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Paul Graham Claims "Microsoft is Dead" 536

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the don't-fear-the-reaper dept.
netbuzz writes "He doesn't mean dead as in six feet under, but rather that the software giant no longer instills the kind of fear — particularly among entrepreneurs — that it did back in the day when it was making road kill out of companies like Netscape. Microsoft obits have been around for almost as long as the company, but Graham's stature, style and devoted following are likely to make this one a classic."
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Paul Graham Claims "Microsoft is Dead"

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  • by scwizard (941758) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:00AM (#18646207) Homepage Journal
    But if it keeps releasing "upgrades" that serve to only make your computer slower and slower then it will be soon.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by EvilRyry (1025309)
      As long as they keep making new proprietary protocols, formats, etc and people keep accepting them, Microsoft will continue to dominate the market. Sadly people on the whole are no more against them today, then they were ten years ago. Just look at how quickly .NET has become a popular.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        .NET isn't that popular outside of the business server space. .NET was originally supposed to replace Win32 and be the new paradigm for Windows development. Now that we have Vista, all I have to say to that is "Chyea!"
    • by geobeck (924637) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:56AM (#18646753) Homepage

      "I'm getting better."

      "No you're not; you'll be stone dead in a moment."

      "I think I'll go for a walk."

      "Look, you're not fooling anyone."

      "I feel happy..."

    • by pogson (856666) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @12:10PM (#18646895) Homepage Journal
      The last gasp was 2001 when they brought out XP. It took them five years to fix its bugs and now they have to kill XP in order for Vista to have any chance. That last gasp brought in some oxygen to keep the beast barely alive, but it is all gone now. If they had done an Apple and put some UNIX underneath they would not have to be a bully to protect their turf. They would not need to throw out silly features to sell the stuff. It would be good. MSFT made it to monopoly by being in the right place at the right time and it would have kept monopoly if the product had been any good. Instead of improving it by using sound design, they kept on adding crap and using dirty tricks to keep the monopoly. You can only fool all of the people for a period of time and they wake up eventually.

      It is too late now. They have burnt too many bridges. Even the hardware makers hate MSFT because they changed VISTA just enough to break all the drivers. Millions of school kids are experiencing the richness of GNU/Linux. Dell and HP are getting serious about Linux machines (maybe). The EU may realize that mega-fines are not enough and outright ban MSFT. Even Uncle Sam is discouraging the use of Windows for security. MSFT is like a long-necked dinosaur trapped in a tar pit. The brain is so small and so far away that it has not received the final BSOD yet. The body is cooling slowly because of the large mass to surface ratio.

  • It Depends, Really (Score:5, Interesting)

    by p3net (1085343) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:03AM (#18646223) Homepage
    While many large companies don't fear Microsoft as they used to, there are still multiple small ones who still have a fear of being swallowed whole or being beaten out of business. Microsoft, if nothing else, still has the power it needs in order to take another (smaller) companies ideas and launch them themselves, creating a hit and effectively driving their competition out of business.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)
      He waves his hands in the air and says that profitability doesn't matter. I won't argue that. What does matter is that they are still adding more business than companies like Google(though they are losing that lead). In 2006, Google added slightly over 4 Billion dollars of revenues; Microsoft added 4.5 Billion. If Google can maintain it's growth rate, Microsoft is indeed in trouble, but it seems that Google's growth is more and more tied to growth in online advertising, as they have most of that market and
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DogDude (805747)
        He waves his hands in the air and says that profitability doesn't matter. I won't argue that.

        Why not? Perhaps he should be telling the 100,000+ plus former auto workers that profitability doesn't matter, and see what they have to say.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by maxume (22995)
          Different businesses. Software has huge margins compared to autos. Microsoft can go from being the number one software company with 65% margins to an also ran with 30% margins and still be mighty profitable in comparison to many other businesses.
    • I think that's the case in any industry, regardless of whether illegal anti-competitive activity takes place. Let's say I make a new style of light bulb that has a small but growing market share, such that GE notices that it's a lucrative market. I might not be making a big profit on it, but because GE has a more well-known name and possible economies of scales that I can't manage just because I'm small, those two factors mean that they can undercut me and put me out of the market unless I can add some ot
    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @02:18PM (#18648135)
      ...Microsoft, if nothing else, still has the power it needs in order to take another (smaller) companies ideas and launch them themselves...

      That's just the thing. The article is saying Microsoft has the power to do this, but not the ability. It used to be that Microsoft could look at a small product, and just announce they were doing something similar "due out soon" and that company was dead.

      Now if Microsoft said "Oh, we're working on that" the effect would not kill a company. And there is a good chance that even if Microsoft did do all the work to build a new product, it would take them some time to deliver and being a Microsoft 1.0 product, it would suck - giving a small company pelnty of time to get a product through a few iterations, and have a good head start.

      Microsoft does not have the ability to compete with quick and intelligently targeted iterations anymore.
  • by idesofmarch (730937) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:06AM (#18646241)

    Thanks to OSX, Apple has come back from the dead in a way that is extremely rare in technology. Their victory is so complete that I'm now surprised when I come across a computer running Windows.
    Come on, 4% market share and you are surprised when a computer does not run OSX?
    • 4% of what? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      what is 4%?, new units, or upgraded, oem or new customers... I read some article not long ago about how you can make %'s look like you want to.

      m10

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by westlake (615356)
        I read some article not long ago about how you can make %'s look like you want to.

        --- and the chances are good some garbled version of it will make it to Slashdot.

        But you have to be realistic: at any given time there are only a half dozen or so versions of the Mac on the market, compared to the dozens - perhaps hundreds of variants - on the generic Wintel PC. The office workhorse. The PC on the shop floor. The PC at Point-of-Sale. The PC in the military. The PC in the game room...

        You can multiply these

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fyngyrz (762201) *
          Market share is what drove Apple to the x86 platform.

          No. Motorola's (and Freescale's) inability to produce higher performance PowerPC CPUs in an acceptable timeframe is what drive Apple to the x86 platform. Nothing else - and there needed to be nothing else, that's quite a problem by itself.

      • by gardyloo (512791) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @12:28PM (#18647091)

        I read some article not long ago about how you can make %'s look like you want to.
        I think I read that one, too. The author really gave 110% on it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mgabrys_sf (951552)
        I kind of agree though. The market share is strange or regionally skewed. I work for startups in SF (as a contractor among other business) there's no fewer than 15 startups on one of my client's floors alone so a quick walkabout is revealing. I've seen macs on developer desks (not just designers) more and more. Linux is still on many admin and coder desks, and (at least) one startup has nothing but macs. Most of the new geeks meeting in the various local cafes and coffee-holes are also hauling around Apple
    • by MouseR (3264)
      Yeah. That's complete BS.

      For one, what turned Apple around was the iMac. It came out way before OS X did, wich was but a mere promisse at the time. OS X only became a relevant factor around Tiger. By that time, OS 9 was dead and the iMac (and the rest of the lineup: PowerBooks, iBooks and the G5) had put Apple back into the spotlight. The iPod locked it there and people (other than Mac followers like myself) started to take notice of Mac OS X around that time.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by adamwright (536224)
      It depends entirely on the environment in which one works. At my university, it is very, very rare to see a Windows machine or laptop being used by academic staff. Offices are probably 80% Mac, 15% Linux, 5% Windows. I am certainly surprised every time I see a Windows machine there!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The next few sentences in that paragraph clarifies what he said:

      "All the computer people use Macs or Linux now ... no one who cares about computers uses Microsoft's anyway."
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BlueStraggler (765543)

      If you're not spending your time working in Dilbert land, or maintaining the computers of your inexpert family and friends, then yes, absolutely. Windows is for PCs that don't matter to the future of computing, and its marketshare in the segments that do matter is nowhere remotely close to 96%.

      And this is a relatively new trend.

      • by ivan256 (17499) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @12:15PM (#18646955)
        I think the more disturbing trend is in the enterprise server environment. Until a few years ago, this was a Microsoft-free zone. Nobody took Microsoft seriously enough to install Windows on systems the "mattered". Now, Server 2003 and MS-SQL are in the door... They're not the dominant platform by any means, but they are conspicuously present, and the number of windows servers in the enterprise is growing.

        How do you define "segments that matter"?
        • by BlueStraggler (765543) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @01:54PM (#18647881)

          The real trend in the server room is to commodity x86 servers, not Windows. Of course, Windows has benefited from that trend, but Linux has benefited more, and both have benefited by taking share from bigger iron.

          How do you define "segments that matter"?

          The creative sectors in computing are in academia, start-ups, and the high-end of the hobbyist community. These people define what we will be doing in 5-10 years. Every important new trend of the last 20 years has come out of this sector, including the Internet and Web itself. 20 years ago, most people in this sector used Microsoft OSes, because the IBM PC platform was the most open and hackable platform for expressing their creativity, and Microsoft had the hackable OS of choice for that platform. 10 years ago, Unix and Unix-like OSes were making inroads, but the Microsoft PC was still cheaper and easier to work with in most respects. Today, the PC is still the hackable hardware platform of choice, but the difference is that there are better hacker-friendly OSes to run on it. And not just one, but at least four (counting Linux, OS X, BSD, and OpenSolaris). Meanwhile, Windows is becoming less hackable, with all of its protected paths and DRM and unnecessary levels of complexity that even Microsoft can't seem to keep sorted out.

          Seriously, when Apple makes an OS that is more friendly to hackers than yours is, you know you've taken the wrong path.

    • by NickFortune (613926) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:27AM (#18646417) Homepage Journal

      Come on, 4% market share and you are surprised when a computer does not run OSX?

      I think that tells you a lot about Paul Graham's everyday environment. He's working with startups, he's trying to put together teams of the bright and innovative, and what he's finding is that most of these people are not using Microsoft software.

      I suppose you have to allow for a bit of statistical bias there. Since Mr, Graham is (presumably) involved in selecting these people, it's entirely possible that a subconscious selection criteria might be "doesn't do windows" or something similar.

      Even so, I think he's got a point. How much of that market share is down to corporations who bulk-order generic beige boxes based on buying guidelines that are fifteen to twenty years old? How much is down to private homes where someone wanted to "get a computer" without realising there was a choice, or where the major criteria was that it should be "the same as the one at work".

      It wouldn't surprise me at all to find that the Microsoft market share among the up-and-coming wave of computer innovators is actually very slim. And if that is in fact the case, Microsoft should indeed be worried.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ClosedSource (238333)
        "I think that tells you a lot about Paul Graham's everyday environment. He's working with startups, he's trying to put together teams of the bright and innovative, and what he's finding is that most of these people are not using Microsoft software. "

        Sure, "Bright and innovative" people only use Macs. Buy a Mac and you can be bright and innovative too!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by NickFortune (613926)

          Sure, "Bright and innovative" people only use Macs. Buy a Mac and you can be bright and innovative too!

          Well, speaking as a died-in-the-wool penguin-head, I'd obviously have to dispute that :)

          Tell you what, think of it in terms of zeitgeist [wikipedia.org]. In the 90s MS had it, and the prospered, due in no small part to the fact that everyone wanted to use Windows. These days, I don't think they do, and I think the talent in the industry is starting to look elsewhere.

      • by geobeck (924637) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @12:05PM (#18646831) Homepage

        How much of that market share is down to corporations who bulk-order generic beige boxes based on buying guidelines that are fifteen to twenty years old?

        More importantly, buying guidelines that say "we need Office, therefore we need Windows", "it's what everyone else uses", "it's the industry standard", "we don't want to retrain everyone on a completely new system"

        All of those points have some merit, but none of them are insurmountable. On the other hand, the managers who fear retraining hassles the most are the ones who haven't figured out that it's possible to put e-mail somewhere other than your inbox, that resizing a picture in Word does not reduce its file size, that file != folder, and that an effective presentation does not consist of 120 slides with copy-pasted paragraphs and tacky clip art.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dpilot (134227)
          Once upon a time they used to say, "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM."

          Times change.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ergo98 (9391)
      Come on, 4% market share and you are surprised when a computer does not run OSX?
      The last number I saw was that Macs now counted for 6% of new PC sales. 6% is huge from a historical perspective, especially given the bulk of new PC purchases are businesses that usually lag the trend.

      And I think his point was just that among innovators and edge pushers, Windows is rare -- would anyone really argue with that? While I don't think OS X owns that arena (Linux obviously being another major choice), I don't think yo
      • "And I think his point was just that among innovators and edge pushers, Windows is rare -- would anyone really argue with that?"

        Sure, I'd take that argument. Innovation isn't about what brand of computer you use any more that it's about what brand of telephone you use. These are just tools.
    • 4 percent marketshare is generally considered worldwide.
      And to be honest, I think that 95% Microsoft marketshare is inaccurate. I know that there are a lot more Linux users in Europe and Asia than media reports.
      Furthermore, I would not be surprised if 30-40% of all worldwide MS licenses are pirated. On the forums i frequent someone is constantly requesting serials for MS Server 2003 and such for their consulting business, showing that in those poorer countries even small and medium businesses are running pi
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by rjamestaylor (117847)

      Thanks to OSX, Apple has come back from the dead in a way that is extremely rare in technology. Their victory is so complete that I'm now surprised when I come across a computer running Windows.

      Come on, 4% market share and you are surprised when a computer does not run OSX?

      His circle is the über-geek entrepreneurial technical elite who set the direction of computing 10 years out. Among these he rarely sees Windows. That's significant.

      I work outside Silicon Valley but in a service/technology company that "hangs" with Google, Yahoo, Redhat, MySQL (and Microsoft) on a regular basis. Our standard desktop is a Windows-based Dell. However, with a perfunctory sign-off from a manager any OS can be installed by the user. We have Ubuntu, Debian, Redhat, Fedora, SuSE, Slackware,

      • by LibertineR (591918) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @12:25PM (#18647055)
        This uber-geek technical elite you speak of? The ones setting the direction of computing 10 years out? Uh, been there, done that, okay? Its pure nonsense.

        You see, eventually these folks, flush with their startup money have to evolve into businesses with CUSTOMERS. This is the moment when all their foresight, vision and knowledge gets kicked in the ass by the reality of their target audience, who whether they like it or not, are generally using Windows in one form or another. I see this all the time. Awesome ideas, cool marketing strategies, beaten senseless by a a few basic questions: "This is cool, but will it work with Exchange? No? Damn, we cant switch. Sorry." "You mean we cant SSO with this?" Or "Okay, but can I control this through GPOs or can we LDAP it with Active Directory? No? Damn. Sorry, we cant switch."

        No, Microsoft is not doing anything intreguing, but I think that for the moment(though not too much longer) they have enough entrenchment to fight off all but the most innovative of ideas. Microsoft can still zap Apple any time they want by stopping MS Office development on the MAC. This will change too, but if your business docs are in nothing but Word and Excel, you are not going anywhere soon.

        One of the reasons for the dotcom bust was that too many startups never got around to the thought of what their customers WANTED, thinking that they could just convince them that their idea was so cool, so sweet, that they would just jump on it, without business considerations being a factor.

        Its just like parental pride in a newborn baby. No matter what it looks like, they think the child is beautiful, when in reality, it could be a hideous creature and they would never know it.

        If you are an Entreprenuer who believes that they have a target market large enough to pay back their VC without some form of Windows compatibility, they are headed for a fall, just like all the others before them. You dont find a Google every day of the week.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tom (822)
      The exact number is subject to dispute, but here's a pointer to the future: A lot of the people I know are thinking about or have their mind set on buying a Mac as their next computer. Nobody I know is excited about buying Vista.

      Also, that 4% number you are quoting is PPC Macs only - that company lists Intel Macs as a different category, and lists them at 2%, with a a monthly growth of about 0.2% steady for the past year. Oh yeah, and there's a poll on their website about what's the best browser. Safari is
  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:10AM (#18646277) Homepage
    and many things that die have a very loooong decline. ''When did the decline start?'', you can argue that for ever. Paul Graham will be proven right - eventually, but when? -- No one knows - but Paul will be there saying ''I told you so !''.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Horus1664 (692411)

      I agree, nothing does last forever. To my mind Bill Gates knew some time ago that MS needed to 'diversify' at a minimum away from simply providing desktop software. His activities acquiring rights to art of varying sorts, and net-aware businesses in general, hinted that he believed the future of MS lay in content provision on the net.

      Whether the way MS finally becomes irrelevant in terms of software production is web apps (which they seem unwilling to attempt), the all-consuming adoption of Linux and open

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shotgun (30919)
      The decline began when the US government won the monopoly trial. Regardless of how they screwed up the sentencing, it was at that point that everyone could sue them for screwing up the market, and VCs could actually invest in a competitor with some hope of actually recovering their investment.
  • netcraft (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lehk228 (705449) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:13AM (#18646297) Journal
    I won't believe this untill it is confirmed by Netcraft
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:14AM (#18646301)
    ...it's just pining for the fjords.
  • ..I find that all rational people must agree "everything" "all applications will live on the web" I wonder--is it time for innovators to think more about the alternatives?
  • Not Yet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kraemate (1065878) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:25AM (#18646395)
    I am a big fan of Paul Graham's essays, and have to admit that this one definitely ranks as the worst. Microsoft today has a lot of money - and i dont think businesses can simply die out in a few years, specially if they are not facing a steep downward slope. I mean, just look at M$'s profits/revenues (cant cite the source, sorry) they appear quite OK to me. I'll only start celebrating when they start posting huge losses, or when windows domination ceases.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eean (177028)
      His point is that they aren't dominating the industry, that they'll become another post-80s IBM. And IBM is itself doing quite well, so if I was a stockholder of MS I wouldn't be too worried.
    • by vertinox (846076)
      The thing is that most businesses don't last 10 years from there start date and any that do are very rare. About three fourths of those who survive after that often fold after the key founders leave the company, retire, or die.

      However, the small fraction that do last that final hurdle tend to last for several decades and possibly over hundred years. The issue now is to see if Microsoft does last the departure of its founders (including Balmer) which hasn't happened yet in its entirety.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:27AM (#18646427)
    It is now official. Paul Graham confirms: Microsoft is dying

    One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered Redmond company when analysists confirmed that Windows market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all serious users desktops. Coming on the heels of a recent survey which plainly states that Windows has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. Microsoft is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

    You don't need to be Steve Jobs to predict Microsofts future. The hand writing is on the wall: Microsoft faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for Microsoft because Microsoft is dying. Things are looking very bad for Microsoft. As many of us are already aware, Microsoft continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

    All major surveys show that Microsoft has steadily declined in market share. Microsoft is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If Microsoft is to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. Microsoft continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, Microsoft is dead.

    Fact: Microsoft is dying
  • by Wellington Grey (942717) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:28AM (#18646431) Homepage Journal
    If you read the actual article, Graham isn't actually claiming that Microsoft is dead (despite his provocative title) but that it is simply irrelevant -- that it's something startups don't need to worry about.

    -Grey [wellingtongrey.net]
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:30AM (#18646445) Homepage

    I think Microsoft's fatal flaw is summed up in this quote:

    Microsoft's biggest weakness is that they still don't realize how much they suck.

    And they never will. That's why they won't be able to adapt to changing climate conditions in technology and the nimble little warm-blooded creatures they barely notice will thrive and ultimately outlive them.

    I mean look, they haven't even gotten rid of Ballmer yet. As long as he's on top it's going to remain the same stodgy old company it is now. MSFT reminds me of some 40 year old guy who thinks he's cool hitting on his daughter's college friends. He's the only one who doesn't realize he's creepy and pathetic.

    • by pcgabe (712924)

      some 40 year old guy who thinks he's cool hitting on his daughter's college friends

      Do...do we know each other?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mrbcs (737902) *
      What? You're saying that I'm creepy and pathetic because my wife is 17 years younger than me?
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:30AM (#18646451)

    Small companies don't fear being squashed by MS because that's not their primary game plan anymore. They have achieved the dominance that phase of their company wished for. Now, the new paradigm is to be acquired by them. MS doesn't innovate anymore, they assimilate. [wikipedia.org]

    There are thousands of small start-ups that have this as their primary goal. Get a good idea, build it up to where it shows up on some large company's radar, then be acquired by them. Then, retire. And MS is a leader in this area.

  • As much as I would love to see Microsoft die, the company is far from dead. Corporate death usually implies both financial insolvency and the loss of the ability to innovate. While Microsoft's domination is waning (I think many will agree with that) and its innovations are lessening, the company has the assets of a medium sized country's Gross Domestic Product. With a financial indication such as that, Microsoft may be able to turn around faster. When a company such as Microsoft resorts to legal threats
  • I Claim (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:31AM (#18646465) Homepage Journal
    I claim that the word 'dead' is dead. Not dead like 6 feet under, but dead as a meaningful word. It still applies to loss of life, empty batteries and forgotten projects but now it also means 'changed' now, which makes it more ambiguous.
  • by tsa (15680)
    From the article:
    The last nail in the coffin came, of all places, from Apple. Thanks to OSX, Apple has come back from the dead in a way that is extremely rare in technology. [2] Their victory is so complete that I'm now surprised when I come across a computer running Windows. Nearly all the people we fund at Y Combinator use Apple laptops. It was the same in the audience at startup school. All the computer people use Macs or Linux now. Windows is for grandmas, like Macs used to be in the 90s.

    I'm still surpr
  • All kidding aside, I don't know how valuable Paul Graham's point is. I basically read it as "the SanFran Web2.0 crowd isn't afraid of Microsoft". He actually sums up my objections perfectly at the end:

    "Half the readers will say that Microsoft is still an enormously profitable company, and that I should be more careful about drawing conclusions based on what a few people think in our insular little "Web 2.0" bubble. The other half, the younger half, will complain that this is old news."

    I guess I'm in the o
  • Required disclaimer: I hate MS about as much as anyone else here, but...

    This is a very strange blog piece and I'm wondering what part of the galaxy this guy lives in:

    1) Since when does "dead" mean a company that is no longer feared? True, MS has lost it's fear factor, but that is nothing like being dead. "Dead" means dead, as in SCO.

    2) I wish I had a dime for every time someone says the desktop is dead and all apps will from now on be web hosted. This is so old and isn't going to happen. Sure Ajax has made
  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki&cox,net> on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:36AM (#18646513)
    Just press ctrl alt del until the task manager comes up and kill whatever's locked it up.
  • Barbed wire (Score:5, Insightful)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:37AM (#18646523)

    But eventually the open source world won, by producing Javascript libraries that grew over the brokenness of Explorer the way a tree grows over barbed wire.
    A beautiful turn of phrase, but he's forgetting how much barbed wire Microsoft has laid. Not just Outlook and IE and Word and Excel and Powerpoint, but the way IE renders HTML, and the .DOC format, and billions of lines of Excel macros, and hundreds of millions of vapid PowerPoint presentations. It's like the legacy Cobol codebase - it's never going to go away until some watershed event like Y2K makes it go away.
  • Mr. Graham's definition of "dead" in this essay only encompasses the activity in his field of work (startups). What I would like to know is how much longer will we *normal people* have to put up with microsoft's influence and products?

    How much longer will we be forced to use their software at work, such as Windows and .NET?

    How much more time of our life will be wasted having to fix some Visual Basic monstrosity and the like?

    How much longer until they can no longer damage others through their inmoral and som
    • by mattgreen (701203)
      If you don't like using Microsoft at work, then find another job that lets you use the technology that you want. Quit painting things like they're holding a gun to your head to use these products, because they're not. If you're passionate about not using them, then why do you continue to use them at work?
  • I think he describes the situation pretty accurately.
    Microsoft does suck big time, a lot of their recent technologies are either dead in the water, or quickly heading there. Their upper management doesn't realize how much they suck, so they keep pushing the train in the same direction.
    This is evident from all the soundbytes that Monkeyboy and Gates are pulling out of their ass.

    I am a big fan of OS X, a huge fan of OS X, and I do understand that MS has an unimaginable cash reserve and are still profitable. B
  • I actually RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by porkThreeWays (895269) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:41AM (#18646573)
    I know there are going to be hundreds of posts claiming Microsoft isn't dead and that they are still a very profitable company etc etc, but that's not what the article is about, so you might as well mod those posts down now. The idea is that Microsoft's throne as supreme monopoly that can do whatever they want and everyone will follow is over. I whole heartedly agree.

    There was a time 5 years ago that if MS released a technology, now matter how bad, would become the de-facto standard for no other reason than MS released it. MS has yet to do anything new in about 2 years that has become the supreme technology just because they blessed it. Their game of catchup with Google has yielded nothing powerful. Their strategy has been mostly centered around Windows Live, which has yet to garner any real interest. All their Web 2.0 stuff is massively better than what they were releasing 5 years ago (their mapping software isn't half bad), but I've yet to interact with someone who's excited over it. I know a lot of web developers who get a boner over the Google maps API though. Even their desktop software hasn't yielded anything terribly popular. People will keep using Windows and Office, but be extremely slow to adopt any of their new technology.

    I guess the real nail in the coffin is that there's no single company for MS to set their sights on. The entire web is surpassing them, not just Google. Google is giving important direction and acting sort of as a leader for the industry, but I see just as many interesting things coming from outside of Google as in. How can MS compete with that? They can keep trying to break IE as much as possible, but even there they are being forced by the market to become more standards compliant.

    I don't think MS will just go away and they probably will be relegated to Windows and Office until those are slowly chipped at. The OS market will one day reach the maturity hardware has and there will be standards and most common software will be written in cross platform toolkits. It will happen so slowly that we'll step back and say "Remember Microsoft 15 years ago?" just as we are saying today "Remember Microsoft 5 years ago".
  • For some reason that quote reminds me of this one:

    "Take your Jedi weapon! Use it. Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete!"

    Luke did take his weapon, he did hate, and he did try to strike the Emporer down, but it turned out his journey towards the dark side wasn't complete after all. And neither is Apple's.
  • by FlyByPC (841016) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:48AM (#18646651) Homepage
    Maybe I'm a dinosaur (OK, I like BASIC and assembly, so that's a given) -- but I don't see the benefit to putting applications on the Web. I'm no paranoid tinfoil-hat cypherpunk, but I don't trust the reliability and security of running my applications via a connection to the great Out There. Downloading open-source solutions, compiling them, and running them over a LAN, perhaps, but I don't see the venerable hard drive (read: fast local storage) going away anytime soon.

    I can see inherently Web-centric applications (email, searches, etc) as migrating to the Web -- but for things like word processing, circuit simulation, and (most dramatically) video editing, I can't imagine how running these over the Internet is going to work, let alone make them Better. Even with the new fiber-optic cable they just finished burying here.

    Do I just not "get" it? Why should I use Web-based applications when OpenOffice works just as well? Why complicate things by introducing more points of failure (the whole Internet connection chain of devices, software, and protocols) into the mix?
    • by rolfwind (528248) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @01:11PM (#18647525)
      Computing Intensive stuff like video editing, games, etc, are going to remain on your computer.

      But word processing? I doubted it myself, but I really like Google Docs and Spreadsheets - it allows me to work on certain things on any computers without dragging files around - and I can collaborated on a word document or spreadsheet with a ton of people without a ton of file swapping happening - I just have to invite who I want to look or give them read/write access - and I can see their revisions easily.

      That is the unhyped, 0 buzzword reason I like it.
    • by mangu (126918) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @01:13PM (#18647539)
      I don't see the benefit to putting applications on the Web


      If you say "using a Web interface" instead of "putting applications on the Web" then there is a great advantage, at least for corporate applications. And it was in great part Microsoft who made it that way.


      A typical example is a project I did a couple of years ago. There was an application in Access, about 2000 lines of code, that was a nightmare to maintain. Every time one of the 100+ users changed some configuration in his computer, the support people had to figure why that application had stopped working. I was given that application with detailed instructions: "fix this shit".


      So I rewrote it, to a PHP application in a Linux server running Apache and a Postgres database. People now use it in several different browsers, with no problem at all. You can even tweak PHP to send Excel spreadsheets, by making Internet Exploder believe an HTML table is a spreadsheet and run Excel to open it.


      You are right that CPU-heavy applications like video editing will remain at the desktop computer, but I see a definitive trend for most enterprise applications to migrate to Web-centric applications.

  • Perhaps random startup companies no longer fear Microsoft, but there is a reason why it is virtually impossible to buy Linux pre-loaded.

    It is the fear of a sudden $500 million increase in Windows licensing fees, a la what happened to IBM in the mid 1990's.
  • Photoshop with Ajax? Just imagine this nightmare, both for users and developers. Imagine Maya with Ajax, SolidWorks, AutoCAD, *any* PC game, Mathlab, Mathematica, R, ... with Ajax.

    Technically, flash is way ahead of Ajax, and even with it you cannot pull of the apps mentioned above.
  • MS is dead just like Lisp

    PS, note for stupid moderators, Paul Graham is well known as a Lisp advocate.
  • by LibertineR (591918) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @12:00PM (#18646789)
    This would suggest that Microsoft is only asleep, not dead.

    They can always wake up, decide to toss out the old OS code, or run it in virtual mode, then build a brand new OS from scratch. Maybe this time, they can let Cutler run wild without without the need for backward-compatibility and make something worth looking at? As Vista is quickly becoming this decade's Windows M.E, Microsoft is going to have to consider taking the big leap.

    In the mean time, they can still just sue the crap out of any entreprenuer, right or wrong, because there are few with that kind of cash and time on their hands. Most if not all would just settle, giving Microsoft access to their inventions anyway.

  • by dioscaido (541037) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @12:02PM (#18646805)
    Microsoft is bigger than ever, makes more money than ever (with a consistent double digit growth every quarter), and has its hads in more areas of peoples lives than ever before (PCs, business [large, midsize, small], gaming, mobile devices, cars, television, movies, etc...). At the same time, their marketing team for years has been working on making their company seem more 'friendly', not the beheamoth aggressive cut-throat company of times past, but a kinder, gentler, trustworthy Microsoft. This might not have a huge effect on real techie crowds like Slashdot, but you can see their effects on the general populous, where Microsoft shows up in near the top of the country's most trusted companies.

    It would be a mistake for any company to think that Microsfot is dead.
  • by Angry Black Man (533969) <vverysmartman AT hotmail DOT com> on Saturday April 07, 2007 @12:04PM (#18646819) Homepage
    It is official; Paul Graham: microsoft is dying

    One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered microsoft community when IDC confirmed that microsoft market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 97 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that microsoft has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. microsoft is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

    You don't need to be a Kreskin to predict microsoft's future. The hand writing is on the wall: microsoft faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for microsoft because microsoft is dying. Things are looking very bad for microsoft. As many of us are already aware, microsoft continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

    Windows is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long timeWindows developers Jordan Hubbard and Mike Smith only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: Microsoft is dying.

    Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

    Vista leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of Vista. How many users of windows are there? Let's see. The number of Vista versus windows xp posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 Vista users. Vista posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of windows xp posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of BSD/OS. A recent article put windows at about 80 percent of the microsoft market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 WinXP users. This is consistent with the number of WinXP Usenet posts.

    Due to the troubles of Hotmail, abysmal sales and so on, Windows NT went out of business and was taken over by the Vista team who sell another troubled OS. Now Windows Vista is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

    All major surveys show that microsoft has steadily declined in market share. microsoft is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If microsoft is to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. microsoft continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, microsoft is dead.

    Fact: microsoft is dying

  • Microsoft claims Paul Graham is dead.
  • by rbrander (73222) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @01:41PM (#18647779) Homepage
    Graham credits Google and Apple, but surely Linux deserves a tip of the hat.

    In the mid-90's, when NT stabilized and swiftly sank the whole Unix workstation market, and started putting out real server products that slowly shut down Novell and Banyan, it began to look like Microsoft would soon own all levels of computing. From their secure base of total desktop ownership, they could leverage control of workstation, small server and soon, no doubt, large server markets. And on the other side, Windows CE was going to take over all the TV set boxes and music players and microwave ovens. Nobody wanted to be on the wrong side of a company that, like IBM, was not another fish but rather the Sea itself.

    There was nothing that the minicomputer and Unix workstation companies like DEC and Sun could do to hold back the tide - Microsoft was cheaper software, had the unstoppable advantage of running on cheaper commodity hardware, and again, the desktop that could be tweaked to only work right with one server.

    Then Linux came along, operating more efficiently on the same cheap commodity hardware and with even cheaper software. It shut them out of monopoly in the server market. Sure, they have a presence, but only as another competitor, not as a monopolist. And Linux is where everybody went for entertainment appliances, CE is a *minor* competitor there.

    That left Microsoft with a monopoly ONLY on the desktop and no way to take over anything larger or smaller.
    • by rbrander (73222) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @02:13PM (#18648087) Homepage
      Credit here goes to a cluster of open-source projects - LAMP, basically, plus of course Java.

      It also looked, around the time of the Netscape-killing, that Microsoft would inexorably make the Web an MS gated community. That internal corporate web apps would all surely be ASP (and then, .NET) to get along with the desktop/IE monopoly and that open-Internet web sites would have to go along.

      But between MySQL, PHP, Python, et al, and of course Java, an alternative held together that relegated Microsoft web solutions to merely another competitor - a strong one, maybe, but not a monopoly that can dictate the whole game. It was some years where it all seemed to hang in the balance, maybe MS would eventually grind them all down. Around the time most people felt that LAMP was here to stay and Java had a well-entrenched community of its own, Firefox came up out of Netscape's grave and started nibbling down IE's market share even on Windows.

      That's when I realized that MS was in a box. A big, big box full of money, sure, but still, it had met its limits.
  • by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @12:31AM (#18652813) Homepage
    then somebody please bury the fucking body as it appears to be continuing to stink up the room...

    Not to mention release diseases like Vista...

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