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Microsoft's Future 486

cyberkine writes: "The Economist has an interesting article on Microsoft's technology strategies that ends with a very astute comparison with IBM's downfall and resurrection in the wake of its own antitrust battles. 'Microsoft's biggest underlying fear is that it will become like IBM - --a company that still has a strong business but no longer sets computing standards.'"
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Microsoft's Future

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  • I thought that Micro$oft's fear was not being able to take over the internet in the next 5 years? I guess he'll have to arm wrestle AOL's Steve Case for the title. My 2 cents.
  • by b0r1s ( 170449 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @03:39AM (#2458749) Homepage
    If one chooses to click the link at the top of the story that says "Get article background []", you'll find an interesting bit at the bottom:

    Meanwhile Microsoft is speeding ahead with .NET, an ambitious project to create an alternative platform for online applications (a sort of Windows for the Internet). But the company's strategies for both .NET and Windows XP, Microsoft's newly released operating system, show heavy-handed tactics. Microsoft is also gearing up for battle against foes as diverse as open-source software and America Online. (Emphasis added)

    OSS ranked along side AOL in the battle against Microsoft. Interesting, if not frightening.
    • "Microsoft is also gearing up for battle against foes as diverse as open-source software and America Online." "OSS ranked along side AOL in the battle against Microsoft. Interesting, if not frightening."

      Umm, anyone heard of Mozilla [] - it happens to be a rather large Open Source Software project funded almost entirely by AOL.

      Joseph Elwell.

      • Keep in mind AOL's intent.

        Who cares if the browser is OSS if the network that delivers the data and the information/media comes from the same company.

        AOL is all about a monopoly, just a different kind. They support 'open' and 'free' just like Microsoft does...when it suites their interests. They are getting a mountain of free development for an application that is competeing against an offering from their main fow.

      • Microsoft is also gearing up for battle against foes as diverse as open-source software

      Ah, the War on Open Source. About as winnable as the War on Terror, or War on Drugs, I'd suggest.

    • this doesn't mean OSS is a direct threat to MS as a whole. MS' biggest issue with OSS is not that OSS is, or has the potential to be, a creator of vast and large quantities of the top shelf software, but rather that OSS threatens their growth in the server software arena. By creating software that "just" gets the job done, with a minimum of hassle, software like Linux and Apache can take a huge bite out of NT and ISS's profitability. Put simply, MS is realizing that the same economics and influences that lead from mainframes to Unix (proprietary) to NT, can also lead from NT to Linux (or rather Unix to Linux).

      OSS isn't going to be fighting a line-by-line feature war with MS. If it does, it'll probably lose, MS has far more resources to throw at it. OSS's best chance to take a bite out of Microsoft is to go the other route: make software that can be purchased, deployed, and supported for far less. This means Linux should focus on things like bullet proof installation processes, automated installations, etc. Then it needs someone like Redhat or SuSe to effectively market it.
  • like it or not... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jlemmerer ( 242376 )
    ... no company has ever managed to set standards forever... while microsoft sets standards in userfriendlyness (maybe they do), they still lack standards in securtiy.
  • Boo hoo hoo (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by COAngler ( 134933 )
    Maybe an astute comparison. Maybe not.

    There's a difference between the two, though. IBM knew when to give up trying to be the center of the universe. I don't think Gates and company are capable of suppressing their egos to the degree necessary.

    Society is full of people who want to have their legacy, and want to be "men of destiny." These are people who want to be the kinds of cultural icons that live on forever. IBM thankfully didn't have too many of them at the helm. That meant that they didn't have individual egos looking for their places in the sun at the expense of the rest of the company and the world at large. In plain English, that meant that when the world changed and IBM ceased to be the alpha male, they made that transition.

    Microsoft isn't in quite the same positon. They don't control any major hardware that the rest of the world needs. While they have a number of products of varying quality, they don't control anything completely indispensable. The reason for their control is their position.

    Problem: The value of a position changes with time. Microsoft can learn when they've picked the wrong fight, maybe. That kind of perception means they can back away and stay alive.

    Not with Gates, etc. at the helm. Even the most ardent MS/Gates-supporter would have to agree: whatever virtues Gates has, humility is not one of them. Gates really wants his legacy and his place in the history books, and Microsoft is a means to that end. Just like Bill Clinton spending his last year desperately seeking a legacy, just like RMS who wants the entire English language prefaced with GNU/, Gates wants to be a man of destiny.

    That means that he sees Microsoft as being a vehicle, and not much more. I doubt that he even cares about the profits. And that means that he'll take the company into some really bad fights to support his own self-image. Even if the company's survival depended on his walking away.

    (Yes, I bash MS and Gates a lot. That being said, if they released an open-source Word for KDE, I'd buy it. Possibly even at retail.)

    • Re:Boo hoo hoo (Score:2, Insightful)

      by malfunct ( 120790 )
      Gates already has his legacy, maybe you are right and he doesn't think so, but think, he was at the top of an era. Gates can probably rightly claim that he brought computers to the masses in a form that they could afford and use. If it weren't for his idea to sell software cheaply to everyone, we might only see computers in businesses and schools where many of the early creators and users thought they belonged.
    • Society is full of people who want to have their legacy, and want to be "men of destiny." These are people who want to be the kinds of cultural icons that live on forever. IBM thankfully didn't have too many of them at the helm. That meant that they didn't have individual egos looking for their places in the sun at the expense of the rest of the company and the world at large. In plain English, that meant that when the world changed and IBM ceased to be the alpha male, they made that transition

      IBM was the computer company from the end of WW II until the late seventies. They got a good racket^H^H^H^H^Hbussiness going with punch cards and card machines and then early computers.

      The IBM anti-trust trouble started in the sixties and the goverment finally dropped its suit in '82. Read the story of IBM and Ahmdal to see how IBM did not play nice.


    • Slow's not about a legacy for Gates.

      It's about software.

      Gates has a vision for how he sees the future of computing and not suprisingly in involves lots of Microsoft software. It's not about his legacy or increasing his fortune...I really don't think he cares. He loves his company and he wants it to be profitable and succesful and he'll make decisions that (he thinks) will make that happen.

      Gates knows that he'll be remembered, but frankly he doesn't care.

      Let the flame begin.
  • Has Microsoft ever actually set any computing standards? IBM did: the punched card, half-inch magnetic tape, and the entire PC architecture, among others. It was a self-confident company that wasn't afraid of competitors building products that implemented standards it had set. (I'm not suggesting it competed fairly, ethically or even legally, BTW.)

    But Microsoft? It's contributed to standards initiated by others. It's tried to detract from standards initiated by others (Java). It's currently trying to make C# and .net into standards. But I can't think of any accepted standard of which you can say, "Microsoft created that standard and gave it to the community".
    • But Microsoft? It's contributed to standards initiated by others. It's tried to detract from standards initiated by others (Java).

      Java is not a standard unless your criteria for being a standard is simply that it is used by a lot of people. If that's the case then Microsoft has created lots of standards from COM to the Word file format to UDDI to their XML schema proposal that was rejected by the W3C but was embraced by most of industry.

      If you're talking about standards in the strict sense of the Word then I can think of SOAP [] and C# and the CLI [] (in progress) but then again I haven't paid much attention to what Microsoft does until quite recently.
    • Given Microsoft's propensity to dictate to the rest of the industry, it seems peculiar to bash Microsoft for their lack of standard setting. So, I'll assume your question meant to exclude Microsoft's de facto "standards" (such as the ever popular MS Word file format).

      Well, surprisingly enough, the answer is, Yes, Microsoft has set good (that is, open) standards.

      Off the top of my head I can think of RTF (Rich Text Format), SMB, and DHCP. That last one's a pretty good example, since even in pure UNIX shops it's all but eradicated bootp.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        From what I remember, IBM invented SMB, though MS contributed a lot to it shortly thereafter (would have been 1987). Also, the "goodness" of this standard is debatable.
        As for RTF -- ugly!!!
        That leaves DHCP ;-)
      • by Anonymous Coward
        The DHCP protocol specification, and the first implementation were not written by microsoft, or in cooperation with microsoft.

        As for SMB, i think that DEC Pathworks, and IBM LanManager both predate microsoft's SMB implementation.
    • SOAP.

      And a bunch of de facto standards, such as the desktop application platform, the Internet browser platform, the business collaboration platform (Office+Outlook+Exchange Server)...just to name a few.

    • Yes, the Windows API is a de facto standard controlled by Microsoft and not a "de jure" standard controlled by a "benevolent" organization, but it is a standard.

      When 95% of the world's for-profit makers of end-user software want to write code, it is code for the Windows API. To me, that's a standard.
  • Who is this guy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by King Of Chat ( 469438 ) <> on Monday October 22, 2001 @03:49AM (#2458771) Homepage Journal
    That is why Microsoft has always sold its operating system cheaply and has done everything to make life easy for programmers.

    Obviously not someone who is familiar with the joys of COM - especially pre-ATL. Also, not someone who ever spent weeks trying to get that new shiny feature of NT4, DCOM, working only to find out that it never worked at all (RPC layer broken) until SP3. Not someone who has ever tried to produce a system which runs perfectly on all Win32s. If he means "made life easy for VB programmers", then maybe - but I wouldn't dignify them with the name "programmer".

    I could rant for hours about specific instances, but I wont.
    • But they are getting better and that is what is really important. Yes it was a pain trying to write stuff early on and even then MS tried to make things like MFC easier on us by providing things like Visual Studio that made some of the 'more complicated than it needs to be' stuff easy. Visual Studio.NEt and C# and windows forms are light years ahead of the old MFC stuff. Having to actually try and get some programs to communicate with exchange I will acknowledge that COM is a huge pain in the ass, however once you understand how it works and havea couple programs under your belt it does make sense in an OO sort of way.

      Oh and VB programmers is an oxymoron.
      • It's a great tool for what it's meant for: rapid application development for small businesses where the software will be run on a windows pc and used by someone who wants to do all their work in windows forms. It's very very quick, and there are a lot of developers who know it. It's a good choice for internal company apps.

        Some people have such glorified ideas of what a 'programmer' is. You give detailed instructions to a machine. If you spend a week writing beautiful code you cost your company 5x. If you spend a day writing ugly code you cost your company 1x. If both programs meet the functional requirements, the company that encourages spending one day will survive better. I have nothing against beautiful code, but I have nothing against utilitarian functional code either.

    • Re:VB (Score:3, Funny)

      by CharlieG ( 34950 )
      Just remember one thing - Microsoft considers VB their most important development platform, to quote them "The Cobol of the 90s"

  • Microsoft != IBM (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @03:53AM (#2458777) Homepage
    Microsoft's biggest underlying fear is that it will become like IBM-a company that still has a strong business but no longer sets computing standards.

    Microsoft is not exactly like IBM. IBM's market was in business whereas Microsoft's market combines both business and consumer. IBM sold hardware as well as software. Microsoft sells only software (unless you count those stupid mice and keyboards). IBM sold huge mainframes for huge price that requires months of sales work to get the dotted line signed. Microsoft products can be grabbed in retail stores. That doesn't necessarily mean Microsoft won't run out of steam with its flattening markets, but the mechanisms and potentials will certainly be different than they were with IBM. IBM didn't have a lot of options it could so easily move into. Microsoft has some more, and is more diverse than IBM ever was in a market that can buy things on a whim. So don't count on what happened to IBM necessarily happening to Microsoft. Maybe it will, or maybe it won't.

    • by kinkie ( 15482 )
      IMO mouses and keyboards are the BEST products Microsoft EVER did.
      I'm writing this on a Microsoft keyboard and I'm clickety-clicking on a Microsoft mouse (both hooked to my main Linux box of course).
      They have a great thing: they don't crash.
    • Microsoft sells only software (unless you count those stupid mice and keyboards).

      They also sell that xbox thing maybe you've heard of it, and what ever became of ultimate TV, their set-top box? I wouldnt put selling more hardware past microsoft. As they see their operating system become less and less a strong point and more options emerge I think they'll need to seek new revenue one way or another .NET, XBOX and possibly other things with capital letters.

  • Although microsoft is "giving" away software and "adopting open standards" they are also as tried to point out before, harvesting user information. I believe that that is the key to their (upcoming) success. As soon as Microsoft has a base in user-authenication (their passport system) that's when it doesn't matter anymore that they use XML, SOAP, .NET whatever.
    It might be possible for other OSses to use most of the .NET functionality but I'll bet your life that there's not going to be a way to get around passport, and in that way microsoft has secured it's position again. And this time in the worst possible way, it holds your personal information hostage in your personal passport.
    Isn't it true, that when installing windows XP you are promted to create a passport? I wonder why nobody sued for that, my guess is that (once again) microsoft is pulling a stunt that nobody will see coming until it's too late... frozen
  • I am not quite sure when Microsoft ever "innovated". As far as I remember, every consecutive release of Windows is ALWAYS 30-35% faster than the previous release, and 70-75% faster than the one before that. Windows ALWAYS has better multitasking than the previous version. Did you know your computing experience is also more "fun" every time you upgrade. Same goes for Office. When's the last time they introduced a truly useful new feature? Aside from introducing a useless feature then killing it (him) before the general public to raise hype.

    My point is, I just don't get Microsoft. They don't DO ANYTHING. They are a multi-billion dollar corporation that adds bells an whistles to a leaky boat, then resells it for $300 a pop. If you want to talk about the progress Microsoft has been making, I would not call it "innovation". All Microsoft innovation has ever been is gradually making something work better than previous releases when it should have worked right before it hit store shelves. The improvements to their flag ship products are somewhat analagous to improvements on yearly versions of Encarta!

    Are they headed the way of the dinosaur? I think I'd get a resounding 'yes' from the Slashdot community, but is this thinking right? After five years of "innovation", people still get suckered into their marketing hoopla and nonsense, thinking that every new version of Windows is a revolution in the making. No, I don't think MS is doomed to the fate we all hope it will fall into. So long as they keep using pictures of people filled with joy because they use Windows, they'll convince the general population.

    *ugh* Sorry, just needed to rant a bit here. MS are just ridiculous, and it's pitiful how millions of people worldwide can follow them like sheep. I can't stand it anymore
    • For now? no microsft will NOT go the way of the dinosaur and as long as things keep on going the way they are going now, they won't for a long time.
      One of the mayor problems is that, a LOT of people still think that computers and windows is one and the same thing, they think that reading your email consists of using outlook/outlook express, that writing a letter is done in Word etc. They don't know there are alternatives, this is (luckily) beginning to change, because even main stream computer magazines are beginning to show some interest in alternatives.
      Still, on the internet terms like "Computer virusses" or "Macro virusses" and the like are still pretty deceptive they should (ofcourse) be called "Windows virusses" and "Microsoft Office virusses" as long as those differences are not clear to the main public... the problem persists
      so, for now, no... I think Microsoft will stay exactly where it is...
  • "Microsoft's biggest underlying fear is that it will become like IBM - ?a company that still has a strong business but no longer sets computing standards."
    Microsoft's biggest fear is that it will not make money. I don't think they really care about setting standards all that much. A lot of their productcs are just playing catch up in order to cash in on the Windows enterprise (I point to SQL Server as an example...pretty much catching up to Oracle and the like--this is MS just trying to make a buck). Granted, they are very afraid that they will lose the stronghold on the OS market because it is an enormous cash-cow. Windows operating systems bring in tons of money, as does Office on those operating systems. Sales of development tools, server configurations, games, and everything else that depends on the success of Windows are huge; I think it is safe to say that this accounts for nearly all of their revenue. So yes, inasmuch as losing the standard-setting position in the OS/desktop market will significantly lessen their profit potential, Microsoft is afraid of "becom[ing] like IBM," but let's be real is the main concern.
  • by Mandelbrute ( 308591 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @03:58AM (#2458795)
    Microsoft actually spend money on research these days (instead of the assimilation technique that gave them almost everthing more advanced than "MSworks"), and have enormous resources, so they are likely to be a big name for a while if they take a long term view.

    Some of IBM's basic research (eg. superconductivity and nanotechnology) may produce enormous returns, and have already made the world a better place , but won't be pulling in the money for that immediately. Their earlier research helped make them the big company that they've been for decades. Xerox gave us the PC and workstation desktop environment as research, and not a product in development.

    If MS dedicates some effort towards published research (remember, product development is only called "research" if it makes the tax man happy, and real reseach can be done outside a university) that will add to the global knowledge base and may mean that the "next big thing" is owned by them. After all, flouride was added to toothpaste after a company that had a waste disposal problem with it funded a lot of research to find out what it could be used for, and some of it paid off spectacularly. You never know what can be done until you try.

  • Must be nice... (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by The Cat ( 19816 )

    (Customer walks into bank)

    LOAN OFFICER: "So, Mr. Customer, what's your business plan?"

    CUSTOMER: "Well, see, I'm going to compete with a multi-billion dollar Japanese company by building a product that will lose $2 billion over the next three years, then break even, hopefully."

    LOAN OFFICER: "Sounds great! We'll finance whatever you need."

    (Customer walks into bank in the real world)

    LOAN OFFICER: "So, Mr. Customer, what's your business plan?"

    CUSTOMER: "Well, see, we need a small loan to help expand our business. We saved our nickels and dimes, ate soup and drove 15-year old cars for three years and built this product and generated some sales, but now we want to make the product better with more features and perhaps get some part-time employees."

    LOAN OFFICER: "Sounds great! Naturally, you'll need cash exceeding the value of the loan as collateral deposited here at our bank in our lowest-interest account, platinum-lined credit that rings softly in a light breeze, 12 references, a 50-page annotated business plan, three years of financials audited by a big-six accounting firm, an autobiography, two full-time sources of secondary income, oh, and real estate, LOTS of real estate... financial projections for five years showing sustainable 20% weekly growth with full supporting documentation, a large portfolio of blue-chip equity holdings and nice fat juicy municipal bonds, three co-signers and a silver partridge in a golden pear tree, and please fill out this 40 page application. Your loan will be reviewed by the committee at the next meeting in... four months."

    CUSTOMER: "But we'll be out of business by then!"

    LOAN OFFICER: "Have a nice day!"

  • Writers must meet deadlines. The often are not given the time to learn everything they need to know. So, they string together some nice-sounding phrases. Sometimes, for a few sentences in a row, they sound like they understand the subject. Then they say something that shows they don't really:

    That is why Microsoft has always sold its operating system cheaply and has done everything to make life easy for programmers.

    "Make life easy" as in artificial limits on resources in Windows 95, 98, and ME. Later this,

    Microsoft will continue to be a kinder giant, predicts Rick Sherlund of Goldman Sachs, an investment bank, if only because "the whole world is watching".

    He called Microsoft kind. Oh yeah. They probably both have Microsoft stock they would like to sell at less of a loss.

    Then this:

    It does not help Microsoft's credibility that its new-found faith in openness does not seem to apply to Windows itself.

    Whoops, not kind. More "kindness":

    Microsoft's concept of openness is reminiscent of a funnel: easy to get into, but hard to get out of. Visual Studio .NET allows programmers to write software in many different programming languages. But the code the tool generates runs only on .NET.

    Sometimes writers just use their imagination:

    To convince the world that it will henceforth compete on the quality of its products alone, Microsoft must do something more radical. One possibility would be to accept the kind of antitrust settlement that would clearly signal a shift.

    What should be the Response to Violence? []
    • After September 11th, while every other media source was running the usual watered down stories presenting simplistic views of the situation (everything from the geopolitics of the situation to any possible bioterror threat), the Economist has been consistently running articles examining the situation in depth [] [] and not trying to present its readers with some beautified and doctored picture of what's really going on to give people a warm fuzzy fealing inside or capitalise on the shock-value *cough*CNN*cough*.

      And you know what? It's nice having a publication which doesn't treat you like an idiot or a child. Or one which isn't 90% adverts. Or only tells you what you want to hear.

      You can bash Microsoft, but you don't bash The Economist. :)

      The Economist happens to be one of the most trusted publications around; they have a well-deserved repuation for being right. You can pretty much guarentee that any article by them is well researched and as accurate as they come.

      To be brutally frank, the kind of articles you find in the Economist [] [] are far beyond what you typically read on /. in terms of complexity, subtlety and breadth of vision, without the usual journalistic bias and bullsh*t you find in a lot of other places - particularly online.

      What I find most ironic about the Economist is they usually do a lot better job at picking the important (tech) stuff [] [] than most of the tech publications; best of all - they've usually picked it out months before it's mostly ignored by the likes of Wired.

      If more people read the Economist, the world would be a better place. :o)

      • I agree with you 100% that The Economist is a great publication. However, in my opinion, the article about Microsoft referenced in the Slashdot story is of poor quality.

        The title and subtitle (below) are fine. But some parts of the article itself are weak.

        Title: Extending its tentacles

        As it launches an array of new products, the software giant is changing, and yet its basic instincts are staying much the same
  • by javaman235 ( 461502 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @04:06AM (#2458806) Homepage
    I was actually at a dinner party the other night here in Seattle and was able to chat with a high level IT manager for Microsoft...It was pretty interesting to talk to him about where Microsoft is headed from the business perspective: He said basically that Windows XP should be on every computer in the world, no exceptions. When I asked him about the implications of NSA backdoors for other countries governments, he didn't even give an inch. (but said that other OS's can take a small part of the percentage, so long as it remains "very small").

    Anyway, the wierd thing I learned from this guy was that the upper management at Microsoft actually plans to be collecting revenue from basically every computer user in the world through liscenses and .NET services in the pretty near future...They live in a reality where they believe everybody has a buttload of money to spend on "web services" and software liscenses, and as soon as they open the floodgates its just gonna come pouring in!

    anyway, I'm not religious, I use Microsoft stuff all the time. More power to them. But its just not gonna happen...Microsoft has had its glory days, and now I am starting to see the seeds of the computer world "moving on". People simply don't have the cash or interest now that the Internet boom is gone to pretend that they are gonna get rich by installing XP server for their company. Those days are gone, now people want the basic functionality they need at the lowest possible prices.
    • This sounds right, from dealings I've had with Microsoft reps & techs. Since they have access to an frighteningly large money hose, they simply don't have to deal with normal financial problems. They then assume that everyone has this kind of money, to spend on new hardware, licenses, development, marketing, etc.

      Reminds me of a Blackadder episode "A piddling thousand? Pay the man Edmund, and damn his impudence!"
  • by bryan1945 ( 301828 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @04:09AM (#2458810) Journal
    to the United Subsidieries of the United Coportation of Microsoft. And to the rules of the EULA, for which I agree to never pirate or copy any intellectual property, I Company, under Corporation, for which privacy fails, and laws abound, for lawyers.

    -Daily morning speech for employees
  • by dido ( 9125 ) <`dido' `at' `'> on Monday October 22, 2001 @04:17AM (#2458827)

    Everything Microsoft ever did since the very beginning was steal ideas from other people and companies and market them as their own. Ask Tim Paterson, Gary Kildall, Apple, Stac Electronics, or Spyglass. They very nearly got away with this with Java, but Sun was watchful, and now, what they're doing with C# and .NET is basically a reinvention of what Java already is. It makes me wonder if the bigwigs inside Microsoft ever had an original thought in their own heads.

    Difference here is, IBM actually did set computing standards in its time. They actually did innovate a lot of things in a big way. And they had the humility to accept that while they could remain powerful and influential, they could not remain the force that drove the computing revolution.

    • Everything Microsoft ever did since the very beginning was steal ideas from other people and companies and market them as their own. Ask Tim Paterson, Gary Kildall, Apple, Stac Electronics, or Spyglass. They very nearly got away with this with Java, but Sun was watchful, and now, what they're doing with C# and .NET is basically a reinvention of what Java already is. It makes me wonder if the bigwigs inside Microsoft ever had an original thought in their own heads

      An interesting comment.

      1. Stac Electronics was a patent infringement suit. I thought every good slashdotter was anti patent-abuse? Or are you the odd man out?

      MS infringed their patent on compressing data as it is written to the disk/decompressing it as it's read from the disk. Sounds really original and innovative that does.

      The same guy is now running this outfit:
      X-Sides []. Check out their new product:
      Scary, huh? []

      If that doesn't make you sit back and think "OH MY GOD... PERMANENT BANNER ADS!", and then shriek in horror, I don't know what will. This is not the kind of person who shies away from a filing trivial patents.

      2. Apple -- see Xerox.

      As for the others, I'll let someone else answer them.

      • 1. Stac Electronics was a patent infringement suit. I thought every good slashdotter was anti patent-abuse? Or are you the odd man out?

        MS infringed their patent on compressing data as it is written to the disk/decompressing it as it's read from the disk. Sounds really original and innovative that does.

        Well, back in the mid-eighties and early nineties (if you were old enough to have a PC back then), it really was an innovative and original idea which nobody had ever thought about before. Stac Electronics also used to make data compression hardware that sat in the old ST-506 controller bus that transparently compressed and decompressed data travelling to and from the hard drive.

        Never mind that it was a case of patent abuse which is something that is against the "slashdot ethos". The point is Microsoft has ever and anon gotten by with stealing ideas rather than innovating. The article talks about Microsoft setting standards. All they do is take someone else's standard and hijack it to lock the rest of the world in. Embrace, extend, annihilate.

        By the way, Tim Paterson was the author of QDOS, the codebase that eventually became MS-DOS 1.0, after MS bought it from him. Gary Kildall wrote the original CP/M BIOS code, which MS ripped off in making the PC1 BIOS. Spyglass was the company that wrote the original Internet Explorer.

      • It's really amazing how much Microsoft astroturfiing has been showing up on Slashdot lately, such as your post, for example. Does Bill pay you overtime for posting garbage to Slashdot in the middle of the night?

        Stac had a valid patent, as was found in court. The case didn't go to the penalty phase because Microsoft bought their way out after losing on the merits. They settled on patent infringement and licensed Stac technology for disk compression.

        And you didn't apparently have ad-hominem attacks at hand for the other transgressions mentioned. Perhaps Bill should dock your astroturf bonus.

  • This is actually true journalism. Reporting the facts as they see them without taking a position per se. As such it paints a grim but realistic picture of the future of computing.

    It shows two roads ahead instead of just the one BG sees through his (obviously worn out) glasses.

    One road is that where Microsoft gets new leadership because BG steps down in time. Down that road lies an IBM-like future for Microsoft with plenty of opportunities and a more 'normal' growth pattern for the company.

    The other road is the one where BG isn't willing or capable of stepping down and Microsoft will go on with it's current practices. The writer doesn't really predict what might happen but has a swing at it by saying (between the lines) that revenue-growth may not be able to keep up it's march forward.

    The bottom line is that if your PHB isn't _real_ dimwitted _and_ has an idea of economics (I know it might be too much to ask but still) he may get this. The fact that it reads "The Economist" on top should at least help a bit.

    Karma? What's that again?
  • by kingdon ( 220100 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @04:29AM (#2458847) Homepage

    I was amused by the notion that for Microsoft to follow in the footsteps of IBM, as a company that no longer sets standards, would somehow be the bad scenario. Well, things could have been worse for IBM. They had a near-death experience in about 1993. Sure, they had inertia, it could have taken them decades to finally fade away (a la Control Data, Unisaurus, DEC, and many others), but that they revitalized themselves rather than fade away is thanks to having reinvented the company (including their first-ever layoffs, just to pick one example). The best reference I could quickly find was an article [] from Business Week, which seems to capture the essential points.

    The significance for Microsoft? Well it is pretty early to start pondering a post-Microsoft era and I'm not sure I see any signs of collapse in the various cracks which appear around the sides of the empire. But if a collapse does come, it could be more catastrophic than you'd think.

  • Being a recent convert to Linux I have to see that for front end desktops windows has the edge for now.

    The problem is that Linux has reached the 90% syndrome, that is Linux has 90% of the features required for it to be a front end desktop. As we all know it takes 90% of the development time for these final 10% of features. KDE and GNOME are almost ready, Star Office 6.0 will be a competitor for Microsoft office in a few months. Microsoft have always taken existing technology and made it easy to use (legal and moral issues aside). Would you teach your mother Linux or Windows.

    Linux is a tool that now can be used in specific requirements in a back office role and for obtaining a cheap UNIX environment where required. It is not ready for the desktop yet (for technical people yes, for ordinary computer phobic users no). The problem is with the Open Source and most Linux companies cannot make money from their products (just look at what can be achieved with Star Office when a large company does get behind Linux).

    With Windows 2000 and XP we have finally got rid of that huge mess the 9X product line gave us, and I am considering upgrading (but only to the PRO version and not until XP SP1).

    Issues such as Microsoft FUD and support issues for Linux have now been resolved. Based simply on the products Windows has the edge in a few areas for now. Give it another year and I feel Linux will be able to compete (when things like Star Office, Mozilla, and many other projects finally hit a 1.0 release).

    I use Linux and Solaris at work and I want to see Linux succeed.
  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @04:54AM (#2458892) Homepage

    MS is worried that it won't be setting computing standards ? But it _never_ _ever_ has. Its forte has been ignoring standards and setting out on its own. Its problem now with the concept of the pervasive web and pervasive computing is that its #1 reason for this succeeding, its OS is not longer going to be ubiquidous.

    IBM failed because they didn't see the PC revolution, MS have seen the pervasive web, and are trying to get onto it, but their problem is that by its very nature its a non-MS world. Where IBM missed the bandwagon the issue here is that MS want to get onto the one that it has previously tried to blow off the rails. Will Nokia, Ericsson, Siemens, IBM, HP, Sun allow MS to join their tea party.

    Hopefully not. But there is no accounting for CEO stupidity. MS have to undergo a culture change, their adoption of XML and SOAP looked good, until they haven't implemented the SOAP stuff to the SOAP standard yet (and they are on the bloody standards body!). That underlying aim of embrace, extend, extinguish was fine while they controlled the OS, but with internet aware consumer devices the bar of quality, reliability and interoperability has been raised.

    To quote my wife "So people accept that Microsoft write crap code, and even blame themselves for problems, thats the reason I gave up using the PC"

    Its true my wife uses the PC very rarely for a bit of browsing and email... but there is no way she would put up with a mobile phone that hangs.

  • by ymgve ( 457563 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @05:00AM (#2458904) Homepage
    At first glance, the graph titled 'Redmond Blues' looks like it's showing a decline in Microsoft's earnings. However, the real numbers are quite the opposite - the graph shows how many percent increase the earnings have had since last year, and it is of cours natural for the curve to fall (since an $2.5 billion increase from $25b is only 10%, while an $2.5 billion increase from $6 is almost 60%).

    But somehow they have warped the statistics (intentionally?) to make the curves more grim.
    To their defense, it is stated clearly in the text of the article, but the subtle difference between text and graphics might be hard to spot.(Especially since it's easier to think up a conclusion from a curve than a paragraph of text)
    • The point of the graph is to show what the article pointed out, that the profits are not rapidly increasing at a rapid rate. Microsoft's stock price is maintained at a ridiculous level by rapidly increasing profits. Loss of a rapid increase indicates that a market is maturing or stagnating, which means that the stock value will not rapidly increase in the near future, which means that you might not want to pay much more that what the stock is actually worth.

      The graph wasn't there to point out that profits weren't increasing. The graph meant to show that profit increase was slowing down. If you wait till profits are falling before you sell your stock, you will not be optimizing your return.

    • by xmedar ( 55856 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @11:51AM (#2460139)
      Stocks are usually grouped as "income" or "growth", income stocks are driven by the % dividend they pay the stockholders every year, growth stocks are pushed by the % increase in the value of the stock. M$ has been a classic growth stock, so investers have bought it for the increase in its market value, as revenue increase declines given the same P/E ratio the price delta will slow, stall or decline. That is why the % growth of revenue is on the graph.
  • by schmim ( 412965 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @05:18AM (#2458936) Homepage
    By the time you get to this post, you know all about IBM's near death experience of the early 90s.
    Its true, IBM set standards.. and a lot of them. But did you know that IBM still puts out more patents than any other corporation in the world (per year)?
    They're still a company that innovates.
    What they realized was that instead of innovating and then trying to force that upon users .. It was far lest costly for them to just toss out a few options and let users go along with them.
    The moved from the manufacturing industry to a service industry .. which is why, in the recent slump, they've managed to stay relatively strong despite losses.
    The thing is .. IBM's a company that services everything... not just AIX running on RS/6000s or Aptivas or Thinkpads. IBM is huge on supporting and partnering with its competition as well. Global Services has a larger NT support team than microsofts! They support sun too.
    Anyway.. what's the point of all of this?
    IBM changed its philosophy to diversify.
    I don't see microsoft going down that road. Even though they're strategy is failing (or is at leasted doomed to) .. they seem very pigheaded about continuing on the same route.
    If they stay on the track they're on, they'll spiral down just like IBM almost did.
    • Its true, IBM set standards.. and a lot of them. But did you know that IBM still puts out more patents than any other corporation in the world (per year)?
      They're still a company that innovates.

      How many Slashdot stories do you need to read to prove that patents do not imply innovation? There was a comment attached to a story last week from a guy who interned at IBM and he said that they basically just have a meeting every few weeks to discuss what can be patented. Anything that's not already patented is fair game. That hardly sounds like innovation to me. Maybe the whole concept of using patents as a primary revenue stream is innovative: another post in the same article claimed that IBM rakes in about $1.7 billion per year in patent licensing fees.

      While IBM may in fact be a great innovator, don't take their number of patents as evidence of anything.
  • Microsoft vs. IBM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @05:24AM (#2458948)

    I think people have a basic misunderstanding about Microsoft. They think:

    Microsoft makes lots of money. Therefore it must be a good, strong company.

    However, I believe if you ignore the profits, Microsoft is actually a very weak company. Crazy point of view? My logic:

    Ignore for a moment the size of Microsoft's profits, and look at where they come from. A hugely disproportionate amount come from Microsoft Office. It's worth thinking about this a moment - despite Microsoft's multiheaded and complex strategy at the moment, a significant proportion of its profits come from a product the functionality of which isn't that difficult to copy. A bunch of people in their spare time have put together software that has much of the same functionality. Sun has a nearly equivalent product that they are giving away for free. Is MS Office really a sound basis for a strong company? Similarly with its operating systems - Linux is an increasingly tough competitor, and it's free. Much of it was originally developed by a bunch of students and enthusiasts (absolutely no disrespect intendended).

    Now look at IBM. Increasingly its profits come from providing complex bespoke services at enterprise level to global companies. It also creates hardware, from breakthough advances at the molecular level to the worlds fastest supercomputers. Try copying that.

    Bill Gates says he doesn't want Microsoft to become another IBM. I say, Microsoft is a pathetic company in comparision.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      How so? Well, look at their taxes. They don't pay any tax on profit because they report no profit.

      How? They claim the value of stock options used to pay employees as expense. Between that and cash outlays, they are losing money, and have been for years.

      When they claim profit to their shareholders, and for the stock markets in general, they don't count the stock options they give out as anything. IOW, they would report the exact same profits if their employees' pay was cut to only their cash salaries. IOW, if they paid their employees entirely in stock options, they would report no spending on employees, exactly as if it was all-volunteer labor.

      MS does have (or has had) a positive cash inflow, but only because they are constantly creating new stock and selling it, diluting existing shares to create the illusion of profit.

      The stock market is not a source of investment for them, but primary revenue.

      It works exactly like a Ponzi scheme: early investors are paid off with later investments. Unsurprisingly, like any cash pyramid, it showed exponential growth, roughly doubling in value every year.

      This has broken down, though. Forget technical competition, they are on the edge of a financial collapse. They are being supported by the wishful thinking of their employees, who still think the stock will resume its growth, and so are willing to accept stock options as pay. Once they insist on payment in cash, MS will not be able to show even a fraudulent profit, and the company will come crashing down.

      The question is what will come crashing down with them...
      • Your post also highlights something else I've always thought - when Microsoft drops, it's going to drop really hard. Why? - because so many of its staff are only really paper rich, but are brainwashed by Microsoft internal propaganda into thinking that they are rich and going to get richer and richer. When reality hits it's going to be really painful for many Microsofties, which in turn will make the situation even worse for Microsoft.
      • I've heard this arguement before. The notion that MS stock is highly overvalued in relation to the growth potential left in the company is, IMHO, absolutely true. But I'm skeptical of the idea that once the growth slows down (and the stock price adjusts) the company won't be viable.

        In order to support your position you need to show that paying MS employees the market rate (without stock options) would be a significant (or devastating) blow to profits. Do you have evidence that this is really true? Are average salaries at MS available somewhere alongside industry standard salaries for similar positions?

      • Microsoft may not be quite as important in the future, but they're in no danger of crashing. How many other companies do you know that could lay off 99% of their employees (they still need the guys running the CD press and the shrinkwrap machine) without feeling a revenue drop for a year? They've got enough unearned revenue in the form of CDs waiting to be pressed and sold at "discount prices" to cushion any fall they take.

        Also, the nice thing about ditching all those stock options to employees is that it spreads out the impact of the fall. If Microsoft stock takes a plunge, Bill Gates feels it and Joe Cubicle feels it, but the company accountants just realize they can't issue any new stock for a while, and that's the end of it for them.
      • by mxianieri ( 527875 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @01:37PM (#2460718)
        --How so? Well, look at their taxes. They don't pay any tax on profit because they report no profit.--
        Well, checking their financial reports for the last 3 years shows they paid more than 30% of their Revenue as tax. Check the audited financial statements.

        -- How? They claim the value of stock options used to pay employees as expense. Between that and cash outlays, they are losing money, and have been for years.--
        Actually, what is claimed as a liability is the money reserved for income tax payments on exercised options. Options are considered compensation, but the amount of the compensation cannot be determined until they are exercised, therefore Microsoft has to hold money in a long term liability account to cover the expense of the exercising of options as they occur.

        --The stock market is not a source of investment for them, but primary revenue.--
        Actually, they lost money on investments this year but still have a positive Net Revenue (i.e. Profit).

        -- They are being supported by the wishful thinking of their employees, who still think the stock will resume its growth, and so are willing to accept stock options as pay.--
        Microsoft pays salaries on par with the leaders in the industry, and gives employee great benefits as well. The fact that they grant options in addition to that is even better.

    • Re:Microsoft vs. IBM (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ras ( 84108 )

      I would go farther than than. Microsoft sells commodity software. Commodity software is software that changes little and is used by millions of people. In economic terms what happens to any commodity? Its price drops to the marginal cost of manufacture. For software that is the cost of stamping the cd. So in the long term it Microsoft's current business model is going to break.

      Sounds far fetched? It's not really. Even Microsoft knows it. That is why they are pushing renting software rather than selling it. With renting they have an income stream without having to sell new software. I did not think they would succeed in renting software, until it dawned on me that already had succeeded with Windows. Why do you think you can't resell Windows when you sell your PC? I thought it was because Microsoft wanted get another sale of windows to the new owner. But no. It's so you can't reuse your Windows licence when you buy yourself a new machine. Effectively you are renting Windows for the life of the PC you bought.

      However renting is only a short term solution. In the longer term competitors will come out of the wood work. In 5 to 10 years KDE Office/StarOffice/Gnome will be almost as good as Office. If it is not open source then it will be commercial in a longer time frame. But whatever. The trigger is having your revenue stream based on selling software that does not change, that has finished evolving, that you can no longer add features to make people upgrade. Office has reached that trigger and Windows can't be far away.

      BTW, IBM is a total different kettle of fish. They sell hardware. In order to push their hardware they sell services, one of them happens to be software. IBM will install your software, customise it for you, and run your IT department if that is what you want. Like the other 99% of software companies in the world IBM sells a service, not a commodity. The contrast with Microsoft could not be more stark.

      In order to survive in the long term Microsoft is going to have to change their business model completely. They are going to have to stop selling software and start selling services. I don't know it they will be able to do it - it is a huge cultural change. Unlike the rabid minority on Slashdot I think Microsoft has contributed a lot to the software engineering community. I wish them luck.

      • In 5 to 10 years KDE Office/StarOffice/Gnome will be almost as good as Office.

        At the current rate of development I think two to four years. In fact, for the home user, school, charity and many small businesses, it will be good enough within 18 months.
  • by goingware ( 85213 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @05:27AM (#2458952) Homepage
    A nice fellow wrote me tonight to tell me about ReactOS [], which aims to be a quality binary-compatible replacement for Windows NT that will runs most NT applications and drivers.

    It is still in very early development, so I wouldn't suggest you go out and run it (except for purposes of testing and debugging), but if you are looking for a worthy project to contribute to, consider this one.

  • by j3110 ( 193209 ) <> on Monday October 22, 2001 @05:34AM (#2458956) Homepage
    Even granted the fact that Microsoft is gaining ground in technical side of the aspect(less crashing) , they are loosing it more rapidly in the feedom and privacy arena, which until a month ago was becoming ever increasingly important to the average Joe.

    Microsoft is not friendly to developers as the artical suggests. There will always be people like Adobe that have to rewrite their applications for other operating systems, and they will suffer from Microsoft's unwillingness to cooperate. The things 3rd party developers must worry about are sometimes as menial as how windows doesn't handle fonts the same as a Mac, to the enevitability that the X-Box won't support OpenGL out of the box. (NVidia's version aside, also, I'm sure someone will play XBill on it in a week :)) A project I was working on for windows involving TAPI and Mail Merging in particular was twice as hard as it should have been. At one point I contemplated merging manually into HTML or postscript. Did you know that office quietly truncates SQL queries from the COM interface of mail merge to 512 bytes over 2 seperate 256 byte fields?? Also take a look at TAPI sometime; in order to fully use it properly, you must convelude your code such that you are ashamed to have written it.

    On the other side of things:

    OSS can't compete:
    The one thing that I notice about all of open source software is the complete lack of good documentation. I don't know about many people on here, but if you've worked with MSDN, then you know that something is definately missing from OSS documentation. No, man doesn't count. There is a lot of documentation on how to use various tools, but its very hard to even find out how to create a window in X without using SDL or GGI. You can't expect a relatively new programmer to grep 1G of source to understand all the API calls to create a graphical version of FTP that takes all of a day to write in VB or Borland Builder/Delphi for windows. The OSS community could make things much more enticing for new developers by giving them a standard that if the software follows it is gauranteed to run on any distrabution without a headache (Quake3 is an excellent example, ID doesn't want to make another version of their software for linux due to tech support issues) Sun does the same for Java and the numbers speak for them, not by users choice, but the convenience to developers. Linux is also prohibitive in the fact that it almost certainly requires hardware manufacturers to release more to the community than windows does, or pay developers to maintain the drivers functionality with every OS change (NVidia chooses to do their own driver, and I can tell they struggle... Promise tries as well, but the SCSI driver code base changes with almost every revisionof the kernel). The result is very poor hardware support, even with IBM's help.

    But, then again, OSS software maight get a bit of a kick from the commercial entities:
    Microsoft's success or failure might lie in the hands of Apple. Apple's ability to make a stable, secure, OSS underlying OS that is easy for the average person to use, easy for the average programmer to make inexpensive or free software for, and easy for coorperations to adopt without loosing functionality or money, is a variable that still gives me hope that I won't have to run XP on anything but a test bed. Macs are more expensive because of the proprietary nature of the hardware, but if they release a X86 version of the GUI, then they would have much more market. Most of the software I have to use Windows for has a Mac counterpart. Mac OS's reign in compatibility with itself. Also many companies have a few macs and are open to experimentation with them.

    The bottom line is: With Bush as president, MS is pretty much given free reign to be as monopolistic and anti-privacy as they wish. Votes tallied with MS Election.NET next term?
    • On your comment about he hardware companys and the device drivers... Companies not releasing hardware specs to the community is the #1 reason that device support in linux is lacking. I honestly have never seen the huge deal most hardware companies have with exposing the interfaces with their products? Surely if they have some "top secret" IP, that for some unknown reason they didn't patent, it wouldn't be exposed by simply knowing he calls to interface with the operating system???

      Am I totally off track here? Why do companies try so hard to protect IP that they should already have legal protection over? If NVidia has patents on its 3D accellerator design (which I am sure they do), then why do they have to continue to obfuscate it by not releasing hardware specs so poeple can write OSS drivers?

    • I must completely disagree with your assessment of MSDN as compared to OSS documentation. I've installed everything from enterprise level packet filters right up to desktops and application servers on OSS. I've always encountered instances of scarce documentation while doing so, but I've always been able to solve the problem, or even in some instances contact the author, all of whom have been helpful to date.

      On the other hand, I've encountered issues with MS COM, IIS, NT, 2000, SMB, Outlook, Word, Office, IE (IE,IE,IE!), where I've uncovered problems that are totally undocumented and completely impede progress. My company has spent MONTHS reverse engineering MS crap to get it to work, only to discover that it is some totally publicly undocumented registry hack, or worse, the multimillion dollar company down the road who paid $115,000 per year for documentation and is a certified MS partner had the documentation anyway.

      So OSS or MS? I'd choose OSS anyday; it might have it's weak points, but across the board, it's got support. As for the MS documentation? I say fuck it; it's not there when you need it, never has been, and never will be, unless you've got brown-nose money.

      • You're talking two different types of documentation.
        The original post was about msdn, docs for developers, lib calls example code etc.

        The help you where looking for (at least from yyour posting) was how to install office or exchange.

        I'll agree that MS's documentation in that respect is lacking but their developer documentation is quite nice and is all in one place. Something OSS is severily lacking.
        • hehe, yes and no. The help I was talking about was how to install the C2 orange book certification on NT, how to reduce the transaction latency in COM, such as removing unexplained and arbitrary DNS lookups in COM, how to format dates in VB Script, how to do regular expressions in VB, how to keep Visual source safe from regressing for no apparent reason, how to interface IDL's for VB encryption with CryptAPI, etc, etc. Agreed, there are two sets of problems here: administration and development.

          I was responding to both concurrently. The problem is this: If MS *chooses* to give you the documentation, then you get the documentation. If Microsoft does not so choose, you do not get the documentation, and you are shit out of luck.

          Linux administration has its problems as well, but I'm more inclined to complain about MS since I use Debian for Linux and OpenBSD/FreeBSD ports, which have given me little-if-any real problems compared to NT/2000/etc. As for development, it's pretty hard to beat the standard C libraries, QT, and even relatively esoteric libraries such as OpenSSL, which range from fairly well documented to idiot-proof; is ample support and public documentation.

          The problem is not with administering or developing on MS. The problem is the discourse through which MS provides its information; I may have geared my post towards administration, but I can safely assure you that development is no better.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @06:11AM (#2458995) Homepage
    Has anyone disected the Xbox far enough to determine if and how it could be used to run a Linux OS?

    I think hacking Xbox into a Linux box in iOpenner fashion might make a few MS executives blink! :) at $299, it could make a nice Xterminal/thin client too. The possibilities are all out there waiting. Just 'cause MS is on the label is no reason to poo-pooh the hardware is it? I happen to like the MS Elite keyboard... the stupid internet keyboards can go the way of the fecal matter though.

    Anyway... just a thought... anyone doing this already? Is there any web site to show?
  • by drg55 ( 409730 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @07:34AM (#2459094)
    The problem for Microsoft is it is too heavy handed on owning the OS.
    With Linux we all own it, provided we respect it and others.
    Microsoft is a phenomenon of the consumer society, it is adequate enough, like a popular brand of hamburgers, but is it cuisine?
    Some good comes from the process, but this goodness is a reaction to it, not caused by it.
    This company still wants to own everything, can it reform? can it work with others and play fairly?
    It is in Microsoft's hands. The courts may set heavy controls, but they won't breathe life into the company. Consumerism is passive, the company is dominant. Linux requires involvement, and to me that is the difference.
  • by Glanz ( 306204 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:08AM (#2459149)
    In other words, Microsoft fears becoming what it has done to others. Microsoft fears KARMA, the cosmic "get back", Justice, poetic or otherwise....
  • What is more, software is increasingly a service delivered over the Internet, meaning that operating systems are no longer central.

    Is there a computer that I could buy that doesn't need an OS?

    • AFAIK, it's sort of vaguely possible to run a Linux box (probably other OSs like BSD too) as a very thin client. You put a minimal OS (say, the Linux kernel, DHCP or BootP, and NFS utils) on a ROM, boot from it, and network-mount a NFS drive as the root partition. Upgrading and network troubleshooting become impossible though, and you need LAN-like connectivity to the NFS server.

      Having said that, the general-use networked computers at my college (Macs and Win2K PCs) have a full OS and basically nothing else (they use a Netware server for apps). I don't know about the Macs (there are only a couple and I haven't used them) but the PCs take longer than they should to log in and ages to get enough network connectivity to run apps (and because Windows likes running services on login rather than on boot, this happens once per user...) Once they're running and have refreshed their list of what software they can get at, they're reasonably fast.

      Personally, I much prefer installing software and knowing I have a working copy of whatever app on my hard disk...
  • 'Microsoft's biggest underlying fear is that it will become like IBM - --a company that still has a strong business but no longer sets computing standards.'"

    Good. I like MS much better in that sense. Leave the standards to committees such as IETF, IEEE, ITU, ANSI, and other similar bodies.
  • Think about this... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LyNXeD ( 463123 )
    ...and before you mod it down, please read it and give it some thought... it'll make sense.

    If the truth be known, Windows will never be a completely bug-free and stable OS. Sure, it may come close, but it's never going to be perfect. And this isn't because of the natural human nature of programmers, either. I'm not talking about minor/very small bugs - but rather bugs that are at least rather annoying.

    Why? It makes perfect sense as a corporation to release a product that is perpetually "almost there" as far as QA is concerned (especially if they charge for upgrades.) Simply put, if Microsoft can create an image of, "Dangit, we ALMOST had all the bugs out... maybe next time!" to its customers, then those customers are probably going to purchase the next release of Windows in hopes that those bugs are fixed. Of course, fix those bugs, but make sure to add some sort of new stuff (features, eye candy, etc.) that have a few bugs, so that the same cycle repeats itself.

    Why woulod they do this? Think about it this way... If WinXP turned out to be a completely stable, bug-free version, and taking into consideration their track record of being rather buggy at times, would you upgrade past WinXP? If you're like a lot of people, probably not. I know several people who have told me already that they are 95% happy with their Win98, and will NOT ugprade past Win98 for fear that the new versions may be buggier. I am sure a lot of people have that same general feeling, and if they ever got their hands on a "good" version, they'd stick with it.

    I will give them this much - creating the "Bother, we THOUGHT we had all the bugs out!!! But, we'll get it next time around!" look to all its customers has seemed to keep them on the upgrade track rather well. :) Question is, how long before the customers catch on?

  • by ClarkEvans ( 102211 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:42AM (#2459213) Homepage
    Power is generational. It will be a while before we have a repeat the 80's. In '83 everyone my age disliked IBM, while those my fathers age were IBM heads. I disliked IBM beacuse they were bullies (or so my dad said). Thus, for me everything IBM was tainted. Microsoft, a small little company was on the other hand, very cool. They made DOS, had a Basic interpreter, etc. Another kickn' company was Borland, who made SideKick a very nifty personal organizer and a Pascal compiler.

    Anyway, I don't have children, but people younger than me think that Microsofties are a bunch of bullies (or so I tell them). And rather than investing our attention in another company, I think we may have collectively learned our lesson. We are investing our time in open source software that is publically owned.

    It took over two decades for Microsoft to catch up to IBM ('75-'95). I think it is fair to give open source a fair shake ('85-'2005). Sometime soon the pendilum will swing away from Microsoft and towards the next monopoly. Guided not by technology decisions, but by personal choice not to support the bullies. This time the monopoly holders will be the public, through licenses like the GPL.
  • by jonbrewer ( 11894 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @08:43AM (#2459218) Homepage
    Any large corporation based on the sales of intellectual property is bound to have a rough time of the next ten years. Widespread pirating of music, software, and now even pharmaceuticals occurs all over the world, in some cases with the support of governments in power. It can't be stopped, and it won't be stopped.

    IBM has this thought out. Their revenues going forward are more and more service-based. That's something you just can't steal.

    Microsoft shouldn't be afraid of becoming IBM. They should be afraid of not becoming IBM.
  • Like olde AT&T (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @09:00AM (#2459266) Homepage
    Was just thinking Msft might like to have a monopoly like AT&T had on phones - you never did actually 'own' the phone, you had to LEASE it (just like you don't OWN Word etc, just buy licenses to use) and while they were good, rugged, tough handsets that were automatically maintained by the telco, they did make a great cash flow out of those monthy lease payments.

    My folks have had the same phone on the wall for about 40 years now, and they've probably paid for it 10 times over by now.

  • That is why Microsoft has always sold its operating system cheaply and has done everything to make life easy for programmers.

    It's been a long number of years since I've attempted to develop
    any sort of software with MS tools/APIs, because every experience
    I had was miserable compared to alternatives. The only positive
    experiences I've ever had developing for DOS or Windows were because of Borland.

    I'm a programmer and part of my beef with Microsoft is that if they
    have their way, I'll have little choice but to use their tools and do things their way. Of course, that might be good... it'd provide suffecient incentive for me to become a subsistence farmer or luthier or anti-trust economist and lead a simpler life.

    And the OS is cheap? Hardly.
  • MS Future Visions (Score:3, Informative)

    by JohnG ( 93975 ) on Monday October 22, 2001 @02:47PM (#2461118)
    I was watching TechTV during the Backstreet Boys segment of the Concert for New York and they were doing a special on MS's "House of the Future". I'm sure we've all heard Bill Gates rather (or is that downright?) stupid idea of networking a TV to a Clothes Dryer so that the TV will tell you when your clothes are done. I suppose it's too much to hear the big loud buzzer or just go back after the amount of time you set the timer for, but they now have what could be the most annoying idea ever. Apparently they want to have a microwave that has a barcode reader. You have to scan all your products and the microwave connect to the internet and automatically sets the time to cook the item. Is it just me or is that the stupidest idea ever?! Is it really that difficult to read the label and type a three digit number? Are we not supposed to eat if the network goes down?
    I for one hope MS dies long before it sets our living standards, or I might just have to move out of my house into a wigwam.

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev