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Gates' Replacement says Microsoft Must Simplify 405

Posted by Hemos
from the planning-the-future dept.
Javaman59 writes "This article in The Australian newspaper describes the background and the agenda of Ray Ozzie, Bill Gates' replacement as chief architect at Microsoft. The creator of Lotus Notes, he's a high-calibre technologist. From the article: 'Ray's a programmer's programmer .. He's much closer to an uber-engineer, whereas Bill hasn't been a programmer for a number of years.' Ozzie is also driving Microsoft to simplify its software: 'Complexity kills .. It sucks the life out of developers, it makes products difficult to plan, build and test, it introduces security challenges, and it causes end-user and administrator frustration.' He's not the only brilliant programmer in the world, but he does have Microsoft's resources behind him."
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Gates' Replacement says Microsoft Must Simplify

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  • by IntelliAdmin (941633) * on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:33AM (#15561393) Homepage
    I would totally disagree that he is a programmer's programmer. This is the guy that brought us Lotus Notes, and then a similar product named groove. Have you ever seen any company really using Groove? And on the lotus notes side - what a nightmare. I can't even think about that software without getting the shakes. The number of problems and issues I had when I was supporting it was crazy. On top of it all the program did not work like any other windows program... Causing tons of newbie headaches. I think Microsoft is in for a rough ride...

    Windows Admin Tools [intelliadmin.com]
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:37AM (#15561418)
      Hey, if the guy who brought the world Lotus Notes thinks Microsoft need to simplify their software, things are worse than - no, correction - almost exactly as bad as I thought.
      • Hey, if the guy who brought the world Lotus Notes thinks Microsoft need to simplify their software, things are worse than - no, correction - almost exactly as bad as I thought.

        And how many trillions of lines of code is Vista?? I say put Aero on top of Windows 95. Now we're rocking simplicity!!

      • by sjcollier (983561) on Monday June 19, 2006 @11:12AM (#15561632)
        Your thought process is exactly what got Microsoft "stuck." Lotus Notes spent one year without the market share of end-users. Does the interface lack Outlook - yes Does it do more then Outlook - yes, its a mail platform and an application platform. Does IBM have bad UIs - yes Does Microsoft have good UIs - yes So you can buy Exchange/Outlook that looks sexy, but can't failover and cluster worth a crap or you buy Notes/Domino that clusters and failovers like there is no tomorrow. Work at a real company where millions of dollars change hands on a daily basis and Notes/Domino is the only solution. Work at a 500 to 2,000 employee company and Exchange is the way to go.
        • Uh... Microsoft uses Exchange for something like 60,000 employees, and it seems to be working fine for them...
        • by Anonymous Coward
          The company I work for has 20,000+ employees and uses Exchange without a hitch. Why? Because everything is networked and each inbox is 20MB in size. After that, you have a default archive PST that is placed on a Samba NFS mount. Storage is not a problem, which is key because our company is required by the SEC to store every email ever sent forever (literally, forever). While I'm not a diehard Outlook fan (I prefer Thunderbird at home), I'd say that Exchange does just fine when the administrators handle
        • I worked in the Exchange group responsible for beating Notes. Its not like Notes made it difficult or anything. Remember VIM? Sure, back in the days when we beat Notes, we thought people were more interested in actually gettting their mail, then whether or not they could all collaberate in trying to figure out where their mail went. Notes sucked early and never recovered. Exchange started out good and only got better. There are 100K+ employee Exchange installations all over the world that work just fine. Th
          • There are 100K+ employee Exchange installations all over the world that work just fine.

            Yeah, and when "the Exchange server" serving >100K clients gets taken down for maintenance or disrupted due to unknown reasons, mail gets queued and thousands of people can't get their work done for hours on end. There is a reason why people call it "the Exchange server", and that reason is what Microsoft needs to fix ASAP. The marketing managers have justification too: it allows them to put another set of IMPORTA

        • Work at a real company where millions of dollars change hands on a daily basis and Notes/Domino is the only solution.

          This is a different conclusion at some places where billions of dollars change hands on a daily basis.

          For instance, Disney uses Exchange/Outlook. And not just Disney Parks, Columbia Pictures, ESPN, ABC, Disney Interactive (Kingdom Hearts I and II), Disney Consumer Products, or... but the entire enormous media/marketing conglomerate that is Disney, Inc. uses Exchange/Outlook. There are rare
        • Having used Lotus Notes, I know that it may well cluster and perform extremely well, but it freaking sucks to actually use. UI is everything, and if the back end stinks, like it does indeed for the Microsoft products, then you hire people who know how to deal with it. You don't punish your end users to cut back on one or two jobs or an extra server or two.

          Ultimately, there's no excuse for either a bad UI OR a bad back end. I'm not going to state that everyone should use Outlook and ignore it's obvious de
      • Does this spell the end for Microsoft? I can't imagine how anyone would ever use a computer again with this concept -- bloated software embloating?

        I wonder how many Microsoft programmers win the Obfuscated C contect [ioccc.org], and how many more will win without entry after this 'simplification' happens.
      • Hey, if the guy who brought the world Lotus Notes thinks Microsoft need to simplify their software, things are worse than - no, correction - almost exactly as bad as I thought.

        Software should be as simple as it needs to be, but no simpler.

        The core functionality of Notes is not complex at all -- given what it does, which is to provide a industrial strength collaboration platform with military/intelligence grade security features. It's pretty extraordinary, given that it dates from the mid 80s. Building an a
    • by GoatMonkey2112 (875417) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:39AM (#15561424)
      Not working like other Windows programs is not necessarily a bad thing. Of course working like a failed platform such as Lotus Notes would not be all that great either. With a little luck he has learned a few things from these experiences. Simplification of Microsoft products is obviously not a bad idea.
    • Blotus Notes (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Lotus Notes is more bloated and unusable than the worst Microsoft products.

    • by Golias (176380) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:41AM (#15561437)
      I would totally disagree that he is a programmer's programmer. This is the guy that brought us Lotus Notes, and then a similar product named groove. Have you ever seen any company really using Groove? And on the lotus notes side - what a nightmare. I can't even think about that software without getting the shakes. The number of problems and issues I had when I was supporting it was crazy. On top of it all the program did not work like any other windows program... Causing tons of newbie headaches. I think Microsoft is in for a rough ride...

      So what you're really saying is that he's not an internal help-desk worker's programmer, because none of your points really demonstrated that he was a bad programmer, just that you didn't enjoy supporting the software from his company.

      I think the guy might be a good fit. It's actually refreshing to see them going out and getting some new blood. They have a history of being a very inbred company, after all.
    • by bheer (633842) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {reehbr}> on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:42AM (#15561442)
      Notes is a nightmare like Emacs is a nightmare-- the interface's crap but those who know the rationale behind the interface (or can look beyond the not-so-pretty face) will discover a remarkably powerful scriptable workflow engine that incidentally is also an email client. I have personally razzed Notes before (I used it for my email for 6+ years and had to end up learning how to program it to make it bearable) but in the end I do appreciate the amount of flexibility the environment gives you. Add to that the number of good ideas Notes pioneered in the early 80s, and it's no wonder a lot of Notes folk end up like Lisp programmers, muttering 'heh, we did it first' whenever any workflow/unstructured-data 'innovation' is announced.

      Back on topic, it's common knowledge among the Notes community that Ozzie was responsible for the Notes engine and backend, not the interface (that was Lotus standards, and later IBM's) -- given that I think he deserves a lot more credit than you give him.

    • I am going to take the opposite road with relation to Ozzie. He developed LN when there were few if any standards out there. Given that, I'd say hid did a pretty good job. The tool was light years ahead of anything else out there at the time.

      Not to mention he was a much younger, and dare I say "wreckless" programmer back then. Experience is now on his side. That has to count for something.

      No doubt this challenge (simplyfying Microsoft) may be beyond even him, but give him his due credit.
    • What you said was exactly my first reaction, too. But then I realized that IBM had taken over Lotus Notes for over a decade by now, so maybe it's IBM who f'ed up Notes, instead of Ozzie, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody. //grin

      Unless, of course, you were describing your experience with pre-1995 Notes.

    • Having worked on the Lotus Notes development team from 1995-1998, and having attempted to use Groove at my last company, I can say that Ray Ozzie knows firsthand how complexity can "suck the life out." I am skeptical as to whether or not he can actually do anything about it, especially because Bill Gates is not really "stepping away" for two years. That is plenty of time to keep promising the database filesystem that they've been talking about since 1995.
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday June 19, 2006 @12:22PM (#15562161) Homepage
      On top of it all the program did not work like any other windows program... Causing tons of newbie headaches.

      Funny, Picasa works very different from any other Windows program and yet newbies catch on to it almost instantly.

  • Good plan! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    back to DOS would be an improvement. (i am serious)
    • by WillerZ (814133) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:59AM (#15561539) Homepage
      DOS/360 I assume?

      Personally I prefer TSO.
    • back to DOS would be an improvement.

      Well, with the current Windows security we have "back to DDOS". That ought to be something :P
  • by gasmonso (929871) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:37AM (#15561417) Homepage

    Then there are probably few survivors at Microsoft. Ozzie has his work cut out. You can brag about Lotus Notes all you want, but that was developed from scratch when you can make the proper design decisions. But with Windows being bloated and out of control, you just can't clean it up and make it more simple... can you? It seems like there putting to much faith in Ozzie... like a silver bullet. Gonna be tough to undo years and years of neglect.

    http://psychicfreaks.com/ [psychicfreaks.com]
    • Then there are probably few survivors at Microsoft. Ozzie has his work cut out. You can brag about Lotus Notes all you want, but that was developed from scratch when you can make the proper design decisions.


      Heh, which part of Notes looks like it was based on proper design decisions?

      -matthew
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday June 19, 2006 @11:11AM (#15561626) Journal
      The next build of Windows will not be fully backwards-compatible. That's the only solution to the complexity issues MS is facing.

      Not to be ridiculously, totally, farcically speculous, but here's a scenario for you:

      Vista ships at $$$, with extreme requirements. Adoption is very low, due to all the problems that have been rehashed here at slashdot over the past months. However, Vista is fully backwards-compatible (or as near as possible).

      MS releases another OS that looks like Vista but is not backwards compatible (though probably compatible with Vista). Price (at least cost of use) is an order of magnitude (ok, an order of magnitude in binary) lower than Vista.

      Users who need interoperability with older Windows versions pay for Vista (these'll be primarily businesses). Everyone else can buy the non-backwards-compatible version.

      Of course, Vista would have had to have been built with this in mind. And of course, this would break so much currently-deployed software that it would kill MS in the short run. But, it would help explain MS's interest in ODF.

      Finally, this would have to have been in development for years now, and there hasn't been a peep from Redmond (officially or not), so it's pretty much a garbage theory. But, in the long run, the only way MS can get rid of the bloat is to get rid of backwards compatibility.
      • by g2devi (898503) on Monday June 19, 2006 @12:50PM (#15562400)
        Backwards compatibility is extremely important for Microsoft. It doesn't matter if VistaNG (the non-backwards compatible Vista) is 100 times better, if it's not 100% compatible with most applications, it's dead, simply because:
        * the demand for portable apps will grow (apps like OpenOffice and Firefox look a lot more attractive since they can be phased in slowly)
        * the demand for portability programmer skills will grow (programmers who know Vista, VistaNG, Linux, and Mac portability will have the edge)
        * the migration effort will be compareable to switching to a non-Microsoft alternative, so why not investigate them, especially if you're starting to use portable apps?

        I'm not sure if you were around in the early 1990s, but back then Borland ruled to developer tools world. Microsoft wasn't even close. It wasn't just Turbo Pascal. It was also in the C++ arena with the OWL 1.0 framework that made Win32 programming a lot easier (although it used a proprietary C++ extension to get things done). Borland decided to make their next version of OWL standards compliant. It was a beautiful MVC architecture that was head and shoulders above thin kludgy MFC. However, OWL 2.0 was completely backwards incompatible with OWL 1.0 and the more standards compliant C++ compiler couldn't compile OWL 1.0 programs. At that point, companies revolted. OWL 2.0 was the right idea, but since companies had to migrate anyway, they chose to migrate to the inferior (though more API stable) MFC. VistaNG could face a similar revolt too if it make migratiting to it too painful.

        Here's an alternative that's a lot more likely to me.
        * Microsoft ships Vista.
        * Microsoft starts writing a new high performance core from the ground up or takes the FreeBSD core or the Darwin core (since they can reuse the Mach experience) and adds its new and improved Windows API layer above it (that API might even be completely written in .NET so it can be backported to Vista to easy the migration)
        * Microsoft ports all their apps to the new VistaNG API
        * Microsoft writes a WINE-like app that uses their new cleaned up API layer in order to run Vista apps.

        The consequence of this are:
        * VistaNG apps run fast and programming for VistaNG is a lot nicer than Vista
        * Most Vista apps run smoothly on VistaNG (at a slight performance and memory penalty)
        * People who want don't care about backwards compatibility will not have to deal with the bloat and cruft, while those who do, can get it.
        * At some point in the future, (2 releases after VistaNG), Microsoft can throw out the VistaNG layer or just let the code break over time, like they have with the Win16 API

        • Sounds pretty familiar - a kin to a process that a certain fruit company started in 2001 and is pretty well finished with now. OS X with Cocoa (X only), Carbon (9 and X) and Classic (9 emulation) worked pretty smoothly for them and their users, it seems.

          Others really should learn from that lesson of how to handle retiring archaic architecture that they don't want to drag along.
        • Microsoft starts writing a new high performance core from the ground up or takes the FreeBSD core or the Darwin core (since they can reuse the Mach experience) and adds its new and improved Windows API layer above it (that API might even be completely written in .NET so it can be backported to Vista to easy the migration)

          Why the hell would they do this?

          The best part of Windows is the core, the NT Kernel. It's a fairly high-performance, modular, cleanly designed system that's extendable, scalable, and b

    • Ozzie (Score:5, Funny)

      by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Monday June 19, 2006 @11:12AM (#15561630) Journal
      From what I've seen of Ozzie, especially on TV, he is in no condition to go on tour with a heavy metal band never mind run a major company.

      "Gonna be tough to undo years and years of neglect."

      That's what rehab is for.

      Rock on!
    • That's true, but you could make it so the OS doesn't install all of the legacy code in all cases for servers that don't need it. For example, if you're running all .net apps you shouldn't need old APIs and COM in there taking up space.
      • by EvanED (569694) <evaned@gmailPASCAL.com minus language> on Monday June 19, 2006 @11:48AM (#15561911)
        I'd almost guarantee that if you removed the API then .Net would stop working because it's implemented on top of it. It probably is implemented on top of COM as well.

        And anyway, the chance that you'd have NO such applications is virtually nil.
        • I'd almost guarantee that if you removed the API then .Net would stop working because it's implemented on top of it. It probably is implemented on top of COM as well.

          It is, but it was written under the assumption that at some future date, the .NET framework could essentially live in its own NT subsystem and would not be dependent upon the Windows subsystem at all. That would leave out all of the horrible Win32 security and compatibility nightmares that make working on Windows such a headache.

          I think

    • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Monday June 19, 2006 @11:22AM (#15561710)
      But with Windows being bloated and out of control, you just can't clean it up and make it more simple... can you?

      They used to say the same things about Mac OS 9 and Netscape Navigator 4...
      • I don't know if you're trying to be sarcastic or what, but at least for MacOS 9, it really was beyond repair. Apple tried a number of times, and ended up with a number of failed projects.

        What worked for them with OSX was basically scrapping everything before and starting over. They saved themselves a lot of time by borrowing a lot from unix and nextOS, and reproduced some of the aspects of OS9. A layer of backwards compatibility was sort of hacked over the new OS, but it wasn't integrated into the new, it w
      • They used to say the same things about Mac OS 9 and Netscape Navigator 4...

        And they were right. That's why MacOS X and the new Mozilla were both complete rewrites as far as the core functional components (kernel / rendering engine) are concerned.
    • by Belial6 (794905) on Monday June 19, 2006 @11:55AM (#15561966)
      Yes, it would be simple. All they need to do is use that product they bought. You know. VirtualPC. All it would take is a WinXP and a Win95 preinstalled disk image, a VM that is premapped to the existing hard drive, and some tweaking to the interface so that users don't see a big difference between an emulated window and a native one.

      Some difference would be fine because they could just call it 'compatability mode' and people would live with the slight kludgeness. They don't have to allow any new drivers in the images, as they have a fixed target. This would prevent people from moving the image to other machines.

      The beauty of this is that VirtualPC is already semi crossplatform.
  • by stinky wizzleteats (552063) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:41AM (#15561434) Homepage Journal
    This may be the single best long term decision Microsoft has ever made. At least until Ballamer murders Ozzie with a chair.
  • So does that mean they are going to leave the high end server stuff to the pros? ;) I mean we had an article on slashdot talking about Redhat not being worried (yet) about Mircosoft entering the clustering biz....I guess they had good reason not to worry.
  • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@@@optonline...net> on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:43AM (#15561446) Journal

    Mr Gates himself was once moved to declare Mr Ozzie "one of the top five programmers in the universe" and revealed that he and Mr Ballmer had wanted for more than a decade to persuade him to join Microsoft. To the outside world, Mr Ozzie's programming prowess is known mainly through Lotus Notes, the e-mail and collaboration software that he masterminded, which was acquired by IBM in 1995.

    And we know that if BG says it, it must be true!

    There's no doubt that Ozzie has some programming credit and no one will argue (I'm going out on a limb here) that Lotus Notes was genius back in the day, pre-Internet-as-we-know it. But despite his desire to streamline programs, reduce the bloat, and re-establish some respectability, he's not going to get very far. First, he'll have to lock horns with Ballmer and dodge chairs. Then he'll find that Microsoft has become so mired in its own muck that spurring the current crop of programmers who've been indoctrinated in the "Microsoft Way" will prove nigh impossible. He will also have to live in the shadow of BG, who despite the announcement, isn't really going anywhere, and will be haunting the halls of Redmond like some anti-Obi Wan.

    I give him 18 months before he resigns in frustration.

    • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:46AM (#15561469) Journal
      "one of the top five programmers in the universe"

      I know where the other 4 are, they are all in Russia sending me spam and running porn sites.
    • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Monday June 19, 2006 @11:29AM (#15561757)
      Then he'll find that Microsoft has become so mired in its own muck that spurring the current crop of programmers who've been indoctrinated in the "Microsoft Way" will prove nigh impossible.

      That doesn't sound like such an insurmountable obstacle to me. Microsoft can just do what they've done for the past 20 years -- wait for the current batch of "Microsoft Way" indoctrinees to burn out around age 30, and replace them with a bunch of workaholic recent grads willing to put in 70 hour weeks for the price of some free sodas and a complimentary mountain bike.

      There's enough churn in the company that any issues with rank-and-file employee attitudes within the company can work themselves out within just a few years.

    • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Monday June 19, 2006 @12:05PM (#15562041)
      There's no doubt that Ozzie has some programming credit ... But despite his desire to streamline programs, reduce the bloat, and re-establish some respectability, he's not going to get very far. ... Then he'll find that Microsoft has become so mired in its own muck that spurring the current crop of programmers who've been indoctrinated in the "Microsoft Way" will prove nigh impossible. ... I give him 18 months before he resigns in frustration.

      I'd seriously consider taking that bet.

      I submit two simple points for consideration.

      1. Microsoft has a lot of very smart people working for it. They may have drunk some corporate Kool-Aid in some cases, but they're still very smart. If Ozzie comes up with the goods, I think they'll recognise that pretty quickly and back him up.
      2. Major changes in direction are possible in the software industry, even in flagship products with a huge user base, within a relatively short period of time. Apple did it with OS X. Just a few years ago, no-one had heard of Google. MS has more than enough money in the bank to take a hit for 2-3 years and do things properly, if the guys at the top are willing to buy into it and can take the shareholders with them.

      I think it's been widely acknowledged that the biggest problem with MS is the sheer scale of what they've tried to do in recent years. There's little experience in the industry of how to develop projects on the scale of Windows or Office effectively, no handbook of how to keep the bug count down and avoid introducing security flaws, performance hits, or whatever other scalability problems in software with dev teams of the size they use.

      With that in mind, I find it strangely reassuring that the first comments from the new guy at (almost) the top involved simplifying everything down to reduce the dangers in these areas.

      • "I think it's been widely acknowledged that the biggest problem with MS is the sheer scale of what they've tried to do in recent years. There's little experience in the industry of how to develop projects on the scale of Windows or Office effectively, no handbook of how to keep the bug count down and avoid introducing security flaws, performance hits, or whatever other scalability problems in software with dev teams of the size they use."

        Not even close. Just off the top of my head I can think of any major
  • by Pedrito (94783) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:43AM (#15561447) Homepage
    I don't know, if I were the person responsible for Lotus Notes, I might want to omit that from my resume. If you haven't had Lotus Notes inflicted upon you, count yourself lucky.
    • please tell me of the superior product in the open source realm that does what Lotus Notes does.
      • Re:Lotus Notes??? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Pedrito (94783)
        please tell me of the superior product in the open source realm that does what Lotus Notes does.

        Just about any e-mail package that actually DELIVERS the e-mail. Not in a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks, but actually when you send it. Some of my co-workers are still stuck with it and every once in a while, I receive an e-mail someone sent weeks ago. Notes just kinda "forgot" about the e-mail and suddenly, digging around or something, it comes across it and says, "Oh yeah! I forgot about this one. Mayb
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:44AM (#15561452) Homepage Journal
    The creator of Lotus Notus, he's a high calibre technologist.
    Not only is he a technologist, he's a great scientician and an award-winning engineeringer. His unfailicating leaderostimation and efficientistic directionating of Microsoft's profusical resources will undoubtingly work for the betterificationating of all humanitism.
  • Lotus Notes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chicken04GTO (957041) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:46AM (#15561470)
    I've developed with Notes for 11+ years (I know I feel sorry for me too), and while the UI is gruesome, and it has plenty of quirks, its great for rapid solution development. You can do almost anything with it, fairly quickly. If anything, the reason I think people hate it so much is precisely because it allows just any wanker to come in and crap out a solution without thinking about it. Its WAY to flexible for anyone but experienced developers to do anything reliable with it. 99% of the headaches in a Notes environment are due to admins or developers setting up stuff they don't have an idea how to really do...or like my company, we have 2000+ deployed seats, hundreds of databases all developed by different people, all supported by ONE guy, part time about 10 hours a week. Wow, no wonder theres so many problems.

    If anything, its the poster child of why you *shouldn't* make it too easy for people to develop solutions...and why a solution that does everything does none of it *really* well.
    • Re:Lotus Notes (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Elvis Parsley (939954)
      If anything, the reason I think people hate it so much is precisely because it allows just any wanker to come in and crap out a solution without thinking about it.

      And even that can be effectively prevented with a few deft strokes of the admin client. The big problem is ignorance. Witness, for example, the number of people who are still poorly informed enough to think that Notes is an email client. Sure, Notes sucks if you deploy it in an environment where nobody knows what to do with it and resents t
    • by Electrum (94638) <david@acz.org> on Monday June 19, 2006 @11:40AM (#15561845) Homepage
      If anything, the reason I think people hate it so much is precisely because it allows just any wanker to come in and crap out a solution without thinking about it.

      You just described Visual Basic.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:47AM (#15561475)
    1) 11 billion or so shares issued over the years. The significance of this fact seems to elude most people for some reason.

    2) Stock in slow decline for over five years

    3) Revenue growth continuing to slow

    4) open document format movement continues to spread across the computing world

    5) Office software has reached a saturation point for features

    6) Linux continues to step by step become the de facto choice for computing companies to base their hardware on

    7) Attempts to create new revenue streams have been failures like the Xbox/Xbox 360 marketplace disasters

    8) Can't attract/keep good employees now that the stock is no longer going up

    9) Can't keep current employees happy - it doesn't matter how you treat an employee if their options are going up dramatically in value every day and that hasn't been the case at MS for many years

    10) Years of poor engineering choices are making progress nearly impossible for their OS

    Taking over a company that is in its decline is no fun.

  • If Ray Ozzie is the man behind Lotus Notes, he definitely speaks from experience when he cries out against complexity. I've never been able to get Notes to run quickly and reliably, on anything from an Apple iBook to a Dell Dimension, regardless of the specs.
    • I find it amazing that the man behind Lotus Notes would claim to know something about complexity and simplicity. Lotus is bloated crapware at it's finest. Seems like yet another bad move for Microsoft, but only time will tell.
  • Simpler times (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:53AM (#15561503)
    It's certainly true that programming these days is way harder than it ever used to be. The number of APIs, formats, interoperability options and even the number of languages a single project might encompass is truly bad for the brain of anyone that doesn't spend 24/7 keeping up with it all. Anyone that can push for simplicity gets my vote.
    FWIW, any time I find it all overwhelming, I reach for my trusty copy of 'Programmers at Work' by Susan Lammers. Many of the great programmers are here along with the stories of how they created much of the basic building blocks we take for granted these days. Almost without exception, their ability to convey ideas in a clear and concise way is inspiring and after reading a few sections, I'm all fired up again and ready to cut code.
  • by general scruff (938598) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:54AM (#15561507) Journal
    Command Line here we COME!!
  • Microsoft's Problem (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Baldrson (78598) *
    If I were in Ray Ozzie's shoes I would apply something like the C-Prize [geocities.com] to the entirety of MS's source code base. From the resulting compressed code, I'd reduce the OS CD to those components required to create a web-delivered application platform using whatever language won the C-Prize competition, and create a legacy port of the code to an ECMAScript Client/SOA architecture like TIBET(tm) [technicalpursuit.com] that can run with a solid JavaScript engine. The idea is to go "Live", ie: web-delivered, with a fundamentally new ba
  • New application suite Microsoft Simplify due for release in 2009Q2! Register now for beta testing starting 2008Q3!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 19, 2006 @11:03AM (#15561564)
    It kind of reminds me of the Captain of the Titanic handing over command to the third mate: "She's a magnificent ship except for a small gash in the side. I trust you to take good care of her."

    By the time Microsoft gets its problems sorted out, Linux will be the de facto standard. Engineering the complexity out of Windows will take years.
    • You can say what you want about the huge series of blunders that lead to the Titanic's disaster, but at least Captain Smith went down with his ship.

      Come on, Mr. Bill, fix Microsoft if you can!
  • Alas alack (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kahei (466208) on Monday June 19, 2006 @11:05AM (#15561584) Homepage
    It's just extraordinary, there's nothing MS won't do to shoot itself in the foot. The only thing they've done since late 2000 that has been remotely constructive has been .NET, and even then it's worth remembering how despite having an excellent product, they rebranded it and spun it and confused the issue until not one manager in ten had any idea what it was. ".NET is XML," remember that? That's MS on marketing, that is.

    The popular perception is that they excel at marketing rather than technology, but the reverse is true. They have top-notch geeks and project management, and then above that, suddenly, there's a layer of utter leaden idiocy that -- well, the chair thing. The chair thing.

    It seems so obvious, from outside, that there's a layer of deadwood generic-mulitinational-parasite-management people gradually crushing the company and that they need to put someone up there whose focus is on delivering actual value to actual people. And I think a little bit of that awareness has reached MS itself (I mean the MS boardroom -- it's an accepted fact most other places). And so they decided to appoint Ozzie, because he's handled a real product that involved real software.

    It's weird how being a tiny bit right, actually makes the decision so much more glaringly wrong. Of course, I've worked with Notes in some detail (anybody else remember the thing where if the server is too fast, the timestamp on everything starts gradually moving forward, becaues the timestamp is used as a unique ID? It was on thedailywtf.com a while ago) and so to me it's extra specially glaringly wrong.

  • by ehaggis (879721) on Monday June 19, 2006 @11:09AM (#15561608) Homepage Journal
    Lotus Notes was a great innovation. The kind of thinking outside the box and meeting the need would certainly help MS to focus. Right now "Up-Sell is the mother of invention" at MS. Ray Ozzie could get back to "Necessity" as the mother of invention.

    On a lighter note, the only certifications I have are for Lotus Notes, does this mean the will transfer? Can I be an MCSE without the hassle of regurgitating facts on a test without understanding concepts?

  • >> Bill hasn't been a programmer for a number of years

    Was he ever really an engineer? He is clearly a business/marketing guy.
    The reason he/Microsoft was so successful is that he was the first person to fully utilise the "if you can't buy then steal" approach to software development.

    I don't think he has ever really had an original design concept let alone created any product from scratch himself. ALL of Microsoft's products can be traced back to some other company. e.g. Windows = Xerox, Office Suite =
  • I know LN has had a reasonable amount of success, but I'm wondering whether this was due to technical excellence or to Lotus PR. On paper is sounded like great software, at any rate a great idea. I hear the implementation could have been better.

    Anyway, I have never had the direct pleasure of using LN, however a very close colleague had his whole database of contacts and clients in it, shared amongst the other marketing people. Using one of the first versions of LN he was unable to search in it in any reason
  • Complexity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ElephanTS (624421) on Monday June 19, 2006 @11:32AM (#15561784)
    When are they going to realise complexity is like the cancer they've got. It's not a small thing, something to be tided up, it is THE thing they're suffering with.

    Windows is like a house of cards made from million decks, so many co-dependancies. It's why Vista has taken so long and will continue to cause problems.

    The only thing to do is 'rip it up and start again' but they can't do that because of 1) time 2) losing customers by the millions along the way, so they carry on regardless and hope for the best.

    Apple was in the same situation with Copland and it almost killed them too. Eventually they bit the bullet, trashed it (re-used some sections and ideas), provided the carbon bridge for transition/migration, and bought in proven code (BSD/Mach) and just worked on the GUI experience. This rescued them with literally months to spare before the big bad complexity monster ate them up. Genius, IMO.

    Surely, at this late stage, they're can be no doubt that *nix won the OS wars?
  • Quote... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HydraSwitch (184123) on Monday June 19, 2006 @11:33AM (#15561791) Homepage
    I've been programming for more than 20 years. I keep this quote stuck to all my desktops using knotes:
    Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it.
    Brian W. Kernighan
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Monday June 19, 2006 @11:40AM (#15561843) Journal
    "Complexity kills .. It sucks the life out of developers, it makes products difficult to plan, build and test, it introduces security challenges, and it causes end-user and administrator frustration."

    Hmm, is this quote from Microsoft after the development of Windows 2000 concluded, or when in the finishing touches of Vista.

    They're confusingly similar [winsupersite.com] anyway:
    Windows 2000 Beta 3 was delayed one week on April 15 until the 28th. On April 16th, Jim Allchin said that Windows 2000 had hit the home stretch: "We have a set of ship criteria that's incredibly complicated," Allchin said.
    ... and again [winsupersite.com]:
    "While Windows 2000 is a great product, its development time and complexity is just too much to ask of customers. In the future, Microsoft will need to work off of a stable base, adding features on a yearly basis. For example, Microsoft should have developed Active Directory and IntelliMirror separately, releasing these products when they were ready. Asking customers to wrap their minds around all of the new features and changes in Windows 2000 is simply too much to ask."

    So... Microsoft learnt from their mistakes in Longhorn? No, wait a minute!

    The next OS shouldn't be as monolithic with things breaking in their own products, or even worse, OS, as soon as they apply a patch.

    So now you know what you can expect in Vista -- more of the same?

    A funny thing in all this, and a constructive suggestion instead of just whining, is a request for Microsoft to offer install-time choices. Sure, there should be a "novice installer mode" like Vista (and XP) currently features where at the very start, one can say "I'm an idiot, install the OS" in prettier wording. But what about advanced users? Shouldn't they be able to exclude stuff they don't need. Maybe then, *gasp* they won't be subject to security exploits in these non-installed components either.
  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Monday June 19, 2006 @11:42AM (#15561861)
    He's not the only brilliant programmer in the world, but he does have Microsoft's resources behind him

    Even if he were a brilliant programmer (which I think he's not), he still has the extreme inertia of the Microsoft entrenched culture to deal with. This isn't the Microsoft that reacted quickly when the Internet sneaked up on them in the 90's, this is a bloated Microsoft that has as its main goal the protection of a deteriorating monopoly. This is a Microsoft that has not seen a successful, profitable new product in many, many, many years.

  • by ChrisA90278 (905188) on Monday June 19, 2006 @12:03PM (#15562026)
    What Mr. Ozzy will learn quickly is that MS _must_ build softwate the way it does if it wants to continue to be the monopoly it is. If they released software that was made of components that used a simple and published interfwce then that would open up competition. Third parties would offer components. No they NEED complexity and circular dependencies and back door interfaces.

    I strongly suspect the Gates decided to bail now while Microsoft is at it's peak. I figure he knows what is going to happen in ten years.

Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance? -- Charlie McCarthy

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