Web Excursions 2021-11-15

Microsoft and the Metaverse

  • The Metaverse already exists, it just happens to be called the Internet.

  • What makes “The Metaverse” unique is that it is the Internet best experienced in virtual reality.

  • The entire reason the Internet is as open and interoperable as it is

    • is because it was built in a world without commercial imperative or political oversight;

    • all future efforts will be led by companies seeking profits and regulated by governments seeking control,

    • both of which result in centralization and lock-in.

  • Tech innovation wasn’t over, it was only beginning,

    • but everything in the future would happen on top of the current paradigm.

  • What makes the phone the ultimate expression of a “personal computer”

    • is that it is with us everywhere,

    • from home to work to every moment in-between.

  • for well over a year a huge portion of people’s lives was primarily digital.

  • There have been two conventional pieces of wisdom about virtual reality

    • that I used to agree with,

    • but now I think both were off-base.

  • virtual reality’s first and most important market will be gaming.

    • [but a counterargument is that] there simply isn’t a big enough market of people with headsets

      • to justify investment from game makers.

  • augmented reality would be a larger and more compelling market than virtual reality

  • over the last two years in-person meetings were transformed into a link on a calendar invite that opened a video-conferencing call.

    • This is the demotion of the physical

    • there really is a tangible sense of being in the same room as everyone else

  • new products like Facebook’s Horizon Workrooms and Microsoft’s Mesh for Microsoft Teams make it possible to hold meetings in virtual reality.

  • At the same time, it’s not an experience that you would want to use all of the time.

    • For one, the tech isn’t quite good enough;

    • The bigger problem, though, is that putting on the headset for a call is a bit of a pain

  • What, though, if you already had the headset on?

    • people already had and wanted mobile phones;

    • selling a device that you were going to carry anyway,

    • but which happened to be infinitely more capable for only a few hundred more dollars, was a recipe for success in the consumer market.

    • Like PCs, the first major use case will be knowledge workers using devices bought for them by their employer,

      • eager to increase collaboration in a remote work world, and as quality increases, offer a superior working environment.

      • Some number of those employees will be interested in using virtual reality for non-work activities as well,

      • increasing the market for non-work applications.

    • This means that the company that is, in my opinion, the most well-placed to capitalize on the Metaverse opportunity is Microsoft.

  • So many Silicon Valley enterprise companies miss this critical point:

    • they obsess over the user experience of their individual application,

    • without considering how that app fits in the context of a company

      • for whom their app is a means to an end.

  • Microsoft’s success will require creating an opportunity for OEMs similar to the opportunity that was created by the PC.

  • Meta is spending billions of dollars on not just software but also hardware,

    • and while Workrooms is obviously an enterprise application,

    • Meta has to date been very much a consumer company

  • Facebook needed to change its name: no one wants to use a consumer social network for work.

  • I am bearish on Apple’s prospects in this space for three reasons:

    1. rumors suggest that Apple is focusing on augmented reality, not virtual reality

    2. Apple’s iPhone-centricity could be a liability

    3. It is very hard to fully embrace a new paradigm if the biggest part of your businesses is rooted in another

  • The importance of developers will likely be more important than in the case of the phone.

    • People bought iPhones first, and developers followed;

    • Apple may have trouble if the chicken-and-egg problem runs in the opposite direction.


Apple (AAPL) and Meta (FB) Working on VR, AR Headsets, Watches and Home Devices - Bloomberg

  • Apple plans to launch asimilarly high-end mixed reality headset next year, perhaps within a few months of the Meta device.

  • Apple’s offering will probably be in the $2,000 range,

    • whereas I expect Meta’s to bequite a bit cheaper.

    • Still, the two products will be direct challengers for users looking tojump into the metaverse.

  • Meta plans to enter Apple’s world of smartwatches.

  • Meta has explored the idea of fitness tracking in its virtual reality products.

    • Eventually,that probably will expand to the wrist.

  • Likewise, don’t be surprised if Apple eventually launches a version of its Fitness+ workout service that people can use to exercise while wearing its own headset.

  • The company has been testing at least two new home gadgets:

    • a device that combines a speaker and TV set-top boxwith a camera,

    • as well as a smart speaker with a screen that’s more similar to a Portal orAmazon Echo Show.


Questions and answers: An overview of LXDE, LXQt, and Xfce

Xfce

  • While Xfce describes itself as being lightweight, most people would probably refer to Xfce as being a middle-weight desktop environment.

  • The desktop typically consumes less than 500MB of memory and practically idles the CPU. Xfce has a well deserved reputation for being relatively small (compared to KDE Plasma, GNOME, Cinnamon, Budgie, and Deepin) while offering most of the key features and options people want to see in a modern desktop environment.

  • Xfce includes its own capable settings panel, the top-notch Thunar file manager, a bulk file renaming tool, screenshot utility, virtual terminal, and a number of other small tools which fill out the desktop experience.

  • The Xfce desktop is built with the GTK+3 toolkit and tends to evolve slowly and steadily. The project has a reputation for taking its time implementing changes, giving users a slowly evolving desktop experience (in contrast to GNOME and Plasma which make rapid, breaking changes).

  • Xfce has its own, highly capable window manager, Xfwm, which performs well and has very little overhead.

LXDE

  • The LXDE project is the most lightweight of the three desktops

  • LXDE is built using the depreciated GTK+2 toolkit and typically uses the third-party Openbox window manager.

  • LXDE, in comparison with other Linux desktops, has a tendency to be viewed less as a unified, complete desktop, and more as a collection of desktop tools running on top of Openbox.

  • The LXDE components, like the panel and file manager, tend to be updated independently rather than as a whole.

  • Unfortunately, LXDE is mostly unmaintained these days. The LXDE project has shifted focus to working on LXQt

LXQt

  • The LXQt desktop started as a merger of the LXDE-Qt and Razor-qt desktop projects.

  • It strives to provide approximately the same look and experience as LXDE, with two key differences.

    1. LXQt uses the Qt toolkit as its base (opposed to GTK+ which is used by LXDE and Xfce).

    2. LXQt is actively maintained and continues to put out regular releases.

  • The desktop components of LXQt offer most of the same functionality and minimal approach of LXDE, but have a distinct Qt style to them that will look familiar to people who have run KDE Plasma.

  • LXQt might be viewed as a sort of minimal cousin of the KDE Plasma desktop with many applications and options removed.

  • LXQt, in my tests, is smaller than Xfce, but requires about 50% more memory than LXDE while offering approximately the same features as its sibling.

Conclusion

  • Xfce is a desktop for people who want a full-featured desktop environment,

    • but who don't want the overhead of all the widgets and visual effects that comes with KDE Plasma and GNOME.

  • LXDE is a super-light desktop that manages to run on older, less capable hardware

  • The LXQt project fills in a middle ground.