Targeted Media" on your desktop, ala Win98's Active Desktop items but with Coke ads instead of CBS News -- wait, they're both advertising!
  • Ads are not free! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bunhed (208100)
    From the don't-eat-that-johnny-that's-poop-dept:

    Ads cost brain cells, time, bandwidth, screen space, cache space, mouse clicks. They accelerate carpal tunnel and dimish visual acuity. They undermine asthetics and camoflage the point of the enviroment they are in. This is the same sell as television is free because of the ads. Cable, sattelite, whatever, costs you monthly just so you can watch "free" television rather then "pay" television. WTF? I doubt free windows will come with a free ISP connection. I do
  • Hmm, it seems in Capitalist Redmond, even the adware can have adware. someone mod me down please. Its the only way i will learn.
  • Even if there was such a thing as people coming over to your house to install a linux distro, and 3 years of free service afterwards, people will stick to Windows for now.

    If they're unhappy with the next Windows' performance/price, they'll just NOT upgrade (that'll work for at least a year or so)... after that they'll find a way to crack Vista, or just pay up for a version that'll do.

    Ad-sponsored Windows? It'll work if Vista "spartan edition" is sold for 450$, and Vista "the-one-you're-supposed-to-have ed

  • by AVryhof (142320)
    So... if some WINE applications work better withn a native Windows install, one could install this Ad-Supported windows, and use the directory as their "Native windows" for running some software.

    I'm all for it!
  • I'd rather pay the $100 WinXP costs than see these ads. Even paying $500 would be worth it.

    I also watch almost no TV because of commericals, I watch a lot of shows on DVD instead.
  • If this becomes popular enough, I think things might reverse. Instead of presenting it as "you can use it with ads if you don't want to pay", at some point it'll switch to "you can pay if you don't want the ads". At that point, the paid software becomes something like cable TV, which in the beginning promised no ads, and that's what you'd be paying for.

    But of course they realized they could get even more money by placing ads on their networks, and that the people quitting wouldn't be that many, so now cable
  • this would require "trusted computing" in order for MS to avoid having people hack out or block the ads with some 3rd party apps.

    i dont think MS needs this to carry on getting revenue from windows. on a new computer the price of windows is included so its like its "free" anyway in most people's minds.

  • Could work. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Friday August 04, 2006 @07:21AM (#15845509)
    I know a fair number of people who don't know how their browser works and who just accept that using the internet means looking at hundreds of adverts a day.

    If MS provided retailers with a cut-rate version of Windows to distribute on their products, how many people, really, would bother uninstalling said OS from their new computer?

    Can MS make enough selling adverts to match or overshadow the profits they'd otherwise make from selling a straight system OS?

    I'd venture a big fat 'Yes'.

    An OS driven ad is very different from an internet ad. --Why? Because the internet ad only comes up if you go to a specific site. An OS ad comes up if you turn on your computer. How easy is that to sell to a company?

    And who cares about click-throughs? Click-throughs are for small companies trying to hawk wares on the web. That's small potatoes. When you can guarantee a hundred million pairs of 'eyeballs' you can now get advertisers like Coke and Tide and GM sending checks to your accounts receivable department. Coke and Tide and GM don't care about click-throughs.


    -FL

  • Two Words: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vegeta99 (219501) <.rjlynn. .at. .gmail.com.> on Friday August 04, 2006 @07:31AM (#15845540)
    Fuck that. Given the choice between pirating Windows and OS-level adware, I'll take the former, thank you.
  • by swein515 (195260) on Friday August 04, 2006 @07:42AM (#15845572) Journal
    On a satirical website I made in 1996 or so which parodied the FreeOS and OpenOS movements for the Macintosh, when Copland was languishing and Steve Jobs was still in exile. It was called VaporOS [dalahus.com]. From the "about" [dalahus.com] page (the site is ancient, forgive some of the archaicness):

    Why a free OS won't work
    A free OS is an enticing idea for the end user, but a free OS is purely a labor of unrequited love, no matter the level of dedication and resources. In the end, the free OS developer answers to one person; his mom peeking down into the basement. You lose.

    Why a shrink-wrap OS won't work
    Web cruisers are getting used to downloading stuff; big stuff; for free, beta status be damned. People simply don't want to pay for anything anymore. The commercial OS developer answers to one person, and that's his landlord. You lose.

    Why VäporOS works
    At VaporSystems, we have a different philosophy; VäporOS will be entirely advertiser-driven ; you don't pay for the software, and we don't get stuck in the basement. VaporSystems answer to one person; the sponsor. You still lose, but at least we're making buckets of money doing it.

    Even though the idea of an advertiser-driven OS was a total joke at the time, it did seem like an inevitable development someday.
    1. Most of the copies of Windows out there are pirated. Microsoft know this. They'd still rather you were using a pirated copy of Windows than a fully-paid-up copy of a non-Microsoft operating system.
    2. Most of the copies of Windows out there are infested with adware already. People still use them.
    3. Advert-supported Windows could be made freely-redistributable; perhaps even as a downloadable ISO alongside your favourite Linux distro. Now GNU/Linux doesn't even have the price advantage. Ordinary users can di
  • by Wolfger (96957) <wolfger@nospAM.gmail.com> on Friday August 04, 2006 @08:04AM (#15845613) Homepage
    Because ad-supported software is so much better than free software.

    Seriously... does anybody think this idea is good? At all?
  • FreePC did it. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Friday August 04, 2006 @09:02AM (#15845797) Homepage Journal
    Does nobody remember FreePC? In the late 90s, they would give you a free Windows-based PC bordered with ads, which constantly phoned home with your demographic info and surfing habits. IIRC you'd get a 1024x768 desktop, but the usable area was the 800x600 in the middle, and the rest was ad banners. It was basically consensual spyware in the vein of those purchase-tracking store club cards.

    I always wanted to get one to just run as a monitorless file server, but they stopped answering my emails after I asked what was being done to stop me just reformatting the thing. Oddly enough, they disappeared when the bubble burst. Can't imagine why...
  • by PotatoHead (12771) <doug AT opengeek DOT org> on Friday August 04, 2006 @10:52AM (#15846449) Homepage Journal
    My first reaction was along the lines of: "WTF?!? --No way in hell!, etc..." After thinking about it though, I'm actually liking the idea.

    I've had a simple rule since I bootstrapped myself onto OSS, namely: I don't run win32 OSes unless somebody else is paying for them. This works for me actually.

    For personal computing, it means access to win32 if needed for some reason. A recent example for me was having to perform an upgrade on my ReplayTV. The better tools are win32 ones. I've no problem booting the OS, doing the task, then back to my OSS environment. Running an AD supported version would not have impacted me one bit. I don't need commercial apps for anything these days, so it's just about running win32 programs that do very specific things that may not be so easy in OSS land.

    Where work related tasks are concerned, I'm still very much tied to the win32 system. However, that's on somebody elses dime. Fine by me.

    I say bring it on.

    You know what's gonna happen though. There will be an AD for the OS, then another AD for the application, and another for the browser.... Might have to get a pretty high pixel density monitor for it all!

  • by merc (115854) <slashdot@upt.org> on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:10PM (#15846995) Homepage
    Once upon a time Internet marketers could have had a brighter future. In metaphorical terms I feel that too many of them cooked the goose that laid golden eggs. While the Internet matured they exploited it with spam, adware, unwanted pop-ups, malware, exploits and any other slimy scummy technique they could think of in order to push themselves before unconsenting eyeballs -- be damned whether the user wanted it or not.

    The end result is (just speaking for myself mind you) that I *HATE* marketing now. Yes, I admit it. I know it's not PC, but I despise all forms of marketing, even forms that could be considered ethical. I now change the TV channel when a commercial comes on. I change the radio station when an ad comes on the radio. I throw away all my direct marketing ads in the mail without even glancing at it. I use all of the pop-up filtering technology available so that I don't have to see it on the web. I don't want to see ANY of it now.

    The thing is I don't think I'm alone, I think there are a following of people who feel the way I do.

    How did we reach this state of marketing-hatred? I think perhaps it's related to the attempts by online marketers to prevent me from blocking the ads, whether we're talking about hashes in spam to bypass checksum filters or anti pop-up-blocking technology -- that's when the war on the consumer started and they don't deserve to win.

"Marriage is like a cage; one sees the birds outside desperate to get in, and those inside desperate to get out." -- Montaigne

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