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What is Bill Gates Learning From Open Source? 194

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the how-to-love-the-bomb dept.
christian.einfeldt writes "In the world of Free Open Source Software communities, Microsoft is often viewed as the very epitome of the Cathedral-style model of software production. But is Bill Gates learning from the software development phenomenon that he once compared loosely to communism? In commenting on the results of a Microsoft-commissioned survey of approximately 500 board-level executives about the importance of interpersonal skills versus raw IT coding skills, Gates starts to sound a bit more like a member of the Apache Foundation than the take-no-prisoners king of cut-throat competition: 'Software innovation, like almost every other kind of innovation, requires the ability to collaborate and share ideas with other people, and to sit down and talk with customers and get their feedback and understand their needs.'."
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What is Bill Gates Learning From Open Source?

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  • right (Score:5, Funny)

    by wwmedia (950346) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @10:09AM (#21708020)
    are microsoft good or bad this week?
  • That's easy ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @10:13AM (#21708048)
    Microsoft is always bad, and always will be ... that they occasionally (and largely by accident) do something good doesn't make the organization any less bad.

    That said, you have to understand that Gates is far from stupid. His public comments about open source have, historically, been just what you'd expect the CEO of Microsoft to make. That doesn't mean that he doesn't privately understand the issues perfectly, and now that his role at Microsoft has changed, now that he's an ex-CEO, he may feel free to speak more honestly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Microsoft is always bad, and always will be ... that they occasionally (and largely by accident) do something good doesn't make the organization any less bad.

      What about Google then? I don't see Google open-sourcing their search engine, GMail interface, or any of their other major tools and yet they're held as the epitome of a "good" company. All of their stuff is proprietary and kept very closed-source.
      • Re:That's easy ... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by oyenstikker (536040) <slashdotNO@SPAMsbyrne.org> on Saturday December 15, 2007 @10:51AM (#21708290) Homepage Journal
        The code may be closed, but the standards are open. Google uses properly formed HTML and CSS. Google uses IMAP. Google uses XMPP. Google releases their applications for multiple platforms. Google does not use broken or undocumented formats to force you to use their products.
      • by Znork (31774)
        'yet they're held as the epitome of a "good" company.'

        Say what? By whom? Self-rating hardly counts, and most of the time outsiders mentioning "dont be evil" seems to be mostly in sarcastic references to the failure to live up to the proclaimed motto.
      • That's simple (Score:4, Insightful)

        by HalAtWork (926717) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @12:59PM (#21709210)
        They promote OSS at every turn. All of their APIs are open and documented. They use open formats and open protocols whenever they can. They release application frameworks for others to use to build applications that play nice with OSS. They release applications across all platforms, actually supporting versions of their software that work on OSS platforms and with OSS software. But to retain the attention of users, they choose to keep some of their solutions as proprietary, but they are ones they maintain themselves. You want them to open source their search engine, but the only reason their search engine is successful is because of their constant tweaking and additions in their specific way, and users still use their search engine without problems. OSS can interface with their search engine if they want to leverage its benefits.

        How could OSS really benefit from Google open sourcing their search engine? By publicizing the inner workings of their main asset, it would divert attention away from google. Google supporting OSS in the ways that they do wouldn't matter so much anymore if nobody was paying attention to them. If everyone had what made Google unique, then others could get the attention Google deserved but put it to a use that may not be leaning towards OSS so much, and then OSS wouldn't be as much of a benefit anymore. It serves Linux well because an OS is something every computer needs, but a search engine doesn't need to be run by anyone, and Google seem to be doing a good job. It's not like there aren't any OSS search solutions. But OSS seems to be benefiting as much from Google as the other way around.

        Don't you think Google is giving something back to the OSS community just by standing as a viable example of people using OSS in a commercial environment? Don't you think that buys OSS credibility? They run on Linux, they are putting a lot of force behind Firefox, and all the other stuff I mentioned above.

        What exactly do you want Google to do, and how do you think it would actually benefit OSS in reality more than what they are doing now? You're really unhappy about the current scenario?
    • by QuantumG (50515)
      I've yet to work for a company that didn't dismiss or downplay the products and actions of competitors. One thing that, occasionally, happens at Microsoft is they have a management decree for everyone to pull their head out of the sand and deal with a threat.. but it doesn't happen often enough, at Microsoft or anywhere.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mh1997 (1065630)

      Microsoft is always bad, and always will be ... that they occasionally (and largely by accident) do something good doesn't make the organization any less bad.

      Microsoft is no more evil than the average person. The people that run MS occasionally do bad things like all people, but (without knowing them personally) are probably decent people.

      The people that run MS are doing with the company what all people do...trying to grow. The only difference is we usually root for the little guy until they become the

      • Re:That's easy ... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ScrewMaster (602015) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @04:49PM (#21711174)
        No, you're wrong. Microsoft's "evil", insofar as I'm concerned, has to do with the companies and technologies that never had a chance because someone at Microsoft decided to steal it, buy it or just destroy it. That someone was often William H. Gates. The Personal Computer Revolution was largely stolen from us, because we all got forced to go the Redmond way.

        There's no point in going over Microsoft's other evils, such as the fact that it is a Grade-A government-certified illegally acquired-and-maintained monopoly. Now, monopolies aren't necessarily evil or illegal ... but Microsoft's is, on both counts. And don't try to excuse them as just being, you know, basically decent people who make honest mistakes. Microsoft is a criminal organization that has maintained a consistent pattern of unlawful activity throughout its entire corporate existence.

        And so far as Apple and Google are concerned, it sounds like you're excusing Microsoft's bad behavior because well, you know, Apple and Google might be as bad, but we don't know yet so let's give Microsoft a pass for now. Look nobody knows whether we are alone in the Universe ... but the question of whether that company is good or evil has been answered. They were taken to court over the issue of their monopoly status and lost.

        So yeah, Microsoft is evil, and the pattern of general nastiness persists to this very day. Why do you think the European Union is giving them such a hard time? Have you been following the OOXML fiasco, with Microsoft attempting to buy their way into a standard? No, I suggest you keep Googling Microsoft: it's obvious you've not been around long enough to have experienced their evil firsthand. I've been in the software business since before Microsoft was a gleam in Bill Gates' eye, and I've seen the damage he and his brainchild have caused.

        Bill can give all his money to charity if he wants, but there's no Undo button for what he's done.
  • From what I see in Vista...
    Very little. (And yes, I have used Vista enough (unfortunately) to say that. Arch Linux/Ubuntu user primarily)
    • by DAldredge (2353)
      What is so wrong about Vista?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lattyware (934246)
        Plenty, although that wasn't what I said. I said they had not learned much from OSS. If Vista was faster, had a package manager, and was free, then they would be getting somewhere.
        As to what is wrong with Vista, the fact that Portal plays more reliably under WINE than Vista does say something (the Vista nVidia drivers crash every 10 seconds with any Source-based game, it seems.)
        But yeah, it's not particularly that Vista is terrible (although it is pretty bad, I'd say XP is the best thing M$ put out), mo
        • by DAldredge (2353)
          The fact that your hardware is faulty isn't the fault of Vista.
          • by lattyware (934246)
            How is my hardware faulty? It works fine when I'm running Linux.
            • by rucs_hack (784150) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @12:29PM (#21709022)
              How is my hardware faulty? It works fine when I'm running Linux.

              It's classic Microsoftie newspeak. If Microsoft release a product that doesn't work properly on otherwise perfectly useable hardware, it's the fault of the hardware itself.

              For instance, downstairs I have a new duel core box (AMD) with 1Gb of ram and a gforce 7300 on a 10 Mb network running Vista. It's slower then my main machine, which is four years old and has a two year old AMD 400+ 64 bit chip, 1gb ram and a gforce 6200. Network performance from the Vista machine is a joke when compared to all the other machines on that network, well not a joke, because that would mean it was funny. Do you think it's the hardwares fault?

              That particular machine isn't mine, hence why it still has Vista on it, but I booted it into the Ubuntu livecd for a test. The difference? well lets just say 'fuck me', and leave it there.
              • well lets just say 'fuck me', and leave it there.

                Yes, lets.

                But you have to understand the Microsoft perspective on this issue. As the only relevant vendor of operating system software, hardware should conform to Microsoft's needs ... not the other way 'round. Bizarre, I know ... but really is how the collective brain of Microsoft thinks.
        • I'd say NT 4.0 was the best thing MS put out, that I have used. NT4 was the only Windows OS I did not have crash while I was using it. XP on the other hand froze the very first tyme I booted up a computer using XP. And it wasn't a noname PC, it was on a brand new Dell, a Dimension I think though I'm not sure.

          Falcon
      • Activation, bloatware, and spyware. If I buy software whether an application or an operating system as long as I enter a valid key I shouldn't have to Activate it. Nor should my software spy on me, stamp documents with a guid [wikipedia.org], or need to be Activated again if I change hardware. All the provider of the software has any use for is whether there is a valid key, for proprietary software.

        Falcon
      • What is so wrong about Vista?

        It does nothing better than the product it replaces, and many things considerably worse [dotnet.org.za].

  • by rainhill (86347) <2rainyhill@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday December 15, 2007 @10:17AM (#21708080)
    People misunderstood him, the BigBill always was for sharing, except that he always liked to be on the receiving end.
    • by lattyware (934246)
      Yeah, he'll share you windows, if you share lots of money with him. Except less share and more give on the money part.
    • Ah. The "what's mine is mine, and what's yours is negotiable" approach to life. Yeah.

  • by gilesjuk (604902) <[giles.jones] [at] [zen.co.uk]> on Saturday December 15, 2007 @10:17AM (#21708082)
    It's Ballmer who sounds off about the competition. Ballmer is probably a very good executive and businessman, but he's not visionary and he also doesn't hold back when giving his opinion. His opinion is very tabloid like.

    Bill seems to be careful to base his opinions on fact and not overstate things.
    • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Saturday December 15, 2007 @10:24AM (#21708130) Homepage
      Gates is hardly visionary himself. The first edition of The Road Ahead [amazon.com] , his view of the future, infamously lacked mention of the Internet. Once the Internet exploded in the mid-1990s, Gates and his ghostwriter had to hastily put out a second edition. Around the same time he foolishly let his wife convince Microsoft to put out Microsoft Bob.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Actually, she wasn't his wife when she was responsible for Microsoft Bob.

        I think marrying him was the penalty for it. Me, I would have chosen death.
      • by paiute (550198) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @12:24PM (#21708980)
        Gates is hardly visionary himself. The first edition of The Road Ahead , his view of the future, infamously lacked mention of the Internet. Once the Internet exploded in the mid-1990s, Gates and his ghostwriter had to hastily put out a second edition.

        I remember seeing stacks of this book. There was actually a sticker on the front that read: "Now revised to include the Internet". I recall thinking that this was a probably inadvertent admission that the author could not really see the road ahead.
        • I recall thinking that this was a probably inadvertent admission that the author could not really see the road ahead.

          Nah, he saw the back roads just fine ... he just couldn't see the onramp to the Information Superhighway.
          • by dangitman (862676)
            You'd think someone as wealthy as Gates could afford OnStar or some other GPS system.
            • Well, true visionaries don't need guidance systems, in fact, the whole point of being a visionary is that you are a guidance system! Gates, on the other hand, isn't so much interested in discerning trends before anyone else and profiting by them, he's takes the approach of deciding what direction we should go in and then using his ill-gotten gains to push us that way.
    • by webmaster404 (1148909) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @11:12AM (#21708430)
      Yes, When Bill Gates was the head of MS, things were O.K. (just forget about ME for a second) there was little about DRM, and for most of the time, they actually somewhat innovated (or at least stole from Mac which innovated) things and and brought the world of the GUI to the cheap IBM PC. There was no competition because until 1991, and even then, Linux wasn't ready for the real world, in around 2003 with the 2.6 kernel, Linux posed a huge threat to MS. However from 2000-present, MS has been rapidly shooting itself in the foot with missed opportunities, disasters such as Vista, and falling to DRM. Steve Ballmer seems to be much more for DRM then Gates ever was, all Gates wanted to do was make some cash and make the computer easy to use, the same vision as Apple. However Ballmer wanted to make money at all costs and that meant taking out all competition and throwing us into this DRMed world which we hate.
      • by Ugmo (36922) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @01:45PM (#21709586)

        However from 2000-present, MS has been rapidly shooting itself in the foot with missed opportunities, disasters such as Vista, and falling to DRM. Steve Ballmer seems to be much more for DRM then Gates ever was, all Gates wanted to do was make some cash and make the computer easy to use, the same vision as Apple.

        I think it was the book Innovator's Dilemma or it might have been some other management or business book, that said that a company listens to its customers, becomes successful and grows. Then there comes a point when the company keeps listening to its customers but the customers are giving it bad advice, along the lines of, "more of the same, but bigger or faster and throw in this". The product outgrows certain niches or is customized too much for a subset of large customers. At this point smaller companies with a different way of ding things can squeeze into the cracks answering the needs of the customers left behind. Using this as a base, the new companies grow and kill off the old company.

        This applies to Microsoft if you understand who their customers are: other businesses, not consumers. All their decisions make sense if you understand that fact. Each new OS requires (not takes advantage of, but requires) larger hard drives, more memory and faster processors. Like Vista , all the previous OS versions required an upgrade to use, by design. This keeps Dell, Gateway etc happy as people throw out their old PC and buy a brand new one. If the consumer was Microsoft's customer they would be finding ways to write more efficient code that runs faster on existing hardware. As hardware advances, that code would become even faster instead of the situation we have now, where each new version of an application on faster and faster hardware delivers roughly the same word processing performance.

        DRM is the same. The customer is not the consumer who would like to watch movies or listen to music with his computer. The customer is Hollywood and the RIAA. Microsoft listens to them. They say: "Find us a way to charge the consumer every time he listens to a song and we will give you a cut of the income." The consumer says: "Find me a way to make it easy to organize and listen to the large collection of CD's and albums I have collected and paid for over the years". Microsoft says, "Where's my cut?" to the consumer and then listens to the RIAA instead.

        The third major customer is businesses or governments. In this case Microsoft is not trying to keep the business or government as a whole happy, they are cutting deals with the decision makers to preserve their monopoly. The citizens of a country will be better off if their government uses open file standards but this will threaten Microsoft Office's monopoly. Government employees get kickbacks, sweetheart deals and job offers from Microsoft in order to get them to choose Microsoft's products over what is in the ultimate customer, the citizen's, best interest.

        The same thing happens in businesses where Microsoft cuts deals with other companies in return for stock, investment or the promise of future acquisition. It would really be in the companies interest to use a free OS like Linux or an alternative file format for music or movies but Microsoft cuts deals with individuals in management that screw over the business in the long term. The managers who sign the deals don't give a crap. They are getting their pay off down the road. See all the companies that signed up for Fair Play, or whoever was behind SCO or the hundreds of other instances that show up daily on Slashdot.

        Remember that fact: You are not Microsoft's customer.They do not care about you.. Remember that and all their decisions make sense. Their customers are the memory, disk drive and PC manufacturers, the content providers and any other business they can cut a deal with and sell you down the river for. This is not a Ballmer thing. This has been going on s

        • by dangitman (862676)

          it might have been some other management or business book, that said that a company listens to its customers, becomes successful and grows

          I don't see how that applies to Microsoft. Their first big customer was IBM, who they promptly screwed over. After that, comes a long history of screwing over their OEM customers, software partners, and so forth. I don't think the idea of serving the customer has ever entered the collective mind of Microsoft.

        • I am also a fan of Christensen's. In fact, I am producing a documentary based on his work. Our film is called the Digital Tipping Point. I would love to find out a bit more of your interests in this topic. Please feel free to email me at einfeldt - at , _- gmail dot com if you would like to discuss this topic off of this page.
      • by GTMoogle (968547)
        So you wear rose colored glasses only when looking to the past, eh? I don't see how anything has changed, just that they're embracing and extending evil things (drm) just like everything else. They've never been any better for the software industry as a whole.

        The best argument FOR their tactics, (and I think this is a more favorable analysis than they deserve,) is that they tend to buy up the front-runner in any competition when the software is 75% good enough and shut out competition by putting their OS
      • Steve Ballmer seems to be much more for DRM then Gates ever was, all Gates wanted to do was make some cash and make the computer easy to use, the same vision as Apple.

        Actually Bill Gates was always about making money. Back in the 70s when Gates hacked a Basic interpretor for the Apple he got very upset that microprocessor hackers or Homebrewers [wikipedia.org] and hobbyists shared Basic with friends without paying him. It's ironic that sharing hardware plans and software is what got the personal computer revolution st

      • by SL Baur (19540)

        Steve Ballmer seems to be much more for DRM then Gates ever was, all Gates wanted to do was make some cash and make the computer easy to use, the same vision as Apple.

        That's a creative version of history and maybe if you repeat it enough times, some day it might even be true.

        DRM/copy protection has never been much more than a strip of police tape across an open door saying "um don't cross this line, or ur, um, bad things may happen to you, at least maybe". It's only been in the most recent past that technology has upgraded it to at least duct tape assisted with draconian legislation. It's difficult to conclude anything based on adoption of such a feature.

        The vision of

        • No, actually the vision of a GUI came from Doug Engelbart [wikipedia.org]. He was way out in the lead when it comes to conceiving and implementing an early graphical environment (using a mainframe no less.) Credit where credit is due ... even Xerox PARC played off of Engelbart's work, because as the linked article points out, "Several of Engelbart's best researchers became alienated from him and left his organization for Xerox PARC, in part due to frustration, and in part due to differing views of the future of computing."
          • by SL Baur (19540)

            No, actually the vision of a GUI came from Doug Engelbart.

            Engelbart was the inventor of the mouse and his name is on the first mouse patent. I stand corrected. Thank you.

            I found this http://www-sul.stanford.edu/siliconbase/wip/control.html [stanford.edu] link if anyone else is interested in the True History of the mouse.

            In the Wiki page you linked, this stands out:

            He never received any royalties for his mouse invention, partly because his patent expired in 1987, before the personal computer revolution made the mouse an indispensable input device, and also because subsequent mice used different mechanisms that did not infringe upon the original patent.

            I may be in a minority because of my age, but I'm sure I'm not the only one here using only mouse based computers starting since before 1987 (though they were Suns and Unix boxes).

            If anyone ever deserved royalties

            • Well, he did win the Lemelson-MIT award, half a million dollars. But still ... given the hundreds of billions that have been earned from products derived from his work, you're right: he should have been better treated. I don't know enough about the man to know if that matters to him or not. I get the impression that he's just happy to see many of his ideas accepted and in widespread use. He also came up with the idea of a windowing system and demonstrated [google.com] them to a live audience! He is certainly a visionary
  • by Recovering Hater (833107) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @10:18AM (#21708088)
    Maybe he is learning how to properly cook and eat crow?
  • Contradiction? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Xafier (1122155) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @10:19AM (#21708102)

    'Software innovation, like almost every other kind of innovation, requires the ability to collaborate and share ideas with other people, and to sit down and talk with customers and get their feedback and understand their needs.'

    Its funny that, because the needs of nearly all your customers is that your operating system is reliable and user friendly and runs fast, and every OS that's released from Microsoft is worse is most of those categories compared with the previous version.

    I write software that's used in medical analysis of blood, urine, tissue and other samples... we follow extremely strict design, coding and testing rules to ensure that there as few bugs in our program when it reaches the end user as humanly possible...

    of course, then its run on Windows... which in my POV just negates all our work, especially seen as its now going to be run on Vista, which has brought us no end of troubles with discrepancies between XP and Vista!
    • Re:Contradiction? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @10:43AM (#21708242)
      Not to be difficult, but Windows NT4, and its successors Windows 2000 and Windows XP, were vast improvements over Windows 9x. It's only now, almost ten years later, that Microsoft has taken a huge step backwards with Vista. That fact is disturbing, because I look at it as being indicative of major problems in Microsoft's design, development and QC processes: this mess should not have happened. They seem to have lost sight of the fact that complex software development is evolutionary, not revolutionary. Incremental, well-thought-out improvements made over time result in better products than huge quantities of completely new code (Vista is claimed to be what, a 70% rewrite?) If you try to change too much too quickly, you will have a disaster on your hands.

      Like you, I develop Windows software for a living (in some fairly mission critical environments as well), none of which would have been possible had the NT kernel not become part of Microsoft's mainstream operating systems. Matter of fact, in those days we shipped Unix boxes because there was no way in Hell you could use Windows 9x for real-time data acquisition and process control. But NT4 was pretty solid, and the GUI improvements in Windows 2000 helped a lot too. I initially found XP to be less stable than Windows 2000, but XP did improve substantially over time, and nowadays is halfway decent.

      But I agree about Vista. From my perspective going to Vista right now would be very risky. Maybe in a year or two when Microsoft has had a chance to fix some of the worst issues it'll be worth another look. Maybe ... but for right now we're sticking with XP as long as we can.
      • Win XP first came out, Win2K was the most reliable software wise. However, XP provided suppioror hardware support and stability. It's been my experience that I've seen more BSOD crashes with 2K over XP that are a direct cause of buggy driver support.

        With XP SP2, we now have the combined security advantages of 2K, and the hardware support/stability of XP. No doubt, we are all waiting for XP SP3 with bated breath.

        As for Vista, it's already a public failure and for good reason. I'm sure it can be refined for t
      • Not to be difficult, but Windows NT4, and its successors Windows 2000 and Windows XP, were vast improvements

        Moving from NT4 to XP was I think a leap backwards. I've run NT4 for years and didn't have a problem with the OS but the first tyme I used XP the computer froze while booting up.

        Falcon
        • That's why I said "vast improvements over Windows 9x. I run XP on a couple of my own workstations, but my server is Win 2K. NT4 won't run a number of apps that I need and has been EOL'ed for way too long anyway and is no longer supported by hardware vendors. Besides, I know a number of very large corporations that still deploy Windows 2000 on thousands of computers because ... it's stable, does the job, and they don't see any reason to pay Microsoft more millions for something they don't need. Eventually, o
          • That's why I said "vast improvements over Windows 9x. I run XP on a couple of my own workstations, but my server is Win 2K.

            Though I've had trouble with Windows 95, 98, and ME none of them froze the first tyme I booted them.

            NT4 won't run a number of apps that I need and has been EOL'ed for way too long anyway and is no longer supported by hardware vendors.

            True, what makes it worse for me is that I have NT4 installed on a PC with a DEC Alpha [wikipedia.org] cpu. Once I had to reinstall NT4, but not because of a prob

    • by tuomoks (246421)
      A very good comment, as the first response! My experience over long time before there was a Microsoft, they are not alike any other company. I'm a software developer who has to see the whole infrastructure, not just a small piece of it and I have the same experience, not that Microsoft is any different of other vendors I have had to deal over years but currently.. They had things going (almost) right with NT and even XP was still on ballpark but lately, give me a break! As you, I have to design / develop se
  • Our new overlords (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mangu (126918) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @10:19AM (#21708106)

    In the survey of approximately 500 board-level executives, 61 percent said interpersonal and teamworking skills were more important than IT skills.

    Perhaps for board-level managing, but certainly not for doing IT jobs. That's a big problem in corporations when you get "professional" managers. In the old days top-level managers were usually people who had risen from factory jobs. They understood what made the business tick.


    Enter the business schools. Managers start believing they can command any corporation without understanding how the production works. They start doing things like transplanting a CEO from Pepsi to Apple. Dismal results.


    I, for one, do *NOT* welcome our new board-level executive overlords!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hal_Porter (817932)
      Enter the business schools. Managers start believing they can command any corporation without understanding how the production works. They start doing things like transplanting a CEO from Pepsi to Apple. Dismal results.

      Oddly enough the other day I read an article from an ex Microsoft guy making the same point -

      http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2006/06/16.html [joelonsoftware.com]
    • by KillerBob (217953)
      Every business has that one coworker that nobody likes, and that nobody wants to work with. You know... the one who's so abrasive that the productivity of those around him/her goes down drastically just by virtue of them being around?

      If you haven't noticed who it is.... *coughs*

      Even at the bottom level, productivity and profitability goes *way* up when everybody likes each other works well together.
      • True ... on the other hand, you still have to know what you're doing which is the real problem the GP was addressing. What you're talking about is effective cooperation between workers. And yes, that is important, and good management knows how to make that happen. However, when the people above start giving irrational orders because they're nothing but clueless PHBs, it doesn't matter how well-liked anyone is. The organization is in serious trouble. Matter of fact, bad management is frequently the source of
    • How about the hotel chain manager that ended up owning the short lived Worldcom empire...
    • by tuomoks (246421)
      A perfect comment! I can understand the top level management because for them IT is just a corporate function, one of many, but save me from middle management who do not understand the mechanics they are supposed to manage. They don't have to and they don't really always have time to be specialists on subjects but they should (must) have a very good understanding how and why some things work the way they do. Now, unfortunately, even I think everyone understands that but lately it has gone worse which means
    • I agree with your comment about the Overlords. However, I think that they do have a point that having IT skills alone is not good enough. You should know what you need to produce as well as how to produce it. In the ideal world, IT customer and IT supplier would be the same person (or at least share a brain) which would presumably ensure perfect understanding of what the customer needs (not the same as what the customer wants). In reality, it is enormously important that IT people have the ability to unders

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @10:31AM (#21708172)
    Ignore what they say, observe what they do.
  • Microsoft is all about increasing revenues. If they've saturated the market to their satisfaction, or have begun to lose traction with one class of product, such as Office apps, they move on to another. I'd translate Chairman Bill's comments to mean that he smells money in collaboration software. SharePoint is just one way to dredge that channel. Watch for others.

    * * *

    The latest story in my series about a company imprisoned for theft addresses the sham called a financial system. Read "Bank Shot" here

    • Parent post makes some good points, and brought this discussion into focus for me.

      Corporate investments in Outlook and Exchange Server are now coming to the fore as the best reasons for big customers to stay with Microsoft products. That is not due to a change in Microsoft strategy. It is because the MS Office team has shot itself in the foot with the OOXML debacle. And the Vista team has struck out with its dismal failure to address business needs. The Outlook/Exchange Server is Microsoft's last remainin

  • Wait, what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Dark (159909) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @11:04AM (#21708378)
    Did I miss something or did christian.einfeldt just claim that Open Source invented collaboration and talking to customers?
    • My point is that Microsoft has, in the past, been the archetypal command-and-control Cathedral, within the meaning of Eric Raymond's essay, "The Cathedral and the Bazaar." Any collaboration that happened lacked one central core characteristic of FOSS production: sharing source code outside the Cathedral-builders' team. Microsoft never has released the source code to its flagship Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office products to the unwashed masses. Their business model cannot sustain that model.

      Contr
  • by jkrise (535370) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @11:12AM (#21708434) Journal
    Rather than going by Gates' utterings; we must examine what he has DONE after Open source succeeded despite Microsoft's best efforts at side-tracking it.

    1. His departure from the Chairman post indicates very troubled times ahed for his company; and he is reluctant to be associated with a declining company that even customers speak poorly about. This is largely due to the influx of open source and more recently, open standards.

    2. The features removed; the h/w requirements; broken s/w compatibility etc. in Vista shows that ignoring the merits of Open Source will only hurt his company even more. The fact that he has not learnt the lessons and abandoned Vista; and continues to brazen it out indicates he does not want to hear the truth... only self-sponsored eulogies from 'independent studies'.

    3a. One of the biggest reasons for the success of the Windows platform has been that developers have been attracted to the commodity stuff so that everyone could win. Despite Gates' best efforts, Java and PHP have built up a commendable market-share; while after being bitten badly by the abandonment of VB, Foxpro etc.; developers are extremely cagey of adopting to .Net. Career-wise, it makes more sense for developers to stick to Java, PHP or even RubyonRails because they need not refresh their skills every 2 years or face extinction / pink slips.

    3b. The loss of the developer community will pave the way for eventual collapse of the flawed Upgrade-And-We-Will-Solve-Your-Problems approach which has been Microsoft's business model for well over 2 decades.

    4. For home users, the only hassle is getting broadband on Linux. Like Google, Linux has spread like wildfire by word-of-mouth; and even longtime friends of MS such as Dell, HP etc. have had to listen to customers and offer Linux bundles. The arrival of small form factor PCs like the OLPC, the XO laptop, the Asus EEE PC on Linux is further accelerating the success of Open source and the downfall of Windows. Microsoft is seeking to delay this by offering XP on these systems; but since long term avblty of XP is a question mark, OEMs, costomers or shareholders aren't very enthused.

    All in all, Mr. William Gates has learnt his lessons well in advance; and as Eben Moglen remarked while launching GPL3; this is the beginning of the end for proprietary code.
    • 1. No, Microsoft stock is doing just fine, despite the Vista failure/disaster you keep harping on about as a sinking ship. Take a look at how bad MSFT stock has tanked in the last 12 months - http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=MSFT&t=1y [yahoo.com]

      2. I can run 12 year old software in Vista without modification. Can you run a 12 year old binary in Linux and have it still work? Unlikely. Most binary drivers break with a simple kernel upgrade.

      3a. Link? In my experience people choose php because frankly its piss easy, Jav
    • 4. For home users, the only hassle is getting broadband on Linux.

      More than a year ago I bought a PC with Linux preinstalled. Once I unpacked and set it up I was able to immediately connect to my cable provider. There was no editing configuration files or changing settings or anything like that. The PC immediately recognized the connection and allowed me to go online.

      Falcon
      • Well, there have been a lot of changes in that regard, and the various broadband providers have had to come to terms with home networking. They didn't want to: when AT&T Broadband first bought out @Home's local infrastructure, I was told that any kind of NAT routing or home networking was grounds for termination of service! Forget about supporting such configurations either. The idea was that you should buy a separate address for each system on your home network at $3.95 per IP. Nuts to that, and why wo
  • get information from consumers, claim rights to it and sell it back to them....seems to be what this article is promoting while using MS as a media to say it.

    What happens when programming is done right and consumers can use an easier to use interface to create programs with, for themselves?

    General automation is not difficult but wide scope capable [abstractionphysics.net]
  • Bill Gates talking about software innovation is like George Bush talking about good government.
  • by foobsr (693224) * on Saturday December 15, 2007 @11:36AM (#21708624) Homepage Journal
    Mr. Gates: 'Software innovation, like almost every other kind of innovation, requires the ability to collaborate and share ideas with other people, and to sit down and talk with customers and get their feedback and understand their needs.'

    Big news, given that the concept of 'customer satisfaction' has been embraced since decades, even by not exceptionally innovative companies (e.g. GM). Microsoft fails both in IT and 'customer satisfaction' [theacsi.org] (a related comment: Microsoft falls below the average in customer satisfaction survey [arstechnica.com]).

    CC.
  • Slow down there... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jay L (74152) <jay+slash&jay,fm> on Saturday December 15, 2007 @11:38AM (#21708634) Homepage
    Is the OP claiming that *developers* on open source projects, in general, have a better record of teamwork, interpersonal skills, and understanding end-user needs than *developers* on Microsoft projects? Man, I hate to be the one to stick up for Microsoft on Slashdot, but...

    Much as Microsoft churns out a lot of junk, whenever I read their developer blogs, I'm always impressed by the amount of thought that goes into their design. Now, a lot of times their product teams go in the wrong direction, focus on the wrong things, get told not to fix something, or simply get hamstrung by their own legacy code. But to the extent that that reflects on the developers at all, it reflects on their design skills, not personal skills. And, frankly, most of the problem at Microsoft seems to be a management issue in the first place.

    Meanwhile, a surprising number of open-source projects are led by one brilliant-but-eccentric guy who everyone tolerates because he invented the thing and he writes a lot of good code. Then, someday, another brilliant-but-eccentric guy joins the project, and a year later it forks, and they spend eternity sniping at each other on USENET, which nobody else reads anymore, while each claims to have plonked the other.

    I'm having trouble remembering the last time I saw a lead Microsoft developer:

    * Give a presentation featuring a "Fuck You" slide,
    * Get indicted for killing his wife,
    * Call his rivals idiots,
    * Boot someone off a mailing list or forum,
    etc. etc.

    Let's face it - with a few notable exceptions, FOSS tends to attract zealous, dogmatic, fiercely independent people whose idea of good interpersonal communication usually involves a die with more than six sides and some Monty Python quotes.

    • by c6gunner (950153)

      Let's face it - with a few notable exceptions, FOSS tends to attract zealous, dogmatic, fiercely independent people whose idea of good interpersonal communication usually involves a die with more than six sides and some Monty Python quotes.
      Sooo......Linux is the Ron Paul of the OS world?
    • by Jay L (74152)
      Sooo......Linux is the Ron Paul of the OS world?

      Well, more of a Jonathon Sharkey [jonathonth...ent2008.us]...
    • by mysticgoat (582871) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @02:20PM (#21709818) Homepage Journal

      I'm having trouble remembering the last time I saw a lead Microsoft developer:

      * Give a presentation featuring a "Fuck You" slide,
      * Get indicted for killing his wife,
      * Call his rivals idiots,
      • At Microsoft, it is the CEO who says "fuck you".
      • At Microsoft, it is the CEO who threatens to murder people. Possibly his claim that he has done so before is true... there was an odd death by ingestion of antifreeze which has not been satisfactorily investigated.
      • At Microsoft, only the CEO and his designated marketdroids are allowed to use such language in public.

      So. Yeah. At the lead developer level, Microsoft might be reasonably civilized. That behavior does not extend up the ladder. So Microsoft might possibly be cured of its problems without affecting its software expertise with a simple headectomy.

    • by tuomoks (246421)
      You are absolutely right. But think what would happen if any side would fix their ways? They would win and then we wouldn't have ( any needs ) for /. etc any more. As painful all the different views are, they create different paths for future systems and, of course, more work for us. Yes, Microsoft has a lot of very, very good people, fortunately, as you say, the management screws it up enough so we don't all have to go MS way but pick up what good comes out from MS development and forget the rest. I love w
    • by dcam (615646)
      To counter this, Microsoft's development process is opaque.

      There is little information on what they are working on/planning. There are few avenues for providing feedback/bug reports (I don't consider pay for options viable). When feedback is provided it is not clear that it is being acted upon.

      Because FOSS is developed in the open, the internal process are exposed also, hence more of the stuff mentioned above.
  • by wan-fu (746576) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @12:49PM (#21709110)
    I think for Bill Gates, there are multiple ways to view open source. I'm pretty he doesn't find the idea of open source repulsive and I'm sure he understands there are many things to be learned from how OSS is developed, how communities are built around the software, etc. These are things he doesn't view as a threat to Microsoft but are things that he probably feels the company can learn from. After all, all engineers like learning new methods and understanding processes.

    So what is it about OSS that Bill Gates dislikes so much? The business model. OSS threatens Microsoft via its business model and this is what he actively attempts to show as inferior to the closed-source way of doing things.

    I think once this distinction between business model and engineering are taken into account, his views are relatively easy to understand.
  • Why is information like this even considered newsworthy? M$ is legendary for being full of hot air and then continuing on with business as usual. Now, if they were suddenly to start acting according to such words in a significant way, that would be different. Don't hold your breath, though.
  • He has learned the marketing spiele but nothing more. Their 'embrace, extend, extinguish' mentallity is still in full swing as open source products are threatening their family of products. Products such as Open Office, Firefox, Linux, MySQL, Apache, etc all are directly threatening the adoption and use of Microsoft products.

    Aside from that, open standards are now being tauted and as such they more than anything threaten Microsoft who does not want standards to be open but want them to be closed and only

  • During the Cathedral building era, there were Cathedral builders who were heavily connected and shared openly their knowledge and there were some who kept them to themselves (mostly out of greed and power hunger). So you can use this metaphore for both proprietary and Free software.

    As for the way to develop software, some free softwares are built in house with little connexions to the outside until it has reached some level of completion and some proprietary software are built with the same methods describe
  • Companies do the mistake to misunderstand free software and open-source in many ways. Some companies think that free software and open-source are the same thing (it's not). Others think that merely putting some code under the GPL makes it truly free software (a licence isn't enough). Some see opensource simply as something to get from, rather than sharing with it.

    Free software is a social process. Merely saying "look guys, our code is GPL now, we are an opensource shop! buy from us, we are good!" isn'

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