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Microsoft Announces .net 428

Meenky writes: "I heard on NPR that Microsoft announced their newest product, .net. This is a product that integrates with windows using XML to store all of your information on Microsoft servers, so any computer in the world can be used as "your" computer. "
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Microsoft Announces ".net"

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  • then send you the bill for $1.00 per Word doc you opened,

    I don't know why everyone is so automatically against this. It boils down to economics. It's not going to be a $1/doc. What if it was a penny per doc, and you had access to every application in the entire industry? I think that would be mighty cool.

    For example, I don't have a copy of Visio, but there have been times that I would really have liked to have access to it. But it's never been worth going out and buying it [and there is nothing like Visio in the OSS world, but that's another story]. If I could pay a penny on an as-need basis, it would make great economic sense.

    Again, it all boils down to the cost. If the cost is low enough, it makes a lot of sense.


  • I think you've isolated the problem.

    There are many kinds of people in this world, and they sometimes overlap.

    1) Those who RTFM
    2) Those who beg #1 to please reinstall their computer for them because they can't RTFM or get their stuff to work
    3) Those who make software without manuals for #2; software without manuals doesn't work. If you don't explain it, and insist on hiding it, there might be something wrong with it. This is what would be called "suspicious behavior" anywhere else.
    4) Those who try to have useful discussions about these topics.
    5) Those who whine, bitch, moan, and flame #4.

    ...and your arguments are *completely* unsound, even for a rant *OR* a flame.

    It's like saying that apples have been oranges all along, I mean, what are those seeds for?

    So let me help you.

    1) UNIX does things properly.

    2) Windows does things in a way that allows the most people to be able to use it, at least theoretically.

    3) However, if #2 doesn't do things properly, how can it allow anyone to use it, ultimately? Also, how could knowing how to do a task help you when the procedure doesn't work?

    Give me my pipes, my C, and my terse documentation any day, until you can show me another system that *works* as well.

    Feel free to make things easier to use once you've at least gotten them working in the first place.
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [ncsu.edu].
  • This will probably be the standard of the future, and I think that the Linux community, in particular, should be paying close attention. In reality, *nix does this anyway (you just need good authentication) over LAN's; the step to WAN (ie. Internet) isn't nearly as great as MS's kernel rewrite. *Nix just doesn't use XML (mostly, I think, because it doesn't need to.)

    I think that the ubiquitous desktop is the wave of the future because it makes things better for people who don't adjust as quickly. I really don't have much of an opinion on MS doing it, but I think that everyone will go this way eventually. If MS published this as their idea, it would be quite false, since this has been around as an idea, as far as I know, since the mainframe days. Them employing that idea is fine, if it makes computers easier for the average person to use.

    Real issues may arise because of bugs and viri: everyone using the same software makes bugs and viri easy to create (ala nature w/uniform genetics) If only MS can use their desktop settings, then it may prove to be a hive for bugs and viri, like Outlook et al. That's a bit of another topic altogether, though. This settings-anywhere has a ton of issues that MS probably isn't even aware of (often because they like to reinvent the wheel, poorly). But, if they get it right, it would be quite neat.

    The only other issue I have is with the recurring charge that would accompany something online like that; this is something that average-joe would probably pay for on a recurring monthly basis, and that's fundamentally wrong, in my very humble opinion.

  • by ph0rk ( 118461 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @05:28AM (#980376)

    portable USB hard drive: $300
    spare USB cable, hub: $60
    bootable CDROM with OS of choice: $15
    assorted floppies, zips $30

    knowing M$ won't be reading my data: priceless.

  • Not owning "office.net" won't stop them. Remember that "windows2000.com" was owned by a company in digital imaging ("Windows on the World," I believe it was called) that also produced a software program called Windows 2000. Guess who owns that domain now.

    Similarly, "WindowsME.com" is for mechanically engineered window cleaners. I wonder how much money Microsoft will need to throw at them before they just sue WindowsME.com outright.
  • XML is basically a big ol' delimited text file. The only things separating it from a 30-year old text file is the fact that it's hierarchical and the fact that there are parsers that let you navigate the tree structure easily.

    So what's wrong about it? Plain-vanilla text files are so useful because they are both human- and machine-readable. I'll take UNIX's gaggle of config files over that binary monster of a registry any day. Yes, it's not the most efficient use of bits, but who cares?

    People are advocating XML is this great new technology for universal data exchange. Well, it's NOT... no more than a standard text file is.

    Ah, but you see, a standard text file is is a great technology for data exchange. It's easily debuggable, you don't have to worry about big-/little-endianess (not the mention the horrors of binary representation of reals) and everybody in the world can deal with ASCII.

    Yes, XML is just text structured in a certain way. That's a feature, not a bug.

  • ... that are based on XML. I certainly hope that's true!

    If it's like Office now, they'll be XML-ized binaries with hidden or tweaked DTDs that nobody will be able to use anywhere else.

  • " ... any computer in the world can be used as "your" computer."

    Hmm - that sounds like Back Orifice.

  • So it this the ultimate in scanning your "computer" by MSFT? Seems like this is the eaisest way for them to tell if you have pirated something. I might, maybe, sort of, kinda consider it if lots of bandwidth were included.
    -Mr. Macx

  • Now, all the next I Love You virus needs to do is hit the Microsoft servers, and their air tight security will result in the loss of data for millions.
  • by doctor_oktagon ( 157579 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @04:28AM (#980395)
    Knowing the big MS, it probably means *anyone* can use your computer from anywhere in the world!

  • by Diablerie ( 195323 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @06:18AM (#980396)
    Just out of (morbid) curiosity, I watched Gates' presentation about this .net thing... Somewhat amusing. A sampling of Bill Gates' claims:
    • Here's a good one... "Passwords are the weak link in today's networks." No, I think I'd disagree - the weak link is lousy security on systems such as *cough* Windows.
    • Unintentional slip? Gates said that information sharing is good. Hmm...
    • The .net servers will be running Windows 2000, which has apparently set "world-setting benchmarks" for speed and reliability. I was under the impression that benchmarks showed that Win2K is slower than even WinNT.
    • The "core" of .net is XML. It was not explained why this is good, or how this particular brand of text formatting (or "protocol", as Gates insists on calling it) will be used.
    • Gates repeatedly alluded to "per-minute charges" for the required broadband access. If this .net thing flies and people actually use it, then MS is set to suck a LOT of money from hapless consumers.
    • Apparently, the PC "required" a "universal platform" (line Windows) in order for applications to be created. Please. I suppose that Gates is conveniently forgetting the many problems and incompatibilies which his "common platform" has caused.
    For those who are interested, technology "highlights" include:

    • "Smartlinks" - it looks like Microsoft's .net client will automatically scan and highlight stuff for its internal list of keywords, and then place a "customized menu" associated with those keywords. Think MS Word's annoying autocorrect misfeature on steroids.
    • A command line! It seems the people at MS have discovered that command lines are actually useful! Unfortunately, then they proceeded to butcher the concept by adding "natural language" queries. This utterly reeks of DWIM (Do What I Mean) and we all know the problems with that. Case in point: the demonstrator entered a typo and that screwed up the demonstration script, forcing him to restrat the query demonstration.
    • MS, partnered with Samsung, is developing what looks like a cross between a cell phone and a PalmPilot, which runs Internet Explorer.
    • A "tablet PC" (and extra-large PalmPilot style device) which runs WIndows 2000 and is meant to function as an "electronic book" onto which you can download books from the net. Warning! Warning! They advertise one-click buying though the tablet PC and thus the .net sevice; I guess MS expects up to trust it with our credit card numbers too...
    • A pretty hokey handwriting recognition system. What was not explained is how or why MS expects their system to work better than anything else out there.
  • by Spoing ( 152917 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @05:34AM (#980397) Homepage
    "People, XML is just a syntax. Unless the DTDs and schemas they use for .NET are fully documented, only Microsoft's own .NET-enabled products will be able to anything useful with the data."

    Yeah, and the XML tags will all end up looking like this;

    <binary>!%!@#!1234@#14%%1551%!!!#$%!$!#%SAF@#!#% !1141234<binary>
  • Maybe, maaaaybe sometime in the future, when T1 lines are standard and cheaply available in all homes and businesses, will networked apps be reality

    Oh, so you mean MS is actually looking into the future for once? Good for them, it's about time.

    Whether we like it or not, this is the way things will go. It's not only cheaper, but it's easier for maintainance reasons (ie. if your copy of Word doens't work, just download another one).

    Once the net becomes a completely (like 99.9%) reliable medium, people will be less hesitant about leaving their docs on remote servers. Large corporations will still have their own servers to handle private docs, but most people and small businesses will just encrypt their stuff (optional) and upload it. Would you not leave things in your fridge now because you're afraid the power will go out??

    But of course, the main issue is giving the masses enough bandwidth to make this worthwhile. While cable is nice, it'll end up being the 'poor man's' high speed connection in 5 years. Fiber is going down fast, and high speed wireless is going to be big.

    There's also matters of security and convinence (can you get to the networked Word if you are at 32000 ft from LA to Tokyo?)

    yes. A major airline (Continental?) just signed a contract with a provider to give internet and e-mail access at 32000 ft. In 5-10 years (where this net apps thing is aimed), the net will be EVERYWHERE, because people will demand it. MS is going to be releasing this stuff 'soon', but they know it's not going to be replacing their OS and Office suite packages any time soon.
  • Whatever. In that case, they've re-implemented either

    • That stupid little "Briefcase" feature that everyone deletes
    • Palm HotSync
    • CVS
    on a larger scale. This is not new tech, except that they're possibly making it more popular among the end-user crowd.

    Regarding the voice recognition, etc., I'll believe it when you can get it at Best Buy.

    Regarding the community envy, I think you've got that backwards on this one. MS ridiculed the NC concept (which is a superset of this "new invention"), and now they're touting it as the Next Great Thing.

  • by dougman ( 908 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @04:30AM (#980405)
    Gee, so I can look forward to the glorious promise of my PIII 1Ghz Screamin' Expensive Super-Charged Tower Of Power From Hell becoming...uhmm..a dumb terminal?



  • Actually XML is very intriguing as an RPC mechanism. First of all, just think of no versioning problems. Upgraded one side? No problem, the old servers or clients will just read out what they need. Also, imagine store and forwarding of RPC requests 8) You could audit log or stash requests in some space, and then serve them out. It provides the best of both worlds of messaging and RPC. Plus it's platform-neutral and human-readable.
  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @06:19AM (#980411)
    My impression is that not only will there be a pay per use, but you'll probably have to buy at a flat fee (though highly reduced from the current software price) some license, then get the per use charge on top of that. I can't see them not having some 'barrier' to every app, as those apps that have limited use (visio, for example, I've only used twice ever, and most of what I can do in that can be done in Word art, abet not as easily) will not earn them the same fees as those that are ubiquitious in most places.
  • 1) Those who RTFM; 2) Those who beg #1 to please reinstall their computer for them because they can't RTFM or get their stuff to work

    LOL! How accurate! Here's a real life quote for ya:

    "Sure, I could [RTFM] but it's more exciting to think I've screwed up the entire system and lost everything." --My Brother-in-law, VP of Production for a Net Media company, upon calling me for the umpteenth time to help him fix his bleedin' NT nonlinear editing box that he continually fscks with despite how me and a thousand OEM techs have warned him how fragile it is...

  • Ahhh! But think more deeply! MS has just invented a new holiday. When the Great Registry in the Sky gets corrupted, the whole planet (except the MS server drones restoring backups) takes a day off.

    You'll get up in the morning and see that the coffee maker, TV, radio, traffic lights and computer aren't working, the banks and stores are closed, or else only trading by barter, and you'll say to yourself "Ah! Another Registry Day! I can go back to sleep."

  • by Azog ( 20907 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @06:22AM (#980419) Homepage
    Yeah, you would think so. But companies do funny things.

    The last place I worked, they were leasing Dell desktops. By the time the machines had reached the end of their useful life, they had been paid for many times over. It would have been far, far cheaper to just buy them up front. And everyone knew it!

    But due to "cash flow" and other accounting BS, they were leased anyway.

    So there is no _economic_ reason that Microsoft could not successfully lease software. Companies will do it to avoid the budget hit of purchasing 1000 copies of Office 2000 at the same time. Remember, you will have to upgrade everyone at once, or document version incompatibility issues will kill you.

    Or... companies will say "fsck this" and switch to free software. Linux should be pretty good for desktop machines by the end of the year, what with Mozilla, the new Gnome, new KDE, new office apps, the 2.4 kernel, and XFree86 4.0.

    (And don't bother to tell me it's good now... yes, I run it now, but I wouldn't make my parents use it just yet. This Christmas I will probably switch them over.)

    Torrey Hoffman (Azog)
  • $10 per Windows restart

    we're already paying this, at least. our [user's] time is worth money, too. everytime win* crashes and I either lose data or have to just waste my time with senseless reboots, I lose productivity.

    figuring a silicon valley computer professional is worth in the neighborhood of $100/hr and a reboot (with their scandisk being invoked) can take, say, 3 minutes (all told), that's: $5 per reboot. and who gets thru the day without at least 2 reboots of win*? there's your $10 already ;-)


  • Uh, and you think Microsoft employees can't log into any system and have full access to their own email etc?

    Well, if they use Sun tools they of course could

  • by Anm ( 18575 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @06:29AM (#980427)

    XML is better than a standard delimited text file for several reasons:

    • It includes standard markup to reference sub file information that is not line/character dependant through id attributes.
    • It is character set independent, providing mappings from almost all major character sets to Unicode.
    • It defines standard ways of spanning documents across files through external entities. This alos allows a degree of reuse.
    • Internal entities allow blocks of text to be referenced/'instantiated' through the document, not unlike a C #define statement. Good for details tha might change often.
    • DSSSL and XSLT stylesheets provide a standard means of converting file formats and exposing particular details of the data.

    Unfortunately, it fell short of it's biggest potential achievement: to allow the layering of information from multiple sources. While XML Namespace take care of naming conflicts, they provide NO guidelines on how and where to use them. As such, there is no proper way to validate a document under more than one DTD. And because of that, we are now seeing standards that are definitively not validatable under certain DTDs. XML should have stuck with SGML styled architectures, despite how complicated they are to implement.

    As for the speed issue, XML should have been written with a parallel binary format in mind.

  • by Loge ( 83167 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @06:32AM (#980437)
    Before it can do that, people need to decide on schemas which explain how to structure a given form of data. Yeah, like that'll happen any time soon.

    Exactly, and with this announcement, Microsoft is doing just that - stepping up to the bar and stating that it will define a broad set of schemas applying to both web services and clients. Microsoft is essentially trying to impose a defacto standard on how XML information will be passed around the web, using the strength of its desktop position as the lever.

    Indeed, the user interface part of this announcement is particularly intriguing. As you say:
    And they create a special car browser to display the number of cupholders in their cars
    This is exactly what the Microsoft .NET Universal Canvas is all about. It provides an XML compound information architecture that integrates browsing, communications, and document authoring into a single, unified environment that will be optimized to work with all the new XML-based services Microsoft is defining.

    Interestingly, Windows itself winds up playing a peripheral role in this scheme. As Microsoft's white paper points out, the Windows OS will be renamed Windows .NET and offered as a service on a subscription basis, just like MSN. Since Windows will no longer technically be a "product", it makes you wonder whether Microsoft developed this architecture in an effort to work around the potential fall-out from the anti-trust ruling.
  • Well, at least I payed the Internic bill in December.
    Back in December when Michael Chaney [doublewide.net] payed for passport.com, I payed the bill for microsoft.NET.
    See for yourself! http://www.worldwidewait.com/ms/ms.html [worldwidewait.com]
    No, I never received a check like Michael did...
  • by Thomas Charron ( 1485 ) <twaffle@@@gmail...com> on Friday June 23, 2000 @05:41AM (#980442) Homepage
    After reading the white papers, and all of the marketing materials, I've come to this conculsion..

    Apperently, now that Microsoft has been judged a monopoly, they've decided this:

    "Welp, they found us out. We might as well go whole hog now".

    Everything in this Microsoft.NET platform, which they push as being 'The next generation of the Internet' is so based on Microsoft run service it isn't even funny. They name dropped every service they offer, from extending email off of 'Hotmail', to instant messaging based on MSIM.

    In some ways, they're getting better, using open protocols such as SOAP, and using storage, etc, using XML. In other ways, the beast is getting worse..
  • I found it ironically funny that, checking DNS records, the owner of the obvious domain name for MS's latest techno-marketing initiative, dot.net, is a guy from Sun.

    Domain Name: dot.net
    Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact: Comay, David S (DC115) David.Comay@ENG.SUN.COM

    This must be another example of Microsoft "leadership" and "innovation" at work... :)

    -LP (not connnected with Sun myself)
  • If they can bill for it, they know you used it. There goes your privacy. If they can bill for it they can disable it. There goes your security.
  • Well, if you notice, I included semi-colons.

    As in, I've had many problems when using a mixture of NT 3.51 and NT 4.0 machines, or now with a mixture of 4.5 and 2K machines. I've also had nightmares where Windows 95 and Windows 98 do NOT play nicely with the same profiles.

    Same client, different version.
  • by gwalla ( 130286 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @07:33AM (#980454) Homepage

    According to this article in the San Francisco Chronicle [sfgate.com], their innovation sounds highly dubious. Some examples:

    • In addition to voice control -- a staple of Microsoft videos for almost a decade -- the new software would offer users new ways to control use of their personal information and a new ``type-in bar,'' a sort of natural- language command line where users could issue instructions to their machines. If the computer needed clarification or additional information, it would talk back, out loud, in a synthesized human voice.

      A command line. Wow. With a screen reader! Funny, a friend of mine (who happens to be blind) had something like this years ago...it's called using a DOS app with a screen reader.

    • Another feature, called Smart Tags, would enable the PC to recognize specific types of information, such as dates and personal and company names, and give them appropriate special treatment.

      News flash: Microsoft invents metadata!

    • .NET programs would also make it easier for users to combine different types of data, including video, into their documents -- another long-promised capability that Microsoft has now dubbed Universal Canvas.

      Anyone here remember Apple's OpenDoc? Remember how well it was received? Embeddable content like graphics files is okay, but who in hell needs to embed movies or sounds in their word processor documents? This will fall flat on its @$$.

    Frankly, the only new part of this whole thing is the fact that they'll be cramming all of this into a few XML formats. Can you imagine the complexity required of the DTDs for this? Yikes!

    Zardoz has spoken!
  • It would seem that MS finally figured out how to 'beat' open source. Their solution: become the world's largest ASP, offering the industry-standard MS Office and other business products online to any customer with a decent-speed Internet connection, modern web browser, and deep pockets. They can adopt all the 'open standards,' even make the damn stuff cross-platform compatible, and still hold the reigns, because they don't have to show their server code to anyone so long as it's not distributed.

    Assuming they lose their Supreme Court appeal, watch for the Windows group to become sacrifical goats. Since Windows is far from the best server solution in most cases, and IE can be ported wherever they want to put it, the applications group will literally have no use for it once everything is piped through a browser.

    Plus, they can sidestep piracy, users reluctant to upgrade, and most of the other things that customers do to sap their revenue machine. I've got to hand it to whoever dreamed up their long-term strategy; it's sharp. But then, I guess MS has always survived more on its aggressive management style than its technology.

    Personally, I'm not sure how I feel about this overall. Maybe if their record were better on privacy and security issues, the thought of being able to keep their code off my hard drive would actually outweigh the perpetual upgrade serfdom that businesses are going to face.

    Now I understand why MS put so much time and money into making IE5 for the Mac a decent browser -- it's a proof-of-concept for their ability to outlive Windows. Hats off to the world's most effective monopoly; they've once again found a way to effectively distort the fabric of reality with their black-hole like mass.
  • First they created symbolic links, and now the give us X. Any day now, they'll get around to working on stability.
  • If they switch the format for the Office suite to XML, that means we'd have a fighting chance to develop compatible applications, even without MS publishing the schema. That would be nice.

  • by Chelloveck ( 14643 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @06:40AM (#980466) Homepage
    Uh, and you think Microsoft employees can't log into any system and have full access to their own email etc?

    I really have to wonder... Do they? Email, possibly, but given the PC-centric setup of every other office I've ever seen running Microsoft's products I really have to wonder whether or not someone in Redmond can sit down and be productive on any system on campus.

    My current employer is a Microsoft shop. Most of us who have used more than one machine ended up turning off roaming profiles because they got completely hosed. (Try logging in at a desktop and a laptop simultaneously and watch that profile go south!) Even when you can login to another machine, what good does it do you if all your tools are on the local harddrive on your primary machine? If all the machines in the building are set up with the same set of apps, no problem. Otherwise you're in deep doo-doo. Okay, MS-Office is probably installed everywhere. You can access your email and Word docs. What about anything else? Can I sit down at an ME's desk and compile code? Can an ME sit down at my desk and fire up AutoCAD? No way!

    Contrast this to a previous employer which was a Sun shop. Everything was server-centric just an X-Terminal on your desk. It does display only, with all your data stored in a central location. All your data. Not to mention all your apps. Even in the pre-X-Terminal days when we were using Sun3s all the data and major apps were stored centrally. The local machine just held the standard SunOS image, and every machine was set up identically. You really could login on any machine in the building and do everything you could do at your own desk.

    And, somehow, the UI was faster even piping the display across the network than Windows is locally. Go figure.

  • by chickenbird ( 54590 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @05:52AM (#980473)
    People are advocating XML is this great new technology for universal data exchange. Well, it's NOT... no more than a standard text file is. Both parties still have to agree and understand the format and structure of the data before it becomes useful, so that's definitely not a progression over any existing technology.

    Of course it is not necessarily a technology for universal data exchange (although, HTML, despite its rather horrible and semantically-devoid implementation of SGML/XML, has to some extent shown that it is), but rather a technology for domain-specific data exchange. There there are many domains in which people HAVE already agreed on a common set of descriptive elements for their given domain. Take DTDs such as the TEI, APA, DocBook, or any of the military's MIL/IETM DTDs, not to mention the DTDs used by the IRS, Sun Microsystems, the DOE, the Library of Congress, and the ATA, etc. etc. etc. Having worked with SGML (XML is merely SGML with a little less clutter) for more than ten years now, I can tell you that it is very useful.

    Senior Programmer/Analyst
    Brown University Scholarly Technology Group
  • The Salon article [salon.com] on the subject contains this quote from Steve Ballmer, "We will run this with the same kind of openness that we've run Windows."

    Run! Run for your lives!

  • by kevin lyda ( 4803 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @07:49AM (#980478) Homepage
    "just like they switched to appending the year to the name of the software after Windows 95 came out."

    you mean like algol-60 and fortran-77?
  • Unfortunatly, I do not think this is about piracy. The way microsoft wants it, piracy of microsoft products will be impossible

    If you've followed microsoft for the past several years, they've been constantly, consistantly, pushing the "rented" software concept. Their goal is that you don't own any software, you just pay microsoft a monthly fee for the right to use their products or have it cut off. This is a first, and somewhat well disguised step in this direction - everyone reliant on microsoft servers.

    I hope you realize what everyone "renting" software from microsoft would do to the world. You want to talk control... your computer would become nothing if not connected to microsoft. No files, no programs, no operating system. Linux? Hardly - every program, to be widely accepted, must reside on microsoft's program servers. You want to talk about hard to reverse engineer, you don't even have a copy of the programs to work with - if you hack up your OS to allow such program-hacking, your changes will be lost the next time you boot. This is microsoft's dream - a system which can't really be torn down easily, all centralized and reliant on microsoft. Convoluted programs, protocols, and legal recourse for reverse engineering - the microsoft anticompetitive dream.

    Even moreso is the legal aspect. It seems clear that the government will eventually wisen up to shrink-wrapped licenses that have unreasonable purchase restrictions. However, there is little legislation, and almost no constitutional support, for limiting service restrictions. They can cut your support for any reason they deem proper, and you have little legal recourse.

    I think its apparent to all of us here, that not having *any* rights over our software is bad. But this is what microsoft wants - and this is a major step in that direction.

    .. not to mention it would significantly increase microsoft's revenue...

    Rage against the dying of the light. Fight plans like this to the end.

    - Rei
  • > Can they then unplug from the network and continue to work on their notebook, and can they also do it through their cellphone, a handheld, their TV? Didn't think so.

    Ummmm... wrong! If you are trying to claim that accessing personal information like email and documents from any device can't be done with existing technology, you're full of it. There are scores of companies out there right now that allow you to access your information from devices and handhelds (I work for one!). And yes, I mean anyone's device, not just any device. Unplugging isn't a problem, either, that's what local caching and synchronization are for. Haven't you ever used a Palm?

    If you think this .Net initiative is something new, you've drunk the MS marketing Kool-Aid. Which is just what they're counting on.
  • by Squeeze Truck ( 2971 ) <xmsho@yahoo.com> on Friday June 23, 2000 @07:51AM (#980485) Homepage
    Whatever. In that case, they've re-implemented either

    -That stupid little "Briefcase" feature that everyone deletes
    -Palm HotSync



    In any case, you're right. All of this has been done before.

  • yes, html has been of use but if you'll notice one of those uses has not been standardisation or compatability.

    w/o trying to i've written a web form that won't work with ie and will work with netscape (though netscape on windows sometimes fails). urgh.
  • Maybe the data format of the future will be GZipped XML files, as compression works fairly well on text.

    The GNOME desktop environment uses XML files for various things already, and these files are indeed GZIPped due to their large size.

    XML was meant to fill a void that existed in the markup language world. When processing HTML, nothing can be said about it's content. HTML only describes the formatting of the content.

    XML was designed (for example) to allow intelligent searching of documents, among other things. Given the availability of parsers in almost any language (including Java of course) this does make universal data exchange a possibility.

    But us veterans know something will fuck it up.

  • Microsoft's spent a lot of time talking about "XML" and "Windows everywhere" and all kinds of software buzzwords. I don't suppose they've considered the hardware and pipes necessary to bring this "dream(?)" about.

    For one thing: ASP's will require application server farms and numerous routers and firewalls that are up 24/7, with 99.99999999% uptime on each, that can handle near-100% CPU loads and lots of HD accessing without fail. Lots of RAID. Lots of 64-node machines. Expensive stuff. It seems like a bit much, but if MS expects businesses and some home users to rely on someone else's machines in another state, or even country, there'd better be some very hefty, extremely reliable hardware, running on some bloody robust OSes. I don't think we have anything yet that's up to the task; not Linux, not *BSD, not even Windows. Hell, most commerical Unices may not even be up to the task.

    Then again, Win9x has trained people to believe that it's normal for computers to die at least once a week, so maybe occasional service outages won't be noticed; the blame will just shift from the home OS to the ASP.

    As well...how about the connections needed? Keep in mind, the ASPs (or Microsoft itself; whoever will host these massive monster machines) will require huge pipes; they'd better be ready to take the equivalent of a Slashdotting every minute of every business day, sometimes worse. This, on top of normal network/Internet traffic. The backbone providers will make a mint, assuming their techs don't go insane from trying to handle the load. I doubt home users will accept seeing Word run at a snail's pace if their machine is an Athlon or Pentium III because they're still living off a 56k modem. MS will seriously have to put their apps on a diet if they expect info to transfer efficiently over networks. Perhaps developing cellphone and webpad thin clients will drum this into their heads, though I have little reason to believe that will happen.

    What MS is demanding will require massive infrastructre improvements, and fast. Invest in chipmakers, RAM producers, and backbone companies now; they're about to become very rich along with MS.

    For the record...I will use Linux even more now; I like having my data on my hard drive in my posession, where if something fails I know I can fix it myself instead of waiting for the ASP to do it. I also know I can encrypt my data if I want - what guarantees of security will MS promise for data stored elsewhere?

    What I'd rather see MS pushing is a more distributed system, where "Windows everywhere" means your own devices can access each other from anywhere. I'd like something where I can still have my massive home machine to do my work and store my data, but have that machine easily accessible by my laptop, webpad, or even cell phone from anywhere else - and only by my devices through some form of cryptography and identity checking. I think that would be an even better form of distributed computing and information sharing, because the user still would have most of the control over their data and programs. It would also eliminate the subscription model problem; I absolutely refuse to drop $10 a month plus whatever so I can keep working on my essays and keep my budget up to date. I already feel sorry for university students that get suckered into this; they'll pay through the nose somehow, either directly to an ASP or to their university so the instituion can pay the charges for this scehme. That's being more tied to a software provider (either MS or an ASP) than I'd like to be.

  • Hmz, I think its kinda harsh and very arrogant to call tools like Dreamweaver "inadequate". It focusses on nothing and leaves the user completly open to do -anything- with the site that he or she wants to do. Either write code from the bottom up and look at the results or drag and drop and watch the code being added. Its your choice. So may I conclude here that this man is saying that total freedom is inadequate? Since Dreamweaver is a well known product I think its quite hard to miss it.

    No, what they are talking about is building functional websites. Not about stupid basic 4 year old HTML.

    Imagine buying something from amazon, choosing to have the coupon amazon gives you from the webbrowser into Money. The point is at the moment the web is (for the most part) one way, and context free. With XML, everything will have meaning.

    So basicly Microsoft finally managed to grasp the idea behind Unix? I mean; c'mon.. I've been doing this kind of stuff for quite some years now. Allthough I have to admit; in a total different environment. Instead of clicking I'm entering "cd /net.priv/dave/updates" to access the computer of my friend Dave in the US and check out the latest updates he has

    If you think that's the same thing, you're totally deluded.

    Gee, who needs computers, I have an abacus.

    It's like saying that unix has been doing COM all along, I mean, what is "|" for?

    Or saying that C++ is crap cause C can do it all.

    It's not just the concept, it's being able to do it PROPERLY and in a way that allows the MOST people to be able to use it. This is NOT something is good at. In fact Unix is absolutly CRAP at it.
  • Remember what MS said when Sun advocated the same thing? "That's ridiculous! The computer is the comoputer, and the network is the network!"

    I guess that desparation leads to open minds. What will Redmond "invent" next? NIS?

  • by BilldaCat ( 19181 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @04:32AM (#980504) Homepage
    They're just setting up to take over .COM and .ORG, then they are going to get revenge and go after .GOV. :)

    www.microsoft.mil .. now THAT'S scary.
  • People are advocating XML is this great new technology for universal data exchange. Well, it's NOT... no more than a standard text file is.

    Perhaps I should have phrased that statement slightly differently. I'm not saying that XML isn't good, I'm saying it's not real new and it's not real revolutionary. XML can be great in the same way a text file can be great, only slightly better due to its hierarchical structure. But to call it revolutionary (as that marketers at Microsoft and elsewhere do) is a joke.

    Do I sound bitter? It's because I'm working on a project right now that involves heavy use of XML FOR NO GOOD REASON. It's screwing the project up because it's totally misused... some pointy-haired manager thought that XML was a cool buzzword so he insisted that XML be the basic for this application. Has this ever happened to you? :-)

  • by FascDot Killed My Pr ( 24021 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @04:32AM (#980506)
    "...integrates with windows...so any computer in the world can be used as "your" computer."

    Any computer running Windows, anyway. Oh and you have to install our software.

    Prediction #1: We will never hear about this again.
    Prediction #2 (somewhat related to #1): ASP's are never going to take off in a big way, at least not for "desktop" software. With the possible exception of email service (for small businesses), ASP's are going to be the 2001 equivalent of the 1996-7 "push technology".
  • Uh, and you think Microsoft employees can't log into any system and have full access to their own email etc?

    duh. it's obvious this is different.
    • an XML file can be validated against its DTD
    • if people share the same DTD, they can easily synchronize their data
    • if people use different DTD's for the same kind of data (e.g. an address book), it should be easy to convert the data between both DTD's using a simple query language or something like XSL

    And I also don't think that speed /should/ be an issue because XML is supposed be used for middle-ware -- there still is a database that gets a query and returns the matching items (you don't really want to put 100 GB of your enterprise's information into a text file ;-)). But for interchange, XML beats the rest. One of the reasons Oracle pushes Java and XML, they want to be everywhere, and both 'buzzword technologies' are designed to be cross-platform.
  • by Huusker ( 99397 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @09:57AM (#980513) Homepage

    Gates repeatedly alluded to "per-minute charges" for the required broadband access. If this .net thing flies and people actually use it, then MS is set to suck a LOT of money from hapless consumers.

    Yep. Microsoft has been fascinated for years with the idea of a per-use licensing scheme, but they couldn't find a way to make it work technically. Any PC can be hacked.

    But what if part of the app is sitting on an server in Redmond? The new Office 2003 will have the GUI and some local editing logic on the PC. Global stuff like find-and-replace get executed on the Redmond server.

    This is an incredibly beautiful idea (from Microsoft's standpoint). It provides total control as well as absolute protection from piracy. They don't even need to worry about backward compatibility. Just put up the new version while updating the Word documents in Redmond to the new format.

    The only danger is somebody creating their own server farm that is compatible with the PC front-end (basically replacing the Redmond side). That can easily be delt with by using strong asymmetric encryption (a la Authenticode) so the front-end demands the server present the proper Microsoft-signed digital certificate. And if the front-end is hacked around this, there are always the lawyers to fall back on.

    This is really beautiful. They can finesse the whole anti-trust case. They can cheerfully publish the Win32 API and the OS source code for us lamers while they shove all of the new technology onto untouchable servers.

  • Gee, what ever happened to roaming profiles, Windows Terminal Services and the like? Not only is WTS faster than X, it's much easier to setup and use. My university's ITS department has a nice roaming profile setup that works fine. Students don't have their own PCs on campus you know.
  • Another advantage of XML that other posts have not mentioned is that you can have structural rules for an XML file in a DTD document, so you can tell if the XML file you have is a valid instance of the type of document you thought you had.

    When XML schemas come into wide use things will be even better as you can do some type validation.
  • Has this ever happened to you?

    Now that you mention it...we just went Gold today on a product at my workplace which mis-uses XML to obtain buzzword compliance!

    And the worst part is, the developer who created the obfuscated, uncommented mess which I was thrust into the responsibility of making work (and doing it right was not an option--I asked) disavowed all responsibility for it as soon as it compiled and instead went on to do other "cool" things. </bitter>

    Moving off-topic here...
    My favorite proposed mis-use of XML these days is what Sun is advocating for JSP/EJB: Using XML to create "Custom Actions" to effectively act as a middleware layer. What it instead does is create a set of XML wrappers around beans so that instead of having a clean, efficient method of accessing them, you have a whole bunch of extra parsing, indirection, and code execution. Just the thing for a high-transactional volume system. Sounds like somone at Sun is still pissed at OMG for dissing RMI to me.


    I don't even speak for all of the voices in my head, much less my employer.

  • by alexhmit01 ( 104757 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @04:32AM (#980531)
    Local profiles become corrupted all the time. Roaming profiles get screwy between different versions (NT 3.51 -> 4.0 -> 5.0/2K; Windows 95 - 98). Over a 10 Megabit connection, they are slow to setup if that machine wasn't the last one you used. Over a DSL connection (a client is using DSLs and a private network to run a cheap Wan...), it is unbearably slow, and thats a dedicated DSL for that computer.

    This sounds like a horrible idea. If it is "because we can" that's pretty cool, just for the neato factor (although possible now with LMHOSTS files), but as a real approach to computing... right... Unless they are planning to REALLY strip down what goes in a profile (a good idea) and try to make the concept work... but even then, the point seems dubious.
  • This is a product that integrates with windows using XML to store all of your information on Microsoft servers, so any computer in the world can be used as "your" computer. "

    I've been working with XML for about six months now. I would have to say it's one of the stupidest bizzword-fads I've ever seen

    XML is basically a big ol' delimited text file. The only things separating it from a 30-year old text file is the fact that it's hierarchical and the fact that there are parsers that let you navigate the tree structure easily.

    People are advocating XML is this great new technology for universal data exchange. Well, it's NOT... no more than a standard text file is. Both parties still have to agree and understand the format and structure of the data before it becomes useful, so that's definitely not a progression over any existing technology. Also, XML is not fast... nor was it designed to be.

  • by 090h ( 129325 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @04:34AM (#980538)
    Gee, Sun has been able to do this for years! Sun employees can log into any system in any office, and have full access to any of their information. Email, calendaring, files, etc. In fact, I do believe that it where the original name of "iPlanet" came from ...
  • Yes, licensing is always a concern. Speaking as someone who has dealt with Microsoft in a business setting for night 5 years however, I must say I have never seen MS do anything that would even remotely undercut:

    a) their yearly license-fee harvest, or
    b) the desktop (viz: windows).

    .net, Thin clients, Terminal Servers, Java, whatever. They make interesting month-to-month copy for ZD, but those "ground floor" adopters always get burned in the end when MS realizes it no longer has to pay lip service to them to appear "with it". Savvy managers know this, and wont want to touch it with a 10-meter cattle prod until most of their business partners are already using it. Read: it simply will never get off the ground, even if it is Microsoft.
  • Hear, hear, hear !!!

    The only reason it has taken off is because people think "Gee, it looks like HTML". And when will people wake up to the fact that seeing <PRICE>20</PRICE> tells you little... :) The worst thing about XML is that there is no consistent data/object scheme, even though this should have been a breeze.


    and lots of other combos :) Assuming you can agree on what PRICE even is (eg includes Sales Tax etc).

    I guess it is reasonable (and heavily verbose) to mark up with XML... but it really is kind of sad to see it being such a big hit, when much better thought out interoperability schemes get no press (such as KIF, KQML, FIPA).

    All the effort in XML seems directed towards making it work better in the directions of querying/relatiting concepts.

    XML is fine for CSS.... and maybe for making previously cryptic configuration files more editable. But think about MacOS X - Are the XML files really going to be any more easily understood than the old UNIX/X config files ?

    Widget.window.x = 10
    Widget.window.y = 10



    Nothing against XML, one just has to ask, what does it really buy me ?


  • Pull your head out of your desktop for a second there, and take a look at the real world. By that I mean, look at the business world. Case in point: the company I work for pays rougly $40,000 dollars PER LICENSE for software to compile and simulate Verilog code. We own 4 licenses and are purchasing 4 more, and I still run out of licenses sometimes. Would we have a use for an ASP with a large block of licenses, where we either A) Pay only for the time that we spend actually using the simulator, or B) Buy "timeshare" block during the day where we can use the VCS simulator? I believe we would. We have a relatively fast connection to the internet, and the Verilog simulator we use is nearly all text input and output anyway (input 100k of Verilog code, output waveform analysis and gate-level code), would run just fine on a company 300 miles away over a T1. Hell, I'm on an NT box right now and I use an X-Server to get to the simulator anyway(Not for long of course, there's an Ultra/10 sitting on my floor waiting for the MIS guys to set it up...because, of course, I'm not allowed to touch it yet...bah) I believe there's a huge market for this, and the only thing stopping me from going out and doing this myself is the lack of several million dollars in startup cash to buy the initial licenses and servers. I guarantee you though, there will be millions made (and probably are already) by those who get together the venture capital and start "renting out" high-dollar licensed software like that used in simulation, or the large expensive product databases used by small businesses like glass cutters (just the example that pops into my head because I used to work for a auto/home glass installer). I agree with you that the microsoft .net idea is a useless design. But ASP's, while they may never catch on in the home-user market, are gonna be big big big in the commercial and industrial sector. I only wish I could get in on the ground floor - but of course, I'm only 20, still a student. I'll have to see what the hot technology will be when I graduate in two years...
  • Yeah, I love this. Check out this train of thought.

    M$ wires network access into Windows, Office, and other M$ apps in such a way that these products communication with M$'s servers is involuntary (for the user).
    M$ then builds into this network communication framework required registration number checking, and personal registration.
    M$ puts in checks to make sure that all the software on on the machine is registered to users that match. Example: If Windows is registered to Big Bird, and Office is registered to Kermit TheFrog, then their servers report your machine for possible piracy.
    M$ checks your registration number against all others already registered.
    M$ then stops 'selling' Office, they start requiring a net connection and sell term (1, 2, or 5 year) licenses.
    M$ checks your copy of office from time to time to make sure that your license is not expired and if it is then they send a kill signal to your copy of Office (Time Bombs and other such fun self-destructive software being made legal by DMCA), which then deletes a needed .dll or does something which disables it.

    Now here is the part I love. This is where the fun begins.

    Some Cracker buys a copy of Office does something to invalidate the license or anything to get M$ to send the kill signal to the copy of Office.
    The machine is running a packet sniffer which logs everything. This file gets analyzed and reverse engineered.
    Now the cracker writes an program that spoofs a Microsoft IP and sends 'Office self-destruct signals' to either random computers, network broadcast addresses, every IP in the network of a hated company, or just sends packets a la network scan method (,,, etc).
    Ten thousand script kiddies download this program and wreak havok. Leaving a mangled pile of corporate softawre in it's wake.
  • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @08:09AM (#980547) Journal

    Shouldn't there be a ^M at the end? Also, all the quotes will be replaced with '?'

    [grumbles] lousy cross-campus NT development environment...

  • by Sneakums ( 2534 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @04:35AM (#980548)
    Oooh, more XML.

    People, XML is just a syntax. Unless the DTDs and schemas they use for .NET are fully documented, only Microsoft's own .NET-enabled products will be able to anything useful with the data.

    I don't know why the XML angle is being pushed so much; this could all be done with any structured data format, be it text or binary.

    "Where, where is the town? Now, it's nothing but flowers!"
  • The demos looked really cool. I think it is a great idea for a small tablet to be able to recognise my handwriting and work on it in the background. I like the idea of my mobile phone and pda and desktop all acting together.
    This is the way things are going to go, I five years we'll wonder how we survived when all our devices didn't have a permanent connection and could synchronise data automatically wherever you are.
    Yes it means storing some data in a public place, but we used to do that when we all used terminals to access a singal machine, so what's the difference ? Before long we started having our own machines and before long we will run our own central servers from home, not everyone will, but some of us, you can bet on that.
  • Not a command line, a natural language command line. So instead of typing "cd files" you can type "take me to where I saved my spreadsheet".

    I'd be seriously shocked if it was actually natural language rather than a natural-language-ish approximation (like AppleScript). True natural language processing has eluded AI researchers for a long time.

    Specifically, I'd like to see how well it handles anaphora like "the", "that", "it", "such" etc. Anaphora are any words that refer to words previously used. Try here [srv.net] for a pretty good explanation (and ignore the stuff at the end about creating a system of anaphora, that's geared towards constructed-language design hobbyists).

    Zardoz has spoken!
  • Since it's XML (i.e. decipherable) and *if* the you can designate your own prefs server, it shouldn't be super-hard to make something like this work cross-platform for at least some of the prefs. For example, if you have set your windows background image to some jpeg on the web with this, you could buld a prefs manager for X which parsed the same online prefs file to get the same background image.

    Certainly some prefs would be platform specific (like the location of the "Documents" directory), but others (like email address or screen saver delay time or mouse-focus method) are equally useable on any platform.

    And since it should be extensible, one should be able to add X-specific prefs to the list.

    This could actually be a very nice cross-platform feature, given full-time net accessibility.
  • Correct me if I'm wrong but....

    This is a Microsoft application.

    It is integrated with the Microsoft Windows operating system.

    That would be a really big breach of the Microsoft ruling then.

    Why do I get the feeling that they'll get away with this one as well

  • by TummyX ( 84871 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @04:39AM (#980567)

    XML is basically a big ol' delimited text file. The only things separating it from a 30-year old text file is the fact that it's hierarchical and the fact that there are parsers that let you navigate the tree structure easily.

    C is basically a big ol' delimitated text file. The only things seperating it from a 60-year assembly program is the fact that it's expressive, easier to learn and there are compilers that let you write programs faster.
  • I agree. Have you looked at the spec for Ant (the new Java-based build tool from Jakarta project of Apache) or the Servlet 2.2 "web app" spec from Sun, or the Tomcat configuration spec from Jakarta/Apache/Sun? Those all use XML for the configuration files, and its a complicated mess.

    Its sort of powerful, yes, and it does keep you from having to do the dirty work of actually parsing the file yourself, but it sure makes server administration cumbersome and error prone. Configuring Apache is just so simple: load the httpd.conf, type in a directive or 2, and you're done. With Tomcat, I have to load the XML file and type all the silly tags, which basically means I have to type almost twice as much text to get the same configuration stuff. And then theres the fact that all the tags make the actual configuration parameters hard to read...it's a mess. Ant is the same way. Having it all XML based is sort of a downer, because otherwise, it's a very cool concept and implementation.

    XML is probably most useful in communicating between heterogenous services, since it does provide a way to ensure that the data you get makes sense to you. Things like MathML and the like are going to be huge wins. But using XML for ALL text-centric data is just misguided I think. It has significant drawbacks (not the least of which is the speed and size issues.) I think there's going to be a shakeout soon, and something better will come along as a result of some programmer scratching this itch...
  • Aw, cripes, moderators! Get it right. HiThere's comment was not "Flamebait", it was Flame.

    He called somebody to "out to lunch" for saying running Unix was the same as operating a dumb terminal.

    If anything, the post he was responding to was -1 (Flamebait), and his response was -1 (Flame).

    To save you time, this post is -1 (Off Topic), and -1 (Pointing Out Idiotic Moderation)... and maybe even -1 (Troll) for good measure.

    Do your worst, bitches!

  • Cool! I'm running Solaris x86 on my machine at home. If I walk into a random Sun office, how do I go about calling up my profile?

    I'm running Redhat 6.1 at work. My boss is running Mandrake 7.1. How do I go about calling up my work profile every time I sit down at his machine to show him something?

    How do I call up the profile from either machine on the Windows PC in the airport lounge when I travel?

    I am not aware of any existing standard for transfering profiles and applications between machines -- not even between machines running the operating system. There are some pretty hacks that exist in closed windows, unixen, and linuxen clusters, but there's nothing that exists in any type of worldwide application.

    It scares me if people think any of the existing technologies for doing this are adequate -- it is currently a major pain in the ass to sit down at an unfamiliar computer and to try to do any productive work. There are some obvious things that could make this much, much better. Smart people can probably find unobvious was to make this even better than that.
  • by dubl-u ( 51156 ) <2523987012@NOSpaM.pota.to> on Friday June 23, 2000 @10:46AM (#980589)
    XML is basically a big ol' delimited text file. The only things separating it from a 30-year old text file is the fact that it's hierarchical and the fact that there are parsers that let you navigate the tree structure easily.

    The fact that it's parseable with a generic parser makes all the difference in the world.

    I don't know how many times I've had to implement parsers for weird-ass, half-baked, undocumented file formats apparently written by chimpanzees. (For example, RTF.) And then once I've figured out the features, I have to run about a zillion tests to make sure I'm emulating the right bugs, too. And of course, once somebody gets the idea to change the file format, then I need to do it all over again.

    With XML, this problem goes away. I can focus on the data, not the representation. That's a big win!

    A good comparision is programming a garbage-collected language versus one where you have to do memory management yourself. Sure, I can write C code that is more hardware-efficient than the same stuff written in Perl (or Java). But writing the Perl is faster (and the Java's more maintainable) because I can focus on higher-level issues than pointer arithmetic. I'm generally willing to burn CPU cycles to free up my cycles. That's what computers are for.

    XML gives the same boost to data exchange between loosely coupled systems. It surely uses more disk space and processing time. But so what? Thanks to Moore's law, hardware doubles in capacity every 18 months. Programmers, sadly, don't. Use this fact to your advantage!

  • According to this Wired article [wired.com] (last paragraph of first page), MS will...

    [shift from] storing data in the company's proprietary Office formats to open standards.

    ... that are based on XML. I certainly hope that's true!
  • Yeah.. but a single xml tag around the whole config file and their own proprietary binary data inside means that they really can use any of the tactics they used to, and nothing changes at all.

    They use the word because it makes them sound 'friendly'.
  • This smells of Application Service Provider. Hey, don't PURCHASE office...just PAY us each time you use it over the net.
  • this whole scheme is a blatant attempt by Microsoft to circumvent the breakup order. They're going to start bitching and moaning and whining about how everything is integrated now.

    But once again, BillG ("Bilge") will learn that lawyers and judges are (a) not stupid and (b) easily irritated by nerds who think "technicalities" will get them off the hook. Why does he have this reputation for being so smart?

  • by tilly ( 7530 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @08:30AM (#980600)
    Hey! Let us allow any application here talk to any server in the world by tunnelling a protocol on top of http! And if they care about their privacy, make that https!

    And so a generation of application designers make mistakes, and firewalls need to learn to deal with SOAP. Except the pesky https encoded ones, which you cannot peek inside. So ban those.

    Care to take bets on whether the boys from Redmond will have something critical (like say the verification that your usage period has not expired) that absolutely must go over https?

  • asp's are taking off.

    I personally know of a company that is building a hardware device (networking gear) that will assist in speeding up ASP access. if their research is right, there is a big market for ASP use.

    perhaps not a replacement for word processing, but big business might just love having all the benefits of app. use with none of the admin or support costs.


  • I just see it as paving the way to ".net (TM)*"

    * .net is a Trademark of Microsoft
  • Gates is talking about per minute charges. If there is anything I have observed from the society around me (world wide even) it is that per minute charges are about as popular as barium enemas.

    We in the US pay for our local telephone service as a flat fee with unlimited local minutes. This has been the paradigm for a very long time. Whenever The Phone Company (of old) tried to offer per minute use plans they were a great flop.

    I hear all the time of people in Autralia or Europe bemoaning the per minute charges there. They would jump on the opportunity that we have here.

    What makes Bill think that people are going to pay by the minute or by the document to use an app across the wire? Performance will be slow, especially across 56k and in the end you have have to leave your document on an unsecure (although they claim it's secure) Microsoft server.

    I don't know if there is enough marketing savvy (Read: FUD) in the world for MS to pull this off.

    Besides, Apple already has this up and running (on the storage end anyway) and I think that other companies that have had the lead time on this issue will be able to deliver long before MS.

    Of course they could just be planning to attempt to monopolize the Application Services and other markets... Nah, they'd never do anything like that.

  • C'mon moderators, this guy is on to something! Imagine if MS was really the one to pull off the thin client network computer. They wouldn't even have to sell software, just charge per minute on the server end. Very little opportunity for piracy, and depending on how the computer is constructed, no opportunity for other software. We all think the NetPliance is neat because we can run linux on it, but what if every PC was a NetPliance? I'm fairly convinced that where MS leads, the desktop follows. I think MS has the clout to lead the market in the direction of thin clients running only MS provided software.

    If MS announces that its next desktop operating system will be for thin clients, if I'm an OEM I get working on that kind of system. I certainly don't pay attention to the whiny linux user who wants a real PC. The only thing that I see standing in the way is the reluctance of desktop PC manufacturers to produce PCs that are any lower end than they already are.

  • Even if they weren't weaseling out of it, the ruling would theoretically go into effect in September.
    No more e-mail address game - see my user info. Time for revenge.
  • Could someone take a stab at comparing and contrasting this effort with what WorkSpot [workspot.com] is offering?
  • But think about MacOS X - Are the XML files really going to be any more easily understood than the old UNIX/X config files ?

    Hell, yes. Have you seen the browsing interface. It allows you to hierarchically browse through the data. If you still want to use 'vi' to do all you configuration, then it's not going to be any easier, but if you want to use the tools provided, it will make life simpler by letting you more easily find what is relevant to what you are wanting to change.
  • Look, .NET is not just about stupid monolithic servers doing everything (sun vision), it's also about a vision of the future which I've had since I was little...here's a little excerpt from bill's speech.

    Let me show you how this works. (Typing.)

    COMPUTER VOICE: Which index would you like?

    JEFF RAINIER: (Typing.) Okay. Checking for the latest updates on that index.

    COMPUTER VOICE: As of 9:10 A.M. the Dow industrial average is down minus 64 at 10,433.74.

    JEFF RAINIER: Did you see how the computer asked me questions to resolve ambiguity and kind of worked with me like a person might have? That's the sort of power and intelligence that's built into the .NET platform.

    Let me show you one more example. (Typing.)

    COMPUTER VOICE: How long do you want to meet? (Typing.) Where do you want to meet? (Typing.) Do you need to check my schedule? (Typing.)

    JEFF RAINIER: Ooh, I think my typo there caused some problems. Let me try that one more time.

    COMPUTER VOICE: What would you like to do now? (Typing.) How long do you want to meet?

    JEFF RAINIER: Okay, this is looking more promising. (Typing.)

    COMPUTER VOICE: Where do you want to meet? (Typing.) Let me see if you are both available at this time. Okay, I've scheduled an appointment with Mark Leimberg on Friday, June 23rd at 2:00 P.M. for 30 minutes in his office.

    JEFF RAINIER: Okay, you've seen how this interface works with typing, but this is much more natural and easier to use if you speak to your computer.

    Imagine for a second using your cell phone to call in and get high priority mail messages, maybe make dinner reservations or even check for the latest news, all from your .NET server.

    Now you see? I want to just be able to tell my computer in natural language "hey, find some time and schedule a meeting for me with joe sometime on wednesday"

    That's just neat. The more the computer does for me the better. I don't need to reafirm that I know how to do repetitive tasks day in and day out just to feel cool and elite.
  • Right, that was my point. I've collected windoze user passwords as part of a security project, and it was amazing to see how many (l)users continued to use very weak passwords even after an employee education program. So the client had to implement a 3rd party password management application which assigned "good" passwords, but that failed when all the secretaries started writing their password on post-it notes and leaving them on the bottom of the keyboard.

    Out in the real world of mom and pop (l)users, where there is no forced education programs, they will continue to use weak passwords. This means they can go from a computer at home to a friends house and enter their logon details, and have access to their baby pictures just as they were home. Now, their friend's kid has installed a keyboard logging utility, and now has their logon details, and can access their data as well. What about dishonest cybercafes? University computers?

    Expect M$ to slowly evolve this .net idea from a curiosity to a required method of storing user data, with the only access to the proprietary XML document encoding via M$ products.

    Now scale the problems AOL are having with 13 million users to a M$ sized operation with 100+ million users. See where many opportunities for abuse start to open up, no matter how well they think they have secured the user's data?

    If M$ has their way, they would love to force all business users onto a per use license with ever increasing fees, and they can hold the company data hostage because it is held in a completely proprietary M$ format, and the data is physically held on M$ controlled machines. Even if a company wanted to move from the M$ world to an open source world, M$ could force them to sign a multi-year agreement to gain access to their data. And even if they could intercept the data, the XML would only be interpretable by M$ applications.

    the AC
  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @04:44AM (#980620)
    Maybe, maaaaybe sometime in the future, when T1 lines are standard and cheaply available in all homes and businesses, will networked apps be reality. There's also matters of security and convinence (can you get to the networked Word if you are at 32000 ft from LA to Tokyo?)

    IMO, the primary reason MS wants to go this way is that with net connections, you *can* count the number of times certain apps have been open, send that info securely back to MS, and MS can then send you the bill for $1.00 per Word doc you opened, or $10 per Windows restart. Pay-per-use has been in the works for a good year or so by more than just Microsoft (RIAA wants that too), and anything that depends on a net connection to work is going to be frowned upon until realistic pricing models and cheap fast net connections are in place.

  • Wow! This is a great idea! ::sarcasm mode::

    If I were in law enforcement this product would make me cum in my drawers! One place where all of the essential data exist for tracking people, money, communications, and associations. Now, all we need is one "easy" federal judge, and the keys to the kingdom are in hand!

    This is almost too much like the plot of that really awful film "The Net".

  • by unbrokenlamb ( 175771 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @04:47AM (#980653)
    They've got a flair for naming things. ".NET" sounds WAAAAAAAY better than "mainframe".
  • by phil reed ( 626 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @04:47AM (#980656) Homepage
    As part of this announcement, M$ also announced that their Office products would be provided on a "subscription" basis. This could be unbelieveably bad - if you fail to pay your subscription fees, you could find yourself locked out of your own documents. No corporation will be willing to put itself in the position of being held hostage to Redmond.

  • by teraflop user ( 58792 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @04:50AM (#980687)
    I've had a university account for the last decade, and I use it for exaclty this purpose. Initially it just gave me a constant email address, but I've gradually moved to keeping more and more useful information in a private directory. This includes addresses and phone numbers, any projects I'm working on, data for tax returns and so on.

    The benefits are enormous, especially if you are reasonably mobile, and even more so if you live in more than one country.

    But I can only do it because I have a university account. I could just about get by using the personal webspace provided on an ISP account, but using encryption, grep, .forward and other tools would be much more difficult.

    If Microsoft are looking to offer this service then I think they are making a sensible move. It would make more sense for ISP's to put together an appropriate service, but despite fierce competition non-one seems to be doing so.

    Maybe an Apache module would kick some ISPs into action? Maybe Microsoft will catalyse the creation of such a tool.
  • by Tony-A ( 29931 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @04:51AM (#980689)
    They don't even need to get cracked. Think dining philosophers and how many ways are there to screw up cooperating asynchronous processes.Think of NT Server with everything loaded on. Now scale it an order of magnitude or so.Think of using MSN to actually do work. This sounds like a bigger pie in the sky than the worst of the claims for Artificial Intelligence.
  • by Andrew Cady ( 115471 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @12:17PM (#980690)
    Actually C is a programming language, that can be compiled - transformed into a more useful format for computers.

    XML is a markup language that can be parsed - transformed into a more useful format for developers.

    Except that XML is *not* a markup language, it's a language for *writing* markup languages (a meta-markup language). I think that was the user's point. XML is not a common data format any more than ASCII is; it is the DTD's for XML document types (and likewise, the ISO C standard for ASCII .c files) that must provide the universal data standards. XML itself does not do this.
  • by Matts ( 1628 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @05:03AM (#980702) Homepage
    People are missing the point about XML.

    Yes its just a syntax. But its an accessible syntax.

    What does this mean? It means developer freedom. It means that even if MS decides that they're going to customise SOAP and make their own proprietary SOAP based format (which they've almost done already with their enveloping format), there's not a damn thing they can do to stop me using Perl's XML::Parser to create an MSSOAP service or client. And it won't be hard like sniffing network packets to try and reverse engineer samba. I'll just look at the structure and bam! Instant reverse engineering.

    Why should this matter? Because there are still a lot of Win boxes out there, and if my Unix skills allow me to interoperate with those boxes then all the better.

    And XML is slow. Big deal - this is MS talking about integrating it, not Linus. So we get our nice zippy Linux boxes talking away to slow, bogged down in XML parsing, Windows boxes. Sounds pretty good to me actually!

    I think MS are way off the mark here, for what its worth. XML is a great interchange format (slashdot.xml is much better than the old ultramode text format, for example), and its pretty darn useful for doing web and other documentation work (content/design separation and all that), but as a low level network service or IIOP replacement? No thanks, Bill.
  • From the people who brought us Outlook, with its multi-billion dollar damages due to lack of security, now bring us a central place to store everyone's files.

    Expect the word "hacker" to take another tarnishing when .net gets cracked.

    It doesn't matter how many bits of encryption they use, when the average windoze (l)user's password is their first name. So there will be many cracks of this system, and some of them will be embarassing.

    And what happens if some (l)user decides to use this at work, so they can take their work home with them. Now a company's secrets are stored on a M$ server, where just about any one can peruse them. M$ will claim somewhere in the fine print they must review all content on a regular basis to prevent illegal material from being stored, and if they just happen to see a competitor's secrets, we can trust them to not take advantage of it.

    Now corporate firewalls will have to block access to this site, as with the other new net services offering the same thing. I doubt .net will ever become very successful unless M$ uses its monopoly power to force everyone to use their servers.

    the AC

  • See what Bruce Schneier says in his latest Crypto-Gram [counterpane.com].

    Hint: he doesn't like it. And neither do I.

  • by Lion-O ( 81320 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @04:57AM (#980751)
    Just when you wondered 'what could they possible come up with next' you get news like this ;) Anyway, I skimmed the site a bit and came up with quite some "remarkable" sections.

    For the Web developer, the tools to build, test and deploy engaging Web sites are hopelessly inadequate. Many focus more on building attractive rather than useful Web sites.

    Hmz, I think its kinda harsh and very arrogant to call tools like Dreamweaver "inadequate". It focusses on nothing and leaves the user completly open to do -anything- with the site that he or she wants to do. Either write code from the bottom up and look at the results or drag and drop and watch the code being added. Its your choice. So may I conclude here that this man is saying that total freedom is inadequate? Since Dreamweaver is a well known product I think its quite hard to miss it.

    The fundamental idea behind Microsoft .NET is that the focus is shifting from individual Web sites or devices connected to the Internet, to constellations of computers, devices and services that work together to deliver broader, richer solutions.

    So basicly Microsoft finally managed to grasp the idea behind Unix? I mean; c'mon.. I've been doing this kind of stuff for quite some years now. Allthough I have to admit; in a total different environment. Instead of clicking I'm entering "cd /net.priv/dave/updates" to access the computer of my friend Dave in the US and check out the latest updates he has. This whole thing is kinda silly if you think of it; in the past Windows would warn us if we accidently left netbeui and such linked to a dial up adapter (people can access netbios shares over the internet in this case) and just when we finally learned not to do this it gets re-instated? ;)

    Microsoft .NET will take computing and communications far beyond the one-way Web to a rich, collaborative, interactive environment. Powered by advanced new software, Microsoft .NET will harness a constellation of applications, services and devices to create a personalized digital experience

    And offcourse using .XML to do all this marvelous miracles. Well, by looking at the past I can only think of one thing at this time; they are trying to take over and flood the Net with a complete new standard leaving all other net based products (Unix/BSD/Linux/OS/2) out of the game. We want to use Unix based products? Well, would not surprise me if SCO got upgraded to handle this stuff.

    And yes; I know that more products can handle XML. But that would only leave the question if the XML being used will be genuine or, just like kerberos in win2k, some MS mutated new flavor. Basicly the whole idea scares me. If they truly want to set up a functional environment like this the least thing they could have done is making Windows more secure and use this engine into this new product. At this moment Microsoft is not capable of securing Windows, take a look at the vsb scripts in the email, and yet they truly believe that they can build one giant "windows .NETwork" over the Internet and still insure the safety of the locally stored documents? Don't make me laugh.

  • Relax. They're just getting a trademark on _software_ bearing the name ".net". For example: the next version of Office will be Office.net, Visual Studio will be Visual Studio.net, and Windows will be Windows.net.

    Stupid as this sounds, just wait until competitors start naming all their software products with names ending in .net, just like they switched to appending the year to the name of the software after Windows 95 came out.
  • by Inoshiro ( 71693 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @05:16AM (#980765) Homepage
    "No corporation will be willing to put itself in the position of being held hostage to Redmond."

    Have you see the number of places that will fork out thousands for this very pleasure, running MS Exchange and not using backups or any kind of RAID setup? A lot of managers honestly don't have a clue, which is why the marketters from MS can manipulate them so easily.

I've got a bad feeling about this.