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Microsoft

Bill Gates's Last Speech 389

Posted by kdawson
from the complete-with-ballmer-bot dept.
Ian Lamont writes "Bill Gates, in an address to the TechEd Developers conference, talked about Microsoft's plans for hosted services, and revealed that the company is planning data centers on 'a scale that we haven't thought of before' that will apparently enable the company to offer all of its server-based products over the Internet. The talk did not include details in terms of capacity or scale. This was Gates's final publicly scheduled speech as a full-time Microsoft employee, and he acknowledged that Microsoft's success is 'due to our relationship with developers.' On July 1, he will start spending most of his time at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation." After that date he will be devoting his "20% time" to Microsoft.
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Bill Gates's Last Speech

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  • by Dragoonkain (704719) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:41PM (#23645559) Journal
    You are a true American Hero
    • by Divebus (860563) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:50PM (#23645665)
      It's ironic but the natural choice for these massive data centers is to use free software - their own. And they're bewildered why everyone else wants to use free software. Hmmph.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dmgxmichael (1219692)
        When it's your own dog food it is free.
        • by rrhal (88665) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @01:15AM (#23647839)
          Oh no there is a cost. Trust me, a terrible cost.

        • by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:10AM (#23648865)
          It's fairly simple to scale Linux to 200,000 machines. It can boot and run from the network. No local storage and crucially NO LOCAL STATE required. You can boot a ramdisk over the LAN and run from that if you want. What this means is you only need a few people to run thousands of machines. It's a log increase. That is, Linux isn't your big problem when running 200,000 machines. Your big problem is space, racking, networking, AC, power etc.

          On the other hand, Windows pretty much has to be installed onto a hard disk. This means there are thousands of configuration settings, hundreds of libraries of specific versions which all have to be kept synchronized on tens or hundreds of thousands of hard disks. This is a fucking nightmare once you get past a few dozens of machines never mind 200,000. There is at least a linear increase in admin effort with increasing numbers of machines, and with that increase goes cost. Active Directory and Ghost are pretty much de rigueur but don't really fix the problem. Notice that Ghost isn't even an MS product, but a bandaid to fix something the OS can't do (Yes, I'm aware of the MS deployment add ons).

          The problem is location of state; on 200,000 hard disks or 1 boot server. Simple maths. Basically, Windows will have to be redesigned so that it can boot and run over the LAN or from a ramdisk or whatever. That's the point when it really becomes "Enterprise ready" rather than being a pretender.
           
      • by jeevesbond (1066726) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:20PM (#23646399) Homepage
        Microsoft software is only free if their time has no value. ;-)
        • by Super Jamie (779597) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:44PM (#23646993) Homepage
          For those who missed it, this is a quote attributed to Jamie Zawinski, one of the most notable Netscape/Mozilla developers who laid the foundations for our Firefox of today, and memorable for attending anti-trust court proceedings against Microsoft sporting a colored mohawk and wearing army boots - a true cyberpunk.

          Also, Jamie's version is "Linux is only free if your time has no value" ;)
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Alioth (221270)
            Of course, the corollary is "Windows Server 2003 is only $3000 [0] if your time has no value".

            [0] or whatever license fee is required for the edition you have.
          • by Call Me Black Cloud (616282) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:33AM (#23649231)
            A true cyberpunk? So "cyberpunk" must be a fashion statement if dressing like a clown to appear in Federal court is the definition.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by chrish (4714)
              He owns a nightclub (the DNA Lounge); he was just showing up to court in his "office" clothes.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by jvkjvk (102057)
              What got your panties in a twist? My guess it that you just don't like punk. And here I thought the majority on /. looked beyond outward appearances but calling him a clown seems to have got you mods so perhaps I was wrong.

              Breaking down his qualities as a cyberpunk:

              Cyber: "Netscape/Mozilla developers who laid the foundations for our Firefox of today..." obviously not into computers, so I can really see where you're going here...

              punk: Multicolored mohawk and combat boots, classic punk. On noes! Only if h
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ikkonoishi (674762)
        I bet the software won't be listed as free on the invoices they make to send to the IRS.
    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:59PM (#23645753) Journal
      Wow... that's some serious America-bashing mojo you've got going there. ;)



      In all seriousness though - I think Bill got all he can get out of MSFT... the company is far from dead, but it ain't exactly the powerhouse it once was, when OEMs and most software devs trembled at the sound of the phrase: "Microsoft has announced that..."


      The best time to leave is when your baby is still (in)famous, and strong enough to almost do whatever it pleases. Besides, once the public at large realizes that MSFT is indeed sliding downhill, they'll more easily blame Ballmer for it than they would even think to blame Bill, which leaves Bill's legacy intact.


      From here on out, any further news will be tacked onto Ballmer's reputation, both inside and outside the tech community (even though most of us in the tech community already know who to blame/praise --depending on your viewpoint).

      /P

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Serpentegena (991730)
        I think the main point of failure was on the creative side of things. How do you knowingly continue to claim individuality after you've become a trend-follower instead of a trend-setter?? Even the managed services thing comes about a year after IBM already deployed a similar solution.

        So far, Microsoft put the "sucks" in "success".
        (Oh wow! Best.sig.ev4r.)
      • by zerocool^ (112121) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:01PM (#23646667) Homepage Journal

        the company is far from dead, but it ain't exactly the powerhouse it once was, when OEMs and most software devs trembled at the sound of the phrase: "Microsoft has announced that..."

        Pffft. Get over yourself, pl0x.

        At peak, Microsoft held $64,000,000,000 in LIQUID CASH ASSETS. Think about that. (source) [nwsource.com]

        At the time of that article, they hold $28,900,000,000 in cash reserves. In terms of gross domestic product, that puts Microsoft's cash reserves 80th (out of 180 sovereign nations) when compared worldwide to yearly GDP. (wikipedia). And it's only dropped to that level because Microsoft, after it won all the antitrust battles, instituted a stock buy-back.

        If Microsoft were to never, ever sell another product or acquire a business or accept a licensing fee, and simply put that money into a money market account at a bank pulling 8% interest, they would make 2,300,000,000 yearly. Wikipedia lists Microsoft as having 79,000 employees. Just with the interest they could make without any strategic investing, they could pay each employee at the company $30,000 a year. For nothing. Before the stock buyback, that number was around $70,000.

        Think about that. The interest on their LIQUID CASH could pay EIGHTY THOUSAND EMPLOYEES over SEVENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR.

        That's how "not in trouble" Microsoft is. Microsoft is still a powerhouse, and they're quite unconcerned that you think they aren't. Microsoft is not in danger.

        ~Wx
        • by pdusen (1146399) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:36PM (#23646915) Journal
          Nobody said anything about Microsoft going bankrupt. The fact is that they are slowly losing their stranglehold on the personal desktop market. Whether or not they can survive financially is irrelevant.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by canuck57 (662392)

          Think about that. The interest on their LIQUID CASH could pay EIGHTY THOUSAND EMPLOYEES over SEVENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR.

          That's how "not in trouble" Microsoft is. Microsoft is still a powerhouse, and they're quite unconcerned that you think they aren't. Microsoft is not in danger.

          ~Wx

          I have thought about that. Isn't that very similar to Novell in it's demise about 1995? Lots of cash and a failing market. (maybe add a zero for inflation)

          Today, Novell is a bit player. Lets just give it 10 years shall we?

          BTW, anyone taking 2 year shorts on MSFT?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Unnngh! (731758)
          Very true. Plus, their company-wide sales are still very strong. They are so large and wealthy, with such a huge install base, that they will likely never go away.
        • by caseih (160668) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @11:01PM (#23647095)
          Mou misunderstand. MS is definitely solvent. That's not the point. MS is definitely not quite the powerhouse it once was in terms of sheer market influence. Perception has definitely turned against MS and all the money in the world won't change that. Remember that IBM is still a huge, very successful company and still very much "Big Blue." But no one would argue they control the PC (or general computer) market like they once did. MS does still have a monopoly in the area of OEM desktop OS's and Office suites, but that hold on the market is weakening. This doesn't mean that MS will go bankrupt by any stretch of the imagination.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dido (9125)

          The fact that Microsoft is wealthier than my country is not in question. They have a shitload of money, but they no longer wield the kind of influence and strike the kind of fear into the hearts of competitors as they once were able. Paul Graham put it very well in this article [paulgraham.com].

          Microsoft cast a shadow over the software world for almost 20 years starting in the late 80s. I can remember when it was IBM before them. I mostly ignored this shadow. I never used Microsoft software, so it only affected me indire

        • by Tomy (34647) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @11:06PM (#23647123)

          Think about that. The interest on their LIQUID CASH could pay EIGHTY THOUSAND EMPLOYEES over SEVENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR.
          You obviously haven't shopped for real estate in Seattle lately. 70k is a paupers salary in Seattle. The three bedroom, 1900 sq ft house across the street from me in sleepy Ballard just went for 700k. Which means you need a 140k down payment and a combined income of around 186k to qualify.

          But I think the real point is not that Microsoft is going bankrupt any time soon. Simply that they are going the same route as IBM. Once IBM was the 800 pound gorilla and you played their game or got crushed. Then MS played that role for a while.

          I don't expect Microsoft to *increase* market in their core profitable businesses (win32, office), and so far they have failed to show an ability to innovate in any new markets (Zune) or be profitable in those markets (XBox).

          Even after IBM lost the crown, they were still mostly profitable, and eventually MS will go in the same direction as IBM as a more services oriented business.

          But the only innovation that will be seen coming out of Redmond is the steady bleed of the better talent to more lucrative startups.

          For any really good programmer in Seattle, the pecking order of where you want to work is:

          - Working for a startup that could be sold to Google.
          - Working for a startup that could be sold to MS.
          - Working at Google.
          - Working anywhere.
          - Working at Amazon.
          - Working at Real Networks.
          - Working at Microsoft.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by TooMuchToDo (882796)
            With regards to your pecking order, working at Google is a joke. They offer you a "pauper's salary" (typically half of what the market rate is for your position) with little to no stock options, and tons of benefits whose sole purpose is to keep you at work or working on a Google project longer.

            I enjoy using some of their products, but you'd be a fool to work for them if you have a family to support or live in a real estate market that actually requires a decent salary.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by pubjames (468013)
          It's depressing to see this rubbish modded as insightful.

          You seem to have forgotten that Microsoft is a public company, with shareholders. They can't sit back and live on the interest from their cash stockpile.

          Here's something to think about - Microsoft's cash assets have decreased by more than half in four years. Apple's cash assets are increasing rapidly, and are now nearly equal to Microsoft's. Would you care to apply your logic to Apple?
        • At peak, Microsoft held $64,000,000,000 in LIQUID CASH ASSETS.
          That should be enough for anybody!
  • they haven't thought of?
  • by wal9001 (1041058) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:42PM (#23645573)
    From now on, Microsoft's success will be due to their relationship with developers, developers, developers, developers.
    • by Linux_ho (205887)
      It's the wave of the future.
  • by xaxa (988988) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:42PM (#23645579)
    Five eights availability!
  • Really? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:43PM (#23645597)

    On July 1, he will start spending most of his time at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation." After that date he will be devoting his "20% time" to Microsoft.


    Are you sure that that isn't just what he says he will be doing and he is really trying to become the Debian project leader?
    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:52PM (#23645681)
      Wow, the moderators must be really off today, I try for a +5 funny and end up with a -1 troll mod, whats next? A +5 insightful for this post?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Penguinisto (415985)
        Before a post can be considered funny, it must have one of the following memes:



        • Beowulf clustering
        • Hot Grits and Natalie Portman (pref. naked and petrified)
        • The Soviet Union
        • Korean Old People

        (and many, many more... none of which were in your post. Sorry.)

        /P

  • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:45PM (#23645615)
    Version 1) They have to be huge to run Vista and get the same response.

    Version 2)Let's pump up MSFT. I'm selling some.

  • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:53PM (#23645691)
    till one of these giant datacenters has an electrical fault like the one last weekend, and instead of 9,000 servers, it's 90,000 servers gone at once...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tubal-Cain (1289912)
      The difference being that the first datacenter wasn't taken down maliciously.
    • by nurb432 (527695)
      And that happens how often? And of course your office never loses power, or your home...

      Its really not that big of a risk if you weigh all the issues..
      • Re:Just wait... (Score:5, Informative)

        by aaarrrgggh (9205) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:38PM (#23646097)
        An outage in a data center over about 2.2MW is a major hassle to re-start. Over about 5MW can be a 48 hour effort. When you get into these 20+ MW facilities, it can easily take weeks to get everything back up and running.

        When a facility is properly compartmentalized, it isn't nearly as bad-- redundancies and fail-over mechanisms can continue to maintain most of the system operation, and hopefully extra load can be shifted to another site.

        The problem is that historically data centers don't have fires. (In contrast, telco switch facilities have them all the time.) Electrically when we get over about 10-20MW of UPS in a single structure data center, the complexity of systems and maintenance provisions greatly increases the risk of fire. From a raised floor perspective, when we get over 20kW per rack, we have seen a couple small fires (out of thousands-- don't get me wrong, it isn't a huge widespread problem). With these changes brought on by the "mega-centers," it takes a lot to improve (electrical) reliability for the site.

        So, in my book, it isn't the fact that you shouldn't be prepared for a data center to go down some times, it is that there is more concentration of facilities and they are being done at a larger scale which will impact the reliability in a major way. We advise most of our clients to keep under 6MW for a data center, and go for multiple facilities geographically isolated for the extra capacity. That approach isn't always commercially viable, but it is makes for a better long-term investment.
        • Forgive me my ignorance (I'm a developer which necessarily equates to a crappy admin), but when you say that it takes a long time to get everything back up and running, you mean that you have to stagger the cold boots, right? I just lost a power supply on my SATA RAID box last week. OK, so I admin by proxy when I need a box for my source code... I had bought what I thought was a reasonably sized power supply, with what I knew about power supplies from a few years ago when I did LAN party thing in high scho
  • 20% time (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I hope the 80/20 principle doesn't apply here.
  • Innovation ProTip (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrbah (844007) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:01PM (#23645775)
    This can only reinforce my belief that the people at Microsoft have no ideas and no vision (whether they lost them or never had them to begin with, I'll leave to you) whatsoever. It almost makes me feel sorry for them to see them try so very hard to innovate. But ultimately they're just like the Chinese knock-off game console manufacturers, they see new products that are commercial successes and emulate them in every way but the one that counts. I liked Windows 2000, and I like Windows XP. Microsoft should stick to what they do best, not try to create the "next big thing".
  • by D Ninja (825055) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:03PM (#23645799)
    I love the end of the article.

    [Gates] welcomed onto the stage a Ph.D. candidate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the "Ballmer-bot," a robot made to imitate and act like Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO and Gates' long-time business partner, who is not attending TechEd.

    "Developers, developers, developers, developers," the robot, developed using Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio product, repeated over and over, in an homage to Ballmer's famous rant. The robot also raised his arm, showing how he has the ability to "throw eggs," according to the MIT student controlling his movements.
    Throw eggs. Heh. Throw chairs is more like it.
  • by alexborges (313924) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:11PM (#23645875)
    Ah... microsoft's mentality, you gotta love it. When he says "we havent thought about that size before", he wants to convey "we, humanity".

    Doesnt that kind of show what kind of reality distortion field this guy lives in?

    Amazon thought about it, Google thought about it. Ah, they are not "we, humanity"... i see.
    • by Zarf (5735) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:13PM (#23646359) Journal

      Ah... microsoft's mentality, you gotta love it. When he says "we havent thought about that size before", he wants to convey "we, humanity".

      Doesnt that kind of show what kind of reality distortion field this guy lives in?

      Amazon thought about it, Google thought about it. Ah, they are not "we, humanity"... i see.
      Actually, I read it as a genuinely humble admission that Microsoft has never thought about data centers the size that Google and Amazon have. I read it as a genuine admission of his company's short comings and a challenge for his company to rise to that challenge. Admittedly he stops short of saying ... "we haven't thought about that size before. Like Google and Amazon have."

      The last bit I read as a desire to be able to compete with the larger data centers. Recognizing that Microsoft today is not one of the companies with a large reliable data center on the scale of Google.

      A good commentator would have mentioned that, pointed it out as a sign of weakness, and seen Gate's parting challenge to his company as a "moon shot" type of declaration.
  • hosted services (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:14PM (#23645909) Homepage Journal
    So we are returning to the very thing Microsoft fought to eliminate in the first place. Big data centers where you lease CPU time and have nothing but a terminal at your desk. ( ok, so its slightly different in actual practice, but same basic principles )

    Anyone else find it as ironic as i?
    • Looks like Bill G has run out of vision, and is now moving back to the good old mainframe days.

      That's innovation?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BrainInAJar (584756)
      McNealy, jackass that he may be, made some comment in a speech a while back about technology moving in a pendulum fashion.

      computing machinery goes back and forth between local access ( abandoned pdp-11 in your local lab, PC, etc ) and the network is the computer ( university's central VAX with a bunch of terminals, google apps, etc )
  • by miller60 (554835) * on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:48PM (#23646171) Homepage
    For those who couldn't sit through the 80-minute video [microsoft.com] (or don't have Silverlight), Gates said that in the future Microsoft's mega data centers will have many millions of servers" [datacenterknowledge.com]. It currently has "hundreds of thousands" of servers, but expects to pack up to 300,000 into its new Chicago container farm. Gates also predicted that only a select number of companies (presumably including Microsoft and Google) will be able to compete on this scale.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Zarf (5735)

      For those who couldn't sit through the 80-minute video [microsoft.com] (or don't have Silverlight), Gates said that in the future Microsoft's mega data centers will have many millions of servers" [datacenterknowledge.com]. It currently has "hundreds of thousands" of servers, but expects to pack up to 300,000 into its new Chicago container farm. Gates also predicted that only a select number of companies (presumably including Microsoft and Google) will be able to compete on this scale.

      Which is a "moon shot" style parting gesture. It's aiming squarely at Google and saying "we can not allow a server gap!" In a way this is a back-handed admission that Microsoft has totally missed it in the "data center race" and needs to catch up. It's as if Google (continuing my space race analogy) has done everything but land on the moon and Gates has just challenged his company to do just that.

      Once Microsoft hits the million server mark and celebrates the world's largest data center... it will probably

    • by thewils (463314) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:47PM (#23647023) Journal
      Microsoft already has 'Millions' of Servers. It's called the Storm botnet.
  • by microbee (682094) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:05PM (#23646307)
    Please let it be a flying chair
  • by failedlogic (627314) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:28PM (#23646451)
    I guess this is being announced because after said speech, Gates will lose his voice. ;)
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:22PM (#23646825) Homepage

    If Microsoft is moving into the hosted application space, that must mean the rest of the technology world is already there and will be ready to move on by the time Microsoft can field any online services...that will still require IE and Office to be installed on the client.

    The Zune of hosted applications.

  • by TheDarkener (198348) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:55PM (#23647063)
    I think Bill Gates is a brilliant man. Seriously, Slashbotters, listen:

    Bill Gates, when he first started MS, had passion for software and coding. I *wish* I could program the stuff him and his buddies did way back then. I *wish* I had the left hemisphere brain activity he did. But you can only GET that activity if the passion to do it drives you.

    For that, I applaud Bill Gates, as he is like many of us - he's passionate about technology.

    Business is a completely different arena, and we all know that big business eventually corrupts - that isn't most directly Bill's fault - he's just a bad business man, in that sense.

    I use Linux every day. I absolutely HATE Windows (and most other Microsoft) products. I hate them with a passion. I avidly try to get as many people using Linux as I can - my grandma, my wife's friends, you name it. That doesn't mean Bill Gates wasn't revolutionary and awesome because his drive was to create software. If it were all him coding Windows, 100%, you'd have to admit it'd probably be a lot better than it is today. Too many chefs in the kitchen just burns things when the ultimate goal is profit.

    I dunno, I just thought I'd throw that into a whole ocean full of flames toward someone that probably respects OSS programmers a lot more than he'd be able to admit before July 1st.
    • Buy yourself a basic interpreter, and then resell it.

      He never was as much of a coder as a shrewd businessman.

    • by Tom (822) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @02:07AM (#23648049) Homepage Journal

      Bill Gates, when he first started MS, had passion for software and coding.
      And you take that knowledge from what source?

      One of Bill's very first public appearance was his "open letter" where he showed a great passion for money and business, and very little for software and coding.

      I *wish* I could program the stuff him and his buddies did way back then.
      Your probably can, if you are studying computer science. Even back then, it wasn't rocket science. A lot of people wrote similar stuff. But most of them didn't have the connections, rich parents, or greed to turn it into a successful business.

      You've got this guy absolutely backwards.

      someone that probably respects OSS programmers a lot more than he'd be able to admit before July 1st.
      He's considered them thieves for at least 20 years. I see no indication of him changing his mind. If you have, name your source.

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