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Bill Gates's Last Speech 389

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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  • I am a MS Fanboy (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @06:43PM (#23645585)
    Has MS done anything innovative in the past few years? Since windows.. it just seems all they try to do is copy other products, pump millions into marketing and watch it fail. I don't think they've had a profitable product since XP. And the choice before that was ME so who wouldn't purchase it.

    Even though we all flame MS.. why do we still use the products.. in our home, our office and on our phones. Only within the past 2 years have better alternatives come out.. iPhone and Firefox..

    Flame away!
  • Re:I am a MS Fanboy (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @06:49PM (#23645659)

    Even though we all flame MS.. why do we still use the products.. in our home, our office and on our phones

    Err... All my computers have Linux installed as the primary OS and either use WINE to emulate any necessary Windows applications (which interestingly enough aren't made by MS). In most people's office they would rather be using Linux and free software but the people who outrank them (AKA: Those who don't have a clue what an operating system even is....) insist on spending money on MS's products to make the company look better and so the computer illiterate people don't have to learn anything.
  • by clang_jangle (975789) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:01PM (#23645773) Journal
    Indeed, IIRC they even had an internal slogan -- "it's not done til Lotus won't run", or something like that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:02PM (#23645791)
    And with any non-utility or non-profit type public company that success is measured by stock growth.

    Ballmer took over in 2001. MSFT's stock has been effectively dead in the water since that time:;range=my;indicator=volume;charttype=line;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=on;source=undefined

    Ballmer has been a complete disaster:

    * The 7 billion dollar Xbox fiasco
    * The Zune/digital music failure
    * The inability to change the Microsoft culture to deal with the new realities of the EU business climate
    * The total failure to handle the Vista release competently
    * Search/MSN floundering

    If Microsoft gets a competent and visionary leader it could rapidly turn things around and dominate markets like crazy once Ballmer gets dumped.

  • by alexborges (313924) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:11PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:13PM (#23645893)
    A new head of Microsoft would have a monumental amount of work to fix the company.

    Step 1 - Kill off the Ballmer turds like Zune, Xbox, and maybe even search

    Step 2 - Mass firings of everyone involved in those stinkers

    Step 3 - A complete overhaul of the marketing, branding, and UI people

    Step 4 - Wrap up everything DOS/Win32 into a virtual machine and move forward with a clean slate while still supporting the gargantuan DOS/Win32 legacy code out there

    Step 5 - Start coming to terms with open source and open standards and figure out how Microsoft will fit in that type of world

    Hell, why not go all the way and grab some BSD source and build on top of that with the DOS/Win32 stuff running in a VM on top of it.

  • Re:I am a MS Fanboy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by adona1 (1078711) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:13PM (#23645897)
    I was thinking about this the other day, and I honestly don't think MS can do much to be innovative and maintain their position in the market. Take Apple as an example - a few years back they were gasping for breath with a very small market share. They didn't have all that much to lose, and so were able to make a break with something new (OSX) and come up with something different.

    Now, to put that against MS....they achieved a mindboggling share of the PC market, and were able to rest on their laurels for years. Now, they face competitors in a number of areas - OS, browsers, office suites - and their success is also what cripples them. They can't make a break with their software past the way Apple did, because if they do, they suddenly lose the connection with their established market. Think about it - if new MS products differ too radically from their old ones, or are completely incompatible etc, then suddenly the barrier between them and Linux/Apple etc is lowered dramatically. If you have to learn a new OS, for example, then there's as much chance of someone buying a shiny new Mac or picking up that free OS the kids are talking about as picking up the new MS OS and learning how to use it, not to mention the fact that MS and bugs/insecurity are a common perception...

    So IMHO, they can have innovation or market share. Not both.
  • hosted services (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:14PM (#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?
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:18PM (#23645945)
    Microsoft was evil under Dos.

    "DOS ain't done, til Lotus won't Run" was *well* known back in the 80's in my user group.

    Windows 95 did it all over again by certifying Word which cheated and used invalid API's.

  • Datacenters? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:19PM (#23645951)
    Didn't we hear about datacenters already? Ah, yeah... Google, right? Looks like MS is innovating again.
  • Re:followed by.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FuturePastNow (836765) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:22PM (#23645973)
    I bet that 20% time to Microsoft will involve trotting him out for conferences and speeches. This isn't Bill's last speech by a long shot.
  • by jcr (53032) <> on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:26PM (#23645999) Journal

    MS has started their decline, just like IBM did before them. Even if they recruit the greatest CEO in the world, all he can do is stabilize them and maybe get 3-5% annual growth.

    The question is though, is there a Lou Gerstner-level of executive talent out there who can turn Microsoft into an effective development organization? I don't think there is.

    All that Ballmer is going to do is continue to piss away shareholders' money on his ego trip of the month club. He's desperate to show that MS's dominance isn't just from the sheer luck of catching IBM's fumble.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:30PM (#23646039)
    Bill Gates has contributed more to modern computing than any other ten people together. Most people in IT owe a debt of gratitude because without his contribution most of you wouldn't have jobs. The open source community should consider that without Microsoft and it's dominant position created by Bill Gates incredible business savy there would be no open source movement as there would have been nothing to unite against. For those who would argue that he is not a great business man you would need to consider that he is one of the richest men in the world and you don't get there with luck alone. I have read these forums for several years and today is the last day I will bother. I have finally come to the conclusion that 80% of the MS bashers who write these comments are low level techy's who will never achieve a leadership role in any capacity. I jumped on the Windows band wagon in the early days. I rode the wave, made a million, sold the business, and started another. Everything I have done in IT has been based on Windows and MS products. My family has prospered because of this great man and his vision. So bash away you junior IT wannabe's, I'm going to miss Bill Gates. You will simply find someone else to blame for your lack of skill and influence.
  • by maz2331 (1104901) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:40PM (#23646113)
    Looks like Bill G has run out of vision, and is now moving back to the good old mainframe days.

    That's innovation?

  • by Giltron (592095) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:00PM (#23646269)
    Things are moving into the "cloud". The mass market is already shifting in this direction. Microsoft has never been the first to innovate but you can be sure when they commit to something they will go at full force. Microsoft has been very good at one thing : business. They know how to make money well.
  • by Zarf (5735) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:13PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:15PM (#23646371)
    Microsoft's success is 'due to our relationship with developers.' and Linux's failure to do so is exactly what Jonathan Birge wrote in his essay on February 26, 2008.
  • by Zarf (5735) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:24PM (#23646425) Journal

    For those who couldn't sit through the 80-minute video [] (or don't have Silverlight), Gates said that in the future Microsoft's mega data centers will have many millions of servers" []. 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 implode. Google will probably not be bated into this tactic since they probably don't even know how many operational servers they have right now. And, they probably haven't bothered to figure out how to tell yet either. Microsoft will trumpet the achievement with a week of press releases and conferences, get a stock pop, and about six months later in tiny un-noticed trade rags we'll find out that half the servers in the super-data-center are off-line due to an undisclosed flaw and it was covered up.

    So I predict a data center race with Microsoft declaring itself the winner and nobody who knows technology well really caring that much. However, it will play great and get a nice stock pop. It will also stick in Joe Blogs' mind and that will be better PR than you can buy.
  • by colourmyeyes (1028804) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:06PM (#23646709)
    WordPerfect was the word processor of choice for lawyers. The "Reveal Codes" function was very well-liked for formatting legal documents. In some shops it is still the preferred word processor.
  • Re:Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The End Of Days (1243248) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:20PM (#23646819)
    If that's what you see, you really oughta get your eyes checked.

    The opposite of Free Software zealots isn't proprietary software zealots. It's people who don't get emotionally involved in a machine.
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:22PM (#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 canuck57 (662392) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:42PM (#23646961)

    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.


    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?

  • by Tomy (34647) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:06PM (#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.
  • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:37PM (#23647277)
    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:hosted services (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BrainInAJar (584756) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:38PM (#23647285)
    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 KGIII (973947) <> on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @11:00PM (#23647439) Journal
    I opened this and followed this until I found the first idiocy required to make this post.

    Are you so inept or so blind that you're unable to see the benefits that Bill Gates, yes he, made to the industry that you are able to take advantage of today? Are you so unwilling to acknowledge that his business strategy, while certainly illegal in many areas, is simply brilliant?

    Have you ever met him, listened to him speak in "private" or the likes?

    I am guessing you are just a gibbering gibbon and, to hell with moderation points, have not one iota of a clue about who he is, what he thinks, what he's done, and what he's always been behind. You, like many, will confuse him and his ideals with that of Microsoft. Bill never really ran Microsoft, he was too much an idealist for business at that end. His "business strategy" that I mentioned earlier was putting low cost PCs into the hands of the masses so that he could offer a universal system. His DREAM was one of oneness. His ideal wasn't "open source" but one of "openly available to all who wanted to partake in the scene."

    I am not going to scroll down through these messages. I am unwilling to re-post this to everyone. Bill, and read carefully and judge my posts accordingly, is not someone whom I'm close enough to call a "friend" but I have had the chance to listen to him and I have had the chance to hear what he's had to say and have had the intellect to listen to. No, not on stage. There on campus...

    Now, I will say this carefully and as nicely as I can...

    Don't speak until spoken too and then say only "yes sir/ma'am" as you're unaware of the positive benefits he has had (don't count the attrocities of Microsoft as even remotely his blame) to what you are fortunate enough to experience today. It may not be proper to speak the truth here at this site but the reality is that, well, that is the reality.

    If you want to blame anything or anyone then blame stock holders and a loss of control. But don't you now, or ever, even remotely blame Bill until you've taken a minute away from the zealotry you have obviously fostered and actually comprehend the truth.

    And, before you mod me down or whinge 'cause I'm picking on you, know that I looked for the first retarded post and responded to it and that I, of all the people here, don't now and never will, blindly make assumptions based on ideals. (Yes, I'm a Microsoft user and a Linux user, and mostly a Mac hater but I'll use one if I must.)
  • Not For Me... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by maz2331 (1104901) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @11:30PM (#23647593)
    Under no circumstances will I ever use hosted apps and data for any business purposes. Our data stays on our systems in our facility - period.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @12:40AM (#23647939)
    ... because apparently my patience for bullshit is even shorter than yours.

    Props to Bill Gates and his company Microsoft, and his business strategies, which served to DRIVE software and hardware innovation for so many years, literally making the computing world what it is today.

    Smelly farts (actually, big piles of shit) to Bill Gates and Microsoft, and his business strategies, for what they have done to the computing world and the market(s) AFTER they reached the top -- about the last 10 or 12 years -- and helping far too much to make the computing world what it is today.

    I am referring to the underhanded monopolistic practices, the illegal deals, the stifling of innovation in the name of profits, and more... I could go on for a while. Hell, even just within the last year they were caught buying votes on an international standards question, and that is hardly the tip of their list of recent misdeeds.

    So, yeah. Bill Gates has done these industries (computing in general: hardware, software, and even theory) some tremendous good. (Not favors... his motives were completely selfish... but good.) And then, when he was in a position to do even more good, to drive the industry farther... he took the selfish route instead and did the opposite.

    20 years ago, I would have called Bill Gates a hero. And he deserved the title. Today, I would call Bill Gates a villain, and he has well earned the title. I can't wait to see him leave.
  • by Gazzonyx (982402) <scott,lovenberg&gmail,com> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:12AM (#23648583)
    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 school, and went about 20% above what I thought the box would need.

    It only lasted a year, give or take a month. The RAIDbox has four SATA drives and two IDEs. I found out that, apparently, spinning up a bunch of disks from a cold boot requires a huge surge of current.

    I can only imagine what a 48U rack of servers packing two 15,000 RPM SCSI (or one of those Sun RAID boxes... ok, I also have a thing for esoteric hardware and expensive toys) must do to a power distribution system when an entire rack goes online at the same time. And then the AC kicks it in to high gear (I'd assume... I've got two desktops, my RAID box and two servers in my apartment... my heat was broken this winter and I didn't notice.) about ten minutes later.

    Or am I completely off base and that's not why it takes so long to reboot a data center?
  • by PietjeJantje (917584) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:01AM (#23648833)

    Props to Bill Gates and his company Microsoft, and his business strategies, which served to DRIVE software and hardware innovation for so many years
    I'd say it's the opposite. Software and hardware innovation were driven by the market to new heights in the eighties, not seen before and not seen after. Innovation was when a seemingly endless stream of 8-bit and 16-bit computers were on the market, battling it out. Innovation was the ZX Spectrum, the Apple Macintosh, the Commodore Amiga.

    Wintel was THE DEATH of all that. With Wintel taking over the market in the nineties, competitive innovation was pushed out, and technological innovation has been hold back by the realities of financial and marketing forces ever since. In state of technology cycles, it was no longer important what could be done and how fast, but whether the previous cycle could still be financially leeched or had been excausted to such extend there should be innovation towards a new cycle.

    Bill has set us back 15 years.
  • by Tomas_Bakke (764144) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:33AM (#23648965) Homepage

    if new MS products differ too radically from their old ones, or are completely incompatible etc, then suddenly the barrier between them and Linux/Apple etc is lowered dramatically.
    Am I the only one seeing the connection between Windows Vista and the increased sales of Apple products ?

    I think Vista did differ too radically and the barrier has in fact been lowered.
    Not as dramatically as you picture, but enough to shift some marketshare balance.
  • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:27AM (#23649205)
    Hardly. Wintel was just the dominant brand of processor, we've not exactly been stuck with old single-core 486sx25 chips on ISA-bus mobos with 4Mb RAM now have we.

    No, MS software has driven increased hardware power due to its ever-increasing demands. As graphics were given more dominance in the OS, so graphics hardware got better to satisfy demand from consumers. The same applies to buses, RAM, networking, displays and storage all the way to better webcams.

    Wintel was probably a good thing for the industry as a whole, without a de-facto standard manufacturers advances would be diluted. With it, companies would know that there was a massive market that they could justify spending more money on.
  • by bondjamesbond (99019) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @08:05AM (#23650471) Journal
    Well, gosh, then that means that NO software has ever been free in the history of software.

SCCS, the source motel! Programs check in and never check out! -- Ken Thompson