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Microsoft's 'Freedom to Innovate' Brochure 461

SEA writes: "Scans of a Freedom to Innovate Network (FIN) leaflet passed out by some of the cutest boothie chicks from MS's largest booth @ PC Expo. Felt so dirty for taking one but had to just for giggles and rant ..." Here's the front and the back of the brochure. My favorite part is that this is a 'grassroots effort' but it has a Redmond address. One can only speculate.
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Microsoft's 'Freedom to Innovate' Brochure

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    you guys actually think that its a GOOD thing when govt starts messing around with the software industry?
    oh wait.. its m$ so it MUST be evil
  • Where can I find the front and back of the cute chicks?
  • That wasn't a troll; it was a carefully-constructed combination of insightful metaphor and playfully insolent criticism. If it comes across as rude, that's intentional; sometimes rudeness is called-for, for the purpose of poking fun at. It is as much a troll as Oscar Wilde's witticisms.
  • Microsoft didn't make the PC affordable; that was IBM, which actually made it inexpensive by making it clonable (possibly due to antitrust actions by the DOJ).

    Actually IBM tried their best to make it NOT cloneable, by printing all the necessary specifications for their BIOS in the manual that shipped with the machine, and copyrighting the whole thing. It was Compaq that came up with the idea of having a group of people go through IBM's documentation and drafting their own spec, then having a seperate isolated group of engineers who'd never seen IBM's BIOS build a BIOS that matched the spec the first team had put together.


  • Is there such a culture surrounding windows?

    Remember the Mac users of a few years ago, when the press' favorite word was "beleaugured"? Mac users were similarly fanatical. Of course, they were fanatical about a great operating system, decent hardware, and kick-ass applications, but the point is, they felt threatened. Now, people whose computing lives revolve exclusively around Windows feel threatened by the antitrust lawsuit, and are acting similarly rabid. The difference is, of course, that the Windows users don't have a technical leg to stand on when they say they like Windows - the vast majority have never used anything else.


  • Depends on what each side does. They can do it the clean way, making their products and letting consumers choose, or they can do it the dirty way, with market-division proposals, dumping, exclusionary contracts and product tying. It's all in how they do it. Whether or not they are a monopoly will also affect what is and is not ok.

  • Of course the intelligent posters usually offer some evidence to back up their claims. Don't see anything of the sort on this propaganda flyer of Microsoft's. Can't even find any on the "Freedom To Innovate" pages of their website.

  • Of course it also would allow them to claim a much larger support base than they really have. All in all, it would probably do more harm than good.

  • Bob isn't an innovation. IIRC IBM messed around with a 'real life' UI that was very similar in the 70s-80s. It sucked. General Magic had a very similar UI for their Magic Cap PDA in the early 90's about a year before Bob came out. It also sucked. (although General Magic did do some interesting work) Then Bob came along and was simply another in a long line of sucky UIs. Nothing innovative about it, unless MS has redefined innovation to mean imitation.
    • F ear
    • U uncertainty, and
    • D oubt.

    FUD: Term used to describe misinformation / disinformation that's intended to strike fear, uncertainty and doubt within the target with respect to some competitor or adversary. For instance, Microsoft spreads FUD about Linux, and rabid myopic Linux zealots do the same in reverse.

    F.U.D. is related to ad hominem attacks, only they're directed at objects, not people, and the focus is on distorting the facts rather than just diverting from revelant arguments.

  • by tilly ( 7530 )
    I can personally vouch that gcc is widely used, for instance on Wall St.

    Perhaps online trading systems are not complex enough for you?

    And if you want something useful, look at Perl. Built with gcc. Running on FreeBSD. Sounds like kid's play? Sounds like Yahoo to me!

  • When I see attempts to integrate Microsoft products and push them through their paces, I see bugs popping up. YMMV, but that seems to be a pretty common experience.

    Now looking at your user info you have a career that involves your status as a pundit on Microsoft products. Watching those products wane in influence may be pretty personally threatening. But that doesn't mean that Microsoft doesn't fully deserve what is happening to it. And it doesn't mean that things are better today than they would be if Microsoft had not set out to abuse its monopoly position.

  • According to Jakob Nielsen in his [Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design] []:

    "Links to pages that have not been seen by the user are blue; links to previously seen pages are purple or red. Don't mess with these colors since the ability to understand what links have been followed is one of the few navigational aides that is standard in most web browsers. Consistency is key to teaching users what the link colors mean."

    He [revisits the problems] [] a few years later, and miscoloured links are still a problem:

    "Continues to be a problem since users rely on the link colors to understand what parts of the site they have visited. I often see users bounce repeatedly among a small set of pages, not knowing that they are going back to the same page again and again. (Also, because non-standard link colors are unpleasantly frequent, users are now getting confused by any underlining of text that is not a link.)"

    Anyway, I think blue and red are the correct colours, as I originally stated. I'd have to reinstall an ancient Netscape to verify that I (and Jakob) are right, though...


  • It's redundent because it follows up a message that has exactly the same link.

    Unfortunately, whoever wrote the original message wrote it to be so damned boring and uninformative that it wasn't getting the attention it deserved.

    I don't moderate, so I decided that the best way to get people to realize that the brochure is based on a Microsoft site was to write a more detailed, more attractive message.

    So the moderator is technically correct, but stupid. Way to go. Nothing like making Slashdot discussions *LESS* informative than they already are.

  • Oh Man, I was going to ask the same thing!

    Forget this PR pile of crap, let's see the booth babes!

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • Voices from the FIN:
    "All of us owe MSFT
    a measure of appreciation for creating an "operating system" which allows almost anyone with interest to become semi-literate in computer operation. This gift is world-wide and has aided the US in becoming the leading nation is technology."
    From a FIN site visitor

    ...and grammer.

    I'd personally like to thank Bill for his "gift".

  • One can still interpret AOL's actions as having to agressively fight back against devious tactics. Just like I was saying, any company that's 1) Non-Msft and 2) Makes nice "well behaved" per the published api applications doesn't stand a chance against Msft app integration with "special secret ingrediants" - all the more reason to seperate the two, so that EVERYONE can have a chance, not just the guys who make the default OS.

    (Just checked w/ someone who uses NT & AOL and yes, it's ver 3).
  • I think the most logical course would be for every reader of /. to sign up. Hell, they're going to tell you how to contact your federal and state officials on important matters being considered. What absolute fun it would be to stop the FUD from inside the Redmond machine.

    Now that's grassroots........

    "What do I care, if life ain't fair,
    If you look at me real sore.
    I've paid my dues and you should too,
    as a son-of-a-bitch to the core"
  • I'd actually like to know the answer to this one.

    Most of the people I know of who use Microsoft(tm) technologies don't think much of the company, they just think it's a way to make a living. Most of them, at least around me, admit that they'd rather use something else, but the market wants Microsoft, and the market gets what it wants most of the time.

    There are a good number of principled Libertarians who are appalled at the MS antitrust case, casting it as a company that's worked very hard to give the computing world a standard that, if not perfect, is better than no standard at all. Here's a good example of their beliefs:

    I'm a libertarian, and I agree with most of what Reason magazine says. At the same time, I absolutely loathe Microsoft as a company. I have a difficult time supporting the case, because of principle, and I have a tough time opposing it, because the company is indeed evil. So I sit at the sidelines and laugh at the amazing cock-up Microsoft has made of the trial.

    I don't think there are many people who love Microsoft software; I think there are many people who agree with Microsoft on principle in this case.


  • Of course, if the Apple ][ predates the IBM PC like you said, the whole thing is moot.

    The Apple ][ predates the IBM PC by several years. So does the TRS-80; both it and the Apple ][ came out in 1976, as I recall. The IBM PC wasn't until somewhat later, and even when it did come out it was aimed more at businesses than at home users, since IBM didn't think that home users were a worthwhile market to pursue.

    -- Bryan Feir
  • Mirror, mirror, on the wall...
    Who's the most innovative of all?

    ``"Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is the most admired man among information technology executives."''

    Is someone at Microsoft trying to garner brownie points with Bill Gates by coming up with these web sites? I couldn't make up my mind to laugh out loud or toss cookies (I had the misfortune to visit the FIN (?) site just after eaten lunch -- I should have known better).


    ``footnote: why the heck has Slashdot buggered with the link colours? ... It's the freaking de facto standard, and changing it is just a PITA for everyone.''

    Slashdot isn't the only site to have made questionable changes to their websites. Linux Today's site change (about a month ago) forced me to set by browser to override their site's (all all other sites' as well) color selections because the unvisited and the visited sites all came out the same color. Add to that, returning to the site after following a link and you lost your place; hard to tell where you were when all link colors are the same. InfoWorld Electric had to tinker with their online forums some time ago and broke them... badly. The first time they did this, the reverted back to the previous layout. The second time they broke them, they (IWE) just turned them off and they've been disabled for around 6 months or so. Hopefully, there's a few out-of-work web designers as a result of that fiasco. Anyway, Slashdot's plain-vanilla, light-on-the-graphics view works fine for me. I wish more sites had the user-selectable interface that Slashdot has.

    Has anyone else noticed how web sites that are connected to long-time print magazines seem to be the most likely to be the ones whose sites are the least readable, the most likely to have forced (read: squinty) font sizes, gratuitous animated GIFs, pixel-based table widths, tinkered with link colors, and other eye-candy that might look OK in print but is a nightmare for the online viewer?


  • There's a myth that the larger the breasts, the
    dumber the woman. Actually, it's the larger the
    breasts, the dumber the guys.
  • I submit that this is going to be the leading edge of `civilizing' the net. Us heathens and blood thirsty animals will need to be `saved' from our own desires. Microsoft is going to become the Catholic church of the internet if it isn't allready. I think King Gates is gearing up for Crusade v1.0.

    Bad Mojo []
  • It's not original to me. I dunno who first coined it.
  • I am not a big fan of Microsoft at all, but I do have to take issue with the fact that everyone keeps referring to the fact that Microsoft is trying to hide the fact that they are basically fronting this FIN group.

    Read it. Microsoft bluntly claims that it's a "grassroots network of citizens", which heavily implies that they have little or nothing to do with it -- as if at most they're simply responding to the wishes of their hordes of oh-so-outraged fans.

    Maybe you find it hard to believe that some people are naive enough to not realize this isn't mostly or entirely Microsoft's baby, but I don't.

  • Me very bad man. Did not preview my comment and so I misspeled the word "responsible". And yes... I do know about the spelling error in this post also.
  • by redhog ( 15207 )
    Ever heard of Atari, TRS80, Sinclair, Mac, Amiga, CBM, etc?
    --The knowledge that you are an idiot, is what distinguishes you from one.
  • Gotta agree here. Microsoft has been pretty open with any and all who ask about the Freedom to Innovate Network. The PR line, of course, is that it's a channel for the public to let their feelings on the antitrust case be known. But I don't think they've ever disguised it as something independent from the company.
  • Has anyone seen this in person? I want to know if the monitor screen caps are from a Mac, as they often are in the publishing business.
    The irony would kill me.


    Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Monopolies offer Choice!
  • The FIN website used to allow you to do emails to your congressman, the President and Vice President, your state house and senate members, governor and state attorney general.

    Now it all seems to not be there any more.

    Oh well, I was able to use it a few months ago with my "destroy Microsoft, let them be split up!" message.

  • What you don't realize is that in 1989, doing the Microsoft thing was the same trip as the Linux thing at the very beginning. In 1993-1995 doing the Microsoft thing was the same as doing the Linux thing now. It was very revolutionary. This isn't the first time revolutions have come around, and it won't be the last. You would do well to remember that as you advocate Linux. Believe it or not, a great many software scientists do groove on the Microsoft thing.

    In 1993, a copy of Wordperfect for dos 5.3 cost $495; the Sun admins at school kept everything locked down tight; and everything just sucked. Our revolution was to empower everybody. Just like you!

    Let me explain the essential nature of the microsoft trip: your job as the computer lizard lightning king is subordinate to the secretary up front who has to push all them buttons you dream up, and your mom and dad has to groove on it too. That's what we fought against: the idea that IS ruled and the users were secondary. Always make that your watchword, and you'll never find us far apart.

    The idea that the non-expert rules the show is also why the marketplace loves it. My job is basically to go lots of places and find all these pretty women and figure out why their foozle ain't fozzling right. That's all anybody cares about. In your private circles you "know" stuff and talk about stuff and groove on stuff but your job is to just help Sally Jane Rottencrotch keep her stuff a' rollin. See, Sally's boss gotta keep Sally happy so he keeps his fatcat pos'n. You make Sally groove, and Sally's boss keeps on writing that check. Simple as peach pie....

    Personally, I view it all as Philips Head vs. Flathead screwdrivers anyway, it's just stupid to get all holy about it. It's just a f'ing tool man.

  • > I can say unequivocably that there is no subculture of Microsoft fanatics past, present or future.

    You obviously don't spend much time in c.o.l.a.

  • Read my .sig.

  • > I fully intend to e-mail my representatives, and I hope they realize the important impact that Microsoft has had on the computing industry

    I hope his representatives realize the impact they've had, too.

  • Microsoft didn't buy CP/M, they bought DOS (a competitor, from Seattle Computing).

    Microsoft didn't make the PC affordable; that was IBM, which actually made it inexpensive by making it clonable (possibly due to antitrust actions by the DOJ).

    I used CP/M and it was very similar to DOS. Definitely not innovative enough for IBM to pick it only on its merits - read any Bill Gates or Microsoft book not written in-house and you'll find out the story of how MS landed the IBM contract.

    Bill Gates' only innovation that I've heard of was mainframe emulation of PC hardware, done on Harvard's computer (actually by Paul Allen, who was not a student). So one innovation, by a former partner illegally using someone else's computer, is it for MS.
  • Do you really think the membership of this "organization" is going to do anything? The only reason MS wants to you sign up is so they can put another tick mark on a list they are going to show to any politician who will stand still for over 5 seconds.

    In other words, just signing up gives them ammo ("Senator Bob, we have 8 million members!")
  • Is it my imagination, or does the FIN [] sound a lot like the Blackwatch organization from Babylon 5 []?
  • The more beautiful women, the better. Not sure when you went to high school, but when I did, they sure as hell weren't sending the hot chicks to slobber over the geeks. Anyway, seeing them for free at trade shows is better than spending $10 a month to "look at pictures of me and all my sorority sisters".

    Perhaps they haven't caught on to one small fact though: having been turned down (or 'friended') by more physically attractive women than I can shake a stick at, I'm largely immune. Any geek with any sense (and any experience) will figure out that these women are similar to those in HS/College who were nice until right after you helped them with their homework. So what it boils down to is I get a peek; the company doesn't get a sale unless they have a good product; and Barbie gets a job that suits her intelligence.

    As Judge Judy is so fond of saying: "Beauty fades, Dumb is Forever"

    ("OW! Yes, honey, of course you are beautiful. I only meant I got dumped on and/or used by every beautiful woman I met EXCEPT you.")
  • We should all join FIN, and coopt it in the name of competition and real innovation.

    "Dear Senator,
    I am writing to you on behalf of the local branch of the Freedom to Innovate Network, who would like to see senior Microsoft executives forced to work the helpdesk for their crappy products."
  • > Really? so maybe you can tell me?

    Hmmm. A liar *and* slow... Not a good combination. OK, let me break it down for you, troll. You listed a link that was labelled as a copy of one of the scanned images from the original article. You portrayed yourself as a kind netizen providing a mirror for said images. The first image was, in fact, a mirror. Great, thanks. The second image, however, was not. It was labelled as though it were, but as you know, it was not. For this reason, the poster felt it necessary to label you a liar. I would agree. His point was clearly that you misrepresented your intentions and so deserved to be called a liar. That was his point.
  • > Your point?

    I think his point was pretty clear, liar.
  • Ever read the "Talkback" posted to a ZDNet story about Windows or Linux? Microsoft zealots on ZDNet are just about as vocal as Linux zealots on Slashdot. The main difference is that ZDNet's comments are even more disorganized since there's no way to view them in any sort of threaded or flat mode.
  • Um, that "back" image doesn't _quite_ seem like trade-show material...
  • Oooh, please stay away from conspiracy laws as an example if you're trying to defend antitrust law, lest you undermine your (our) case. That, and don't overstate its simplicity, since the waters are rather muddy, though not completely impassable -- though antitrust law is positive law, it shares lots of the features (mostly deficits) of common law; namely, that what matters most (and more so than in other areas of law) is what the recent case law says.

    That said, there is no rational reason why Microsoft couldn't have foreseen Jackson's verdict. Heck, the rest of us did. Pure unadulterated arrogance is all.
  • Thirdly, we are talking about OS's that exist now. MacOS X is still in pre-beta (DR2, IIRC).

    DR4, actually. It very much exists, at least for people in Apple's Developer Connection, which isn't the same as being publicly available, but which is still a far cry from not existing for anyone, like MS's X-box. It's actually pretty solid, from what playing I've done with it. The only scary part is the native (carbon) version of IE that ships with it.
  • Given that any website not run by a multinational corporation inevitably dies within seconds of being hit with the 'slashdot effect' I would suggest that slashdot install some cache servers and have all links point to the cache'ed version and the cached version promenently noteing where the original document lives.

    I think both the slashdot users who are minutes late and get 'server not responding' and the administrators of these poor slashdotted sites would both be appreciative of this service.
  • i was wondering why they are throwing money into a PR thing like this - whether they are rallying the subculture, or trying to create one..
    I don't think you'll have to look TOO hard to find a pro-Microsoft subculture. Its not all that odd of a concept. Allow me two examples...

    I remember when Microsoft was the underdog. They took on IBM. In court. And won. Shock. The little guy wins one - yay Microsoft! It was all different in the '80s. It was the birth of the microcomputer industry. I'm sure there are more than a few players in today's industry that started back then and have kept a narrow focus on Microsoft in order to keep up with the changes. Those folks are going to have a different nostalgia and a different perspective.

    It was the early 90s and my po-dunk town finally managed public net access. A friend of mine caught on quickly to the whole web thing and promptly produced his first web page. At the bottom read "Escape the Net - use Microsoft Internet Explorer!" It was a call to arms against the Big Evil Netscape. And Microsoft was the champion underdog. While I didn't share his opinion, I did find it interesting that my friend (an otherwise intelligent individualist) came to that conclusion.

    So are there Microsoft supporters? Of course. Situations change. Perceptions change. Truth becomes fluid. And that's why there is propoganda - pushing "the truth" despite fact.

  • If I was going to trying to hide my involvement in an orginization I wouldn't give them a web address off of my company's homepage or an email address pointing straight back to me.

    Maybe that just means that your're smarter than Microsoft's PR department.

  • I've said it before and I'll say it again. Microsoft's only innovation was/is in marketing. Technically, they nabbed/copied/plundered true innovations from companies like DEC, then beat them down.

    Thankfully they didn't nab the quality.

  • Ah! The penny drops! I had often wondered who outside MS and it's
    closest allied big companies had anything to lose from the proposed
    split: surely, I naively thought, increased competition should be good
    for MS developers. Well, learning that it isn't so has rather
    increased my enthusiasm for the split.

    PS. Moderate up John Murdoch's post.

  • You mean Nightwatch, not Blackwatch.
  • I have been trying to figure out what MS has truly inovated sence it started. I can only think of a handful, like the "if carpel tunnel syndrom hasn't hit you yet it will soon" wheel mouse, minesweeper, Exchange, and the magic talking paperclip.

    I don't think that I am the only person who wants to know what MS has truly inovated so I was hoping that some of you could list MS's inovations.

    Thank you.
  • Everyone knows about the dedication of the linux subculture, fanatics, loyalists, whatever you want to call them.
    Yes, in large part because of the media exposure. And this can backfire - people might cease asking for your technology opinion because they figure "Oh he's a Linux fanatic."
    Is there such a culture surrounding windows? I'm asking honestly, because I don't know... Is there a huge following that would join the FIN, support microsoft, and rally around them during these "trying times" ??
    Well, there's at least several tens of thousands. But they all get paychecks from Microsoft :-)

    Seriously, I don't see the average computer consumer particularly caring one way or the other about Microsoft. They to date have not been especially bothered by its bullying monopoly, and I would be surprised if a broad spectrum of computer users would be bothered by a broken-up Microsoft. Business leaders (an oxymoron?) will care, because it will affect the market (though it might very well be a positive effect), but a broken-up Microsoft will still consist of much of the same people, and thus much of the same corporate culture as before.

    After break-up, the Baby Bells continued to act like monopolists, with poor customer service, reluctance to comply with (much less support) legislation to stimulate competition, and rates that increased, not decreased as a competitive situation would have. And then they all went on merger and acquisition sprees.

    I was just wondering exactly what leads microsoft to PR moves like this... are they trying to tap into this culture? create one?
    Microsoft has a very insular corporate culture - before Linux fanatics were identified to the general public by the media, there were Microserfs who worked insane hours for lousy pay but were millionaires on paper. And always toed the party line. Gates was and is the head of a cult of personality.
    whatever you may say about gates/microsoft, they are where they are today from sheer business sense.. it may not be the best code in the world, or the best product, but they are sinister business people..
    Sinister? No. An extreme example of corporatism? You betcha.

  • The short answer: Yeah, there are Microsoft loyalists. They're called stockholders. Either that, or employees.

    The long answer to a refined version of the question: Well, do they exist outside of Redmond/Wall Street? Again, I'd say that they do, especially since I'd identify myself as one of them. I consider myself to be a very happy Microsoft customer (and owner of a very, very small amount of their stock) and a supporter of theirs in the fight against the Justice Department. Whenever a debate breaks out regarding the trial proceedings, or Windows vs. Linux, I'm pretty firmly in the Microsoft camp. (Though for what it's worth, I hate Windows 98 with a passion.)

    I haven't had a chance to check out their Freedom to Innovate brochure (slashdotted, at the moment), but I suppose something like that might persuade me to write a quick letter to my congressman, or do something along those lines to support them.

    Say what you will, but Microsoft is capable of some pretty solid feats. Their optical mice are amazing (though I understand it uses HP technology, someone had to bring it to market) and as I've said before, Windows 2000 really is a very solid, stable, functional OS (in my experience).

    Obviously, I don't think that Microsoft/Windows has the grassroots subculture that OSS/Linux/etc. has, but don't completely discount its backers. It's made a lot of people quite wealthy (even if it hasn't done the same for me, yet :) and that simple fact alone shouldn't be underestimated.

  • Probably from French where "fin" means "the end". (Like at the end of those really artsy black and white movies.) Maybe they're trying to tell us something...

    I guess all those years of french classes finally paid off.
  • all of which ran on propietary hardware.. Hey, I loved Atari and stuff. But it was DOS running on PC clones that brought the hardware down to earthly levels.
  • Kids, do *not* think that this is a mirror. Moderators, do *not* moderate this up. If you don't believe me, just view the pics when there are no children around.

  • Hi Phil!

    JonK has written an excellent reply. Rather than repeating his words, I refer you to his splendid post. He's faced the same problem of integration in the CORBA/EJB market space that I've seen with minicomputers, LANs, and PCs over the past 15 years.

    To give one example: SQL--the database query language. There are several ANSI standards: SQL-92 is the most recent. But there are tens of thousands of experienced Oracle DBAs out there with years and years of experience with PL/SQL. Who really, really like the non-SQL-92 features in PL/SQL and would doubtless inflict serious bodily injury on any Oracle product manager stupid enough to drop their non-standard features.

    The most effective standard in the database business, by far, has been ODBC. (Brought to you by Microsoft.) Different vendors have written ODBC drivers to achieve different types of functionality--Intersolv's drivers provide exactly the same functionality for each of 34 different databases. Write to Intersolv's drivers for one database, and your code will work practically unchanged on any other database. BUT--those Intersolv drivers are very definitely "least common denominator" drivers. Visigenic, on the other hand, writes drivers to give you every last morsel of performance that a given DBMS supports. Write to a Visigenic driver for Informix and you have no guarantee at all that the same code will run against an Oracle back end. So long as you're certain that the back end won't change, the Visigenic driver will yield substantially better performance.

    In theory, the idea that a DBMS is an interchangeable component is lovely. In practice, a company will focus on a single database platform and stick with it. They hire DBAs with skills on that platform, they develop solutions targeted at that platform, and they have a huge investment in data stored on that platform. Any client with a brain will include due diligence investigation of a DBMS vendor's financials as part of any purchase decision--it's that kind of a buy-in. In a sense it is comparable to a trucking company buying into an engine vendor--the truck may have a Navistar, Freightliner, or Western Star brand name, but there's a Detroit Diesel engine under the hood. If that trucker has 300 mechanics that are factory-trained on Detroit Diesel engines, it's going to take something huge to convince him to switch to Caterpillar.

  • by Danse ( 1026 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @12:39PM (#956912)

    I think the companies are just catering to the types of people that make up the vast majority of attendees at these shows, namely men. If there were more women attending, you'd probably see half-naked men showing up at the booths too. Or whatever else the companies seem to think will attract women. Giant chocolate bars perhaps. :)

  • by Parsec ( 1702 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:04AM (#956913) Homepage Journal
    "The FIN is a non-partisan effort,..." = We'll buy any politician regardless of party.
  • Can't the spin doctors at MS see that this is exactly the sort of cynical campaign that will damage their case in the court of public opinion? I cannot imagine that there are many people more intelligent than "ditto heads" that will fall for this. But maybe there are enough "dittos" out there to make a difference? The stupidity of the American People has never been in doubt, sadly.
  • by Pac ( 9516 ) <> on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @09:55AM (#956915)
    One system to rule them all, one system to find them,
    One system to bring them all and in the darkness bind them,
    In the Land of Redmond, where the Shadows lie.

  • by Bad Mojo ( 12210 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:06AM (#956916) Homepage
    So where are the pictures of the cute booth babes?
    Bad Mojo []
  • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @02:13PM (#956917) Journal

    Thanks for such a thoughtful reply; I haven't any experience as a systems integrator but I will try to bring up a couple points.

    Don't kid yourself--any bargain you make with a tool or hardware vendor puts you in the same position. Suppose (for sake of argument) that somebody conclusively proves that using BSD instead of Linux makes you 38% more attractive to really good looking women. Do you think that Larry Augustin and VA BSD will think of your needs and concerns while they change their name?

    I don't suppose I would expect them to consult me on that; I was thinking more of cases where they stop selling a product that you really depend on for your sales, or take that product in a significantly different direction. In a market that contains Microsoft, you might be lucky to find another company whose product you can use instead - in many such markets, Microsoft will have destroyed those other companies and you won't have any other options besides restructuring your business around the remaining options that MS provides you.

    On the other hand, if Red Hat decides to go in a different direction than I like, I could just start using a commodity Linux or BSD distro from some other vendor, or even take the existing RH source code and tweak it to work for me. Not entirely painless maybe, but not a business-shattering event. No one's integration business would go down the tubes if RH faced similar antitrust action, for example.

    Maybe I'm a little fuzzy on the exact bounds of what systems integrators do, but it seems to me that if you're a Microsoft shop and you only integrate between various MS tools, why can't you be replaced by Microsoft at some point in the future? If they already have the know-how (which they would need to keep their systems compatible in the first place), and they wanted the business, and they already know who your customer is, some future MS Integration Division could easily provide what you provide, probably more cheaply.

    I'm not sure how likely this scenario is, it just seems like you sacrifice a lot of control of your business that way. I can see that in the short-term the single-vendor approach (especially if vendor==MS) is a big win for your company; I'm just not convinced that in the long run it will turn out to be so. As you pointed out, Microsoft's business practices (which are entirely beyond your control) may cause serious problems for your business now.

    There are a lot of teenagers today on SlashDot that don't remember life when a single-seat programmer's license cost $3000 bucks (or 1.5 times the cost of a compact car)...[more on how development used to be].

    I can't argue with that, since I haven't been through it. From my perspective, though, MS is no longer on the side of the angels. You can now get development tools, documentation, tools source, and a direct hotline to the creators of the products that you use for free, without any reciprocal expectations on you. You don't have to use just Red Hat tools, you don't have to just provide Red Hat solutions, you're free to choose the best tool for the job in every circumstance. You aren't locked in and neither are your customers when something better comes along. From my perspective, Microsoft may have started the sea change in developer relations, but it is no longer leading the charge. It's great that you retain that loyalty and I can't fault you for that; I guess we'll have to let the market sort out how much you really have to thank Microsoft for.

  • by fReNeTiK ( 31070 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @11:04AM (#956918)
    I'm emphatically not saying that Micros~1 is linked with the Co$.

    But they are!! At least according to the german government...

    The integrated disk defragmenter software (DiskKeeper) built into Windows 2K is made by Executive Software, a company run according to Scientology guidelines. This has triggered an investigation by the BSI (Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik - federal agency for security in Information technologies), who are to check if there may be some backdoors or snooping of users data in W2K.

    Mind you, they cannot prohibit it from being sold, but all government bodies could for example refuse to buy Microsoft products (short anecdote: recently, a study has been posted on a german governemnt webserver which suggests that the generalized use of free/opensource software for the governements IT needs would substantially lower costs and increase security of the state's computer infrastructure).

    The BSI is currently in negotiation with Microsoft to determine if and how much of the W2K source-code it's experts may get access to. Interestingly enough, the US has excerted some pressure on Germany to convince them to stop it's repression on Scientology...

  • by jackmama ( 34455 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:03AM (#956919)
    My favorite part is that this is a 'grassroots effort' but it has a Redmond address. One can only speculate.

    The address is []. What's to speculate?

  • by Platinum Dragon ( 34829 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:06AM (#956920) Journal
    Repeat after me, scream it for everyone to hear...

    AS-TRO-TURF! AS-TRO-TURF! AS-TRO-TURF! (repeat ad nauseam)

    Hey, it's not just for politicians during election years anymore!
  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:33AM (#956921) Homepage

    And of course in French it means....

    The End

    Which for the MS Monopoly it could well be.
  • by satanic bunny ( 69378 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @10:10AM (#956922)
    Yep, it's a really good deal for these developers and those stockholders and blah and blah. Except what has the "network" actually done for the "American people"?

    Number One, forever corrupted use of the term "innovate" or "innovation".

    Number Two, created a huge number of companies run by ex-Microsofties. I just left one because, frankly, the management was (without their monopoly) totally clueless about (a) basic business, (b) truly innovative technology (c) people (d) any kind of actual creativity.

    What's sad but also scary about the Redmond factor is that its loyal troops are subliminally programmed to trust only other rich guys - and to trust only other people who worked at M$. They seem like it's not that way, but in any situation where decision-making is called-for, you'll find even the 3rd-rater M$-ex ranks higher than anyone from elsewhere.

    It's truly sad, unwittingly hilarious - and pervasive all around the Puget Sound.

    Of course, in many companies around Redmond and Seattle, this leads inexorably to diminishing returns.

    "Innovation"? The loyalists I worked with couldn't even spell it. When their company began falling apart, too, all the ex-M$ programmers headed back to - a quote - "the ready arms of Uncle Bill".

    PS People at several national news orgs have for months refered gleefully to the FIN as "Microsoft Pravda".
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:45AM (#956923) Homepage Journal
    Micrisoft has been doing the "Astroturf" thing for years. At the 95 Comdex, myself and a buch of other team OS/2 Members invaded with a bit of help from IBM (They got us exhibitors' passes so we could get in before the show started.) MS brought along "Team Microsoft" which consisted of MS Employees. They wanted it to look like they had grassroots supporters too. For some reason, they've always been sensitive to the fact that no one would go out on their dime and promote their software.

    Numerous times since then, they've been caught paying press for articles or having their employees write happy letters, etc. It's at the point where if something nice is being said about them, I immediately suspect the speaker of having been paid off.

  • Hi!

    First off--a word of thanks. A friend and sometime employee who lurks on SlashDot sent me an email this morning that read, "so--kicking over anthills on /. again?" I fully expected to see some ugly flames when I checked in. I am delighted by the posts of those of you who have taken the time to respond. SlashDot has a reputation for trolls, and I'm delighted by the tone and tenor of these comments. It's a very engaging conversation.

    ...I was thinking more of cases where they [Microsoft] stop selling a product that you really depend on for your sales, or take that product in a significantly different direction. In a market that contains Microsoft, you might be lucky to find another company whose product you can use instead - in many such markets, Microsoft will have destroyed those other companies and you won't have any other options besides restructuring your business around the remaining options that MS provides you.

    That's a very good point. In fact, that situation is presently happening with Microsoft Site Server. Site Server Commerce Edition 3.0 is a relatively cheap tool, and it does Registration and Membership quite nicely. Site Server Commerce Edition 2000 is a big-ticket tool that does all sorts of stuff--but all I need is plain vanilla registration and membership. I don't want all the other stuff, and I don't want to make my client (an Internet startup) have to pay for it. Microsoft is doing precisely what you suggest: moving away from what I want to do. (Or, "I don't want to go there, at least not today.") What to do?

    For the short term, we're writing our own version. It isn't integrated with the OS in the slick way that Microsoft's is--in fact, it depends upon inclusion files in each Active Server Page we write. But we believe in stuff like the CMM and repetitive processes, so that's easy to handle.

    From my perspective, Microsoft may have started the sea change in developer relations, but it is no longer leading the charge.

    My friend, Charlie, whom I mentioned above, is entirely of that opinion. And Microsoft's latest server pricing announcement lends a lot of weight to that view. I'm very interested on what the next round of Visual Studio will look like--if the purported breakthrough in Internet development tools really amounts to something I'll get a lot more excited about Microsoft. If the "breakthrough" amounts to another kludge like Visual InterDev I may look at Borland's Kylix with a lot more enthusiasm....

  • Hi!

    Disclaimer: As I said before, I know pretty much nothing about professional DB tools; if MS has in fact made things significantly cheaper/easier for the average DB programmer, I'd appreciate hearing about it.

    Not just "significantly" cheaper and easier--dramatically cheaper and easier. The $3000 per seat licenses I mentioned earlier were the kind of scam database vendors got away with because those were the only tools you could use to connect to a given database. Microsoft blew that entire market strategy away with ODBC (Open Data Base Connectivity). The last time I checked there were 34 different databases with ODBC drivers available from at least one vendor. OLE DB (such as Microsoft's Active Data Objects) provides significantly higher performance to Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle, and other vendors that create an OLE DB interface.

    Microsoft didn't do this out of altruism. They did it to permit developers using Microsoft tools to connect to any database out there--but in the process they made it possible for developers using anybody else's tools (PowerBuilder, Delphi, etc.) to connect to those databases as well. The net result was that the proprietary database developer marketplace (Progress, some others) has dried up.

    They're presently driving the price of what I'd term "mid-range" database solutions down with the Microsoft Database Engine. It's SQL Server 7.0 without the GUI. Develop the app with SQL Server, ship the app with the MSDE. You have an embedded database with positively kick-booty performance (SQL Server 7 is an absolutely groovy DBMS) with no nickel-and-dime client license fees.

    Compare/contrast with database development for the AS/400 platform. Big bucks for the AS/400, big bucks for the OS, and even big bucks for each minor upgrade to the OS. Big bucks for DB2. And big bucks per seat for every user. Who is, of course, sitting in front of a PC running a $400 per seat 3270 terminal emulator package. A Windows client/server solution stomps that whole conglomeration silly both on price and performance. Being able to distribute it across the Internet using anybody's browser makes it even easier. The Total Cost of Ownership is dramatically lower with the Microsoft solution.

    You should understand that this kind of behavior is the "bullying" that Microsoft's allies (particularly Oracle) are crying about. Oracle has good reason to cry--they charge an astronomical price for a very good database. Microsoft, with SQL Server 7.0, has a comparable database for most applications at a fraction of the price. Larry Ellison was running around a year ago offering $1 million to anybody who could show that SQL Server was as fast as Oracle--he withdrew the offer right before SQL Server 7 shipped. Oracle's political work to start the Dept. of Justice investigation (including $750,000 in free software and services to the Senate Judiciary Committee), their coordination of the DofJ anti-trust suit, and their snooping around the trash of Jonathan Zuck are all of a piece: they have some whopping great margins to protect, and Threat Number One is Microsoft.

    The next question is, is there an Open Source solution that is even cheaper? Yes and no--the tools cost less, but some of the tools simply are not available. (For instance, I'm not aware of any Open Source DBMS that are supported on Linux or BSD by ER/win or InfoModeler. I'm also not aware of any Linux- or BSD-compatible database modeling software similar to ER/win or InfoModeler.) The time you spend doing stuff that Microsoft already does for you out of the box negates a lot of the Open Source cost advantage.

  • by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @09:04AM (#956926) Homepage Journal
    From my experience working at a Microsoft Cerified Solutions Provider [] last summer as well as the fact that I have a few friends working at MSFT plus my former constant perusal of the talkback at ZDNet, I can say unequivocably that there is no subculture of Microsoft fanatics past, present or future.

    Heck, even my friends that work there aren't Do Or Die about it, unlike most Slashdotters are with Linux or Open Source. Conversations with them have lead me to believe that this entire MSFT vs. Open Source war is generally one-sided with Slashdotters making mountains out of molehills at every turn.

    In my opinion, the Freedom To Innovate Network [] isn't targetted at the average hacker or software developer. It's a means to gather popular user support from people like my mom's friends who feel that they'll have to stop using PCs once MSFT is broken up since Windows is all they know and (in their opinion) without MSFT they'd still view computers with fear and awe. This demographic is a lot more powerful vote-wise (there are more of them than hackers) and easier to persuade than the developer audience. After all, most of them already feel that MSFT is being targetted not for any wrongdoings but simply for being too successful.

  • by ( 142825 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:03AM (#956927) Homepage
    It includes a email address.

    Does it also includes supporting reverse engineering? What about fraudelent EULAs that say if you don't agree, that you can get a refund? Or that permit you to reverse engineer to be able to be compatible?

    Me thinks this emperor is nude, and it's not a pretty.

  • by Pxtl ( 151020 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:12AM (#956928) Homepage
    Am I the only one who finds the presence of those buxom babes at technology (and comic, and electronic gaming) conferences really disturbing? I mean, I'd like to think we're better then that sort of idiotic pandering. Sure, she's a babe, but if her presence is encouraging me to by into their products, there's something seriously fscked up here. Oh well, maybe I just expect too much from humans. I'll just have to work more on the super-beings that I'm breeding from gerbils.
  • by FooRat ( 182725 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @11:01AM (#956929)

    I guess your perception and my perception of "cheap" differ substantially. Or perhaps you simply work for a large company with a generous development budget.

    But I work at a small company; and if generous capital isn't available, then MS software sucks you dry quickly. If you have, say, 5 VC++ programmers and 5 VB programmers (for example) the costs add up extremely quickly: 10 licenses for Visual SourceSafe, 5 licenses for VC++, 5 licenses for VB, a copy of Windows NT server (plus client licenses for all users, plus hardware to run it on) to run the SS database on, somebody to administer the server, 10 copies of Windows 2000 (unless you want to go nuts by developing on crashy Win98.)

    When you're a big company, those expenses are probably a tiny percentage of the overall expense budget; but when you're a small company, you're talking a substantial percentage of your expenses.

    Makes it kind of difficult to get off the ground. But I guess MS would rather target big companies because big companies have lots more money to spend. Very much like our local banks here - they only want business clients - they try as hard as possible to drive away individual personal clients, because its far less work for much more profit with business clients.

    "I have a strongly vested interest in the success of Microsoft, and I'm not shy about saying so"

    When you compare MS to the old Unix-based "regimes", yes, MS is cheaper. But times have changed, and MS profit margins are very high - all it would take is a little competition from a few other companies with some development capital to create some decent products to compete head-on with the VisualStudio series to bring prices way down, quality up, and speed up innovation (Visual SourceSafe is an excellent example of a product that is completely stagnant for lack of competition.)

    Have you considered that your "strongly vested interest in the success of Microsoft" may be at least somewhat a dependency; a dependency which exists for a lack of alternatives? If this is the case then your argument amounts to not much more than the "we can't break up Microsoft because we're all so freaking dependent on their products" argument.

  • by synaptic-impulse ( 188412 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @09:55AM (#956930)
    The best part - is that they copyrighted their "innovative version" of the flag!

    Next thing you know - they will sue the US for immitating their "look and feel"

    and maybe they'll come after us if we print out their flag - and burn it!! :)
  • by KFCKilla ( 205660 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @09:45AM (#956931)

    You start your post by mocking those who would dare to talk about the "Microsoft hegemony" and "bullying" practices, but then seem to conclude your message by describing the de facto way these practices exist between Microsoft and developers.

    I agree that it's convenient that Windows is as close as there is to a standard, and that they can use this to their and their developers' advantage. At the same time I'm not about to say that this is anything but what it is, monopolistic practice. This is exactly what the DoJ is griping about. Microsoft is using it's rank in the industry to perpetuate its products and launch new ones. How can smaller firms compete? And yes, Microsoft has worked very hard and intelligently to achieve their current status, but that doesn't justify what currently exists. Rewarding business saavy is not as important as a competitive marketplace.

    It's too bad that under the current system you seem to benefit from what in the long run will only stifle innovation and create larger problems. The thing about a monopoly is that it IS convenient, but convenience isn't necessarily efficient or even, more importantly, desirable in the long term.

  • CASE IN POINT: Even while the court was coming to a verdict, Msft released Windows 2000 - suddenly AOL is broken but MSN works great!!
    Here's a news flash for you: AOL 5.0 is not compatible with any variant of Windows NT, including Windows 2000! I just checked, and as far as I can tell, the only AOL client that looks like it will work with NT is, get this, AOL 4.0 for Windows 3.1.

    Here's why. Have you ever seen what sort of sinister things an AOL install does to Windows 9x? AOL 5.0 is so self-important, it seems to think it needs its own virtual network adapter, instead of opening a TCP port. Or better yet, a COM port, which is what older AOL clients did before Steve Case thought he was bigger than Jesus. The whole thing is heavily dependent on 9x's specific network components. (And by calling them network components, I'm paying Microsoft a far greater compliment than they deserve.) AOL 5.0 isn't compatible with 2000 in the same way 9x video drivers aren't compatible with 2000.

    Fact is, AOL doesn't make a client that gets along with NT/2000. No grand conspiracies, just poor software.

    Every day we're standing in a wind tunnel
    Facing down the future coming fast
    - Rush
  • by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:42AM (#956933) Homepage
    into a commons OS and an Apps division reduce their freedom to innovate? The OS division will be free to add features that the Apps division PLUS EVERY OTHER App Company can take advantage of, just as well as the Msft Apps division will be free to innovate anything they want and will have to use the same api's as anyone else. The apps division can request os services and the os division can fulfil or not. The only thing different will be that the competitive playing field will be leveled for other software companies to compete with the msft apps just like msft.

    CASE IN POINT: Even while the court was coming to a verdict, Msft released Windows 2000 - suddenly AOL is broken but MSN works great!! One of our sales force with an existing AOL account got a new notebook and we couldn't get AOL to connect, so now he's using MSN. All we consumers want is freedom of choice to pick AOL, MSN or whatever on their own merits without having the perversion of having an Msft product given special treatment because they're in cahoots. MSN should be completely free to innovate, just on their own terms and not by getting secret inside information that's not available to competitors first.

    We really need to keep the heat on these guys and not let some BS campaign twist reality, for their own good as well as ours. Only a continuence of consumer choice, as well as educating consumers to the choices they have will keep Msft on their collective toes, improve the quality of software, prevent monopolistic price gouging and make it affordable to everyone.
  • by Bearpaw ( 13080 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:23AM (#956934)
    A "grassroots network" ... based in Redmond and hosted on

    Actually, this is pretty typical Microsoft behavior. They take a standard -- in this case, the meaning of the term "grassroots" -- and alter it to benefit themselves and trash it for everyone else.

    Sounds like this actually falls under the term "astroturf activism" -- fake grassroots. It's a (relatively) recent, um, innovation by unethical PR departments. Put up a falsely-fronted and supposedly independent "activist" organization to spin things the way you want them spun, while giving the oh-so-wholesome appearance that "concerned citizens" approve of various corporatist policies. It takes cynical manipulation to a whole new level. (Well, it's relatively new for corporations, I think. For gov'ts, this is an old propaganda trick.)

    Voices from the FIN:
    "I fully intend to e-mail my representatives, and I hope they realize the important impact that Microsoft has had on the computing industry alone, and ALL the other industries as well."
    (supposedly) From a FIN site visitor.

    Oh, they do realize the impact MS has had. The Department of Justice in particular is very aware of Microsoft's "impact".

  • by KFury ( 19522 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @10:30AM (#956935) Homepage
    As a Microsoft shareholder (I know, I know, but I do think they're undervalued, even if they're evil), I received a reply card inviting me to join the Freedom to Innovate network, along with other shareholder materials.

    Hardly a grassroots effort.

    Kevin Fox
  • by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @11:04AM (#956936)
    Do I have to agree with every position FIN takes?

    No. As a member, you can use the facts to make informed decisions of your own. Meanwhile, we'll still count your membership towards our number of supporters on issues we lobby for despite whatever conclusions you make on your own.

  • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @09:28AM (#956937)
    I would like to see 10 things that Microsoft has innovated (not borrowed or purchased or based of already existing work) listed.

    I'll have a go. Not counting legal and marketing innovations, here's what I came up with:

    1. Microsoft Bob

    2. "Clippy", your MS Office assistant

    3. The General Protection Fault: One error that covers all problems. Reboot.

    4. Visual Basic autorun in some versions of Outlook. We all "LUV" that feature.

    5. A web interface as the default text viewer in Win98.

    6. An entire game hidden as an office application's easter egg.

    7. Step One for shutting down Windows9x is, "Click on Start".

    8. "Enhanced" Java.

    9. The friendly warning message Windows 3.0 gave to all DR DOS users.

    10. The RANT ("Redundant Array of NT servers")... neccessity is often the mother of invention.

  • by grammar nazi ( 197303 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @12:41PM (#956938) Journal
    I signed up for the freedom to innovate network and sent the following snail mail letter.

    To my legislature...

    I am a big supporter of you. I've met your son, Todd, and I think that you are doing an excellent job.

    I'm a littl e worried about my rights as a consumer. I know that large companies often try to avoid laws or break laws in order to maximize their profits. I realize that large corporations that do this should be stopped, hence I support antitrust legislation. Please, enfore legislation that protects consumers from large companies.

    The purpose of this letter is to show you how large companies such as Microsoft make it so that it seems like they have public support. I joined a Microsoft "freedom to innovate" group with a fake name and fake information. If you actually recieve this letter, then you will see that the whole 'Freedom to innovate network' is hogwash. The large corporation Microsoft is putting forth propoganda that makes it seem like they have public support. They don't have my support and if you are reading this letter, then the whole Freedom to Innovate Network is compomised, because many other members may be doing what I'm doing and the membership numbers will not accurately reflect the people who think microsoft should be allowed continue its anti-competitive behavior.

    The name/address at the bottom of this letter is correct, so feel free to send your reply back to there. Please don't accept the the Microsoft Freedom to Innovate Network. The only good that it did was sending this letter to you.

    grammar nazi
    Actually, I used my real name and address here.

    I wonder if it'll get sent?

  • by 11223 ( 201561 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:02AM (#956939)
    To quote the leafelet: As they consider anything that could severly impact Microsoft and the technology industry, it's important that you express your views.

    Isn't this, then a network of people commited to helping Microsoft remain a monopolistic bully? Will they also go after Linux, as it could "severely impact Microsoft"? And what does "better products at lower prices" mean? Have they even been watching the price of the competition's products - from Linux to BeOS, most is free or $100. Gotta love that Microsoft - resorting to outright lies and misinformation.

  • by Uruk ( 4907 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:05AM (#956940)
    Do I have to agree with every position FIN takes?

    No. As a member, you can use the facts to make informed decisions...

    Oh thank you Bill, honestly, I wouldn't know that it's alright to think for myself unless you told me that it's OK. I can't BELIEVE this question needed to be asked.

  • by artdodge ( 9053 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:15AM (#956941) Homepage
    As a protocol junkie, I love the fact that FIN is part of the connection tear-down procedure for TCP. It means, roughly: "I have nothing else to say".

    Good for a grin, if nothing else.

  • by Thagg ( 9904 ) <> on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @12:54PM (#956942) Journal
    My favorite line was 'Participation is voluntary'.

    Now, what possessed them to write that? What could they have been thinking? That people might read this flyer and think that perhaps participation wasn't voluntary? That by reading the flyer you were automatically a member of the group?

    Could they have thought that there is any possible way that they could make participation non-voluntary?

    Little sentences like 'Participitation is voluntary' show how much Microsoft operates in a different world than everybody else. Which is the 'real world' is an exercise for the reader.


  • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @09:56AM (#956943) Journal

    Don't you worry about being discarded by MS once you can no longer expand their market share any further, or if you come to be perceived as a threat to them? It sounds to me like a very Faustian bargain - you've done well for yourself by allying with the market leader, but at the same time your business is irrevocably tied to their business goals and their bottom line. As you mentioned, if MS changes (or is forced to change) their business strategies they aren't going to give you and your business any consideration.

    Let me put that another way - now that you know the dependencies that this sort of partnership locks you into, would you take the risk again and get into a similar relationship with the next big technology company?

  • by FPhlyer ( 14433 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:14AM (#956944) Homepage
    Maybe they are terming it as a "Grass Roots Effort" Because you would have to be smoking that grass in order to assume that Microsoft is respomisible for innovation.

    On a more serious note: Perhaps it is "Grass Roots" because the effort is being led by Microsoft employees and not directly by the corporation's management?

    I think that my respect for Microsoft would triple if they would just drop the "Freedom to Innovate" charade and start up a "Freedom to Capitalize" movement.
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @09:15AM (#956945)
    The last time I saw "astroturf" (as in "fake grassroots") like this was in 1997 in a "60 minutes" documentary [] on the Cult of $cientology:
    [ ... ] hundreds of Scientologists from around the country wrote virtually identical letters [ ... ] Included among them was this model letter with instruction "to be put in your own words."

    [ picture of bunch of letters sent by Scienos to CAN, including "Model Letter" with "(to be put in own words)" hand written on top ]

    I'm emphatically not saying that Micros~1 is linked with the Co$.

    What I am saying is that Micros~1's upper management and grunt personnel are exhibiting similar reactions to a crisis where the facts, once exposed, threaten their world view:

    • Delusion: all the forged testimony during the trial, in particular the videotape that MSFT tried to pass off as "real" footage, was forced to admit was "just a simulation" when exposed, and whose justification for the faked evidence was "well, the simulation shows what it would have been like had we really done the experiment".
    • Denial: Endless trumpeting about how Micros~1's triumph during the trial was somehow inevitable, ignoring the mounting evidence that indicated that they'd lost all credibility before the Judge.
    • Astroturfing: Countless brainwashed minions and bald-faced propaganda campaigns, all writing essentially identical letters supporting the party line...
    • Demonization of the Other: Slogans and buzzwords in Co$ for its opponents include words like "bigot", and for themselves, the notion that they fight for "religious freedom". Likewise, opponents of MSFT are anti-free-market radicals, and supporters are people who fight for "freedom to innovate". The more evidence to the contrary (Co$: "Clear the planet" - exterminate all who do not join the Cult, MSFT: "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish"), the stronger the rhetoric becomes. The red, white, and blue in the MSFT pamphlet was so blatantly propagandistic that it was almost comical.
    I could go on, but you get the idea.

    I wonder if this is universal? These behaviors appear throughout history, but are most common in top-heavy authoritarian regimes faced with an imminent demise brought about by a new paradigm.

    (Thinking back to the dying days of the cold war, when former Soviet republics seemed to break away and collapse on a weekly basis -- Romainian dictator Nikolai Ceaucescu appeared to sincerely believe that his people loved him, right up until they booed him in public, summarily revolted, and put him up against the wall within the week...)

    Prediction: Therapists who want a guaranteed clientele over the next 15-20 years should set up shop within 100 miles of Redmond :)

  • by wnissen ( 59924 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:04AM (#956946)
    ... That membership is still voluntary! I bet when comes out we'll have to fill out a registration form *and* a "Freedom to Innovate" membership form before we're allowed to use our applications!

  • by John Murdoch ( 102085 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:57AM (#956947) Homepage Journal


    Is there such a culture surrounding windows? I'm asking honestly, because I don't know... Is there a huge following that would join the FIN, support microsoft, and rally around them during these "trying times"

    In a word, yes. There is a very large community of programmers and database analysts who have grown substantial businesses by using Microsoft tools and technologies. Microsoft has grown by expressly targeting these people (including me) as "influential end users." We're the people Microsoft originally created the Microsoft Developer Network for, and the people that Microsoft is constantly plying with information and inexpensive tools.

    When people rant about "Microsoft hegemony" and "bullying" they're being clueless. Or showing their age. The way that Microsoft has developed a monopoly isn't by driving around with fedoras and machine guns, threatening some CIO's family unless he installs Windows NT. Microsoft has been much, much more sneaky than that. Microsoft has, since the late 1980s, expressly targeted the "influential end user" (their term) and particularly software developers. They have expressly sought to gain "mindshare" (I believe an original Microsoft term, but perhaps "embraced and extended" from somebody else) among developers for a very specific purpose: custom apps written by developers require customers to buy the operating system.

    Microsoft has been candid about this all along: they'll provide all kinds of tools and help, because at the end of the day they want the client to buy the OS. And the more of the OS they buy, the greater the opportunity for site license deals on Office, etc.

    For the developer, it's a great deal. Microsoft development tools are always substantially less expensive than anybody else's, and Microsoft bends over backward to get you to sign up for programs (like the ISV program) that give you the tools even cheaper. Price developer versions of Oracle tools and databases for a team of five developers, for instance--Oracle won't quote you a price. They'll schedule a meeting, bring in a bunch of suits, try to estimate how much you're worth, ask a zillion questions about who your clients are and how much they're worth, and then quote you an astronomical sum. Microsoft will sign you up as a Solution Provider for $2495, which gives you licenses to everything. And they'll refer customers to you as well (unlike Oracle, who has no compunction about calling on your customers).

    Partnering with Microsoft is a very, very good deal. But (and here's the wrinkle:) everybody involved knows how the deal works. In the end, Microsoft wants the OS sale. In effect, they're subsidizing all the tools, all the conferences, all the contact, all the support based on sales of the OS. Split the OS off into a different company than products (especially developer tools) and all of a sudden we're looking at a whole new pricing model. And for the small companies out there, like mine, an uncertain future.

    So, yes--I've registered as a member of FIN. I've written to my congressman, and to both my senators. I have a strongly vested interest in the success of Microsoft, and I'm not shy about saying so.

  • by John Murdoch ( 102085 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @01:00PM (#956948) Homepage Journal


    Don't you worry about being discarded by MS once you can no longer expand their market share any further, or if you come to be perceived as a threat to them? It sounds to me like a very Faustian bargain - you've done well for yourself by allying with the market leader, but at the same time your business is irrevocably tied to their business goals and their bottom line. As you mentioned, if MS changes (or is forced to change) their business strategies they aren't going to give you and your business any consideration.

    Don't kid yourself--any bargain you make with a tool or hardware vendor puts you in the same position. Suppose (for sake of argument) that somebody conclusively proves that using BSD instead of Linux makes you 38% more attractive to really good looking women. Do you think that Larry Augustin and VA BSD will think of your needs and concerns while they change their name?

    Very, very few software systems involve a single tool. Sure--you can write an application with Visual Basic (or GCC). But so can any schmo. What companies pay outside consultants (like my company) for is integrating technologies that their in-house people can't make work. In other words, linking Products A, B, C, and D. If you spend much time in this business you will discover a simple truth: linking any two products from different vendors can be a pain. Linking any three products from three different vendors is always a colossal pain. Linking four products from four different vendors is simply suicidal.

    Unless at least three of those products come from the same vendor. And if all of those products come from the same vendor, you have a fairly good bet that they'll work together. And if they don't work together, the vendor at least can't put on much of a finger-pointing exercise. And if you have a longstanding relationship with that vendor (particularly if they introduced you to the client), they'll make sure you're successful.

    In other words, if you're going to integrate systems, you tend to get close to a few large vendors. There are Microsoft shops, like mine; or Oracle shops; or Sun shops; or IBM shops; or CA shops. The big advantage (as I see it) to Microsoft is that they do a much better job of courting the developer than anybody else, and they offer more tools (SQL Server, Site Server, etc.) that I can put together in a single solution for a client. Even if every one of those tools is a second-best product, I can create a kick-booty solution for the client on-budget and on-schedule because I know in advance that all the pieces will work together, and I know where to go looking if they won't.

    Buying into a vendor's developers program does tie you to that vendor. If you're developing solutions for AS/400 users, it pays for you to ante up the bucks to join IBM's program (which includes [cough, cough] shelling out the bucks to buy an AS/400). But once you do, you're an AS/400 shop. You're not going to go writing solutions for the Unisys ClearPath server or the Unisys A mainframe.

    All that said, there's another reason for loyalty to Microsoft. There are a lot of teenagers today on SlashDot that don't remember life when a single-seat programmer's license cost $3000 bucks (or 1.5 times the cost of a compact car). They don't remember the arcane joys of writing Epson LQ-500-compatible printer commands into print routines, or having to buy a third-party help product to display context-sensitive help. They don't remember having to pay $100 per seat for a TCP/IP stack, or $200 per seat for database driver licenses. Microsoft made all that stuff go away. And yes--the guy who was ripping off everybody for overpriced ODBC drivers? He got whupped. The guy charging big bucks for the TCP/IP stacks? Still around, but in a different business. The guys who made careers out of writing printer driver code for word processors (remember print driver disks, anybody?)--presumably doing something else. Microsoft made all that happen--which made using computers, and developing solutions for computers, a whole lot simpler for everybody.

    I admire 'em for that--which is why I count myself a Microsoft Loyalist.

  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @10:21AM (#956949) Journal

    Accountant: Hey Taco, ad revenues are down this week. Do something.

    Taco: Don't worry I'll post another Microsoft article.

    Accountant: Thank God for Microsoft, gauranteed 500 post articles. I see you're poking fun of Microsoft for using the term "grass roots". Do you think anybody is going to realize that your average joe really likes Microsoft? Have they seen the ABC polls? Do they ever talk to mechanics, soccer moms, those kinds of people?

    Taco: No, for them "grass roots" is the Linux hacker community.

    Accountant: Well, I guess that's to be expected from people who call "outside" the "big blue room with the bright light".

  • by wishus ( 174405 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:07AM (#956950) Journal
    Everyone knows about the dedication of the linux subculture, fanatics, loyalists, whatever you want to call them.

    Is there such a culture surrounding windows? I'm asking honestly, because I don't know... Is there a huge following that would join the FIN, support microsoft, and rally around them during these "trying times" ??

    I was just wondering exactly what leads microsoft to PR moves like this... are they trying to tap into this culture? create one? whatever you may say about gates/microsoft, they are where they are today from sheer business sense.. it may not be the best code in the world, or the best product, but they are sinister business people..

    i was wondering why they are throwing money into a PR thing like this - whether they are rallying the subculture, or trying to create one..

  • by 11223 ( 201561 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:05AM (#956951)
    Also - the leaflet is a copy of the information on the website []. Don't waste your time trying to read a scanned image - it's all on the web site (and then some, just for more yuks!)
  • by happystink ( 204158 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2000 @08:02AM (#956952)
    Q: Should I drink the Kool-aid?

    A: Yes, drink it all. We'll all be together soon, in Redmond. Together forever, and ever.

Happiness is a positive cash flow.