Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

How Ray Ozzie is Changing Microsoft 266

Posted by Zonk
from the change-or-die dept.
prostoalex writes "The October issue of Wired magazine takes a look at Ray Ozzie's work with Microsoft. To hear the article describe it, he's rebuilding the company from the ground up. A 70,000-employee company is quietly changing its ways by thinking of software as deliverable services that perhaps could be rented on a monthly subscription basis." From the article: "There are, of course, two major reasons for Ozzie's ascendancy at Microsoft: Gates and Ballmer. Ozzie is one of the few technologists anywhere whom they respect; they'd been trying for years to get him to join the company. Now he's carrying their hopes for the future, and it's a heavy load. Ozzie needs to move Microsoft from selling software in a box to selling lightning-fast, powerful online applications ranging from gaming to spreadsheets. The risks are enormous. The mission is to radically alter the way the company sells its most profitable software and to pursue the great unknown of so-called Web services - trading an old cash cow for an as-yet-to-be-determined cash cow. No, Microsoft doesn't think its customers will stop using PCs with hard drives and work entirely online, but the desktop era is drawing to a close, and that promises to force some painful trade-offs."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How Ray Ozzie is Changing Microsoft

Comments Filter:
  • AAAHHHHH!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hawkbug (94280) <psx.fimble@com> on Thursday October 05, 2006 @01:56PM (#16324691) Homepage
    I'm going to puke if I see somebody mention that the desktop days are coming to an end!!!! Who says? What proof, besides companies greed, shows that people don't want desktop software? I sure as hell won't be running apps online rather than on my own machine for a lot reasons. Just to name a few:

    1) Bandwidth

    2) Keeping apps under MY control, not somebody elses

    3) I don't like being required to have an internet connection to type an f'n paper.

    And those are just to name a few.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Das Modell (969371)
      I'm not thrilled about the idea either, and I've never heard anyone say that they want their software to exist on the Internet. Even some users of Valve's Steam are worried about having too little control over their games.

      Why would the "desktop era" suddenly end? It's not the Ice Age, it doesn't just simply "end" as if it was controlled by the forces of nature. It ends if people want it to end. Does anyone want it to end, besides Microsoft?
      • by cp.tar (871488)
        Does anyone want it to end, besides Microsoft?

        Have you seen Microsoft asking the question?

        Do you think they care? It's the Next Big Thing(TM), so the world will have to adjust.
        Or not, as it may prove... like MSN replacing Internet.

      • Re:AAAHHHHH!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gutnor (872759) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @03:32PM (#16326371)
        Microsoft is one of the last company in the world to want desktop to end. They have a monopoly and control almost anything in Desktop world. They make tons of cash in desktop world.

        When everything goes online, they will have to fight against google, and in online world, Google is the 500pounds gorilla, no Microsoft.
    • by shawn(at)fsu (447153) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @02:09PM (#16324907) Homepage
      I'm going to puke if I see somebody mention that the desktop days are coming to an end!!!! Who says?

      I don't know who said it, but Netcraft confirms it....:)

      • In Soviet Russia, I for one welcome the departure of our old desktop overlords.

        In less stupid terms, they'll have to pry my desktop/laptop from my cold, dead fingers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dmorelli (615543)
      Yup, totally agree with you.

      I read this:

      "but the desktop era is drawing to a close"

      And I thought: I doubt it. If anything, increasing security issues on the big intarweb will make people want more local apps and data storage, not less.

      I think the build-a-big-shitty-OS era is drawing to a close. That I'll agree with.
      • by joshetc (955226)
        Not to mention how cheap storage is becoming. For only a few hundred dollars I could store more data than I could ever read / view in a lifetime. Its almost getting to the point where the case is the same for media, you can already store thousands of hours of media on a single computer. Why bother to stay connected for anything other than interaction with other users?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537)

      But how else is Microsoft going to get you accept paying more money every month for software they already have? It's a big problem in the software industry!

      Think about it this way: the pre-release backlash on Vista has indicated that people might not be willing to pay $200 every couple of years for upgrades, no matter how many glass-effects those upgrades might have. Therefore, the only way to get people to pay money for software anymore is to make sure that your old software stops working when you stop

      • by dan828 (753380)
        Think about it this way: the pre-release backlash on Vista has indicated that people might not be willing to pay $200 every couple of years for upgrades

        Why not? Mac fans have been forking out $129.00 every 18 months for their OS X upgrades, and you hear almost no bitching at all from them. If you throw enough eye candy at them, people will buy anything.
    • Re:AAAHHHHH!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tpgp (48001) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @02:31PM (#16325303) Homepage
      2) Keeping apps under MY control, not somebody elses

      If you want apps under YOUR control, I hope you're not running anything from MS as it is....
    • by Ravenscall (12240)
      The days of the desktop have been numbered since 1996.

      I am just wondering what that nyumber is personally, it seems to be pretty big.

      • by Duhavid (677874)
        17777777777
      • Yes, it was. That's the year I built my current home PC (a Micron Millenia Pro2 Plus tower with a fancy new 200MHz Pentium Pro processor [686 babee!], an Adaptec 2940U, a Creative Labs SoundBlaster 16 with add-on wavetable card [effectively an AWE32], an Intel EtherExpress Pro/100B NIC, and some stupid video card since forgotten (replaced immediately with a 4MB Matrox MGA Millenium)).

        Over the years I've added some additional SCSI drives, a CD burner, a 12MB Voodoo2 card, and various other things, but the c
    • by tbone1 (309237)
      I'm going to puke if I see somebody mention that the desktop days are coming to an end!!!! Who says? What proof, besides companies greed, shows that people don't want desktop software?

      I remember a few years ago that Steve Jobs, probably at a Macworld keynote or something, said that Apple seemed to be the only company left that cared about the PC. MicroSoft was starting this web services stuff and concentrating on the XBox, PC makers were all about commodity and reducing costs, etc etc etc. Jobs was right

    • Re:AAAHHHHH!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @02:34PM (#16325339) Homepage
      *YOU* won't because you aren't their target market. YOU are the exact opposite of their target market. They want users that are uninformed, not computer literate, and have no desire to maintain a computer.

      These people are cash cows for businesses. They get them to buy/rent the software, they are able to convince them that they won't have to care for the applications, and they convince them that this is the best way.

      These people don't know what bandwidth is, they are people that don't want to control anything, and they don't think about things like requiring an Internet connection to do their tasks. As long as everything works they're thrilled to fork the money over monthly, just like they do for electric, gas, water, telephone, and their cable TV.
      • I realize I'm not their target market. But my grandmom is not Microsoft's target market, either. They stand to make the most money from businesses who need computers that work together and need some sort of office suite. These same businesses should also be concerned that they can continually read their documents without having to pay some extortion fee.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by heck (609097)
      I'm going to puke if I see somebody mention that the desktop days are coming to an end!!!! Who says?

      The better way to phrase it would be "the days of desktop being the preeminent focus and source of profit are coming to an end." Similar to the 60's were the heyday of the mainframe. Does IBM still make tons of money on their mainframe business? Hell yes. Are they considered a mainframe company? No - IBM is a "services" company.

      The reality is that there are few apps most non-power users care about -

    • I call BS. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Freed (2178)
      I don't know about you personally, but if the typical /.er is anything to go by, they make a big stink and next thing you know, they are back to their DRM-infested goodies. At least the general public has computer illiteracy as an excuse.

      What is DRM/TC if not forcing a desktop into more controlled states, i.e., officially-sanctioned consumption devices? Time to puke, dude.

    • by smallpaul (65919)

      The desktop app is not going away. But the PURELY desktop application WILL go away. In 10 years, applications will install themselves from the Web based upon a simple click. They will primarily work with caches of data stored in a network-accessible location. You'll be able to go to any computer, click the link and get the same data and application installed. There is no rocket science required to enable this scenario and it is obviously better than having either data or software licenses tied to a single p

    • I sure as hell won't be running apps online rather than on my own machine for a lot reasons. Just to name a few:

      1) Bandwidth

      2) Keeping apps under MY control, not somebody elses

      3) I don't like being required to have an internet connection to type an f'n paper.

      I seem to says this once in every ten Slashdot posts: Your personal wants and needs do not determine the future of computing. Just because you want/need to do things a certain way doesn't mean everybody does. Possibly many computer geeks are di

  • by Woldry (928749) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @01:58PM (#16324717) Journal
    A 70,000-employee company is quietly changing its ways by thinking of software as deliverable services that perhaps could be rented on a monthly subscription basis.

    MS has been making it increasingly plain, at a very high volume and in no uncertain terms, that this model is precisely what they are aiming toward.
    • by Ubergrendle (531719) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @02:17PM (#16325043) Journal
      In fairness, Microsoft has ALWAYS wanted to go to a subscription model. They want an ongoing revenue stream.

      I remember Gates talking about subscription servicesvs one-time licensing long before the internet came along. The question has always been how to make this great leap, without orphaning or crippling their existing install base business. Ironically their greatest threat (the internet) will become their greatest enabler.

      My company is using MS Project Web and MS Outlook Web to a large extent, and I am very impressed. How come we're all happy to use gmail, google maps, google calendar, etc but not a web version of MS word, MS outlook, or MS Project? There will always be a practical need to local installations and local software, but a centralised produtivity app model has tremendous advantages.
      • by ebyrob (165903)
        gmail, google maps, google calendar, etc but not a web version of MS word, MS outlook, or MS Project?

        Because:

        1) The google stuff is free. (or at least unobtrusively ad-supported)

        2) The google stuff is collaborative on a global model. Whereas LookOut and Reject are both typically used to manage problem domains that span only a single company.
      • I'm happy to use gmail because I generally need to be on the internet to check my email. Maps, I'd like to have a free, easy to use, non-bloated map software that updates itself, but I haven't found anything (haven't really looked). Don't use calendar, I have Kontact and a PDA to keep track of dates, to-dos, etc.

        Centralised productivity works if you can control where the centralized location is. If my (hypothetical) business were to use google calendar exclusively to keep track of meetings, appointments, et
  • Service? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Digital Vomit (891734) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @02:00PM (#16324749) Homepage Journal

    Software as a service? Perpetual payments? No thanks.

    Who -- besides companies looking for more profits and a constant revenue stream -- actually wants this? The cons far, far outweight the pros for the typical customer.

    • by Yvan256 (722131)
      I can't see something like this taking off for home users. For businesses, however, who knows. The monthly fees for on-site tech support vs monthly fees for always-up-to-date software might be feasible.
    • by HalAtWork (926717) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @02:17PM (#16325045)
      Not only that, but given that your customers would also have to subscribe to MS's software services, what developer in their right mind would use such services as dependencies for their software? If MS moves the bulk of their software online, they will want developer tie-ins to such software. Or, will MS simply switch from selling IIS to providing hosting services with APIs and daemons that developers and end-users won't be able to run themselves, and that competitors won't provide? It seems far-fetched and not even beneficial for Microsoft.

      A more far-fetched idea is that they might just do a total end-run around developers and provide complete solutions for businesses and even take on administration duties as well... but is that even realistic? Sounds like a nightmare for MS. Maybe developers on MS platforms will be reduced to middle-men in this situation?
    • Software as a service? Perpetual payments? No thanks.
      Who -- besides companies looking for more profits and a constant revenue stream -- actually wants this? The cons far, far outweight the pros for the typical customer.

      Just as computing can be provided as a service, so can software. It all depends on what is being provided, and what the customer needs.
      Do you buy Google Search Engine software, or do you utilize Google as a service?
      • by ThosLives (686517)

        The way I see it, *software* isn't a service, but *writing/updating/etc. software* is a service. Just the same as making a tractor is a service, but the tractor itself is not a service.

        • Just the same as making a tractor is a service, but the tractor itself is not a service.
          Or you could hire someone to plow your field - that would be a service. Now, they might use a tractor, but you don't care, as long as the field gets plowed to your specifications.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by ThosLives (686517)

            Author's Note: In reviewing my post before submitting, I see that it's a bit of a brainstorming, but I like the way the thoughts developed. I think it fairly accurately illustrates what web-based "services" really are compared to other products and services. Please bear with the thought-development process.

            True - but I would consider your example of hiring someone to plow your field the same as hiring someone to use software - bascially for their services to use the software. That's different than buying

            • Those are good thoughts - especially your distinction between access control and subscription. There is of course a 3rd model - think of the electric company. There my house is metered and, if I don't use any electricity, I don't get billed. Or, sometimes (as with the phone company) there is a fixed "baseline" bill for having the service available (ie, access control) and then I pay additionally based on how much I use. I suspect a pure subscription model or this 3rd variation (usage-based) is what software
      • Point taken, but Google is a weird example. In a certain way, it isn't our service. What I mean is, I'm not a Google customer, even though I use their engine. Google's customers are the advertisers. Also, I'm not making perpetual payments on Google, which is the business model that the GP was talking about.
    • by mugnyte (203225)
      Actually, I know of several enterprises that wouldn't mind trading in their huge infrastructure of Support Centers, Compatability Labs, Desktop Maintenance, etc. SAAS (Software As A Service) won't remove all this, but if the netework-based OS grows, there a bit less to manage in-house.

      Service models are already common in technology (power, bandwidth, hardware, projects). Software will be no different, and I'm quite eager to see companies leapfrog over one another to offer the best model.
      • by misleb (129952)

        We're already moving to halfway-there models: Torrent for software,

        In case you hadn't noticed this is locally installed software.

        WGA/Steam for ownership,

        Nothing revolutionary about software phoning home to validate a key.

        OS updates via FTP,

        As opposed to what, floppy disks? Nothing new here. Been downloading updates via FTP since I first got on the internet 11 years ago.

        Web-based everything (photo,document,email,maps,package tracking).

        You have a strange idea of what "everything" is.

        The last step of letting a

        • by mugnyte (203225)
          Entertaining the antagonistic:

          The last step of letting a vendor manage a sandbox on your hard drive is not far away. One could argue that file sharing/torrent models already do this hands-off.

          Uh, what? What in the world does file sharing/torrent models have to do with vendor's managed a "sandbox" on your harddrive? What does that even MEAN?

          If I'm not mistaken, torrent pieces are distributed without explicit knowledge of the machine owner. This means, in effect, each machine has

    • Who -- besides companies looking for more profits and a constant revenue stream -- actually wants this?

      Does it matter if no one besides companies looking for more profits and a constant revenue stream actually wants this? They're the ones making the software, and if there's no easy alternative, people will subscribe to it. What do you think people are gonna do? Start using Linux? Continue using their Windows XP machines for the next 10 years, using an outdated, unsupported browser to check their e-mail? It
    • Re:Service? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @03:38PM (#16326459)
      I take it you haven't actually looked at the costs of running a complex app, or at the manpower required to do so. I'll give you an example:
      My company sells software packages where the license alone costs you a million or more. Installation can take from 2-3 hours to a day, and fully configuring it can take anywhere from a couple of hours to weeks. Properly administrating the app, as well as taking advantage of the data it spits out, can take anywhere from a lone admin to 20-30 people (administrators as well as a full fledged NOC). Finally, it's complex enough that learning the ins and outs of it can take upwards of a year. Needless to say, one of the biggest problems we have when people buy it is that they screw up the installation, screw up the configuration, or don't have the manpower or processes in place to properly take advantage of it. So what's the alternative?

      Well, the same app is available as a hosted service. People buy a temporary license, tell us what they want the app to do, and it's all set up for them. They don't have to buy hardware for it, don't have to administrate it, don't have to configure it, don't have to maintain it, troubleshoot it, write scripts for it or do any of the other things that are difficult and expensive. All they need to do is log into the web interface, look at the pretty pictures, or look into their email for the pretty pictures that the app sends them. They can be complete users of the app, without ever having to go to the trouble of becoming admins. And that is worth a ton of money to them. Not only that, but it gives them time to learn the app without having to worry about screwing things up. Not only that, but they have someone to yell at when something goes wrong.

      The end result is that our customers are much happier with the hosted version than with the stand-alone app. This happyness often translates into hosted services customers buying the stand-alone app, but now they're actually power users, and far less likely to shoot themselves in the foot.

      There will be an explosion of hosted services in the near future. Actually, you can already see it now. Just beware of anyone who's trying to tell you that they'll completely replace stand-alone apps. There is a place for hosted services and there is a place for stand-alone apps. Don't confuse them, or you'll end up in a world of hurt.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ehud42 (314607)

      Who -- besides companies looking for more profits and a constant revenue stream -- actually wants this?

      Who would be so stupid as to lease a vehicle, when they can buy one, own it and be free to drive it as far as they want without penalty? It's a crazy business model that's doomed to fail!

      People will gladly be nickeled and dimed to death vs pay a large sum up front for more freedom. Look at iTunes. Who would buy a DRM infested single song when the CD is available in stores?

      That aside (that people in general

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Doctor Memory (6336)

      Who -- besides companies looking for more profits and a constant revenue stream -- actually wants this?

      Large companies who currently pay through the nose for maintaining "enterprise-class" software. You can't imagine the dancing in the street there would be if someone like SAP announced that you wouldn't have to have a couple hundred servers and a legion of support staff to run their software anymore. Just configure your network to enable QoS on the SAN service and point everyone's browser at http://www.s [software-ag.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcrbids (148650)
      Software as a service? Perpetual payments? No thanks.

      Unless you've bought the Linux model, or are pirating your O/S, you already are. Or, are you actually still running that ancient copy of Windows 3.1 on your peppy 80286/12?

      I didn't think so.

      Every few years, you upgrade your O/S. Whether you use the same hardware or buy new hardware is of no consequence. You still do the upgrade, and your $75 every 2-5 years gets sent in to Microsoft. How is that different than spending $19.95/year? That $19.95 gives you u
  • MS investing a lot of time and research/development into online-ready "mini-apps" does not necessitate a trade off in the quality or time spent developing their desktop OSes.

    Look at the Xbox. Microsoft is a big enough of a company that it can afford to branch off into another market and create a whole new division dedicated to new services/products without the other aspects of their business suffering (not any more than usualy, anyway).

    Although we may be talking about a change in company culture as wel
  • Is it just me who finds this direction questionable? I write software for a pure online company, so I think online software services are wonderful for a whole bunch of stuff. But there's a lot of things I don't want to do online. Actually, I find the current division pretty good... the more communication oriented something is the more online it is. I think this falls out naturally from what consumers want and what makes sense technically. Do consumers really want an online spreadsheet yet, for example?
    • I definitely think there are people who want online spreadsheets.... for some things. Are there people who are satisfied to have all of their spreadsheets online, without the option of offline spreadsheets? Probably not many.
  • by PurifyYourMind (776223) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @02:08PM (#16324897) Homepage
    I've always balked at the idea of people being willing to do software subscriptions. However, I look at the huge success of World of Warcraft, which is basically the same thing, and think it might work. Corporations and other large orgs already pay Microsoft yearly fees to be able to get guaranteed updates at a fixed price. My university paid $250,000 per year to get unlimited seats for Office and the OS. However, the one thing that could undue this is the very long delays for things like Vista. If Microsoft went to an Ubuntu-type model where they promised updates every six months, I could see it working.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      You seem to be forgetting that WoW is lot more fun to play than Word.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by kin_korn_karn (466864)
      Microsoft World of Office will include an Orc that will offer helpful hints!

      It loooks like you are trying to pwn a n00b!

      [] he's camping my lewt!
      [] ph3ar!

      [] Do not show this again

    • I've always balked at the idea of people being willing to do software subscriptions. However, I look at the huge success of World of Warcraft, which is basically the same thing, and think it might work.

      Because of WoW's massively-multiplayer online nature, the user's experience is constantly going to evolve. There's always something new and compelling to persuade them that the recurring subscription costs have value.

      If I have a subscription to Microsoft Word, though, I'm not expecting my user experience to
    • However, I look at the huge success of World of Warcraft, which is basically the same thing, and think it might work.

      At the same time, it's arguable that what you're paying for with WoW isn't the software per se, but the access to the online world, without which the software is pretty useless.

      However, the one thing that could undue this is the very long delays for things like Vista. If Microsoft went to an Ubuntu-type model where they promised updates every six months, I could see it working.

      Yeah, I've

    • by joshetc (955226)
      Huh? The only reason myself and my friends don't play WoW is because its Pay-to-Play. I'd imagine the case is the same with most Guild Wars players.

      All it seems to me to do is to split the market. I guess for Microsoft that would be a good thing though, expecting people to pay for both.
    • by misleb (129952)
      I know a lot of people who are pretty pissed that they paid MS lot of money for "guaranteed" upgrades but the major new products didn't come out until AFTER their subscription had expired. It was a total waste of money.

      --matthew
    • by BAM0027 (82813)
      I don't agree with your analogy. WoW vs MS Office is apples and oranges.

      The point of WoW is the online interaction. A subscription to that service makes sense since the experience is based on time connected.

      The point of MS Office is productivity. While productivity is measured over time as well, there's no intrinsic need to be connected online in order to be productive.

      I appreciate subscriptions for coverage, as in Microsoft's Software Assurance, though that's of dubious value when releases occur so infrequ
  • by r_jensen11 (598210) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @02:10PM (#16324933)
    If ISP's have their way, plans like these could seriously backfire. Especially if the ISP's begin to be more strict on how much people are exceeding bandwidth quotas. Yes, I know that right now quotas are not that common; however, for the likes of the people on my network, we are only allowed 5GB of data, from a combined upload and download, per any given 7 consecutive days. Needless to say, if I turn on and off my computer daily (and we'll keep it simple at once a day,) and I have to download Word, Excel, and Outlook every day, that doesn't leave me with much more data remaining for activites such as watching internet video streams or listening to audio over the internet at a decent bitrate, both of which are applications that many analysts say are likely to boom in the coming years (however, I tend to view this to actually boom once DN:F comes out, but I actually do like to listen to some radio stations from across the world, such as Minnesota Public Radio's The Current.)

    The only way we could have applications be truly web-based is if ISP's don't impose quotas, or those quotas are set at such a high level that they are meaningless.
  • Not about any one company in particular; but, I said this years ago that the software industry will move to a services model. The competition will no longer be who provides the best product; but, who provides the best services. Symantec discovered this maxim years ago when they moved from providing A/V protection with free virus definitions and moved to a A/V protection through virus definition-update subscription. Why? {cue speculation} Any john with a computer and their A/V software was getting free up
  • Chiapaint [bricklin.com]. A decade old, and more relevant than ever. The only thing out of date is the modem squawk.

    Of course, if Chiapaint doesn't convince you, enjoy, you can go to any number of websites that will cause a cute little picture of a steaming coffee cup to appear in your browser window for about a minute and then crash, misbehave, post error messages, display a grey rectangle, or tell you to update your version of Java.
  • by fractalus (322043) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @02:19PM (#16325097) Homepage
    Okay, set aside for a moment that it's Microsoft here. Think for a second.

    Web applications are not new. I've built my fair share of them. (Maybe even more than my fair share.) In some circumstances, they work very well:

    • application can be accessed for anywhere with net access
    • application can be updated instantly
    • easy to share data between users
    • customer relieved of burden of maintaining servers and data storage

    They have downsides, too:

    • application requires a functional web browser; browser bugs may impact web application
    • application provider might go out of business, taking your data with them
    • pay-as-you-go
    • centralized data repository is an attractive target for hackers

    And yet for many applications, particularly specialized applications dealing with customer account access, inventory management, project management, online publishing, or a whole slew of other things, we accept these limitations. We assess the costs of not using a web application and determine that, overall, the web application provides value for the money.

    What's interesting here is that while existing web applications have enough benefits to outweigh the risks, it's not clear that replacing standard desktop apps will come out the same in the risk/benefit analysis. The kinds of things we're doing on the web, we're doing because they work better that way; we've had years of experience with the desktop, and we know some things work better with centralized server models, and others work better with all the work done on the client. Microsoft is betting the farm on everyone being happy to push to the server model, but it won't happen; there are too many compelling reasons to keep ordinary desktop apps right where they are, on your desktop.

    What they're afraid of is losing the fight for the desktop. This is their long-term strategy to lock everyone into their system. First they tried to lock up the OS. Then they tried to lock up the file formats. While Linux and OpenOffice are not quite credible threats (if you consider market share only) MS can look ahead and see a day when they have enough market share to seriously threaten their dominance on the desktop, and it isn't 50%, or even 25%. Maybe it's 20%, that magic point where people feel like there is an alternative, and then it's the tipping point, people no longer feel locked in. So MS wants to keep people locked in, because it keeps the cash flowing. That means locking up the data itself. And that's what their online apps are all about.
  • by Siguy (634325) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @02:21PM (#16325131)
    I've read this same basic article for the last 5 years. Even right after Windows XP came out, Microsoft was making press releases and giving interviews all about "betting the company" and turning things on their head. .NET, C sharp, everything gets one of these articles.

    Frankly, they shouldn't keep running their mouth about these big grand ideas if they're never gonna actually follow through. Sure, they released .NET and have done small parts of what they said they'd do, but so far nothing has come close to completely changing the company the way they keep claiming.

    • MOD PARENT UP (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dpbsmith (263124) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @03:06PM (#16325945) Homepage
      New York Times, June 23, 2000, John Markoff:

      "The company said it would retool its product line to shift the very focus of computing away from hardware devices and toward a new generation of Internet-based software allowing people to interact with data and one another whether they are using computers, digital cell phones or interactive televisions. William H. Gates, Microsoft's chairman, portrayed the long-awaited move as 'more ambitious than anything we've done' adding, 'There is no Microsoft product that isn't touched by this activity....' ...The strategy will involve repackaging some of the company's core products, like its Office software, as subscription-based services obtained over the Internet."

      "Microsoft's new view of computing calls for processing to be done everywhere, ... But while he and Mr. Gates insisted that those services would be based on an open Internet standard, enabling users with non-Windows-based platforms like the Palm computer and Apple Computer's Macintosh to take advantage of them, the executives acknowledged that such users would be second-class citizens. Mr. Gates said the "richest" interactions with the new .NET services would require the new Windows.NET operating system."

      "Mr. Gates said that the bet on .NET was equivalent to the 100 percent bet the company placed on its shift to the Internet strategy in 1995. Mr. Ballmer said he was confident, but he realized that the strategy was still a gamble. 'It's a bet I feel very confident about,' he said. 'But it's a bet.'"

  • Really? So how does one do any of the following from a thin client or mobile phone?

    *Edit digital video
    *Edit digital audio
    *Create 3d graphics and animations
    *Editing large images
    *Develop and compile software

    As long as anyone has any interest in doing any of these, the "desktop era" will keep on keepin' on.

    However, if Microsoft wants to turn towards a renting-software-over-the-network paradigm, it'll make it that much easier for me to ignore their offerings. Especially if they only run on Windows.
    • Thin Client?

      Simple. Remote X.

      As long as you have sufficent bandwidth, you can do just about anything over remote X. X is completely network transparent. Notably, GLX (for OpenGL applications) works great over networks. I would not, however, want to edit HiDef video over anything but Internet2 or something else suitably huge.

      Audio, images, 3D; these are all a reality right now via Thin Client.
  • Yup, here's the big payoff... When arguing against the antitrust violations, Ballmer cried "back off and watch us innovate". Here we see the fruit of those efforts, rebuilding the company to enable a whole new way of milking revenue.

    The microsoft ship is sinking.. slowly and agonizingly, but it's sinking.

    There big innovations over the last few years have been around leveraging their monopoly position to keep increasing revenues, as the market demands. 'Windows Genuine Advantage' and the beefed up mech
  • the folks that read /. aren't going to give up their desktop OSs and apps anytime soon, but many (most) home users would be fine with IM, email, photo, word processing and so on being run off some server in Borat's broom closet especially if this meant no updating/malware/backups or other maintanence, a lot of these folks would see $10 to $20 a month (added to the cable bill) for all of this a bargain
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Plutonite (999141)
      No they're not. The "home users" you're talking about will not make a purchase that entails $20 a month or it dies. The first few who buy it will warn the rest, and as networking activity requirement increases so will the security breaches, making this entire thing a joke.

      Laymen like their computers simple and reliable. They don't want to worry about activation dates and ISP issues. SOA is fine, but it is not for everybody. What happens when the "home users" discover they can't write their essays on their b
  • ... don't believe me. No Problem. The problem are all those mindless MS followers.

    MS is going to convince them that they need the same hardware, cept more expensive, to acces their online software.

    And they will somehow convince the mindles followers that the hardware is not able to run desktop applications.
    (of course the mind full will know its DRM policing that keeps you from running FOSS on your online access device.)

    If you are not using a desktop or even a laptop to access your online software, then what
  • After spending the GNP of numerous countries on Vista/Windows Server 2007, it's an illusion to think that Ray Ozzie is going shift it all to a dubious "web 2.0" model, and find revenues sufficient to continue to propel Microsoft's stock price. Microsoft would love to rent stuff, but there are companies that do browser based 'office' apps that are literally a decate ahead of Microsoft, and these still suck. The browser is a lousy lay when it comes to doing real user interfaces consistent with multiple OS env
  • Once MS rents thier software, then Linux will take over the world, along with OS/X unless Apple follows suit.
    Renting sofware isn't for the mainstream user and especially not for the technically savy.
  • Linux usability. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by headkase (533448) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @02:43PM (#16325513)
    from the change-or-die dept.

    I'm not trolling here, I've had SuSE installed as my only OS for 8 months at one time. I've had Ubuntu installed in a dual boot (and it had a lot less pain than SuSE when it came time to install software). But now I'm back to just Win XP as my only OS. The reason is usability. I'm talking about consistency and integration with other Microsoft products. Download Visual Studio Express. Install it (no pain unlike SuSE). Now try out the code completion including automatically looking inside your own classes for documentation tool tips. Look how easy it is to programmatically leverage other Microsoft products (Yes Microsoft is opening their API's). Use the debugger (hover over a variable in your source code to see it's value, etc.). Wizards. Compared to the PythonWin IDE I was using it's heaven.
    Gnome has the right idea, usability should be a major focus of software. It does no good to be technically superior if your users can't make it go. I'm not bashing GNU/Linux here, I think it's great but as good as it is Linux still needs to be heavily polished before it's ready for mass consumption. I've drank Microsoft's kool-aid and you should too.
    This is just a bit of constructive criticism. Microsoft's strength is the people on a project that they assign exclusively to polish their products. Shiny. And unlike the past current Microsoft products just go.
    I believe in Open Source and I also believe that it is a better process on longer timescales. I also believe that Microsoft will switch to open document formats to keep most users on Windows. But in the mean-time Microsoft (especially with Visual Studio) has the advantage with getting people up to speed and generating useful code sooner than someone trying to master the intricacies of EMACS from scratch. This leads into productivity which is Microsoft's major redeeming strength. I think that in twenty years we'll all be using some-unix inspired operating system with amazing software made by a variety of vendors some free, some not, and with-all-their-money definately including Microsoft. Getting to that point however means producing code and that's where Microsoft is putting their development money.
    I could go on about a million other things too, like XNA (Microsoft's new environment to standardize game development and yes it's integrated with Visual Studio). But that would be better left to another comment.
    Developers! Developers! Developers! ;)
    • ...I'm not trolling here...

      You're trolling to some extent whether you realize it or not. If you're not trolling, it ought to be
      fairly obvious, up front, in your exposition...

      And some of the commentary you give is right- but unfortunately, your examples aren't as good as you
      think they are. To you, they're exemplary- but they are only that because you're used
      to those tools and software. Visual Studio's nice, but it's not as nice, to me, that is, as Source
      Navigator coupled with GCC or Eclipse with the sam
    • by a.d.trick (894813) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @03:50PM (#16326621) Homepage
      I've drank Microsoft's kool-aid and you should too.

      I agree with most of your comments. Usability is a big problem in linux, and open source in general. Most open source software is not created with the end user in mind. However, I don't think that using Windows is the solution. There are other things to consider to. For one thing, linux is free as in freedom (for me that's a big thing). Linux based software tends towards open standards (another big thing, I've been bitten by MS Word too many times). Also, While Linux is complicated, it tends to be fairly consistant, and the things that I learn are easier to remember. Integration is nice, but it has it's ugly parts too.

  • Most of the people who already commented here made good points, and I almost feel like I should have just moderated some of them up, rather then add to what's here.

    But here's my only thought I didn't see mentioned yet. Steam is a great example of the "right" way to sell software online. It's not a subscription model, yet the user is always alerted of expansions or new game releases they can buy for a reasonable price by simply clicking a button. Nonethless, this advertising doesn't really get in the way
  • IIRC Ozzie is a *technologist*.

    Deciding to move the company to selling on-line services is a *marketing* decision.

    Either MicroSoft is really screwed up, or the article is a bit off base.

    or both.

  • I know one really big reasons for network based applications (they may or may not be "web based"). network based applications are a heck of a lot easier to manage when you're dealing with several hundred or several thousands desktop systems.

    Right now, each and every desktop needs to be loaded. When a new version of an application comes out, and users want the newer version, you've got to manually upgrade each system. If someone wants access to an application that isn't on their system, it has to be installe
  • If I were in Ray Ozzie's shoes I would apply something like the The Hutter Prize for Lossless Compression of Human Knowledge [hutter1.net] to the entirety of MS's software services suite. This, of course, requires making a rigorous spec for testing purposes.

    Make the engine, upon which the winning succinct byte code runs, a new W3C standard browser programming language (or at least virtual machine) and reduce the Microsoft OS CD to those components required to create a web-delivered application platform using the winni

  • Linux usability. (Score:2, Redundant)

    by headkase (533448)
    from the change-or-die dept.

    I'm not trolling here - this is just a bit of constructive criticism, I've had SuSE installed as my only OS for 8 months at one time. I've had Ubuntu installed in a dual boot (and it had a lot less pain than SuSE when it came time to install software). But now I'm back to just Win XP as my only OS. The reason is usability. I'm talking about consistency and integration with other Microsoft products. Download Visual Studio Express. Install it (no pain unlike SuSE). Now tr
  • They could use the cell phone/cable company business model for payment. 2-3 year agreements at a certain cost, and monthly there after. If you break said agreement, you owe them the full fee, etc... It's a model that's tested and works (except for the customer).
  • Every time MS announces a product, they say theyre 'betting the farm' on it - and then proceed to either lose billions on it (e.g. XBox, XBox 360) or deliver hopelessly late and with a tiny fraction of the promised features (Windows Vista).

    Theres no risk with the XBox, theres no risk with MS Vista, theres no risk here - Ray Ozzie could flush 50 billion dollars down the toilet following a flawed and unfeasible business plan over the next 10 years, and MS could fire him, write the whole thing off and still be
  • by fbg111 (529550)
    I hope they're not pinning their hopes on SaaS desktop apps, which Google and others already supply freely. Your average home user won't pay monthly fees for something s/he can get free. They might be able to create enough of a value-added product for businesses to spend money on, though, but even that's a bit of a stretch.
  • Never rent!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HermMunster (972336) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @08:42PM (#16330693)
    I will never fall to that model of distribution. It was tried years ago and it is a pathetic idea. Anyone falling for it is stupid. You buy a product and you are entitled to use it till the end of time. You never want to keep paying for software over a long period of time even if you think you are getting a deal because in the long run you pay exceptionally more and you get nothing for it in the end.

The number of computer scientists in a room is inversely proportional to the number of bugs in their code.

Working...