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Microsoft Gives Up on Hailstorm 624

Posted by michael
from the partly-sunny dept.
Dephex Twin writes "According to a NYTimes article: due to lack of 3rd-party support for Microsoft's "Persona" (originally codenamed "Hailstorm"), the company has been forced to dump the project. It seems the companies didn't like having a middleman between them and the consumers. As a person worried about the future with .NET, this is a bit of a relief."
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Microsoft Gives Up on Hailstorm

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  • Is it just me or can you just feel that MS's trajectory has passed its apex and is on its way back to earth??
    • No, it's not just you. The problem seems to be that MS has tried to expand too quickly at quite an inopportune time. Their attempts at horizontal integration of the entire consumer electronics industry has backfired with the current antitrust issues going on.

      The half-assed attempt at a console, also known as the X-Box, is surely just an investment for the future home entertainment systems created by Microsoft, but at the rate they're going there will not be enough cash on hand to take the losses normally associated with selling console systems.

      It will be interesting to see how successful Microsoft will be with their current networking desires that follow their .NET and passport ideas, and whether or not these too will fail or just become immensely unpopular. Regardless, the deathly grip they hold on the OS market has yet to see a legitimate adversary, so it will be a long time before we see the complete downfall of Microsoft.

      • by tenman (247215) <slashdot.org@NOspam.netsuai.com> on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:29AM (#3321258) Journal
        You can hardly cast the X-Box as half-assed. While the investment hasn't rendered the return expected yet, even Hemos says " X-Box isn't dead yet - not by a long shot. [slashdot.org] ". I know that many readers concider Hemos a beta test of human cloning, but he speaks the truth this time.

        While microsoft can't turn out the growth that the company has stolen from it's costomers in the past, doesn't mean that they don't have plenty of cash on hand. In this case in paticular, they are listening to the public enough to realize that not only do we not like what they are doing, they can't force us to use it, and we will not if they don't.

        I too look forward to the day when Microsoft is tamed into a shrew of a company that can't afford to die, but cant afford to do anything real in the market place. That being said, it's hard to put your hand on the pulse of Microsoft's marketing engine unless your the direct recipent of it's ploys. Trust me friend. For-Hire closed source developers like MS's spoon feeding them a soft diet of Visual-This and .NET-that. I expect these developers will adopt the new versions of Microsoft because the company they work for doesn't want to deal with retraining thier development staff.

        You may think you see them tossing in the towel, but what you actually see are the threads of the towel falling into the ring as they are whipping the cornors back and forth across the backs of millions of developers

        </soapbox>
      • by Cardinal (311) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @01:20AM (#3321409)
        No, it's not just you. The problem seems to be that MS has tried to expand too quickly at quite an inopportune time. Their attempts at horizontal integration of the entire consumer electronics industry has backfired with the current antitrust issues going on.

        And this certainly isn't the first time. We all remember when the Interent wasn't something MS was interested in. It wasn't big enough, if I remember Gates's sentiments. Instead, they were going to replace it with MSN, in one of MSN's many reincarnations. How many times did they reinvent MSN, each time diving into a new idea head on, only to find nothing there to grab on to? (Of course, this time, they're just buying out Qwest DSL, so it'll probably work just fine)

        The half-assed attempt at a console, also known as the X-Box, is surely just an investment for the future home entertainment systems created by Microsoft, but at the rate they're going there will not be enough cash on hand to take the losses normally associated with selling console systems.

        I'm not so sure about this. If there's one thing that we can be sure about, it's that MS is persistant to levels no other business can finance. They've launched programs and fallen on their face more times than most companies could ever hope to afford. Many would say that they've finally gotten Windows right, and it only took them 15 years.

        I'm sure MS will get the X-Box right, even if it takes another 15 years, because when they do get it right, they'll have it all. Why bother with Windows on PC's when they can put everything; game console, DVD player, PC, all in one box that they get the revenues from?

        It will be interesting to see how successful Microsoft will be with their current networking desires that follow their .NET and passport ideas, and whether or not these too will fail or just become immensely unpopular. Regardless, the deathly grip they hold on the OS market has yet to see a legitimate adversary, so it will be a long time before we see the complete downfall of Microsoft.

        .NET will happen, and it will succeed famously, at least in the Windows world. It's simply the next logical step for Windows development, even if we ignore the cross-platform and passport elements. The number of developers and businesses out there that declare anything made by MS to be divine gospel will see to that. Whether or not it's accepted by those that aren't followers of Redmond remains to be seen, I think, and I'm sure it won't come without a fight.

        Sun knows fighting .NET is their priority. They know they have an uphill battle ahead of them, and I know they'll fight it, because losing it will make life extremely difficult for Java.
        • I'm not so sure about this. If there's one thing that we can be sure about, it's that MS is persistant to levels no other business can finance. They've launched programs and fallen on their face more times than most companies could ever hope to afford. Many would say that they've finally gotten Windows right, and it only took them 15 years.

          I'm sure MS will get the X-Box right, even if it takes another 15 years, because when they do get it right, they'll have it all. Why bother with Windows on PC's when they can put everything; game console, DVD player, PC, all in one box that they get the revenues from?

          It's interesting because it's that sort of slow persistance that makes open source work. Amid dozens of half assed and abortive projects rises one or a few really good solutions. The surprising thing is not that it works, but that it works so fast. Microsoft has a phenominally large but bounded budget. Open source has a budget bounded only by the time and people willing to give a hand. And since there's always a new class of college students thinking they can revolutionise the world, that's a very renewable resource. Now that companies like IBM are contributing, aware that this is about the only way to see MS dethroned, it's starting to polarize the IT world.

          Who has a larger budget - Microsoft, or the rest of the industry, including volunteers working for the experience?

          --
          Evan

      • by FaithAndReason (112179) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @01:27AM (#3321428)
        This is not an "inopportune" time; this is exactly the time when MS needs to expand into other businesses. (See my other post to this article.) Desktop OS revenues are flat; nobody seems in any hurry to upgrade Office versions; and MSN TV hasn't done very well. They need to find something to satisfy their legal responsibility to their shareholders (note that this primarily still means Bill & Steve & Jim.)

        As for the XBox: you're absolutely right that it's an "investment for the future", but perhaps not in the way you meant. The XBox's real purpose is clearly visible if you dig a bit deeper into their discussions with ISVs (i.e. game developers). It's called XBox.NET, in other words, a $10 or $20/month online gaming subscription service. The XBox is clearly targeted to the 18-35 crowd, plus it's the only console that currently ships with an ethernet port built-in.

        That's where MS plans to make its money: if it sells you one game (e.g. Halo) plus 6 months of XBOX.NET at say $20/month, they make back that $125 subsidy for the hardware, then even if they never sell you another game!

        And don't expect them to run out of money any time soon. Right now, they anticipate losing about $2,000,000,000 before they start breaking even on the XBox, but they have about $37,000,000,000 in the bank. According to SteveB, even with 40,000 employees (up from 30,000 just 2 years ago), they have enough money in the bank to run the company another 5 YEARS without another dime of revenue...
    • Yeah I've had the same feeling for a while

      IMHO, subscription licensing and .NET (or at least the plan for Hailstorm-integrated .NET apps) are just a couple of things that will mark the end of MS as we know it.

      There just seems to be a groundswell of (shock-horror!) FUD against MS. Mom & Pop Win98 user are happy running MS's desktop OS, but let them run banking security? No way!

      Don't get me wrong - Bill will find a way (e.g. X-box/consumer eletronics) to still make piles of cash and dominate a market - but I know of more than a couple of hardened MS-heads that are seriously considering alternatives. These are the same guys that swear by Win2k, Active Directory etc..

      At risk of being modded down, you've gotta give the guy (Bill) credit. He's always got alternatives - and if not the sheer size of his cashpile will enable him to buy into the Next Big Thing (remember their late internet entry?)
    • nope (Score:5, Funny)

      by telstar (236404) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:12AM (#3321196)
      It's not that Microsoft's trajectory has necessarily passed its apex, it's that websites like slashdot focus more attention on pointing out Microsoft's missteps. Take ANY large company and put it under the microscope ... and you'll find the exact same thing.
      • Re:nope (Score:4, Insightful)

        by J. J. Ramsey (658) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:52AM (#3321324) Homepage
        Since nobody has any crystal balls, there no way to say for sure that MS has passed its apex. Consider this, though.

        Current versions of Microsoft software compete with previous versions.

        For example, most of the differences that distinguish Office 97, Office 2000, and Office XP are just small features, none of which are compelling reasons to spend several hundred dollars a copy to upgrade. Probably most upgrading is done out of fear of being incompatible with other Office users, and even this fear is questionable, since despite the moanings about MS playing file format games, Office maintains pretty good backwards compatibility and can save files in Office97 formats.

        Windows XP competes with Win95/98/ME. While WinXP is leaps and bounds more stable than the DOS-based Windows OSs, its hardware requirements are much higher as well, which discourages those with lower-end machines from upgrading. Most people are either just used to the instability of the DOS-based junk or don't stress the OS to the point that it's really a problem, so WinXP isn't so compelling.

        Microsoft knows that its Office upgrades are offering less and less, so it's trying to switch to a subscription model, which many CEOs and CIOs are balking at.

        Microsoft also is trying to diversify by getting into game consoles, but this path has been tough going, and most of MS's dirty tricks don't work so well in the console world.

        Further, since MS pays its employees less than the industry average and compensate with employee stock options, MS has to keep its stock value rising at a high rate. Slow expansion or a mostly constant stock value won't do well. The Motley Fool had something on this.

        Also, distrust of MS extends beyond just geeks. At the very least, hardly anyone takes the Microsoft name as a sign of quality.

        There's no saying that MS won't overcome these problems, but it's not invulnerable, and the next few years, or even the next few months, depending on the outcome of Kotter-Kotelly's verdict, may determine whether MS continues to be the juggernaut that it is.
        • Re:nope (Score:5, Informative)

          by markbark (174009) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @01:31AM (#3321437) Homepage
          Further, since MS pays its employees less than the industry average and compensate with employee stock options, MS has to keep its stock value rising at a high rate. Slow expansion or a mostly constant stock value won't do well. The Motley Fool had something on this.

          and.... after the Enron/Anderson debacle, there is talk of changing accounting rules vis a vis options. Companies would have to book options as expenses (strike price vs actual cost IIRC)
          I think Microsoft's (and a lot of OTHER companies for that matter) 'profits' would evaporate rather quickly under this scenario. Potentially VERY ugly.

          MAB
        • Re:nope (Score:3, Informative)

          by leandrod (17766)

          > MS pays its employees less than the industry average and compensate with employee stock options

          The best report on this I’ve seen up to this day is by Bill Parish [billparish.com.].

    • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:55AM (#3321337)
      Is it just me or can you just feel that MS's trajectory has passed its apex and is on its way back to earth??

      Microsoft's current multibillion dollar empire is built on the triad of Windows, IE and Office. Unfortunately for them, all three problems addressed by these applications have been solved by the current state-of-the art in software development. So much so that hobbyists have cobbled together free applications that are competetive with all of these.

      (Well, almost competitive. Microsoft still jealously clings to the trade secrets that enshrine the compatiblity quirks in the file formats and APIs of their software. This keeps everybody else at a disadvantage for now. Oh yeah, they get free device drivers from sniveling hardware vendors, too. But none of this trade secret stuff has any intrinsic value to the user; it's just inertia.)

      However, Microsoft is smart enough to know that basing an empire on obscurity and solved problems is a bad thing. Thus, they attempt these pushes into new areas. The problem for them is that just because they want to shift focus, there's no guarantee that anybody wants or needs anything else from them.

      An example from history is passenger jets. If you asked the aircraft manufacturers back in the 1960's what people would be flying in the 21st century, you'd get descriptions of far-out hypersonic aircraft. In the real world, we still fly in planes that are dead ringers for a Boeing 707 from the late 50's. The aircraft companies just weren't able to evolve their passenger jet technologies very far beyond that point because of the physics and economics of the real world. SSTs, for example, were a total economic flop.

      Aircraft manufacturing has not been a stellar field since the 1960's. The many U.S. companies in business back then have merged down into basically 1 survivor.

      The aircraft manufacturers were lucky, though, because hobbyists can't produce and disribute knockoffs of their airplanes near zero cost. Microsoft might be in a bit tighter situation over the long haul.

    • Others have also wondered about MS as of late.
      THe stock trades with a P/E ratio of 50, maybe
      closer to 100 if you include the cost of stock
      options that have been granted to employees.

      MSFT pay no dividends , but depends on the increase
      in stock price to pass profit to the investor.
      However; the price has been essentialy flat for the
      last two years. This obviously has some negative
      influence on the employees with stock options, and
      it doesn't make for happy stock holders either.

      I don't think MSFT is headed for Chapter 11 but
      but the "glow" seems to have diminished a bit.
    • My heart says "I hope so".

      My head says they have so much money, so much market share, so little scruples, and no restraint from the Bush administration's version of DOJ, that I'm afraid they may still prevail - and I hate to say that because I HATE those bastards and all their works (not to mention Works).

      I fear that SSSCA (or CBDTPA or whatever that swine Hollings is calling it this week to try and sneak it under the wire) will pass, making the most vital competition to Microsloth (Free and/or Open Source software) illegal in the USA. I can't help but think that, whatever Microsoft's public postion on this, they have to be drooling at the prospect of its passage.
    • Wait until StarOffice/OpenOffice hits the market under $100/Free. It might not be as good as OfficeXP, but its good enough for many people and it runs on Windows. Microsoft has two choices ignore it and loose market share very slowly, or lower its prices and loose revenue.

      Once more people are used to StarOffice/OpenOffice the easier is to change the OS that run the productivity suite behind (Linux anyone).

      • I keep on checking the download rates at http://www.openoffice.org

        A year ago they were about 10,000 downloads a week. Lately it has been averaging 140,000 downloads a week and spiking to about 230,000 downloads a week. That says it's getting close to 1,000,000 downloads a month. In Microsoft parlance, that is $500,000,000
        worth business ( if once ould sell it..) Hard to guess how much lost sales this is to Microsoft, but can't be small. They could have stopped this loss if they had come up with a Linux version a year ago. As it is it is too late now. I take a perverse pleasure in responding to people who send me .doc files , is OpenOffice files. And when they ask what that us, I tell them " Well, you sent me a proprietary format file , and I sent you an open format file. " and they go download OpenOffice.....

        Sinan
    • Is it just me or can you just feel that MS's trajectory has passed its apex and is on its way back to earth??

      No. microsoft has more than once lost a battle in the past, but if you write your history these things are "forgotten", not mentioned. But a lost battle in far not a passing of an apex.

      Do you remember the microsoft network? (not .net or msdn) MS was long time against TCP/IP and the internet, and then they had no clue what networking actually was. Windoms for workgroups, or may I remember the ping bug of win95?
      (win95 crashed when receiving large ICMP packets, their solution, pathced the ms ping program so it doesn't send that large packets...)

      Remember Bill Gates saying that mouses or other pointing devices are crap?

      Remember ms-bob?

      Pleane add further things :o)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @11:38PM (#3321040)
    When people trot out that .Net is an evil system to make everyone turn into Microsoft slaves by turning over our personal records to them, it is a disgusting display of ignorance of what .Net really is.

    It is a set of services, including web services, that is designed to compete with Java.

    Just because Hailstorm was to be implemented as a service of .Net does not mean that Hailstorm == .Net.

    Please get a clue.
    • Considering that Microsoft doesn't even know exacty what .Net is supposed to be besides the realization of glossy near-scifi software you see in crappy hollywood movies and will practically write itself, its no wonder everyone else is ignorant.
      • by VFVTHUNTER (66253) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:17AM (#3321211) Homepage
        I had used Linux and FreeBSD excusively for about two years - I even once posted a (rejected) Ask Slashdot question entitled "Why Windows," arguing that with the multimedia (mplayer) and browser (pick konq/galeon) support available in Linux, that no one needed Windows.

        My viewpoint has changed radically. I have an XP box now - it's actually a pretty stable OS. And .NET delivers on all the promises that Sun had made of Java. (M$ has beaten them - intsead of "write once, run anywhere," .NET offers "compile once, run anywhere.")

        I still use Linux/Apache/MySQL for all of my servers - and with SQL 2000 at $20,000 per processor that won't change anytime soon - but Windows has gotten more stable. Linus once said that he started Linux because he wanted software that didn't stink...win3.1, win95, and win98 all stink, but 2K and XP are actually pretty nice.

        I will probably switch back over to an all OSS setup when Miguel et al finish Mono. That's gonna be sweet, too - imagine the day when you can compile an executable (not java bytecode) on a {Windows, Linux} box and then run that executable on a {Linux, Windows} box.

        That's the nice thing about .NET - M$ has actually embraced industry standards. ASP.NET can be accessed from any client provided you have an HTTP connection. That's the only requirement. I sitll support the paranoid people, because there is always the chance that M$ will extend and extinguish what it has embraced, but with them having submitted everything to ECMA, that's really an outside worry.
        • Sorry to blast on you, or respond at all if you're trolling. But your saying that .net is compile once run anywhere....I have not seen anything that did not exist under a different name before. Infact all i've seen is a renamed msn mesanger, and a pop up thing above the time in XP that tells me I have mail in a hotmail account. Of course that popup thing does say .net. BUT what of these, or any other things couldn't or didn't exist before the name .NET??? Sorry if i'm ignorant, but hey provide some links, pictures of applications, names of applications. If that is not possible then MS has not beaten sun anywhere, as you say.
          • by Anonymous Coward
            You don't know what you are talking about at all. Totally ignorant. .NET is not the stupid Hotmail and MSN Messenger thing at all, and it's MS fault for making people think it is. The REAL .NET is the .NET Framework - a set of compilers, class libraries, and runtime. Go to http://msdn.microsoft.com/net and read.
        • by scotch (102596) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:36AM (#3321278) Homepage
          NET offers "compile once, run anywhere.")

          Sure, for very small definitions of anywhere. Anywhere will probably not even include all versions of windows (e.g. win98), and it certainly won't include much of the unix world for the forseeable future.

          At least Java is somewhate widely supported on varying platforms. How does .NET even come close?

          Don't be fooled, this is more vendor lock-in dressed up in sheep clothing.

          • It runs on all windows platforms except Win95 (which sucks ass anyway), and once Mono is done it'll run on Linux. It'll probably be ported to Mac pretty soon, considering the big business MS gets out of IE:Mac and Office:Mac.
        • That's the nice thing about .NET - M$ has actually embraced industry standards.

          ...waiting to be extended.

        • .NET offers "compile once, run anywhere."

          I can run .NET compiled programs on Solaris, Linux, Windows, MacOS?

          No?

          Thank you, move along.
        • by tswinzig (210999) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @01:03AM (#3321357) Journal
          with SQL 2000 at $20,000 per processor that won't change anytime soon

          Nice of you to quote the highest possible price per processor. We have SQL Server 7 licensed for two processors, it was expensive, but NOWHERE NEAR $20,000 per proc! I just checked the SQL 2000 licensing. Yeah, $20K per proc for the ENTERPRISE EDITION. This is like on Spaceballs where the guy orders the ship to go at "LUDICROUS SPEED!"

          SQL Server 2000 is $5K per processor for unlimited client access. If you've only got 5-25 people accessing, it's less than that ($1K-$2K).

          It's also not really fair to compare it to Linux/Apache/MySQL, as SQL Server 2000 beats MySQL on MANY fronts, including speed and options.

          I'm no fan of MS in general, but SQL Server 7 is the best piece of software I've ever used, and I'm sick of the FUD.

          I sitll support the paranoid people, because there is always the chance that M$ will extend and extinguish what it has embraced, but with them having submitted everything to ECMA, that's really an outside worry.

          Ahh yes... an outside worry. More like even-odds!

          Good luck, though.
        • by dachshund (300733) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @01:03AM (#3321358)
          And .NET delivers on all the promises that Sun had made of Java. (M$ has beaten them - intsead of "write once, run anywhere," .NET offers "compile once, run anywhere.")

          And .NET has much wider support for quantum computers than Java. Just as soon as Microsoft gets around to implementing it, of course.

        • by dvdeug (5033) <dvdeug@noSPam.email.ro> on Thursday April 11, 2002 @01:04AM (#3321361)
          .NET offers "compile once, run anywhere.

          Really. And you know this before there was an implementation for more than one operating system how? At least Sun has some motivation to support more than one operating system; there's no particular reason for Microsoft to support more than Windows. I suspect that Microsoft will make sure Unix/Mac implementations exist for PR, and then go ahead with complete disregard for compatibility with them.

          imagine the day when you can compile an executable (not java bytecode) on a {Windows, Linux} box and then run that executable on a {Linux, Windows} box.

          Why is .NET bytecode an executable and Java bytecode not? Six of one and half dozen of the other. Anything you can do with one you can do with the other.

          with them having submitted everything to ECMA, that's really an outside worry.

          Because Microsoft couldn't twist a standard, or omit important material from a standard or leave a standard vague in certain spots.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 11, 2002 @05:55AM (#3321982)
          (M$ has beaten them - intsead of "write once, run anywhere," .NET offers "compile once, run anywhere.")

          What, you mean suddenly I don't have to compile my java code in order to run my programs?!? AWESOME!

          imagine the day when you can compile an executable (not java bytecode) on a {Windows, Linux} box and then run that executable on a {Linux, Windows} box.

          Get your head out of your behind for a second and think about what you are saying. See that part above that says "run anywhere"? "Anywhere" does not equal just the Intel x86 processor. Also, not all OSes use the same object and linking formats for runnable binaries even if the OSes both run on the same hardware architecture. What is the end result to you, the .Net user? A virtual machine or just-in-time compiler for intermediate bytecode! Funny, that's exactly what many Java implementations do, isn't it?

          There is, in fact, a whole separate specification for just the Java Machine itself. That means that, in theory, it would be possible to write a compiler that could take other programming languages as input and output Java Machine bytecode. Wow! Just like .Net! How about that?! Amazing.

          Sure, .Net binaries might be able to store pre-compiled versions of those programs for certain targets but that is just a caching problem, and .Net isn't the first system to do something like this. It's not really even a very difficult problem to solve.

          I submit that Microsoft is merely re-inventing the wheel with their .Net stuff because Sun wouldn't play ball and let them extend Java any which way they wanted to. Big fat hairy deal. It's just one more standard people will get to choose from. And, as Andrew Tannenbaum said, standards are great because there are so many to choose from!

    • Just because Hailstorm was to be implemented as a service of .Net does not mean that Hailstorm == .Net.

      Very true. The statement about .NET was unclear, but it was meant more along the lines of: "it's nice to see that Microsoft can't get everyone to go their way with their new strategies, as I'm worried about .NET."

      Mac OS X (my OS of choice) has native Java support, and I'd really not like to see .NET overtake Java, especially since I don't even know if .NET will be available on Macs.

      mark
      • Aparently someone doesn't read OsOpinion [osopinion.com].

        Reaffirming its support for the Macintosh platform and opening a bevy of new options for Apple's corporate direction, Microsoft this week is expected to announce its plans for implementing the .NET platform on the Mac OS.

    • The way Microsoft was pushing .Net, you'd think it was! This misconception is as much Microsoft's fault (for encouraging people to think of Hailstorm and .Net as 'inseperable') as it is ours for not making that distinction.

      Although I always knew it was separate; I was worried about the way Microsoft talked about implementing all of .Net's security services through it. Could you imagine the coding nightmare to make .Net not go through Hailstorm?
    • I think most people posting here understand quite well that .NET refers to both a development platform, and the services that will be implemented using that platform. The fact is that for those who aren't developing apps (or services) targeting the .NET Framework, Hailstorm is the only part of .NET that they might ever interact with.

      Besides, the comment was "As a person worried about the future with .NET". As a sometimes .Net developer myself, I would say I'm worried about "the future with .NET", because MS marketing has clearly gone out of their way to try and conflate .Net with everything remotely web-services-related. (For example, SQL Server --- either the current version with the SQLXML add-on, or the next version which will ship with it built-in -- is now referred to as a .NET platform.) .NET was supposed to be and still is a "bet the company" thing; but with the supposed flagship .NET application (My Services) now being scaled back, I wonder what else they're going to "re-evaluate..."
    • by Bodrius (191265)
      Reading Dephex Twin's response I realize you interpreted the comment correctly, but I find it interesting that when I read "worried about the future with .Net" I misunderstood it completely.

      As a Java developer, I have some interest in .Net, not as an evil system or anything like that, but as what looks like a potentially very nice platform I might want to work with (which will also force Java competitors, btw, to improve their development tools dramatically, which is always good). I have high hopes for Mono, and I hope we even see other propietary implementations of the standard part of .Net competing with Microsoft's and Mono.

      I can say that I'm worried about the future with .Net, not because I fear it's success, but because I fear it will either not be successful, or it will be successful but technically compromised by Microsoft's marketing decisions.

      In other words, I'm afraid bad ideas like Hailstorm will kill the good ideas in .Net, or actually make me wish they did kill them.

      It's a relief for me that Hailstorm is given up. It's one less bad idea unnecessarily tied to .Net. It improves the chances .Net is both a successful platform and good news for the industry.

      If that happens, either the Java platform improves to compete, or I get a better platform to move to.
  • by Mr.Ned (79679)
    Dude, Michael, you're 10 days late :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @11:40PM (#3321060)
    • What happens to passport?

      Microsoft was going to open up passport authentication to third-party ID servers via passport, right? Or am i just confused about that? Is that not happening anymore?

      Is microsoft abandoning their drive to make Passport the authentication mechanism for *everything*, Starbucks and such, or are they just going to drop the pretense of making it an open system?

    • The way i understood it, Hailstorm was a relatively decentralized technology as designed and didn't really DEPEND on microsoft being there to hold it all together. Right? Is it possible for people to take the hailstorm protocol, if they so desire, and set up an independent, decentralized hailstorm network that just happens to not be affiliated at all with microsoft?
    • Was GNOME MONO planning on implementing hailstorm as part of their .net workalike? Are they still going to?
    • "Was GNOME MONO planning on implementing hailstorm as part of their .net workalike? Are they still going to?"

      I think Mono was mostly focused on implementing C#.

    • Some answers (Score:5, Informative)

      by Carnage4Life (106069) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @01:37AM (#3321448) Homepage Journal
      Is microsoft abandoning their drive to make Passport the authentication mechanism for *everything*, Starbucks and such, or are they just going to drop the pretense of making it an open system?

      Passport [passport.com] was a seperate initiative from .NET MyServices [microsoft.com] (aka Hailstorm). Passport is an authentication mechanism while .NET MyServices was supposed to be a centralized repository of user information (calendar, preferences, inbox, contacts, bookmarks, etc) which could be queried by various vendors who would receive restricted access to the data based on the user's settings.

      Is it possible for people to take the hailstorm protocol, if they so desire, and set up an independent, decentralized hailstorm network that just happens to not be affiliated at all with microsoft?

      There are a couple of things to consider here. The first being whether there are any intellectual property(IP) issues, I have no idea about this but wouldn't advice anyone to start something like that without at first ensuring there aren't any patents or anything like that being violated. The second thing is exactly how one would use the technology. Personally when I first saw a Hailstorm presentation last summer I kept on thinking that it may face difficulty in gaining widespread acceptance for exactly the same reasons listed in the article; there was no justification for vendors to give up so much control to user information to a third party. One example touted was the ability to move music preferences from website to website but the question never asked is why Amazon.com [for example] would make it easier for users to grab all their painstakingly entered personal preferences and music ratings to CDNow.com or some other online site. I remember emailing the presenter about my thoughts but couldn't follow up since it happened close to the end of my internship. However, it may work within a closed environment like a corporate intranet but then again MSFT already has Exchange which has a lot of the important functionality that would be provided by .NET MyServices like an inbox, contacts, calendar etc.

      Was GNOME MONO planning on implementing hailstorm as part of their .net workalike? Are they still going to?

      Gnome is not related to Mono. Miguel De Icaza may have founded both but he no longer maintains any packages for Gnome nor does he do much (if any) active development but instead spends most of his energy on Mono.

      As for your question, Mono is not interested in Passport or Hailstorm [go-mono.org] and went as far as creating a page about it because people kept on getting misconceptions about it.

      Disclaimer:This post is my opinion and does not reflect the views, opinions, intentions or strategies of my employer.
  • by ShaunC (203807) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @11:40PM (#3321061)
    >It seems the companies didn't like having a middleman between them and the consumers

    Gee, who'd have guessed. Microsoft, the company who's trying to incorporate every possible end-user application into their OS (thus killing the middleware, shareware, and even some commercial software industries) didn't see this coming? They couldn't imagine that other companies might have the same interests in mind? Aside from the obvious consumer objections, it should have been obvious to Microsoft from the get-go that other companies aren't going to trust them to keep track of userdata.

    CBDTPA universally rejected and Hailstorm bites the dust. I have to say, today was a good day.

    -s
  • by ryanvm (247662) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @11:42PM (#3321068)
    Maybe now they'll stop trying to cram Windows Messenger down everyone's throat (signing up gets you a Passport account). If you've used Windows XP you know what I'm talking about.
  • damn bad timing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alien54 (180860) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @11:42PM (#3321069) Journal
    "They ran into the reality that many companies don't want any company between them and their customers," said David Smith, vice president for Internet services at the Gartner Group (news/quote), a computer industry consulting and research firm. [...] "There was incredible customer resistance," said a Microsoft .Net consultant, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified. Microsoft was unable to persuade either consumer companies or software developers that it had solved all of the privacy and security issues raised by the prospect of keeping personal information in a centralized repository, he said.

    Even if you give them the benefit of the doubt [*cough*] it seems like they jumped the gun just a bit.

    After all they are just now wrapping up the one month security review they started back at the beginning of february. yep, that is still going on.

    So this is a case where vaporware was not being bought at all, working against them instead of working for them.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Back when the Hailstorm idea was first announced ... No business or government agency that I dealt with was even slightly interested.

    When Microsoft announced its requirement as part of future "e-business" and [forced] integration into their Office Suite and Windows workstation licenses the consumers and IT departments went crazy. Nobody liked the idea of giving Microsoft MORE control. After all, running IIS already gives "Hackers" (actually crackers) more than enough control ... Why would anyone want Microsoft to be even more powerful?

    I can say though... EVERYONE that I know with an MCSE and/or works at a MCSP (MS Cert Solutions Provider) was in support of the Hailstorm idea.

    I can't express it enough that I am happy for this failure :)
    • I can say though... EVERYONE that I know with an MCSE and/or works at a MCSP (MS Cert Solutions Provider) was in support of the Hailstorm idea.

      I was a conference about two months back that was exclusively made up of MS Certified people and the MS rep was heckled for perhaps 30 minutes, and then was peppered with anti-Hailstorm questions for another 1 hr or so. Afterwards the guy nearly ran out of the building.

      It really was universally loathed, even from the MS heavy camp.
    • by MsGeek (162936) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @01:07AM (#3321365) Homepage Journal
      I can say though... EVERYONE that I know with an MCSE and/or works at a MCSP (MS Cert Solutions Provider) was in support of the Hailstorm idea.

      Uh...not every MCSE out there.

      I was, to be frank, worried about its implications for security. Having Microsoft guard the keys to my bank account is like having the fox guard the hen house.

      Nice to see it go. Now .NET can stand or fall on its own merits, not on privacy concerns.

  • by Ilan Volow (539597) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @11:51PM (#3321107) Homepage
    Hailstorm fails to put dent in market.
    • by psamuels (64397)
      Hailstorm fails to put dent in market.

      Sheesh, I wish people like you would stop working for news media. I am a great supporter of the art of the pun, and the lame ones reporters always come up with really give the art a bad name. Please, oh please, can I read an article in InfoWorld about Java services that doesn't refer to some vendor "brewing" new solutions?

  • An "evil, aggressive, monopoly" can't sell stuff to people who don't want it. Will wonders never cease? Nevertheless, I think we need a few more years of litigation followed by government regulation to stop Hailstorm anyway. You know... just in case.

    (close captioning for the sarcasm impaired: THAT WAS SARCASM. Thank-you.)

  • Hmm (Score:2, Funny)

    by NiftyNews (537829)
    Don't worry guys, I heard from a good inside source that Operation: CodeBloatHurricane is still in steady development...
  • by Guido69 (513067) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @11:55PM (#3321124) Homepage
    Couldn't get it to run on Apache over BSD.
  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @11:56PM (#3321129)
    If MS truly sees the market as being essential to their revenues, they'll just keep going until they borg out the other players. In fact, this is in line with their history of rejected/crappy first releases/attempts.
    • Microsoft understands that it needs to sell something that users are willing to pay $10 or $20 a month for. If an online calendar/address book/data storage/wallet (which is all that .Net My Services ever was) doesn't convince people to hand over the money, they'll find something that will.

      Revenue for desktop operating systems is leveling out, so they are looking for the next cash cow. Right now, they appear a little disorganized because they're trying several things at once: Web Services, MSN TV, Pocket PC, and X-Box, to name a few. In particular, they're moving aggressively to expand the MSN brand (by partnering with / buying up ISPs.)

      At any rate, Hailstorm is far from gone: .Net My Services may be scaled back, but Passport is becoming more and more visible: Monster and EBay both have it as an option, for example.
  • by bigmouth_strikes (224629) on Wednesday April 10, 2002 @11:56PM (#3321130) Journal
    This isn't exactly the first time Microsoft has chosen to scrap a project that has been so heavily advertised, but it's definitely one of the most prestigious ones they have cancelled.

    Hailstorm/Persona was supposed to be a .NET service that "authenticates users, provides the ability to send alerts, and stores personal information, including contacts, e-mail, calendar, profile, lists, electronic wallet, physical location, document stores, application settings, favorite Web sites, devices owned, and preferences for receiving alerts." (from Microsoft)

    I think the key problem for Microsoft is the following (from the article:) "They ran into the reality that many companies don't want any company between them and their customers,"

    Bill and Steve are probably a bit surprised, not used to having people say No to them, especially not the big companies that they have started to court now that they have a consumer market monopoly. .NET is crucial to get penetration on the Big Market, i.e. mission critical business application software.

    Hailstorm/Persona was seen by many as a reference implementation of .NET's, showing off its capabilities. Now it's going to be interesting to see how the industry acceptance for .NET evolves.
  • Wasn't .NET supposed to give you 'one degree of seperation' according to all the commercials I saw on TV? Wouldn't that mean no middle man?
  • When did they rename it Persona?
  • by dcavanaugh (248349) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:05AM (#3321167) Homepage
    Their lack of credibility has finally caught up with them.

    IMHO, Microsoft is incapable of leading any kind of initiative that requires third party support. That would require finding third parties that trust Microsoft -- a dubious proposition indeed.
  • As a person worried about the future with .NET, this is a bit of a relief.

    I assume that since this story wasn't rejected, that somehow the editors of Slashdot agree with this sentiment as expressed in the submission.

    My question is this: if Slashdot editors really feel this way, then why is Slashdot advertizing Visual Studio .NET in its banner ads?

    Just curious.
  • by jjonte (145129) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:11AM (#3321190)
    I see Microsoft as 2 distinct groups.
    • Microsoft marketing
    • Microsoft Developers


    Who do you think had the whole HailStorm idea? Marketing.

    You can almost hear the conversation in the meeting
    Marketing: "This will be great! People can log in from anywhere!"
    Developers: "Yeah, that's technically possible."
    Marketing: "Then Go! Go! Go!"

    I imagine starting HailStorm and canceling HailStorm were topics of fiery debates inside the Fortress of Microsoft.

    Finally a techno Exec probably said "This is stupid. Who is really going to sign up with us? Pay Microsoft to authenticate their users?"

    One more thing....Figure out what .NET before you talk about it. FUD.
  • Registration (Score:2, Offtopic)


    Registration for NY Times articles drives me crazy. Call me a Karma Whore, but here's a RFC: NY Times reg.
    • username shall be firstword of 'submitter name'
    • password shall be firstword of 'headline.'

    For example, registration in this case is username 'dephex' and pass 'microsoft'. Story submitters will please register according to these guidelines when they sumbit stories to /., and save us all a lot of hassle.

    Does this violate the DMCA?
    • Re:Registration (Score:2, Insightful)

      by clontzman (325677)
      In the time it took you to post this bizarre idea, you could have signed up for an account yourself and never worried about it again. If you don't want them to have personal information (gasp! they know what story you read!), just lie.

      Not sure what hassle having every NYT submitter sign up for an account with a cryptic u/pw saves the world from.
      • Re:Registration (Score:3, Informative)

        In the time it took for you to post a response, you could have checked to see that I did, in fact, register as dephex/microsoft with bogus info. I suggested that as an example in my original post.

        As for your second question, if this were adopted as a standard, it would save me from having to register every time I wanted to read a nytimes article on a system that they hadn't already implanted a cookie, which happens often enough that it's a pain in my ass, but not often enough for me to remember my arbitrary username/pass that I have set up legitimately. Since I use more than one computer, I do have to worry about it beyond the initial trouble.

        And finally, if you don't like the system, don't adopt it.
    • Re:Registration (Score:3, Informative)

      by ermineshay (445739)
      if it really bothers you that much, just log in using uname:anonymous, pass:anonymous. hell, there are a ton of these that work...IIRC, slashdot/slashdot works, so should mefi/mefi (for metafilter). pick one, set a cookie, be done with it. NYT has has this login shit since '96 at least, but I'm not aware of they're having used it for anything.

      or, bitch about it each time.

      sorry, that was way offtopic
  • by MagikSlinger (259969) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:18AM (#3321213) Homepage Journal
    So now that their competition has gone away, what happens to the Liberty Alliance? Will they stick together, or each go their separate ways creating their own separate identity database schemes?
  • Now where can I exchange my Bill Dollars for dollar bills?
  • by Ether Trogg (17457) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:35AM (#3321275) Homepage
    So, if Microsoft has canceled Persona, does that mean we can refer to it as Persona Non Grata [askoxford.com] ?

    Ack! Stop with the rotten fruit already!

  • Many of the ideas in Hailstorm were awesome:
    • I'd love to have a single sign-in for web sites.
    • I'd love to have my own wish-list for books that I can use at a variety of on-line stores.
    • I'd love to be able to have a standard way to share schedules and calendars and set up meetings, parties, etc.
    Many of the goals of Hailstorm were good. The problem: ownership. Microsoft may do well selling this to others. I wish they would open the standard and let anyone play. The possibilities of interop are amazing. Keep it all XML. How awesome would that be? Sadly, I'm afraid most companies will lock you in to their system. I'm afraid the only way you'll be able to use Hailstorm is to buy the service from a company or pay Microsoft licensing. I hope I'm wrong.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:37AM (#3321279)
    Here's the article text:

    April 11, 2002

    Microsoft Has Shelved Its Internet 'Persona' Service

    By JOHN MARKOFF

    SAN FRANCISCO, April 10 -- Microsoft (news/quote ) has quietly shelved a consumer information service that was once planned as the centerpiece of the company's foray into the market for tightly linked Web services.

    The service, originally code-named Hailstorm and later renamed My Services, was to be the clearest example of the company's ambitious .Net strategy. It was intended to permit an individual to keep an online persona independent of his or her desktop computer, supposedly safely stored as part of a vast data repository where there could be easy access to it from any point on the Internet.

    At the time of the introduction of My Services, Microsoft also proclaimed that it would have a set of prominent partners in areas like finance and travel for the My Services system. However, according to both industry consultants and Microsoft partners, after nine months of intense effort the company was unable to find any partner willing to commit itself to the program.

    Industry executives said the caution displayed by consumer giants like American Express (news/quote) and Citigroup (news/quote ) illuminated a bitter tug of war being fought over consumer information by some of the largest financial and information companies.

    "They ran into the reality that many companies don't want any company between them and their customers," said David Smith, vice president for Internet services at the Gartner Group (news/quote), a computer industry consulting and research firm.

    The lack of interest also indicates that in a variety of industries outside the desktop computer business there remain significant concerns about Microsoft's potential to use its personal computer monopoly and its .Net software to leverage its brand into a broad range of service businesses.

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    An early signal that the My Services idea was in trouble came last fall at Microsoft's annual developer's conference, attended by more than 6,000 programmers. The sessions on My Services were poorly attended, an attendee said.

    "There was incredible customer resistance," said a Microsoft .Net consultant, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified. Microsoft was unable to persuade either consumer companies or software developers that it had solved all of the privacy and security issues raised by the prospect of keeping personal information in a centralized repository, he said.

    Microsoft executives acknowledged the shift in strategy and said the company was still contemplating how it would bring out a revised version of the My Services technology. The decision resulted in a relocation of several dozen programmers in December from a consumer products development group run by Robert Muglia to the company's operating systems division.

    "We're sort of in the Hegelian synthesis of figuring out where the products go once they've encountered the reality of the marketplace," said Charles Fitzgerald, Microsoft's general manager for platform strategy.

    He said part of the decision to back away from a consumer version of My Services was based on industry concerns about who was going to manage customer data. The issue, he asserted, was more of a sticking point within the industry, rather than among consumers.

    "We heard a lot of concern about that point from competitors in the industry but very little from our users," he said.

    Microsoft is now considering selling My Services to corporations in a traditional package form, rather than as a service. The companies would maintain the data for their own users.

    "Frankly selling this stuff to people who build large data centers with our software is not a bad model," Mr. Fitzgerald said.

    Microsoft first introduced the Hailstorm services idea at a news conference at its headquarters in Redmond, Wash., in March 2001. At the time, the technology received endorsements from a handful of corporations including American Express, Expedia (news/quote), eBay (news/quote), Click Commerce (news/quote) and Groove Networks.

    At the time of the announcement, Microsoft described Hailstorm as a way for a consumer to have a consistent set of services, like e-mail, contacts, a calendar and an electronic "wallet" -- whether sitting at a desk or traveling and using a wireless personal digital assistant.

    "Microsoft's `Hailstorm' technologies open exciting new opportunities for us to use the Web in ways never thought of before, helping us to continue to deliver service that is truly unmatched in the industry," Glen Salow, the chief information officer of American Express, said at the time in a statement.

    More recently, however, American Express officials have told computer industry executives that they remain concerned about being displaced by Microsoft's brand in such a partnership.

    A company spokesman said in a telephone interview today that American Express had intended to endorse the broader notion of integrated Internet services last March, not My Services specifically. He said he did not know if the company had discussions with Microsoft about becoming a My Services repository.

    Several industry consultants who work with Microsoft said that the company was now planning to deploy My Services as a software product for corporate computer users some time next year, after the company introduces its .Net operating system.

    "Enterprise customers were telling Microsoft, `We like this idea but we don't want to be part of this huge public database,' " said Matt Rosoff, an analyst who follows the company at Directions on Microsoft, a market research firm in Kirkland, Wash.

    When it was introduced, the Hailstorm plan quickly became a lightning rod for privacy advocates who saw dangers in concentrating vast amounts of personal information in a single repository.

    Last fall a coalition of privacy groups complained in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission about the potential risks inherent in Microsoft's collecting personal information from and about several hundred million personal computer users.

    My Services also created thorny privacy issues for Microsoft in Europe, because of restrictions on transborder data transfers there. Microsoft has not resolved how personal information stored in one country can be easily transmitted internationally.
  • DISCLAIMER: I'm a Java developer.

    Ok, I've read a few comments both for and against the .NET platform. I've read (briefly) the article on ars describing the .NET platform as language and platform agnostic.

    My questions are these:

    Where is the Java support? If this is truly language agnostic, why is Java not listed in the languages supported by .NET? If it's a question of licensing from SUN , fine, where's the bridge? If I have have 1000 EJBs out there, how do I justify adopting a platform with no integration strategy, J# has been brought up before, but without support for J2SE (or J2EE) what's the point?

    What exactly is standardized? The CLR or the APIs? How tied am I to the Win32 API for real development. How is mono addressing these issues?

    Exactly how many languages have been integrated into the .NET platform? under what conditions? (platform, usage, etc)

    Obviosly I am biased towards the Java platform. This post is not intended to incite a flame war, I'm just looking for honest answers from developers who have experience in this area.

  • by isaac (2852) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:46AM (#3321306)
    Though I don't doubt that Microsoft had trouble interesting others in Hailstorm, I don't think Microsoft's push to get a piece of every transaction has been abandoned. My gut instinct is that they think that they can have better success with using DRM for this purpose.

    Consider: Hailstorm required the cooperation of other companies, who were reluctant for many good reasons to pay for the privilege of placing Microsoft between themselves and their customers. (Customers were also none too thrilled about the idea, either.) There are companies that might find Microsoft's desktop OS monopoly a sufficiently compelling reason to justify such a move, though - companies selling bits (media and software). Only Microsoft has the leverage over desktop users to foist user-hateful "digital rights management" technologies upon them. (I don't just mean technology to prevent copying of "protected" media, but also watermark detection/embedding, etc.)

    Given a DRM system integrated sufficiently into the OS, some control over unauthorized data manipulation may be possible - at least, enough to deter most users. The legal billy-club of the DMCA (combined with Microsoft's practically infinite legal budget) is already in place to deter companies or individuals enabling circumvention, and patents are likewise in place to thwart competitors and open-source alternatives. When Microsoft's ubiquitous rollout of DRM is complete, they may be able to play to the paranoia of media companies desperately grasping for something, anything, to tame the very nature of the bit - to make it uncopyable. This again places Microsoft in the revenue stream (and customer data stream), but by offering something more compelling than mere data aggregation.

    Their quiet backing of the SSSCA/CBDTPA is only the beginning, I think of this new push. Hailstorm was unappealing to companies and a magnet for criticism, but DRM leverages Microsoft's existing monopoly so I think they'll translate their goal of skimming off every transaction to this arena.

    Just MHO,
    -Isaac

  • by mesozoic (134277) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:52AM (#3321325)
    People have been pointing out that Hailstorm/Persona was NOT the bulk of what .NET My Services is, that this isn't as bad a blow to Microsoft as some people are making it out to be. And they're right. Kind of. But I've seen this coming for years. I've known for so long that Microsoft only has so much steam left in it, and this is one of the first signs that it's slowing down.

    Hailstorm was Microsoft's attempt to become the middleman in a wide range of web transactions. It didn't work, and for a good reason--companies don't like middlemen, especially those as powerful as Microsoft.

    When you think about it, .NET My Services is the same thing. It's another Microsoft attempt to become the middleman, so to speak; they want to be the one in charge of how everyone works together. Doesn't it seem obvious at this point that technology companies will, sooner or later, go the same path with .NET as online businesses did with Hailstorm?

    Granted, Microsoft has put a lot more marketing clout behind .NET My Services, so they probably aren't going away in the immediate future. But the technology industry is unpredictable, and it can change incredibly fast sometimes. We may be seeing the first steps towards an era of Microsoft-free computing.

  • WebTV is Dead. Ultimate TV is dying (yes it is), Hailstorm and XBox are stillborn.

    Aren't these all initiatives from this unstoppable bohemoth that is going to take over the world if we don't have the government step in? At this point I'm not convinced that the free market economy wont end up smacking Microsoft like we want the feds to do.
  • by yardbird (165009) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:54AM (#3321333) Homepage

    Microsoft is now considering selling My Services to corporations in a traditional package form, rather than as a service. The companies would maintain the data for their own users.

    "Frankly selling this stuff to people who build large data centers with our software is not a bad model," Mr. Fitzgerald said.

    IOW, a common code base with the typical MS attention to security, but maintained by thousands of clueless sysadmins rather than by a single company who at least might see fit to install updates. So instead of a single point of failure, you suddenly have hundreds. Fun!

  • by n-baxley (103975) <.gro.syelxab. .ta. .etan.> on Thursday April 11, 2002 @09:24AM (#3322465) Homepage Journal
    I think the most important part of this news is that MS threw a party and no one showed up. A few years ago, if MS came out and said "We've got this idea where everyone will wear celery on their head!". Pepole would have jumped on board because it was MS. Now everyone is more realistic and even overly cautious about doing business as an MS "partner". That in and of itself is great news.

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