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Is Microsoft Silent Before a Deadly Storm? 492

Posted by Zonk
from the big-companies-jump-far dept.
M$FTjack writes "Discussions about Microsoft are all over the place, esp. with its recent delays to Vista. Some consider Microsoft to be doomed, while others say Microsoft is silent before a deadly storm. According to the article on CoolTechZone, the author believes that Microsoft will unleash an abundance of next-generation applications that will take everyone by surprise. From the article: 'So why am I citing all these examples? Simply because I think Microsoft is itself poised for a big leap. Despite all the rumors about Google and how it will topple Microsoft, I don't see that happening in the near future ... people (and I don't mean technology enthusiasts) will continue to purchase Microsoft products simply because of the sheer familiarity and comfort levels (BSoD et al) that they have with Microsoft software.'"
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Is Microsoft Silent Before a Deadly Storm?

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  • I doubt it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suso (153703) * on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:53AM (#15149792) Homepage Journal
    Given the internal conflicts within Microsoft between application teams and the fact that the community gets leaked memos and rumors from time to time about inner goings on, I would say no, they are not working on anything special. The amount of human resources required to develop these "next gen apps" that they allude to within Microsoft would most likely generate some rumors that would have given us such an indication. Microsoft is under too much of a microscope for something like this to slip by. If it is a new development, then it will be a while before we see such apps. Besides, Microsoft's marketing technique seems to be based on people knowing what are going to be in their applications before they are released. I think this is just wishful thinking.
  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:56AM (#15149828) Journal

    Key moment in the slashdot article:

    Despite all the rumors about Google and how it will topple Microsoft, I don't see that happening in the near future ... people (and I don't mean technology enthusiasts) will continue to purchase Microsoft products simply because of the sheer familiarity and comfort levels (BSoD et al) that they have with Microsoft software.

    I think the user community along with the technical community approaches the tipping point with Microsoft, especially with more and more alternatives like web based applications. Microsoft may join that fray, but they've sandbagged themselves, and they may not recover so nimbly this time (though I'll never count Microsoft out).

    Microsoft has spent so much ill-will capital, the collective technology users' almost (almost) want Microsoft to go away. Microsoft is still powerful, but a lot of that power today is inertia as Microsoft tries to think of ways to re-invent itself yet again in time to maintain its control. I hope it doesn't.

    Meanwhile, users (though they don't quite yet know it) are offered virtually every function as a web application, at least for ninety percent, and in many ways the new applications surpass the old resident application paradigm for convenience, service, and ease of use and maintenance.

  • by AviLazar (741826) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:59AM (#15149864) Journal
    Come on, MS doomed? Is the other side of the picket sign "End of the world"? MS is huge, they have a HUGE customer base. They are not going out of business anytime soon. They have TONS and TONS of highly qualified techies who are working to make new products that MANY people will buy.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:02AM (#15149905) Homepage
    From what it sounds like, here's what this article is really saying: Please please please please keep the MSFT stock up so I can sell it for a profit!
  • by Zephyros (966835) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:03AM (#15149918)
    No - thats the way Apple works (taking people by surprise with cool new stuff)

    What if MS is actually learning something from Apple's success and trying that strategy out?

  • by caffeinemessiah (918089) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:03AM (#15149928) Journal
    Microsoft has spent so much ill-will capital, the collective technology users' almost (almost) want Microsoft to go away.

    I wouldn't agree. The collective users minus the knowledgeable community are just happy that the "media center edition windows" that came equipped with their dell lets them do all this "new" cool stuff. don't count out a dazzling UI, fancy-sounding jargon or some other gimmick to win back the ignorant hordes, because I really doubt that true innovation will come by and kill or beat some of the great products already out there.

    Either that, or look out for a deadly string of buyouts. Honestly, I love using Visio because it feels so different from the rest of the Office suite. Things just work sometimes -- made me finally give up xfig. If I'm not mistaken Visio was a company that made ...Visio...and then got bought out by MS.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:05AM (#15149945)
    Microsoft announces products years in advance in an attempt to stop people buying the competitors products. When MS's software finally arrives, it tends to be..... dissapointing.

    Indeed. To quote computerworld from 1995:

    Last month, the U.S. District Court jurist in Washington suggested barring Microsoft from making vaporware announcements because doing so can allegedly freeze the market and discourage buyers from purchasing competing products.

    This has always and continues to be their strategy. As far as I can tell, this time their entire marketing plan is

    "Don't buy a Mac or install Ubuntu or else you might miss out on Vista's similar UI candy".

  • by Jugalator (259273) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:08AM (#15149973) Journal
    Gosh, that's the worst mispelling of six years I've ever seen!

    AFAIK, Vista wasn't delayed six years. That seem to rather match the time it has been in development.

    But yes, it was likely delayed more than a "few months" at least due to them deciding to throw out the XP kernel and base it on Server 2003's instead.
  • by ejdmoo (193585) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:09AM (#15149985)
    Thats just the problem - no new features compelling people to upgrade from office 2000 (or 97 for that matter)

    Have you seen Office 2007? They actually tried this time. It has new features, and it's actually way better to use.
  • This whole thread (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:10AM (#15150003)
    should be modded as "redundant". Nothing new here from the last anti-Microsoft thread. No one has any new arguments, no one even has any new digs at MS. It's all rehashed /. rhetoric.
  • by ichigo 2.0 (900288) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:11AM (#15150013)
    Let's start with Vista. Fine, so it got delayed by a few months.
    Gosh, that's the worst mispelling of six years I've ever seen!

    I don't remember MS promising to deliver Vista in 2001, and I doubt you have proof to the contrary... ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:13AM (#15150037)
    Uhh yeah genius. You need Microsoft for the XP and not for the PC.
  • by Rocketship Underpant (804162) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:14AM (#15150056)
    "What if MS is actually learning something from Apple's success and trying that strategy out?"

    That probably wouldn't work because of their sales strategy. They sell companies expensive 3-year subscriptions with the promise that they'll get Microsoft's latest and greatest when it's ready; to make the sale, naturally, they have to hype the products in the pipeline.

    If I recall correctly, Vista/Longhorn was supposed to be out in 2004, 3 years after XP. Some corporations paid a lot of money for a lot of nothing in 2001 and the following years, based on empty promises and grossly miscalculated shipping dates.
  • by ebyrob (165903) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:17AM (#15150081) Homepage
    Microsoft has two economically successful products. Windows and Office. As long as at least one of those continues to sell the way it has been, they'll remain in business. Of course, assuming that's a foregone conclusion is just silly.
  • by Zephyros (966835) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:21AM (#15150120)
    You have a good point - Apple releases consumer products with sudden fanfare, while Microsoft has a lot of corporate customers.

    However, while they have to be as open as they can about Vista, Office, and other corporate necessities, consider projects like the Origami, or a rumored XBox handheld. They could really benefit from an Apple-style buzz and launch.

  • >> Let's start with Vista. Fine, so it got delayed by a few months.

    >>Gosh, that's the worst mispelling of six years I've ever seen!

    >It's not a mispelling, it's a twist. Vista only got delayed by a few months. Longhorn on the other hand... :)

    It's not mispelling, it's "misspelling"

    Back on topic, I have been amazed at big a deal everyone is making about the Vista delays. How often are software projects late? Um, always?
    Indeed, system vendors will be irate, but the idea of Microsoft being "doomed" as the Slashdot article states is patently absurd. Microsoft is such a massive empire; their fall would take decades and a long and consistant string of terrible screw-ups. A few products being late, even years late, might scratch their bottom-line, but it will hardly lead to their demise.
  • by Ryan Amos (16972) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:28AM (#15150187)
    No, your argument parser needs some work :)

    The argument is that people are fed up with Windows and the market is ripe for something that will replace it. Boot Camp makes the transition much easier on people because they don't have to quit Windows cold turkey.

    People no longer trust Microsoft as they did in the past (right or wrong, most users blame Microsoft for viruses and spyware.) While Macs are not immune to them, the default security policies on OS X (have to enter a password to install anything) make it a lot harder to fool users into running attachments which install anything to their machine.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:30AM (#15150212) Journal
    I have been amazed at big a deal everyone is making about the Vista delays. How often are software projects late?

    It's a matter of scale, really. Longhorn is the biggest failed project in software development history, at least in the private sector. The previous record holder would be IBM Office Vision.

    -jcr
  • by TechGooRu (944422) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:34AM (#15150251)
    Another one missing the point. While other companies are focusing and refocusing their efforts on eye candy and "sleeker" interfaces, Microsoft continually hits balls out of the park in the enterprise. Windows Vista is about security enhancements and enterprise management. Any techie worth a damn on the microsoft side of things knows that. Anyone on the outside, including Linux fanboys like yourself completely miss the point. Active Directory, Group Policy, and Systems Management Server are what drive Microsoft sales. Enterprise management is what drives sales and generates HUGE revenue streams. They figured this out 6 years ago after NT 4 was a bust. Now they have a 5 year head start on YOU. Good luck catching them.

    Get it strait: The new interface is nothing more than a bonus, and a much needed upgrade of a bonus at that. Look under the hood, and you'll be surprised. Now, stop regurgitating the same old BS we've been hearing for years, and tell us something that's of value.

  • by Ucklak (755284) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:35AM (#15150265)
    You must be talking about the ribbon.
    Still can't open open document formats.
  • by Morpeth (577066) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:40AM (#15150322)
    ...move along. Seriously, why even bother posting such an article? It's just going to be typical /. slamfest, like every other one that crops up the minute MS is mentioned.

    Which means, all the MS haters/flamers posts will get modded up as insightful or interesting (and will by in large be neither), anyone saying anything contrary will be left untouched or modded down. Nothing new or valuable will be said, all the same flames will be rehashed yet again.

    And I'm sorry, love them or hate them, but to say MS is doomed and going to fold is beyond stupid, with no basis in reality. If you have any sense of the scope of their software suites and the size of their user base, no one in their right mind would say that. You might WANT it to happen, but hope and reality are not the same thing

  • by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @11:54AM (#15150439)

    AFAIK, Vista wasn't delayed six years. That seem to rather match the time it has been in development.

    Yeah it was. They called it Longhorn back in 2000, then renamed it as vista. Calling it new is disingenuous - everyone knows MS is working on the next version of their OS. The actual project name is irrelevant.

  • by wilsone8 (471353) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @12:06PM (#15150564)
    It's a matter of scale, really. Longhorn is the biggest failed project in software development history, at least in the private sector. The previous record holder would be IBM Office Vision.

    How do the words "failed" and "late" suddenly have the same definition?
  • THis is actually interesting:
    Windows 2000 and ME to XP was a 2 year release cycle.
    NT4 to 2000 was a 5 year release
    Windows XP to Vista will be at least a 4 year release cycle.

    So the Vista timeframe is in line with previous product releases. XP, OTOH was short largely because it was what they promised in Windows 2000, just 2 years late.

    Howecer compare with:
    Windows 95 to 98: 3 years
    98 to ME: 2 years
    ME to XP: 2 years.
    XP to Vista: 4 years

    So XP to Vista shows a slowing release cycle in an area which has traditionally had a fast turnover.

    Now there are two more things to note. XP is the unification point between two different MS operating systems. They consolidate their offerings and lengthen their release cycle on the consumer side to match the business side. This indicates that Microsoft is trying to cut costs, not that they are trying to release next-gen products with a great wow factor.

    Microsoft is doomed, but Google is not the cause.
  • by slashname3 (739398) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @12:34PM (#15150878)
    You are correct. Micrsoft sends out people that pitch what not yet available. Saw that back in the 90's when they came around to help solve a Microsoft Mail problem. They said that next year Exchange would fix everything that was wrong with Mail. We ended up putting about 38,000 users on Openmail. Which worked great, until HP made the deal with Microsoft to kill Openmail. Now that company is fighing problems with Exchange. Apparently Microsoft can't debug their own stuff, even with three dumps from the machine. Which BTW takes the system out of service impacting customers each time a dump is taken.

    Let's hope Microsoft embraces and extends Linux sometime in the near future.
  • by Ucklak (755284) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @12:59PM (#15151120)
    Why not? I don't get it. They're supposed to be a software company that writes software for micro computers. Clearly Mac and Linux are platforms that constitute that.
    I would want my company to diversify and nost just in other areas. If a microwave oven can run on my software, damn it, i'm gonna get someone to write software for it.

    Why did they stop supporting their media player for Mac? Why did they stop at Media Player 6.4 for Linux?
    I seriously think that Microsoft coders can't code at all. Whatever politics are behind them from not fulfilling their career goals need to go by the wayside because it's crippling effects are felt everywhere.
  • by einhverfr (238914) <chris.traversNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @01:03PM (#15151157) Homepage Journal
    Anyone on the outside, including Linux fanboys like yourself completely miss the point. Active Directory, Group Policy, and Systems Management Server are what drive Microsoft sales.

    Is it just me or is Microsoft actually catching up to where *nix has been for twenty years with Project Athena from MIT.....

    Directory services, Kerberos, automated maintenance pushed out to workstations (via GPO's in Windows).... Now if we could only deal with insane file locking strategies that WIndows uses, add symlinks, etc. we would have a real OS. Alternatively, if they could add the really cool clustering capabilities VMS had, that would be cool too.

    Right now, Windows is sort of a VMS-lite with a nicer GUI but lacking all the enterprise management features that have existed in the enterprise OS world for twenty years.

    The *Only* reason what Microsoft is making inroads here is because UNIX/Linux geeks don't really know what their OS is capable of.
  • by radtea (464814) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @01:24PM (#15151325)
    How often are software projects late? Um, always?

    Only when they are managed by incompetents, the kind of losers who think that working longer hours is something other than a euphemism for low productivity.

    No software project I have managed has been late by more than 10% of the total schedule. It just isn't that hard to deliver quality software, on time, every time. I've done it with research-oriented projects, whole applications, and feature upgrades, in Java and C++, working alone and managing largish (~10 developer) teams. I have been involved in very late, very large projects that I accurately predicted would be very late using basic quantitative estimation practices. Large projects are even easier to estimate than small projects because they average over so much diversity. Any two large projects are more similar than any two small projects.

    There are two major factors that cause software projects to be late: technological optimism on the part of developers, and faith-based management and estimation practices. I hardly need to write about technological optimism here--we've all at one time or another gotten so enamoured of a new technology that we thought it would solve all our problems in half the time and not contain any gotchas.

    Faith-based management practices are based on what people want to be true rather than what is true. They are the epistemology of a bible-believing Christian applied to logistics. We've all seen managers who want badly to believe that the schedule will be met, and so they lie to themselves and everyone one around them, and punish anyone who disagrees with their faith.

    Quantitative estimation and management practices are not hard to learn or apply, but they continually come up with the "wrong" answers--ones that the bible-believers don't want to hear. When this happens the bible-believers characteristically make exceptionalist claims: "This is the chosen project! It is not not like all those other projects you based your estimates on! This project is special! It is outside the laws of time, space and logistics!"

    Needless to say, like all bible-believers, they are impervious to facts, and so their projects crash merrily through deadline after deadline without any response except ill-conceived attempts to force their minnions and themselves to work ever-longer hours.

    The solution to all of this is the Law of Common Humanity: We are just like Them. If industry data from the past century across a dozen different fields shows that working more than 35 or 40 hours a week results in significantly lower productivity, then that is probably true of us as well. If the quantitative estimation practices described in Rapid Development gave reasonable values for others, they probably will for us. If the causes of failure identified in Stephen Flowers excellent book Software Failure: Management Failure caused other projects to fail, they will probably cause ours to fail if we let them.

    It is clear that Microsoft has never learned this lesson. They have been famous for late projects since Word1.0 two decades ago, and yet like bible-believers everywhere, they keep to the faith of their forefathers despite the wreckage it produces. On this basis, the odds of Microsoft being poised to unleash a river of innovation is simply not plausible.
  • How do you tell? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Godai (104143) * on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @01:38PM (#15151460)
    My only question -- after reading the article -- is how one would tell the difference between a Microsoft that is quietly amassing a host of breakthrough technologies and a Microsoft that is quietly (and desperately) wracking its collective head about what to do about its competitor?


    More to the point, how often has Microsoft really come out with something innovative that took the world by storm? It's released rehashes of products it bought from other people, but I can't think of many cutting edge, out-of-nowhere advancements that have come from them. It's not really their core competancy is it? Which isn't to say they can't produce some slick stuff when they want to, but rather they're more often riding the coat tails of smaller trailblazers (who they either crush or swallow in the following years).

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:10PM (#15151745)
    How do you get XP to Vista 4 years? Going by Vista release in 2007 it's six... but it's not 2007 and Vista isn't released yet so it might be more.
  • by Criterion (51515) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:36PM (#15151977)
    "While we love to hate the Redmond giant, there is no denying that wherever there is money, whatever is the next big thing; Microsoft invariably ends up being there sooner rather than later."

    I read the whole article, but knew as soon as I read this sentance that I didn't really need to. When has MS *ever* been "sooner rather than later" to the next big thing? Historicaly they have been the ones slow to the punch. One rather outstanding example... the internet.
  • Nothing Indeed. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by twitter (104583) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @05:03PM (#15153042) Homepage Journal
    Seriously, why even bother posting such an article?

    I'd like to ignore such crap myself, but I know I'll be hearing it over and over again. The upgrade train is building up steam again. Because so many people have been burnt before, M$ is having to crank up the volume more than usual. The article is a sorry apology for M$'s glacial six year OS pace and inability to do anything innovative. Just the same, we are going to hear more of the same. M$ might be deadly, but they are never silent because hype and anti-competitive tactics are all they have. People speculate they are dead because that's how you describe a listless company with mediocre product in a competitive market.

    It's nice to see the typical, loud M$ build up to their next release. I can remember the idiots who bought and echoed all the XP hype without ever having run it. "It's based on NT Technology so it's like solid," I overheard some marketdroid in a supermarket. That's the level of penetration M$ achieves with billions of dollars worth of advert budget. Similar stupid things could be heard a year before the release 2000, 98, "the end of DOS, USB support", 95, "the 32 bit computing and the end of DOS, a real multitasking GUI.." Some people still believe these things.

  • by seven of five (578993) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @05:04PM (#15153052) Homepage
    If Origami is any indication, MS is fscked.

    At a recent Korean demonstration showing off Origami hardware, the software hung and choked many times.

    or... how 'bout the TABLET PC??
  • by something_wicked_thi (918168) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @05:21PM (#15153136)
    It's really not that simple, though. There's not really any ME technology in XP. XP is just 2K with a new GUI, some new kernel features, remote desktop assistance, multi-user switching, and a few other goodies.

    Also, how do you factor Server 2K3 into this? I think that Vista has nothing from 2K3, but I could be wrong about that. Personally, I'd say that the XP development cycle should be traced from NT4. Why? Because 2K was the technology behind XP. The next year was spent turning it into a consumer OS, so let's say about 5 years (I think NT4 came out around 1996, but maybe it was 1995). Therefore, Vista is about on par with that (5.5 year from August 2001 when XP was released to OEM to January 2007; my guess is it'll be delayed again, so let's say an even 6 years from XP to Vista).

    Therefore, it's about on par with their last release. But when it comes to delays, I don't think any other Windows product was delayed this long (Win95 slipped about a year, I think; if XP is what 2K was supposed to be, then 2K also slipped a year, you could argue).

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