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Microsoft: The Gatekeeper of the Internet 539

jeffy124 writes "C|net is embarking on a seven day comprehensive report on how Microsoft is moving themselves into position to be The Gatekeeper Of The Internet through Windows XP. The first installment explains the basics of how this is going to happen: Reminders that last for days encouraging users to sign up for Passport, and how Windows will evenutally resemble services like AOL."
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Microsoft: The Gatekeeper of the Internet

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  • Microsoft's Future (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jwilhelm ( 238084 )
    I think that Microsoft's future, once they have their whole .NET and Passport thing set up, will ride on whether they can provide the security that they claim to be able to provide. It's possible that people will sign up and use the service, but I think that the very second that they have a security breach, and information leaks out, people will stop taking them seriously, and they will be doomed.
    • by cbowland ( 205263 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @09:50AM (#2446297)
      I think that is very optimistic considering the public's history with MS. MS products have repeated proven themselves to be very vulnerable to security breaches and yet there is little consumer backlash. Having the dominant position in the marketplace makes it very difficult for the ordinary user to switch away from MS regardless of any security problems.
      • I wish that wasn't insightful, but it's true. :( Stupid real world, not working the way it theoretically should...
      • Consumer tolerance of MS flaws and holes is about equililent to finding a razor blade in every 5th box of one brand of cereal and continuing to buy it, under the assumption that eventually they'll figure out how those things get in there and you'll no longer need a glass of Bactine at the ready on your breakfast table.

        Thought: Microsoft as Gatekeeper... well, everyone already knows worms can tunnel under a gate, how fitting.

      • by vitaflo ( 20507 )
        MS products have repeated proven themselves to be very vulnerable to security breaches and yet there is little consumer backlash. Having the dominant position in the marketplace makes it very difficult for the ordinary user to switch away from MS regardless of any security problems.

        Add to that the fact that when most average users have problems with their computers, they blame the computer maker, not Microsoft. I don't know how many times I've had friends tell me that "This Compaq is a piece of crap, next time I'm buying Dell", or "The HD on this Dell just grinds, I should have baught that Sony Viao", etc, when most of the time it's not the hardware, it's the OS that's screwed things up for them.

        Obviously, like the above poster said, it's because most average users don't think of there being any other option for an OS, so they blame things where they do have an option: The maker of the hardware.
    • I'm afraid I just don't agree with you. Peple are used to security breaches, they happen all the time. I'm not just talking about the Swiss-cheese IIS, but other companies who aren't able to run their own systems securely, from banks which make data avaiable to the wrong people, to online retailers which leave sensitive data on unsecure webservers.

      Okay, a breach would damage their rep a little, and some people would stop using the service, but I think the majorty would just accept the failure as a temporary glitch and continue to use their services.


    • by xmedar ( 55856 )
      From this bit -

      Mission: Domination of the Internet []

      In the second through sixth attempts to connect to the Net, Windows XP will implore consumers to sign up for something called Passport--an identification technology that, in many ways, is a key to Microsoft's future.

      Maybe that shows how reluctant people will be to sign up as is not compelling enough for them to sign up at the 1st opportunity.

      If Microsoft is successful, Windows XP will eventually resemble an online service like America Online, which runs on top of Windows and other operating systems. That would allow consumers to bypass AOL and other rivals altogether, essentially turning Windows into a one-stop destination that combines AOL-like services with easy access to Microsoft desktop products such as Word and Excel.

      I can't ever see M$ ever running anything on a platform other than Windows. As for combining with AOL like services, well AOL has been doing that for many many years, M$ is far behind in the game, and remember AOL has ~30million users against a total Net population of >600million, having a 5% global market share is not what I would call stunning.

      Through HailStorm, recently renamed .Net My Services, Microsoft envisions offering consumers and businesses a consistent set of information and services to any devices, whether they be personal computers, handheld devices or cellular phones--often at a cost to the receiver, the provider or both.

      Anyone remember "Windows everywhere"? Or the cliams that COM would be running on a large number of platorms? They failed and this will too, as I said above M$ will only do this on Windows, it might licence someone to do a half asses port like with COM and use that to claim cross platform capability.

      Many people would welcome the convenience of a reasonably secure mechanism that would instantly find whomever and whatever they were looking for online while allowing them to use various sites and services with a single password entered only once.

      Oh yes, I and millions of others really want to hand over my credit card and other details to a reasonably secure system, just like I want to be running ISS and get hit with CR or Nimda. Of course Passport will store more than just CC details so expect there to be cases of identity theft, can you imagine tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people having to cope with having their identities stolen and used in fraudulent activities? How much might this cost the economies of the world? More than the WTC bombing? Ten times more?

      In an interview with CNET this summer, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates adamantly defended his company's right to evolve Windows with new features to meet market demand. "Our customers do want us to make Windows richer and more reliable," he said. "So Microsoft's commitment is to add features that customers want. If we can't add any features, then what is Windows?"

      Gates questioned why AOL has not received as much criticism as Microsoft for bundling products and services. "Has AOL ever added any new features to their products?" he asked rhetorically. "They have dominant market share of all their stuff. They actually added features? Unbelievable! Who are these people adding features? What's going on here? Well, what's going on is that the PC industry is the most competitive industry that has ever been in terms of software availability and advances."

      As above, AOL only has a small proportion of all Net users ~5% whereas Windows runs on ~90% of all computers, nice straw man there Bill.

      Other Windows XP testers complained that the operating system's graphical appearance, which resembles that of MSN Explorer, looked like a cartoon.

      Elmer FUD or Mr. Magoo?

      Yet this kind of apparent contradiction is nothing new to Microsoft, which has long operated on the Darwinian assumption that the fittest of products will survive--as long as they are part of the Windows family.

      Dinosaur fails to predict meteor strike / extinction, News at 11.

      "It reminds me of the old story about how to boil a frog," he said. "If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will immediately jump out. But if you put a frog in a pot of warm water and slowly raise the temperature until the water boils, you have frog soup.

      "Consumers aren't going to be thrown into a kettle of boiling water from the get-go, but rather enticed into an inviting, lukewarm bath, and then the temperature will be slowly raised over several release cycles."

      I doubt the same tactic will work with Penguins though.
      • Oh yes, I and millions of others really want to hand over my credit card and other details to a reasonably secure system, just like I want to be running ISS and get hit with CR or Nimda. Of course Passport will store more than just CC details so expect there to be cases of identity theft, can you imagine tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people having to cope with having their identities stolen and used in fraudulent activities? How much might this cost the economies of the world? More than the WTC bombing? Ten times more?

        A system like Passport is only as secure as:
        1: the users (can they be tricked into giving up their credentials?)
        2: The users' computers (Can the cookies be stolen?)

        But with that already in place, the fact that all the information is IN ONE PLACE means that the incentive to attack and breech it is greater than it ever has been in the past. Dot GNU resolves this problem but does not resolve the above two issues will remain unresolved.
  • by Desus ( 253573 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @09:52AM (#2446311) Homepage Journal
    I don't understand Slashdot. Not everything Microsoft does is evil. Hell, I want them to be the gatekeepers of the internet. I find that worrying about things like personal freedom, privacy, and security tax my little mind too much. So I'd rather have a corporation deal with that for me.

    Also, my mother still picks out my clothing for me. Decisions like this worry me so much.

  • by Kletus Cassidy ( 230405 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @09:53AM (#2446316)
    Wouldn't it have made more sense for Slashdot to wait for the entire 7 day series to be written and link to it all than to link to the first two articles? What's going to happen now, is Slashdot going to provide a link to each installment daily or revisit the story in a week when all 7 articles have been printed?

    BEST QUOTE FROM THE ARTICLE "If successful, Microsoft could challenge AOL Time Warner and other media giants for control of the Internet and entirely new industries"

    Basically, C|Net is admitting that AOL already practically owns the Internet and Micro$oft is trying to give them a run for their money. I usually don't support Micro$oft but I'd rather there was some competition to AOL's increasingly massive control of how, where and when most people access the 'net and what they see.
    • Basically, C|Net is admitting that AOL already practically owns the Internet and Micro$oft is trying to give them a run for their money. I usually don't support Micro$oft but I'd rather there was some competition to AOL's increasingly massive control of how, where and when most people access the 'net and what they see.

      Don't fool yourself. Microsoft's play for the internet will be much more painful than the Fisher Price like work that AOL does. The reason? Control. Once you are locked in with microsoft it is very hard to extricate yourself. Think of AOL as a pair of rosey colored glasses. Now add some duct tape to keep you from removing them, and now you have microsoft.

    • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:18AM (#2446449)
      C|Net is admitting that AOL already practically owns the Internet

      Not from where I'm sitting. AOL may be popular in the USA, but in the rest of the world very few people use it to access the 'net. And the rest of the world is quite a big place, you know.

      • Ya, but they don't use MSN either. And in the "rest of the world", AOL is still the most popular ISP - they just don't have the "sheep" customer base that Americans so easily provide :).
        • You're way wrong here. Subtract the US and AOL has but a pittance share. Even here in Canada AOL has hardly any market penetration, even though we are bombarded with free CD's and ad campaigns. Guess what? In my province 90% f internet users get their access from the local telco. Why? Cause its faster, same price, and consumers trust them.
    • ... AOL already practically owns the Internet...
      I don't get this. I am a very heavy internet user and have been since long before AOL and I have to tell you, AOL is not even on my radar. I have no opinion about them because they have no effect on my life whatsoever. M$ on the other hand is in my face every day.
  • by under_score ( 65824 ) <<mishkin> <at> <>> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @09:53AM (#2446320) Homepage
    Microsoft is in a funny position. Many of the things they do (not all) have a solid basis in user needs or wants. Honestly, I would be/is a lot simpler to have the internet and all its related services (web, mail, chat, identification etc.) integrated seamlessly into the OS so that any application can easily access those services. That's the tech side of Microsoft: they are doing some good. BUT As most people here would agree, their business practices range from sucking to disasterous. Basically, this dichotomy boils down to the issue of "does the end justify the means?" Most people do not think so, and our legal code is set up that way. In fact, if you really get down to it, most of our society is based on the idea that the means justify the end. (That is a whole other discussion...) Microsoft being a gatekeeper to the internet is both a business decision and a technical decision. For many people, it is a way to provide useful services for their operating system and applications. Therefore people will buy it, corporations will buy it (not all of course). But as time goes on, there will be more and more pressure on Microsoft from a legal perspective... because undoubtably, they will not clean up their act on the "means" side of things.
    • Honestly, it would be/is a lot simpler to have the internet and all its related services (web, mail, chat, identification etc.) integrated seamlessly into the OS so that any application can easily access those services.

      Do it with CORBA so that you can choose your browser, mailer, chat client, etc and it will still be integrated seamlessly into the OS so that any application can easily access those services. There's no reason you need a vertical monopoly in order to provide that capability.
    • I agree. Windows 2000 and XP are great OS's for a large consumer base. Microsoft.NET from a technical side (read: hailstorm != technical) is an incredible platform and (IMHO) is what J2EE should have been. The concept of Passport is GREAT for consumers and web developers alike - who want's to fill in the SAME information each time you visit a site? How redundant (more like archaic).

      So, I'm sick of the MS bashing here on a lot of what I consider to be very good technology - even though it's not the best technology for EVERY situation (I don't use the deadly Office/Outlook combo on any of my PC's, but I use IIS (in which I lock down properly), .NET, and MSSQL 2000,etc.). However, I do understand a lot of the "business practices" concerns - although some of them are obviously overstated here (there's a slight bias if you haven't noticed!). It's unfortunate that the "suits" can hamper what I believe to be good technology.
    • Honestly, I would be/is a lot simpler to have the internet and all its related services (web, mail, chat, identification etc.) integrated seamlessly into the OS

      Identification is The Embodiment of Pure Evil (tm). We DO NOT NEED THIS !

      What we actually need is the ability to prove rights; the right to listen to streamed Metallica, the right to check a bank account balance for Fred Bloggs. Neither of these requires identification (believe me - this is what my cow-orkers at HP keep inventing).

      Identification is easy though. It's the dumb, obvious, server-based architecture for M$oft drones who can't think out of the box (or similar sucky HR phrase).

      What identification does in addition to proof is that not only does it make the user's requirements work, but it also allows the Nasty Evil Corporates to track when it does so. Passport is good, but it's good for M$oft, not for the users.

      Sun are no better. They're riding the anti M$oft hype with a non-Passport Passport-alike that suffers all the same problems.

  • I think we should probably have a set of faked passport profiles, with names insulting to MS.

    Some of these can get passed around.

    Seriously there is nothing wrong with having a good system running things, as long as you can trust the gatekeepers.

    The problem is that you cannot trust these gatekeepers.

    Like Ceasars's wife, they should be blameless.

    They need to prove they are pure as they driven snow, and this would probably require completely open books, and completely open records of all significant meetings, not just the symbolic ones.

    • I think we should probably have a set of faked passport profiles, with names insulting to MS.

      At the risk of being spammed, I am the proud owner of the "windows_sucks" hotmail account.

      As an aside, I had to cast about for quite a while before settling on that one...all the "legitimate" accounts I tried to get were all taken, which makes me wonder how far MS can really go in providing accounts for everyone. There is a limit at which the ungainliness of your address becomes a serious hindrance.
  • by wirefarm ( 18470 ) <[ten.cdmm] [ta] [mij]> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @09:57AM (#2446332) Homepage
    By ensuring a Windows-only "internet" they are granting freedom to Linux users and people saavy enough not to play along...
    I was happy enough with the BBS culture of 10 - 15 years ago - I will be happy to see all of those morons gone. If you can't figure out that you don't need Windows, I'm not sure that I want to know you...
    Good riddance to them - For a while, it was as if the football team had joined the A/V club and now they're being shepherded out of the room - let them go... Maybe I'll get less spam and fewer Code Red attacks...

    Obviously Somewhat Embittered,
    Jim in Tokyo
    • I was happy enough with the BBS culture of 10 - 15 years ago

      I don't want to go back to that.

      Sure, you lose the morons, which is good.

      On the downside though, you also lose access to two things; the enormous pro bono resources that have grown up to serve The Web of the Long September (they weren't there before because there wasn't the demand to make it worthwhile) and also the purely money-grabbing commercial sites that need a population of proles to feed off. You might hate the level to which the BBC or CNN are pitching their news stories, but I bet you still read them.

      I never had Amazon@Fidonet or Terraserver@Fidonet to play with. I _like_ these huge resources of on-line data, and I might even use a M$oft product if that were my only way to maintain access.

      That's not an endorsement of M$oft, you understand, just a statement of how low my morals might fall if that were the only way to access the Natalie Portman Grits archive 8-)

    • What happens when microsoft owns the routers? Maybe the football team will decide that there's just no need for an AV club. It's just a haven for dorks without software licenses, anyways.
    • by s390 ( 33540 )
      Microsoft has already taken over an ISP's (Qwest, somewhere) email service and promply imposed a Microsoft-only email client policy. Are you sure you want to be _forced_ to run Microsoft's proprietary software? I know I don't. This is scary and a Very Bad Thing(tm). We can't let it happen.

      • Really? You actually use your ISP for your email? :) I use my company and another account where I host my online stuff. I don't think I have ever checked my ISP mail once for that matter (NTL).

        Anyway, if you don't like your isp's email, you can find another one. If they all get bought up by Microsoft.. more will creep out of the woodworks to take care of people that despise such service. They will prosper if the demand is there.. if not, and it's so important.. choose not to get on the net or pay for a private email address somewhere.

        God, like AOL is any less terrible.
    • by Dexx ( 34621 )
      A friend of mine has a .sig that reads something like:
      Remember when the internet was only for smart people?

      On that note, I kinda like the idea of having a little AOL version of the 'net and a Windoze version of the 'net and a real version of the 'net. That way once people figure out what they're doing at each step, they advance to the next version of the internet. People who don't want to figure it out, don't. Picture it like a larval/pupal/adult cycle..
  • God, that is so symbolic.

    Where are the Ghostbusters when you need them?


    • You are just another *Master Baiter.

    • Microsoft Announces New VP of Internet Operations

      Redmond, WA - Microsoft, in what is being regarded as a bold move, has hired Vince Glortho, Keymaster of Gozer the Gozarian as Vice President in Charge of Keeping the Internet Gateway.

      This move is viewed as pivotal for Microsoft's .Net OccultXP(TM) program.

      In related news, rumor has it that Larry Ellison is pursuing a Papal endorsement of all Oracle products as a way to counter Microsoft's new initiatives.
  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @09:59AM (#2446350)
    "This whole thing is driven by the fact that Microsoft has hundreds of millions of Windows users out there, but Microsoft doesn't have a direct monthly billing
    relationship with those users," said Matt Rosoff, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft.
    (My emphasis).

    That word, right there, scares the bejeebies out of me.

    • by Neon Spiral Injector ( 21234 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:05AM (#2446382)
      Well not everyone has a fear of relationships, its the month billing part that I don't like. :)
    • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:56AM (#2446688) Homepage Journal
      I. Did Not. Have Billing. Relations. With that company.

      Considering some of the connotations that "relationships" can have, this might be more accurate than not. Unfortunately, I think the relationship Microsoft wants to have with me is much the same as the relationship the large, tattooed, shaven-headed man in the prison cell wishes to have with me....
    • Granted it is a contentious thing for Microsoft to want to have a direct relationship with its Windowed users. Most sane folks would probably agree that letting MS in on your life would be to let a "bad" (or something along those lines) company have access to "who you are."

      However, just last Friday there was a book review [] on Gonzo marketing and heads were busting nuts all over themselves with the idea that marketers should be allowed to directly charm them with products that they know they would be interested in because they would have a relationship with them.

      So my question really (in general) is why it alright to foster relationships with marketers who are not part of Microsoft, but frightening to divulge info to Microsoft.

      Hell, I don't want anyone to know more about my personal habits than I know about myself, MS or doubleclick or anyone, but it doesn't seem to ad (oh that subtle humour) up that it would just be bad for MS to have a relationship.
    • Funny, I can picture the relationship that they speak of now...

      Windows user: Why does my computer no longer work?

      Microsoft: Sorry, you'll need to bend over some more...

  • "Microsoft and AOL are considered to be among the few online leaders capable of providing the security and technology necessary to handle payment systems on an Internet-wide scale"

    Joe Wilcox [mailto]
    You have got to be kidding me!

  • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:03AM (#2446366) Homepage
    Of course Bill & Co. are trying to take over the Internet - they get paid to make as much money as possible for thier shareholders, and the best way to do that for them at this point is to commandeer as much of the Internet as possible. I certainly don't like it either, but it's the reality of a company being too sucessful in a Capitalist economy. Bill Gates is not Satan, he's just a really successful player in the Business Game - he's a symptom, not a disease.

    Until we can convince the unwashed masses that the Internet can be a force for world change of the benevolent kind and is not just for businesses and pr0n, crap like this will continue. If it's not Gates, look out for Elliston and/or McNealy - any one of them would co-opt the Internet in a second, given the chance.

  • I've been running XP for a couple of months now, and ages ago a mate of mine checked his hotmail from my computer. I now have his msn messenger on my computer and can't find a way to make it piss off and forget his settings, and I've done some looking....

    They've got some cool ideas (some, not all) but they need some help implementing them methinks.
  • by Self Bias Resistor ( 136938 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:06AM (#2446391)

    The point is not that the technically adept will possibly somehow be denied access to the Internet (which wouldn't happen for a whole slew of technical reasons), but that Micrsoft will get an unfair headstart on those who aren't technically minded. Your 'average user' may not know that you don't need Passport to use the Internet under Windows XP. But if he/she gets constant reminder messages for days suggesting to them that they get a Passport account, then they may start thinking "if I don't get a Passport account, I may be missing out on something (ie. may not be getting the "best" services)". Especially if, as the article suggests Microsoft might starting including "features" in XP that may only be accessed with a Passport account. Those who know enough about computers will know how to set up their systems under XP using their own software and Internet access. But it's the 'average user', who doesn't know these things, that it's going to most affect.

    In this case, education will the key. If people know that they can use XP just fine without a Passport account, then they may be less likely to sign up for one in future (hey, it's yet one more password to memorise). That is, unless MS doesn't in future require users to have such accounts to use key features of the operating system. It's bad enough that it's compulsory to register your copy of Windows XP (otherwise it stops functioning). To say nothing of the fact that even in the face of an (once) impending antitrust suit by the Department of Justice, MS are continuing to "bundle" products and services to their operating systems more tightly than ever.

    • "if I don't get a Passport account, I may be missing out on something"

      Try using IE, then turning off ActiveX controls for restricted sites and adding doubleclick and a few other banner-ad vendors to your restricted list. Now when you browse eBay (or many others, not on your restricted list) then you have a continual dialog box on each page stating "YOUR settings prevent ActiveX. The page MAY NOT DISPLAY CORRECTLY". The clearly implied message is, "Use ActiveX; if you turn it off you're a Bad Person and you're going to miss a party".

    • My Mother is a perfect example. She got a Windows ME box (against my better advice), signed up for DSL from Qwest and bought a digital camera. She received the Qwest software for her DSL connection and installed it.

      AFAICT, Qwest installs NN4.7.x and uses the built in profile manager in Netscape to setup a profile which is password protected. It also installs an alias on the Desktop to Dial into the DSL account.

      So what's this have to do with the 'average user'? My Mom "logs in" by double clicking Netscape, enters her password and off she goes... to eBay :) She is 100% convinced that Netscape is her ISP!When I showed her that she could dial in using the dialer alias on her desktop and then use IE if she wanted, it would not sink in. She really likes IE better, but since she dials in with Netscape, she thinks that is what she has to use.

      Imagine her with XP and .Net. This little box keeps bugging her to input her personal information into her "Passport". She does it because she thinks she has to, or "the Net won't work well without it."

      One more person locked into MS and .NET

      Oh yeah. She thinks the only place she can put her digital photos is in "My Pictures". When I showed her that she could actually make folders in there to organize "Her" pictures, she was amazed. I figured that was a minor success and I didn't want to blow her away with the fact that she could actually put her pictures in the "My Music" folder if she so pleased!

  • by Diabolical ( 2110 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:08AM (#2446401) Homepage
    I wouldn't mind Microsoft resembling AOL. It's their right to try and do so. But the big difference with AOL is that with AOL i at least have a choice in signing up.

    MS provides an operating system. Fine. MS provides technology for the internet. Reasonable... better than loose products like in the 3.x days. (trumpet winsock etc..). MS providing security. Bad. Given their trackrecord it would be an outright disaster. MS providing content (MSN). Evil. I want to be able to view any kind of content. Not MS controlled. Who is to say that when MS gets a big stranglehold on the Net they won't start censoring content provided by others. If MS doesn't want people to find out about bugs they just block the sites that provide such information.

    Basicly MS tries to not only control the Internet on a technologie side. They can (and most likeliy will) also try to control the content. Power corrupts.. whatever kind of power it is.

    And when i have almost no control on which provider or technology i want...

    Joe Sixpack will probably just click on the yes button, not knowing they give away their freedom and privacy.
  • The other gate... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by drnomad ( 99183 )
    This passport stuff reminds me of the fuzz we had here in the Netherlands with pay-per-view TV a couple of years ago.

    The most popular channels wanted to get behind the digital decoder, but a lesser popular channel chose not to do so. In the end, none of the channels got behind the digital decoder, as the consumer would choose for the other gate: the free gate.

    So even when Microsoft succeeds into implementing this passport into XP, the rumour will spread like fire, that there is a free alternative for their expensive habits. This rumour will spread via the internet and likely by the spoken word.

    I'm not sure about the future, but I considering the option that MS is shooting themselves into their own feet with this...

  • The Net was here before M$ got interested, and before AOL heard of it, and before business discovered it. In fact, some of the most interesting parts of the Net are still those oddball sites totally unconnected to M$ and AOL and their like. When I want to find out information on tech stuff, I prefer homegrown sites where people passionate about tech write their true assessment of stuff, rather than some conglomerate taking advertising dollars from the same companies they are reviewing.

    M$ can be the gatekeeper and it won't affect me since I don't run M$ in my home -- at all. Nor do I use AOL. They can charge whatever they want, but they won't get any money from me. And if they decide to start forcing certain sites I use to charge money, I will switch to other sites. It's nice to have around occasionally, but there are other ways to get news. I like ESPN, but I could switch if I had to.

    If 90% of the online world eventually switches to a vast wasteland of sameness controlled through subscription services, I will just be part of the 10% going to the independent sites, the fan sites, the oddball sites. That's how the Net began, and that will always be a part of the Net. You just have to search those sites out.

    • The Net existed before that. In ftp sites (anyone remember ftping to, simtel?, sumex-aim?) gopherspace, BBSs. The search services were not Altavista and Google, but Archie and Veronica. The web started as a way of linking physics papers. No images, no ActiveX controls to worry about. Plain text, with links.

      But the Net evolved. It evolved to the point to where it is now. Will you continue to have those options? I do't know. Try running a Veronica search now. That option is gone. What options will be gone tomorrow?

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:18AM (#2446445)
    Isn't it clear? Microsoft knows they want a subscription buisiness model, but they don't know yet what customers will pay for. I've got news for Microsoft, consumers don't pay for anything very easily. Look at all the failed dot bombs: People like free stuff, when the model switches to a payment model, most customers drop it like a bad habit. I used to work in retail, trust me when I say most people are cheap. I admit, I am.

    Do you think for a minute Napster will survive as a subscription service? No way!

    How about software? Forget about it!

    Now factor in a recessonary world economy, and guess what.....HailStorm, XP, and all the software subscription based models are doomed to fail.
    • Do you think for a minute Napster will survive as a subscription service? No way!

      That's because they probably won't do it the right way, charging 5 or 10 cents per downloaded song, which I and many others would happily pay.

      Back on topic, I think it's just completely laughable that Microsoft now expects us to trust them to hold onto our personal data for convenience. Especially when they can't even keep their own sites from belching up passwords [] sometimes.

      Personally, I wouldn't trust Microsoft to carry a still-usable tissue I've already blown my nose in, much less my vital financial information. Microsoft knows there are a lot of people like me who won't be swayed by their marketing bullshit. To take care of us, they'll simply attempt to co-opt as many 'net merchants as possible, until they make it virtually impossible to make a purchase on the 'net without using their service for authentication. And if it comes down to switch-or-do-without, I'll simply do without.

  • privacy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheMMaster ( 527904 ) <hp@tmm . c x> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:21AM (#2446469)
    You know what really really makes me mad? The fact that the whole fucking world is talking crap about privacy, people dump shit on the government for taking their privacy, security cameras invade privacy and what else the "people" talk about. And under there noses is a company (let's call them Microsoft) that sells them an OS that they'll install, presents them with a nice dialog and asks if the user wants to create a passport.
    PEOPLE WILL create those things... and people WILL use them and in a short while there is a company that has your Creditcard number, expiration date, all your favorite files, knows your surfing habits, knows who your friends are, knows what you like to buy, can present you with "special offers"

    I've been preacing this ever since I heard about the passport thing, and passport is pretty old now.... PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO HEAR AND DON'T WANT TO KNOW as long as they can get their daily dose of minesweeper....
    And we, the geeks, have seen this coming for quite some time now, but (as always with microsoft) by the time the people know what hit them, it's too late to turn back, all e-commerse sites will be .NET and will require your passport to get to your safely stored creditcard informatation...

    The world makes me sick, and most of all these ignorant people that don't seem to care about this kind of privacy.
    But what can we do? Well since I hope there are some more talented writers than myself here, write a column for your (local) newspaper... convince people... THIS IS IMPORTANT

    and for all the techies: check out .GNU [] something simular to .NET but with privacy in mind...

    end rant
  • by n8willis ( 54297 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:23AM (#2446476) Homepage Journal
    Is anyone else amused that the Justice Department has a separate contact address [] just for people who want to complain about Microsoft?


  • by cr@ckwhore ( 165454 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:27AM (#2446498) Homepage
    Since c|net started this on Oct. 17th, the 2nd installment is available also.

    You can read it here: l []

  • I'm sick and tired of "Where do you want to go today?" It'll be sweet when they replace that:

    Bill Gates, uncombed and speaking an octave below his normal voice: "Are you the keymaster?"
  • The article says that HailStorm was recently renamed ".Net My Services." I have a better idea:

    .Net My Ass.

  • CNet has one great idea posting this series. Their job is keeping people informed, and even if they are lacking technical detail, these articles are worth a read.

    There are millions upon millions of uninformed internet users in the world. The reality is, if local ISP's keep getting bought out either by AOL or Microsoft, people will eventually run out of alternative solutions to net access.

    But the Internet is so vast. It would take Microsoft *quite* a while to accomplish their task. XP seems like it is just the first step... a new piece of software, new features, new activation features, etc etc. Everything is promising to be more secure, more friendly, easier to use, prettier to look at.

    Don't forget, people, under all that pretty GUI gobbley-gook, there is CODE. A lot of M$ code.

    And down the line, where is this code taking us? Is it taking us down the line of product and service excellence, and customer care? Or is it taking us down the line customer control? I think you can see the gist of XP.

  • by narfbot ( 515956 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:38AM (#2446574)
    I was thinking, why should I buy XP?

    For one thing I know, there is activation. If there is a moderate change to the system, you have to reactivate--this is very bas in my case because I change hardware out almost every week.

    I thought once that a laptop could be better to run XP, because the hardware doesn't really change. But then I remember a story of a guy on a plane, hooks up his spare laptop battery or something, and had to reactivate, which was impossible. Wierd.

    I could buy the corporate XP version which has no activation...but why should I pay more because Microsoft cripples its products.

    Then heres a look at another angle. This articles shows how Microsoft wants XP to be the gateway to their MSN service (in the future the entire internet) .......... I want to get an OS for productivity! not to be advertised to!
    • The real problem here is where do you buy - assuming you want to be a legit windows user - any of the older versions? They will be trying real hard to ablate the Win9x & Win2K OS, along with the Office CD's supply. It won't be bundled anymore, more and more systems are including a recovery CD rather than a real OS CD.

      A couple weeks ago I built a system and needed a copy of Office 97 (client request). It was real work to find a copy that I could bundle - the OEM with cert was rare, a few retail boxes, the rest were the "replacement media" type CD's sold as an OEM version.
  • I mean, like, around Slashdot everyone already knows this and has for a long time.

    Moving on from that, I'm wondering how good this CNET piece comes out to be, since it will be read by more than just the Slashdot readership. It would be good if they do their research and talk to both technology and business people on the leading edges of IT, as well as those solidly in the middle, those placid people unaware of the tides that carry them.

  • by AmbientBlue ( 466302 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:53AM (#2446671) Homepage
    So I tried using Windows XP a little a few weeks ago.. I quickly went back to, umm, er, '98 after experiencing DNS trouble with my ISP while using it..

    But in the day or two of using it I had an application error spawn a process that sent system information INCLUDING personal information like REGISTRATION and whatever NAME you had in the appropriate field. I didnt even have a choice! Well -- you have a choice if you are at the machine when the error occurs. After a minute or so it sends it anyway.

    It would be cool if I got a call from a tech support expert with an automatically open trouble ticket, but no.. That isnt what its for.. Its for taking personal information, matching it with your network location, and using it to whatever purpose they desire.

    Pretty F***ing sneaky.
  • by ralmeida ( 106461 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:56AM (#2446686) Homepage
    ...why don't we just break through the Windows?
  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:56AM (#2446687)
    I have a mental image of Microsoft as a huge giant, running ahead of the IT pack at top speed. It's moving faster than ever before and most people think it is still easily winning the race. "Look, it's going faster and faster!" But what they don't notice is that it is stumbling forward, waving it's arms trying to stay stable, and at any moment could fall flat on its face.

    I predict this will happen within about three years, perhaps even sooner. Remember when IBM stumbled, in about 1993? Well, when Microsoft does it, it's gonna be a whole lot worse. The reasons are simple. The majority of its profits come from basically two product lines - its operating systems and its office suite. Both of these are under threat from free products. Sure, they're not as good as Microsoft products, yet. But they're improving at an increadible rate - anyone who has assessed Linux for desktop use a couple of years ago, and has done the same recently, will agree with that. One day soon its going to be really hard for a CTO of a small or medium sized company to justify buying Microsoft rather than using a free, similar product.

    People say Microsoft's .NET strategy is complex. Technically it might be, but strategicly it's not. The strategy is simple - try to get as much customer 'lock-in' as possible as quickly as possible. To do this, they need to get everyone moving to XP as soon as they can - which I believe is one of the main reasons they've changed their licensing model. Companies that update their software only every three or four years - for instance, companies using Windows 2000 but probably won't do a complete update until 2003 or 2004 - are customers that Microsoft might loose unless they get them locked-in before then.

    One of the biggest mistakes that Microsoft has made recently is to make their software more expensive for exactly those businesses they need to get on board quickest - the companies that only upgrade every three to four years. It's exactly those customers that are most likely to move to Linux, and Microsoft has just given them much more motivation to do so. And when they start to move, the development momentum of Linux will increase even more, and larger enterprises won't be far behind. This process is I believe probably more noticable in 'the rest of the world' before it becomes very evident in the USA.

    Microsoft is in many ways a pre-Internet company. The internet has caused changes to the way software is developed and distributed. There is nothing Microsoft can do about this. It's demise is inevitable, the only question is when.
    • I've just re-read my post and think it would perhaps be better if all instances of "Linux" were replaced with "Open Source". It's really Open Source which is the long term threat to Microsoft, rather than Linux, although Linux might be what makes the giant fall.
    • fall flat on its face.. I predict this will happen within about three years

      People have been saying that for 3 years or more. Remenber when win2000 was supposed to be a disaster due to code size & complexity?

      Microsoft is in many ways a pre-Internet company. The internet has caused changes to the way software is developed and distributed. There is nothing Microsoft can do about this.

      Microsoft would like to be a post-internet company and they are working hard on it. That is, each time when you fire up Microsoft office, it will make a Microsoft connection to a Microsoft server so that you can sign on to Microsoft passport, get out your Microsoft wallet and make a Micropayment into Microsoft's not-exactly-micro account. (Integrating passport into applications is mentioned in the article). This is what they can do about it.

    • One day soon its going to be really hard for a CTO of a small or medium sized company to justify buying Microsoft rather than using a free, similar product.

      Don't hold your breath. Yeah, those Office alternatives may be cheaper, yeah, they may be almost as good. But what good is any of that if you can't communicate effectively with the people and companies your company does business with, because of file format issues?

      Rest assured, Microsoft will just keep fucking with their file formats to ensure that the only way you won't have problems with Office documents is to have the same latest-and-greatest version of Office as the people who created them and sent them to you, period.

      Look for them to eventually do something to their file formats that will protect them under the DMCA (frankly, I'm surprised they haven't already). Then the companies who make file translators and other like products will have to (if they don't already-- I don't know how it works) pay steep licensing fees to be able to continue making their products. Anyone who doesn't want to or can't afford to pay licensing fees, but still insists on making a non-Microsoft means of reading/writing Office files, could be prosecuted.

  • by MongooseCN ( 139203 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:11AM (#2446761) Homepage

    Ok, I know how everyone here hates marketing, I don't like it either. But for most of the people in this world they only listen to marketing, not factual intelligent reports or people. These people need all their information given to them, they can't go out and search for reports. How many people do you think will read this Cnet article if it's not email/icqed to them by a friend?

    Most people have never heard about Linux until a few reports started popping up here and there on the news. I have had relatives email me news articles about Linux because they think it's some new and interesting thing. Usually I've already read about the topic months ago but they are just getting around to hearing about it because it was just shown to them by a local newspaper or on TV.

    We need to start giving people more information about Linux and Open Source projects and their goals. We need to inform people about how their information and freedom is going to be controlled if they don't stop it. If we just sit back and keep denying that we need to announce these things to the world and keep trying to feel safe in our little groups, then MS will keep shoveling out how great it and it's products are and people will keep handing their money and freedom over to them.

  • Unfortunately while some of us still want to determine our own business ventures and say what we want, we're constrained by the majority of the human population which wants to be controlled. You can't for instance, start a business in Silicon Valley without first having Microsoft approve it because the technology for running a business of any worth is controlled by Microsoft.

    You can't broadcast material of any form without Microsoft's approval because every means of information transmission is controlled by Microsoft. Sometimes the restrictions are rediculous, like using the color red because red is a Microsoft color or saying contacts are better than glasses because Bill Gates wears glasses. I especially hate not being able to travel freely because it would disrupt Microsoft's ability to balance its monthly license revenue across the world. I'm probably going to move to China where at least you can change lanes on the freeway without written permission from MS.

  • by SomeoneGotMyNick ( 200685 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:32AM (#2446873) Journal
    With the price of broadband getting cheaper (or more accepted), and as M$ chokes off compatibility to the services on the Internet, why not make a shareable translation system which will keep other systems compatible.

    I recommend a co-op of sorts. A group bands together to get one (1) copy of a M$ product, a server. Someone in the group w/ broadband can run the server as a proxy whose sole job is to proxy web services and translate them to/from RFC standards on the fly. All members surf through the proxy. They can use whatever browser they want. The whole system SHOULD be Lynx compatible.

    I mention the M$ product because the M$ standards will most likely be already installed and useable. A custom application can be coded to leverage the new "standards" and translate them as needed. Just buying the one copy puts less money into M$ pockets than every user buying a copy of an M$ operating system.

    Disclaimer: These are just thoughts. A spark of an idea if you will. I'm sure there will be AC responses describing any flaws in it.
  • by malkavian ( 9512 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:37AM (#2446900)
    Given that people are now getting conditioned to MS using these 'reminders' to get people to sign into things, not really being aware of what that entails, I'm just waiting for the XP specific virus that comes up with the 'confirmation' reminder, or similar, that asks the user to re-send their details and password as confirmation of the account.
    Bingo, how to compromise the financial security of about 50% of the net in one easy sweep.
    Of course, MS could head this off by educating users not to keep clicking buttons, but then, they'd start understanding just why they don't need all the Windows add on garbage, and stay with what they have...
    Instead, it's easier to let the users risk their money to let MS make a buck, than let MS lose potential revenue by educating people as to what is really going on...
  • ie6 and 404s (Score:4, Interesting)

    by K. ( 10774 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:52AM (#2446983) Homepage Journal
    the story mentions something about ie6
    automatically directing the user to msn's search
    engine when they get a 404 - is this true? If so,
    isn't it a bit presumptuous on their part? 404
    responses can after all be used to help people
    find whatever they were actually looking for on a
    site, and redirecting them would prevent this.
    Isn't this pretty much the same issue as the
    Smart Tags thing?
  • by Kailden ( 129168 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @01:32PM (#2447504) Journal
    The way I figure, this isn't all that unusual unless you are a non-M$ user.

    For instance, take "Quicken" Ever notice how it encourages you to connect to the internet, get an id at, tells you all about Quicken loans, etc etc etc.

    Then AOL, they send a cd to your house every month, spread crap all over your desktop if you use thier messengers etc etc etc.

    Then the x10 camera popups. It goes on and on, and its a side effect of capitalism and marketing.

    Credit card companies send you envelops full of ads. You get spam directed toward your emails.

    And it works, because its annoying...its works, because people will sign up for passport, people will upgrade to XP.

    But luckily there's plenty of people who won't, for different reasons. That's what's so great FREE as in No $$ software, it takes the marketing no big need to advertise (although it isn't stomped out completely, since people always want recognition or a link to thier site, or continued recognition through all future developments (thank goodness all licensing isn't like that))

    I'm not saying its a great thing---but hey paying for cable and still getting commercials isn't FAIR either---try petitioning you local big business congressman on that :)
  • by gdyas ( 240438 ) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @02:28PM (#2447830) Homepage

    I'm sure some others have thought of this, but I want to see if /.ers in general might agree with this theory.

    Before the open, take all comers internet rose from the DARPA labs to worldwide prominence, all previous efforts at such a wide-spanning network were controlled, pay at the gate affairs that had always planned to remain strictly private. We all remember the early days of AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy, MSN, etc. The idea of a free, open network that anyone can get on & use at relatively low cost is anathema to companies like AOL is and MS wants to be, whose bread & butter consists of (or is seen to be consisting of in the future) running networks. As long as the internet remains an open system where anyone can get on & protocols are laid out for all to see, it's going to be a threat to their business. What's needed above all in their eyes is some sort of control of the exchange of information, of how business is conducted, and how money changes hands so they can create and maintain an ongoing revenue stream, making this free network profitable for them since their owned networks & software are fast meeting obsolesence. They wish to be the Visa / MC of the net, only more. They want to interject themselves as a middleman between consumer & retailer and between friends & strangers, between you and information itself, collecting micro or perhaps not so micro payments along the way. In this light, AOL & MS aren't evil as much as they're both cut-throat competitors fighting over which of them is going to eat our lunch.

    The problem is, of course, that it's OUR lunch! The internet isn't an MS or AOL invention, it's OUR invention as much, if not more, than it is theirs. Our government funded companies and academics to invent this beautiful thing, and they're looking hard for a way to use software to make it their own.

    How can we stop this? I'm not sure.

    Perhaps we should seek laws mandating all standards & protocols for internet communication be open, so that no company may control the exchange of information. I'm not sure. But no company should have even partial control of how anyone else uses the internet.

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."