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Microsoft

Ballmer, Gates on Microsoft's Future 582

RoadFever writes: "At the Microsoft shareholders meeting, CEO Ballmer acknowledged they may have a popularity bug. "We understand, based upon the fact that our industry didn't rally to support us, that we need to change the way we interact and relate to our industry," Ballmer said. There's a summary article in the Seattle Times and more stuff on the Microsoft investor relations page. Will words translate to action? Well, the company might want to start by toning down the habit of taking credit for every innovation: "Really, the reason you see open source there at all is because we came in and said there should be a platform that's identical with millions and millions of machines," Gates said." The question-and-answer session near the end of the meeting has the most juicy quotes.
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Ballmer, Gates on Microsoft's Future

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  • innovation? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jxa00++ ( 322387 )
    just like MS DOS was theirs??
  • by bytes256 ( 519140 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:29PM (#2539317)
    So wait...did Al Gore or Bill Gates invent the internet?
    • Re:The Internet... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by famazza ( 398147 )

      It makes me remember when Mr. Gates said that internet is too dumb to be successful.

      Tell me do you remember?

      It also remembers me when Mr. Gates stole Pen-Computing technology from a young-innocent-guy who thought he could trust a company like Microsoft

      Yep, there are lots of stories about these things.

  • by 90XDoubleSide ( 522791 ) <ninetyxdoubleside AT hailmail DOT net> on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:30PM (#2539325)
    "Really, the reason you see open source there at all is because we came in and said there should be a platform that's identical with millions and millions of machines,"

    So wat he's saying is that the mass adoption of their inflexible software has driven people to create open products that will meet their needs, or am I misinterpreting him ? ;)

    • by Ami Ganguli ( 921 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:37PM (#2539386) Homepage

      I was trying to figure this one out myself. My best guess is that thinks Open Source requires commodity hardware, and figures that Microsoft helped to create the commodity PC platform.

      I'll grant that MS helped to create the PC (although it wasn't entirely their doing by any means - Intel and IBM certainly had a role to play), I'm at a loss as to why this would be relavent to Open Source. Free/Open Source software tends to be much more cross-platform than proprietary stuff, so it's a pretty bizarre statement.

      Could it be that Bill still doesn't get this whole Free Software thing? Can he really be that clueless about the non-Wintel universe?

      • by Null_Packet ( 15946 ) <nullpacket@dosche r . n et> on Thursday November 08, 2001 @03:01PM (#2539579)
        I think what Bill is saying is that he feels the Open Source movement is riding on the coat-tails of Microsoft's success. I think he is implying that Microsoft broke ground and created a standards-based system of software (Office, Windows, etc) and the Open Source movement is using some of his original ideas and yet claiming to be at odds with MS.

        As far as Bill being clueless- remember any large Corporation's PR stuff is like a big card game. Bill and Co. are very, very smart no matter how evil they may or may not be. Don't think for a second that Bill hasn't thought through the whole OSS movement.
      • Yes, yes he can be very clueless about how other people think. He doesn't understand why people are upset with his company. He doesn't understand why people might not like his product. Some people have suggested that he seems a little autistic.

        Fortunately for him, he has done a number of things to overcome these issues. He's usually burried the people that don't like his company, and improved his product so that most people like it.
      • I agree with your statement on commodity hardware, although I think Bill was trying to portray OSS as an imitation of Microsoft. As you say, it's a bizarre statement.

        As most people would agree, it was the Internet that commoditized network service protocols, and OSS that built on that base to offer true cross-platform compatibility. Bill's products discourage the use of non-Intel processors, whereas OSS works on just about anything.

        Of course, Bill neglects to mention that Microsoft was slow to adopt the Internet, at a time when OSS was already there. Who is imitating who?

        When I hear Bill take credit for industry standardization it's like having Osama bin Laden take credit for world peace or Al Gore inventing the Internet.
    • What he seems to be saying is that Linux can't run on an Apple Mac or an Archimedes.

      Surely one of the main reasons for open source is because there is such a diversity of similar but not identical hardware, having the source code means you can probably get it to run.

      In fact, he was talking complete and utter crap. The PC is the least standard platform available. the only parts that are consistent are the CPU instruction set (which is hardly relevent since virtually everything is written in C and can be recompiled), and the VGA registers - which are now pretty much obsolete and used only as a fallback. There are at least a dozen different types of network hardware, a vast number of sound cards, a quite a lot of different quirks in the motherboards. Identical? Like hell!
    • An actual Ballmer quote:
      If there's a key learning for us, we can't have free software, it's kind of inconsistent with the goals of most people in the room. We recognize it, it probably doesn't fit in most of these people's mind's eye, so we're not going to embrace that.
      More proof that we need to mobilize the power that is slashdot to write more GPL software. I love the BSD license as much as anybody, but it's obvious that Microsoft will hijack BSD licensed software, and use it for their own negative purposes.

      Come on people, what GPL projects have you contributed to? File a bug report, write a patch, help with the documentation, write a HOWTO, anything. Help make Linux strong!

      • ... More proof that we need to mobilize the power that is slashdot to write more GPL software. I love the BSD license as much as anybody, but it's obvious that Microsoft will hijack BSD licensed software, and use it for their own negative purposes ...

        The perfect example of this is how Microsoft hijacked the TCP/IP stack from BSD. However, I argue that this is a good thing. If they just take the code verbatim, then it most likely is going to be very compatible with everything else, unless they specifically go out of their way to break compatability. Notice that Microsoft is not planning to introduce a new .TCP/IP#, their use of the BSD code has shifted the issue to other things. They won't release any improvements back to the community, but they won't go out of their way to break a working system either.

        Take the primary example used by most people against the BSD licence, that of Microsoft `stealing' an entire BSD system (whether FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, or whatever) and releasing it as their operating system. I argue that this would be a good thing, both for Microsoft and for everybody else, although I seriously doubt that it would ever happen. A few people who work on the BSD stuff would be annoyed, but most would not mind, only the Linux crowd would raise a real stink about it. Think about it: Apple is doing it (MacOS-X) and all that is going to do is help the BSD software community. Sure, OS-X has a lot of unnecessary differences from any standard BSD, but nothing that isn't just a matter of minor re-configuration, small shell scripts, and carefully placed symbolic links. If Microsoft were to release Windows-X, or MS-BSD, or whatever stupid name their marketing division thought up, while they would make a lot of stupid changes just to be different, it would still fundamentally be a BSD system at its heart, and that would be a good thing for Microsoft, a good thing for the purchasers of Microsoft software, and a good thing for the BSD community.

        The BSD license is not about insuring that oh-so-evil Bill Gates finally gets his company destroyed. It is not about insuring that I can read the source code to every single piece of software on the planet. It is not about world domination. It is about insuring that quality, compatible systems exist everywhere.

    • by Exedore ( 223159 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @03:00PM (#2539572)

      So wat he's saying is that the mass adoption of their inflexible software has driven people to create open products that will meet their needs, or am I misinterpreting him ? ;)

      Yeah, that's kinda like Osama bin Laden patting himself on the back for doing his part to beef up airport security.

    • by cworley ( 96911 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @03:30PM (#2539782)
      What Gate's is saying is that he invented Open Source by opening the PC bios; which started the PC hardware revolution.

      Until this admission, Compaq had been credited with clean-room reverse-engineering the PC bios. IBM had outsourced the CPU and OS thinking that control over the proprietary BIOS gave them comntrol over manufacture of the system.

      Since Gates signed many NDA's with IBM, I wonder if this admission might get him into any trouble.

      Anyway, a more complete quote:

      "really the reason that you see open source there at all is because we came in and said there should be a platform that's identical with millions and millions of machines, and the bios of that should be open to everybody to use, and all the extensibility should be there." -- Bill Gates
    • You said:

      [BillG said:]
      "Really, the reason you see open source there at all is because we came in and said there should be a platform that's identical with millions and millions of machines,"
      So wat he's saying is that the mass adoption of their inflexible software has driven people to create open products that will meet their needs, or am I misinterpreting him ? ;)

      Yes, you are misinterpreting him. What he is referring to is the wide availability of standards-based hardware due to the Microsoft-Intel alliance that, like it or not, brought computing out of the hobbyist and into the business world. They accomplished this despite their crappy software (compare: Macintosh), and probably because IBM fudged the attempted hardware-monopoly thing.

      The emergence of Linux as a (cool)UNIX-like OS that runs on consumer hardware then lead to the explosion of interest in all things Open Source. Of course, the FSF and the GPL was around way before Open Source, so Gates knows his terminology here.

      So, despite the contempt people have for Microsoft, you have them (and Intel, and IBM(for fucking up)) to thank for the cheap (relatively speaking) x86 hardware that Linux runs so happily on.

      Take a look at In the beginning was the command line [cryptonomicon.com], by Neal Stephenson, for another take on the matter.

    • I think that Microsoft HAS been the seminal power behind open source in a very strange and obscure way. So yes, Microsoft IS the reason that Open Source as a movement is able to compete today. People will disagree with me saying "Look at GNU. It is designed to be a UNIX killer, not a Windows killer. Look at Linux's effect on UNIX. It is not about Windows at all!"

      However, let us look at the economics for a moment. Microsoft is a company with very little technical innovation but one world-shattering contribution-- the introduction of a multi-vendor OS manufacturer. This really does not seem like much but it really is. Microsoft's contribution really HAS resulted in lower prices for the consumer because they were able to help more companies sell their products hence spreading more of the cost of development around rather than letting it land on a comparitively few customers. This has allowed many more people to use computers because they can now afford to do so.

      The ubiquity of the computer which really IS Microsoft's legacy is the driving factor of Open Source and Free Software because it allows a much greater number of developers to work on projects. Open Source has an economy of scale too. Would Linux have existed if Linus had not been able to afford a 386?

      BUT: Open source then takes Microsoft's edge and makes it sustainable. It is a market innovation which beats Microsoft's market innovation. In this war, Microsoft cannot win.
  • DUH!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:33PM (#2539348) Homepage Journal
    We understand, based upon the fact that our industry didn't rally to support us, that we need to change the way we interact and relate to our industry," Ballmer said.

    Like they haven't already killed off a lot of competitors, knifed in the back a lot of partners, and set their sights on other industries, which BTW could be customers of partners and competitors? The problem with being an 357.142851428 Kg. gorilla is, you can sit anywhere you like, but after you've done so, who's willing to be their friend and stick their neck out for you? Even some things PR can't fix.

  • by DrCode ( 95839 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:33PM (#2539356)
    He's right on that. A local radio station has been running the following spoof of an XP commercial every morning:

    (Madonna music in background)
    Q: With XP, can I burn CD's?
    A: Yes, you can.
    Q: Can I send email?
    A: Yes, you can.
    Q: Can I create an internet virus?
    A: Yes, you can.
    Q: Can I download female-on-female animal porn?
    A: Yes, you can.
    Q: Can I install XP myself without help?
    A: Not f***in' likely!
    • by SecurityGuy ( 217807 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @03:24PM (#2539743)
      There are no internet viruses. That's Microsoftese for MSTDs (MicroSoft Transmitted Diseases). These "internet viruses" are, for me, nothing more than academic interest as I watch them bounce harmlessly off software which isn't both bug ridden and misfeatured to the point that any script kiddie can run their code on your box.


      Repeat after me. MSTDs. Lets get it to catch on. Just imagine how pissed Bill will be. :)

  • Juicy Excerpt (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Goronguer ( 223202 )
    QUESTION: It appears to me that the open source movement is gaining momentum, and as I understand it the key to success of a software product involves efficiently building an ecosystem of developers and users, resellers, and so forth. Doesn't the open source model a more efficient paradigm for building such a community around your products, and isn't perhaps Microsoft maybe on the wrong side of that trend of long-term?

    MR. GATES: Let me start out, really the reason that you see open source there at all is because we came in and said there should be a platform that's identical with millions and millions of machines, and the bios of that should be open to everybody to use, and all the extensibility should be there. And so it was very predictable that once we had gotten the PC going, and going and gotten hundreds of millions of machines out there, that it had always been sort of free software and the universities would flourish and there would be more of that. We certainly accept free software as part of the software ecosystem. In fact, there's a very virtuous cycle where people do free things, some people find that adequate, sometimes companies will take that work and turn it into commercial products, those companies will hire people, pay taxes. And so you see the free software and the commercial software existing together.

    There is a particular approach that breaks the cycle called the GPL that is not worth getting into today, but I don't think there is much awareness about how so-called free software foundations designed that to break that cycle.

    In terms of getting people excited about software and building communities around them, yes, that is a key to success. Nobody has done that more effectively than we have with Windows. Are there ways that we can do that better? Are there aspects of this where we're actually learning from all our different competitors out there? I think it's fair to say yes.

    In the pre-software vision is that there would be no jobs in the software industry, there would be no testers, no engineers, no taxes paid, or anything of that notion. So I certainly don't agree with the full sort of free software foundation view that there should be no jobs in this area, and that the kind of commercial advances and risk taking that we've been able to do you can't get that, you can't get things like speech recognition on a tablet computer coming out of that kind of a paradigm. You can get things that follow along, you can get some smaller software, and so we embraced the idea of the free software paradigm and the commercial software paradigm moving forward in really a self-reinforcing way.

    MR. BALLMER: I just want to add one thing, echo what Bill said, but encourage you to go to our web site. If there's a key learning for us, we can't have free software, it's kind of inconsistent with the goals of most people in the room. We recognize it, it probably doesn't fit in most of these people's mind's eye, so we're not going to embrace that. But there is something about the way the community works to support itself which is brilliant, and which we've done many good things, but we think we've seen some good things sort of in the Linux, et cetera, world, and I encourage you to go up to Microsoft.com and check out our community areas. It's an area where we have sort of massively mobilized. It's still in the early phases, but we are massively mobilizing to try to stimulate communities, support communities, and really, if you will, borrow one from their playbook.

    • MR. GATES: Let me start out, really the reason that you see open source there at all is because we came in and said there should be a platform that's identical with millions and millions of machines, and the bios of that should be open to everybody to use, and all the extensibility should be there. And so it was very predictable that once we had gotten the PC going, and going and gotten hundreds of millions of machines out there, that it had always been sort of free software and the universities would flourish and there would be more of that.

      Here Bill Gates shows how much of a politician he is, and how MS hasn't really changed, however it wants to spin things. MS by itself was never the key driving force for the standardization of BIOS, and the millions of PC Clones. For that, IBM's blindspot, Compaq's reverse-engineering of the BIOS, the Taiwanese Motherboard manufacturers all shared part of the responsibility. MS never really drove the market in this direction, unless you consider anticompetitive OEM licensing deals as a Good Thing. Is MS taking credit for this?


      As universities taking and buying up cheaper alternatives to the workstation, you can directly blame their tightening budgets, and the market-unaware Unix vendors for that.

    • How is this Juicy? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by NineNine ( 235196 )
      How is this juicy? Gates and Ballmer have been asked by the people who own their company and all of the intellectual property if they have any plans of giving it all away for free. They said essentially "no", because then there'd be no business to speak of and all of your investments would be worthless. This is pretty damn basic. How is this "juicy"??
      • by lcypher ( 446291 )
        "How is this juicy? Gates and Ballmer have been asked by the people who own their company and all of the intellectual property if they have any plans of giving it all away for free. They said essentially "no", because then there'd be no business to speak of and all of your investments would be worthless."

        From the transcript: "As in prior years, we have the company store here in an adjoining room, so that you have an opportunity to go in and purchase Microsoft products."

        But I thought they OWNED the company? They have to purchase products that were the fruit of intellectual property that they OWN?

        Did you happen to read the "owners" question? It seemed they thought the open-source model was better, and that Microsoft was "maybe on the wrong side of that trend of long-term?" Seems juicy to me.
    • I am just amazed that these titans of high technology are barely able to speak the english language.
    • Re:Juicy Excerpt (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:59PM (#2539564)

      This is so funny. These guys really don't get it at all, do they? Dangerous for them.

      In the pre-software vision is that there would be no jobs in the software industry, there would be no testers, no engineers, no taxes paid, or anything of that notion.

      Well Bill, all of those things can still exist under an open source model, but it's a different model to yours. Can't you see that?

      If there's a key learning for us, we can't have free software,

      So, Steve, you're saying you're older and wiser than IBM? Than HP? Than Compaq, Sun, Dell, Intel and all the other companies that are contributing to the Open Source community and releaseing code under the GPL? I think not. They get it, you don't.

      It's still in the early phases, but we are massively mobilizing to try to stimulate communities, support communities, and really, if you will, borrow one from their playbook.

      Can anyone point me to any evidence of this? Really? I've honestly tried to find it. Are there disussion boards where developers can openly discuss Microsoft technologies, and MS engineers will chip in with comments? I've looked for that, couldn't find it.

      The clock is ticking Steve, Bill. Let me spell it out for you: YOU DON'T GET IT! If you don't get it soon, you're going to slowly die. Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock.
    • by Erris ( 531066 )
      In fact, there's a very virtuous cycle where people do free things, some people find that adequate, sometimes companies will take that work and turn it into commercial products, those companies will hire people, pay taxes.

      "All your base are belong to us". Amazing! He's addmitted that he thinks his company should be free to exploit the labor of others without compensation and be the only conduit of that free effort in any "adequate" form. This does not do much for my view of M$. I'm waiting for anything M$ that is the equal of Debian, Red Hat or OpenBSD, and therefore adequate.

      It's the blind leading the blind. Bill, where is your mind?

    • Re:Juicy Excerpt (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JeffL ( 5070 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @03:15PM (#2539687) Homepage


      we came in and said there should be a platform that's identical with millions and millions of machines, and the bios of that should be open to everybody to use


      I kind of see what BG is saying here, that the free software movement couldn't have taken off without open, commodity hardware. This is wrong. The free software movement, as it came out of RMS and the MIT AI lab was a direct response to proprietary, closed hardware and software. The free software movement grew out of the tradition of open access to software and tools on very non-standard mini computer hardware.


      In the early 80s when the FSF was founded, it was not clear yet that the IBM PC would be such a dominant force in the computing world. Commodity home machines aren't even mentioned in RMS's initial announcement [gnu.org]. In fact, he is talking about replacing the system on very expensive, practically custom built machines, which were only found in universities and big businesses.



      Sure, the pervasiveness of computing has been a major boost for free software, but this is a base rate issue (i.e., there are x free software users out of n*x computer users).

  • by FatRatBastard ( 7583 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:34PM (#2539364) Homepage
    Forget all the anti-trust stuff and "we don't play well with other" crap for a minute. In terms of "investment relations" what MS needs to do is pay out a god damn dividend. They're sitting on a pile of cash, and the days of constant double digit growth are behind them. They are going to have to face up to the fact that they are a grown, mature company and their stock price is going to act accordingly.

    That's what's driving their licensing debacle, BSA audits, etc. They've hit the wall in terms of market penitration on the desktop, they never achieved the "slam dunk/home run" domination of the server market they thought they would (not to mention where they do dominate there-- small print, file, web servers they've got linux/BSD nipping at their heels) and the X-box is going to put a hit on revenues for the next few years even if its a runaway success. Other than Web Sevices, which at best are a few years away, they have no room for massive growth.

    So, if the stockprice ain't going up all that much they better start paying out on all that cash they're sitting on, or some investers are going to be none too happy.

    (then again, I'm a code jockey, what the f**k do I know about finance)
    • by WillSeattle ( 239206 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:51PM (#2539501) Homepage
      In answer to the question of why MSFT doesn't pay a "g**d damn dividend", it's pretty simple.

      Look, MSFT is a shell company, one that permits Bill and Paul and a few other major shareholders to buy other companies. By maximizing the capital growth and having no dividends, they reduce their effective tax rate to 8 to 10 percent. Then they sell off a few shares and pay the 5 year capital gains tax on them, or sell the high purchase shares and keep the low purchase shares, thus getting a capital loss.

      That's why there's no dividend.

      Until MSFT becomes more like GE, where no single shareholder owns more than 20 percent of the stock, this will never change.

      This is their way of avoiding taxes. People like me buy a mix of stocks - some dividend and some non-dividend - we use the non-dividend stock to go long on capital gains and thus reduce our tax hit (realized income) and use the dividends from the other stock (or bonds, PERQs, SPARQs, money market) to provide enough cash flow for expenses.

      Thus we pay less tax than the working poor do. My realized income is very small. And so is Bill's and Paul's.

      Unless you change the tax system, we'll keep doing things like that. There is no incentive to realize earned income, under the current system.

      -
      • by FatRatBastard ( 7583 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @03:04PM (#2539600) Homepage
        The lynchpin to all of this is, of course, the ever rising price of their stock. As long as folks' stock prices were rising no one cared that MS issued new stock like Charmin issues toilet paper. And there in lies the rub.

        Once the price of the stock no longer goes up and levels off its a whole new ballgame. Those institutional investers are going to want to see some return on investment. MS has a killer revenue source due to their entrenchment of Windows/MSOffice. But stock price is corrolated with growth, and there's stagnation in the market where MS dominates. If the stock price also stagnates then large investors are going to demand a piece of the revenue pie (in the form of dividends) or are going to get the hell out of dodge.
    • They are going to have to face up to the fact that they are a grown, mature company

      Uh...M$ is many things, but they're aren't mature yet...they're still a company that's being run by teenage geeks who are enacting their competitive revenge against all the jocks whoever put them down in grade school and high school, or are still trying to shove their attitude to their parents that, "hey, i can do this my own damn way and don't have to follow your rules anymore."

      M$ is going to act like immature little teenagers sticking their collective middle fingers to any form of authority for as long as those two are still in charge of the company.

  • Microsoft was founded in/around *1975* at a time when nobody thought there was a market for PC software. Some of the Marxists-in-training who regularly snipe at Microsoft were probably not even born then. A standard, cheap Intel platform that can run e.g. Linux exists because of Microsoft software driven custumer mass demand for PCs. It's very "in" to be a Microsoft basher, but try looking at reality sometime.
    • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:43PM (#2539442) Homepage
      The PC platform that Gates is touting was created by IBM, not Microsoft. Sure, Microsoft software was running on all of them but what made it appealing was the low costs of the hardware which came about by IBM's rather loose licensing policies. It took a very long time for the PC to become vaguely usable, but it remained cheap and ubiquitous which is why it eventually came to dominate.

      But Microsoft's position in that domination was, at best, an accident. They were in the right place at the right time and did a good job of screwing IBM. Credit to them for that, but not much else.
      • the pc bios. If you think IBM is some paragon of open and cheap systems, I have a 80lb, MCA bus only IBM PS/2 model 80 to sell you, that originally retailed for at least 6k, IIRC, maybe 8k. IBM was forced downwards pricewise by those who figured out the pc bios and made clones. IBM tried to avoid that with proprietary foolishness - MCA, and it damn near killed them (that among a shopping list of bad decisions in the late 80s).

        ostiguy
      • IBM didn't even invent the Intel-based 'clone'. They were absurdly common before IBM entered the market, complete with BIOSes and MS BASIC, only with 8080s (or Z80s) instead of the 8088, and CP/M instead of MS-DOS.
        <overstatement>
        The only thing that IBM really did for the industry was standardize the disk drive, making sneakernet possible.
        </overstatement>

        If not IBM, then probably somebody else (Intel?) would have gotten all the hardware details standardized. The industry's been fine since IBM dropped out of the picture in the 80s.

        Microsoft was positioned in the right place. If there was no IBM PC, Microsoft would probably still dominate the industry in 2001. Extending into micro applications was a no brainer for them. Trying to control the API is a no brainer from there.

        Anyway, they aren't directly responsible, but their spot sure wasn't accidential.

    • Ya know, I do agree with you to a point: MS did push/prode some for of standards on personal computers back in the day. The merits of their system (I hated DOS then too) can be debated elsewhere.

      Now, that said...

      What if there had never been Microsoft? What if Bill Gates had decided to sell insurance and then get into designing role-playing games instead?

      Would we not have PC's today? Would we still be in the 70's era of computers?

      I highly doubt it. Somehow, we would have stilled ended up with PCs today, probably just with another OS and such. (Like OS Warp or even a true desktop *nix, who knows?)

      So, arguing that MS is responsible for where we are today is kinda pointless and giving them lots of credit for it is just as so. They were in the right place, pushed the right buttons, and did so at the right time. Nothing more.
    • Uhh, what?

      While MS may have been *founded* in '75, the first product they made which acted as a significant force towards unifying the PC market was DOS (and later Windows), so any prior history was frankly irrelevant. The number of BASIC interpreters available on the market makes theirs really quite insignificant as a history-altering force.

      The IBM PC predated Windows, and if Microsoft hadn't made MS-DOS, IBM would have simply licensed a different operating system. Perhaps if it weren't for Windows something like OS/2 or Desqview would have taken off, but the end result would have been the same -- a single dominating platform.

      However, open source (much more than closed development) doesn't need a single dominating platform to thrive. I say this as someone working for an embedded systems company -- supporting Linux means we can take advantage of the ports done by entities motivated by their own internal needs rather than only those the marketing and engineering folks at OS Vendor, Inc. decide to support.

      Thus, unless you're able to provide further evidence, I can't really see any reason to find your argument supportable.
      • They bought it from the guy who did. If Microsoft hadn't existed, IBM would have bought it directly from Gary Kildall, or used the real deal (CP/M, which was what DOS was inspired by), or any of a number of other operating systems that were easily available in the 1980 time frame.

        All Microsoft did was the same thing they always did... sold something that someone else invented after sticking their name on it.
    • Microsoft was founded in/around *1975* at a time when nobody thought there was a market for PC software.

      Is it just me or was Visicalc [bricklin.com] the killer app that drove mass adoption of consumer PCs? Thank them for the use of computers in the office and in homes, along with games and the human friendly hardware ideas implemented by Woz. And after that the desktop publishing revolution drove creative professionals to adopt computers, thank Adobe. You can argue that MS software creates standardization and makes PCs cheaper, but that is a very weak argument because of how the ridiculous prices they can set for their software through their monopoly powers (don't argue that point, it has been proven in court) inflates the price of PCs. It seems to me that YOUR computer history starts in the 80s, when MS was a real force and not yet another developer.

      I am not a MS basher, I use Office 10 [microsoft.com] and it is a good product. I don't conisder it innovative or great however, and it didn't drive my computer purchase; programs from companies that innovate, not standardize, did that.

    • Yep, while all this was going on, Apple was just sitting on their hands. Commodore, too. And the TRS-80. Atari, too. Microsoft was the only one who saw a future in the home computer market.
    • Um. In 1975 there really were no PCs to speak of (and when I say PC I use it to mean "personal computer" not "IBM PC compatible clone"). That might be part of the reason. And when machines like the Apple II and the Commodore 64 and that TI one and that Atari one started making their way into homes and schools and offices in the later 70's, there was *plenty* of non-MS software to be had.

      As far as Microsoft being responsible for the standard platform, what a crock. For a long while the OS on a machine was hardly considered a key feature and no one much cared if they typed DIR or LOAD"$",8; LIST to see what files were on a disk. I suppose those with more hacker instinct leaned to the Apple, with it's modifiable DOS and more open architecture.

      In fact, it was Apple with their first editions of Mac OS (and earlier prototypes) that really put the OS in the forefront on PCs. Prior to that the OS was a very small set of command line tools that really didn't do much other than provide a way to (maybe) write some BASIC, manage filesystems, and load/run applications. You found your applications you wanted to run and then you bought a computer that could run them, or you bought a computer suited to a certain type of applications. And yes, MS did write a lot of that early software, even for non-Intel platforms, but even without MS most everything would have happened. Sorry.

      So if you're done with the ad hominem attacks, you can prove that you *were* born before 1975, because your little history lesson is sorely lacking.
    • Nobody? You must be kidding. I worked for a software house at the time. For a whole year, no software house released ANY software, because they were all reserving every programmer for when they had to port their new products to the IBM PC.

      Anybody who knew anything KNEW the PC would be HUGE. Go back and read Byte Magazine or Dr Dobbs Journal.

      Before MS, you always got the source code when you paid for software. (Well from DEC or IBM, anyway.)

      And there was a big free software community eg DECUS the DEC user group. I still have DECUS tapes with Free software on. Including the ORIGINAL COLOSSAL CAVE Adventure game. (I ported a later, better, version to FreeBSD.)

      And a Pascal compiler.AFAICR, Even Richard Stallman was around.

      MS Stuffed the industry, and shafted the customer.

      Free Software, and mass machines were around before MS. The scale was smaller, but then, lots of us were smaller.

    • by dinotrac ( 18304 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @03:13PM (#2539670) Journal
      Microsoft has had a significant hand in creating a common PC platform, and their biggest "contribution" came first.

      That contribution? Convincing IBM to license PC-DOS on a non-exclusive basis. That left Microsoft free to sell MS-DOS to clone makers.

      With the same OS available, only the BIOS needed cloning in order to produce IBM compatible machines.

      No noble intentions, but a very powerful coup.
  • by Pinball Wizard ( 161942 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:37PM (#2539378) Homepage Journal
    Gates also took some credit for the genesis of open-source software. He said Microsoft made it possible by standardizing computers: "Really, the reason you see open source there at all is because we came in and said there should be a platform that's identical with millions and millions of machines," he said.


    Why, he's the Al Gore of Open Source!

  • Wrong again (Score:4, Redundant)

    by M_Talon ( 135587 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:37PM (#2539385) Homepage
    Gates said: "Really, the reason you see open source there at all is because we came in and said there should be a platform that's identical with millions and millions of machines"

    No, the reason you see open source is because people want the ability to customize code to their own personal needs without having to license said code from a monolithic company known for overcharging. Mr. Gates needs get rid of the god complex. Open source has nothing to do with identical desktops and everything to do with control of the code. This statement is just more overgrandizing and makes him look even more out of touch with the industry than he already is.
    • Yeah, I was wondering exactly how and IBM mainframe was the same platform as a StrongArm PDA :)

      Weren't these the folks who took credit for TrueType fonts? Who now claim they were hip to the internet back in 95 when they were really banking on CDRom subscriptions and a closed MSN?

      And when the hell did MS demand an open platform? In the history of the PC I remember I don't recall MS being in the design meetings with the IBM guys.

      I often wonder if those boneheads actually believe their PR.
  • Developers! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:38PM (#2539393)
    Q: And Mr. Ballmer, what do you think about...
    A: Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers!

    Q: Uh, never mind... please stop dancing around, Mr. Ballmer, and for god's sake, man, use some fuckin' anti-perspirant!

  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:41PM (#2539422) Journal
    Surely he means popularity "feature"!
  • by Rice-Pudding ( 167484 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:42PM (#2539428)

    "Second, we know we need to continue to focus in on our relationship with our customers. This is an area where we need to be ever vigilant. Certainly, as Bill talked about, we have opportunities for improvement in security, in virus protection, in the way we license and sell our products, and the reminders on that are always in front of us." --Steve Ballmer

    I think this pretty much sums up a lot of what is wrong with Microsoft:
    1) Security
    2) The way they license and sell products.

    At least they are realizing that market opinion is starting to go against them, and are trying to change this. I don't love Microsoft, but if they started to change their licensing tactics, I would be more inclined to buy their products.
    • No, no, no; you've got to learn to read between the lines in these things. "Opportunities" means "un-tapped revenue streams". What Ballmer means is that they'll soon be selling 'Security Manager' to secure your IIS Server, and 'Virus Manager' to keep viruses off your IIS Server, and 'Licence Manager' to make sure your MS software is all properly licenced.
  • Since everybody's posting juicy bits, here's one I like.

    When asked what members of the Freedom to innovate network can do to help Microsoft now that the trial is winding down. Did that sound like a planted question or what?! And they didn't answer the question at all. They just said the FTIN is a lobby organization that's been useful to us, so join the FTIN!

    I had a good laugh anyway...


    QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Bonnie Johnson, and my question to you is, you started the Freedom to Innovate Network, and now that we've gotten quite far with the lawsuit, how are you going to bring that forward, and how can we, the people that belong to that network, help?


    MR. NEUKOM: Yes. The network is a very vital organization, it's open for new members and we invite more activity from existing members. We are constantly supplying information and it is designed to be a grassroots organization of people of open-minded goodwill who are interested in bringing to the attention of public decision makers useful information and help them make sensible decisions in a way that would be constructive for high-technology industries, particularly information technology. So, we thank all of you who are members, we invite you all to consider being members, and that network provides a vital source of information that helps bring about decisions that help us as an industry innovate and grow and serve our customers.

  • Women? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Schwamm ( 513960 )
    In the Q&A portion near the end, I thought it was interesting how two different people (both women, I believe) brought up the topic of the number of women on the board. Apparently 1/23 isn't a good enough number for them.
    • Apparently 1/23 isn't a good enough number for them.

      Well, for whatever reason, software is currently dominated by men. GE, on the other hand, has 3 women out of 17 people on their board [ge.com]

  • Just one thought (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:44PM (#2539447) Homepage Journal
    I don't know if it's "normal business practice", but I have never seen such artistic dancing around the questions.


    If you were to distill the -essence- of what was said (especially on women on the Board and in the company), you'd end up with exactly nothing. Sure, they may be concerned about this, or feel strongly about that. I'll allow for that possibility. But feelings don't equate to action. They're just feelings, the same as "happy" and "sad".


    Even the sweeping apparently-grandiose statements made wrt "Open Source" and "Free Software" really reduce to nil. Sure, they may have been a factor in the popularity of "Open Source". But there are probably as many coders inspired by a rainbow, or a fascinating geological formation.


    In short, I have to give credit for an amazing non-statement, which said exactly nothing and offered nothing. However, the credit has a value of $0.00.

    • I don't know if it's "normal business practice", but I have never seen such artistic dancing around the questions.

      Well, it seems to be a fairly typical example of CorpSpeak to me. If they're true to form, most of their effort will go into trying to change their image rather than into making any substantive changes.

  • by WillSeattle ( 239206 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:44PM (#2539448) Homepage
    Yes, the Q&A was quite revealing. I think the open source question appeared to be basically ignored, politely.

    The issue of women execs was also something you could tell they weren't going to address, which is very strange, in that most of Bill Gates foundation work has focussed on educating women and providing contraceptive measures for women in third-world countries.

    As to China, this again was something that didn't seem to be that interesting to the execs.

    Very disappointing responses, overall. One related news item in the Seattle P-I [seattle-pi.com] business section today noted that many MSFT employees have picked up their purchases of stock recently.

    Does this mean we're nearing the bottom of the market, or that they know something we don't?

    -
  • I'm sure Ballmer [fuckedcompany.com] does not have a "publicity" bug-- it looks more like ebola or something, and he's not afraid to go out in public with it.
  • TGFM (Score:2, Funny)

    by Tim ( 686 )
    "And so it was very predictable that once we had gotten the PC going, and going and gotten hundreds of millions of machines out there, that it had always been sort of free software and the universities would flourish and there would be more of that."

    I, for one, am glad that Microsoft came along. After all, what would we do without the universities?
  • I think I'd have to hear more of an explanation about that credit-taking statement. As it stands, it doesn't make any sense.

    I mean, sure, open source might not even be an issue if companies like MS weren't hell-bent on performing in monopolistic ways. But him saying MS is responsible for the open source movement is like saying the Romans who persecuted the early Christians should have credit for it's spread.

    Gates: "Well, shareholders, I know the world thinks I'm an evil son-of-a-bitch, but if I wasn't an evil son-of-a-bitch, there wouldn't be this great open source movement going on!"

  • Gorism? (Score:2, Funny)

    Gates also took some credit for the genesis of open-source software. He said Microsoft made it possible by standardizing computers: "Really, the reason you see open source there at all is because we came in and said there should be a platform that's identical with millions and millions of machines," he said.

    Wow, thanks for the info Bill. I didn't know you guys did hardware! And open source was your creation? Really! Did you invent the internet also, or was Al Gore lying to us?
  • by psyclone ( 187154 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:54PM (#2539515)
    QUESTION: Is there a way that shareholders can get more information about [what effort is there to ensure that Microsoft is complying with its own business practice standards, and compliance policies]?

    MR. BALLMER: We don't have a published document. But, I feel very good about where we are, there are no violations, none known to any of the executive management team, and I feel like we're in very good touch.

    Microsoft has grown so large, even it's shareholders want to know if there are checks and balances within the company. Anyone have information on what other companies do for compliance of their own standards?
  • by gdyas ( 240438 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:55PM (#2539522) Homepage

    Gates also took some credit for the genesis of open-source software. He said Microsoft made it possible by standardizing
    computers: "Really, the reason you see open source there at all is because we came in and said there should be a platform that's
    identical with millions and millions of machines," he said.


    Well Bill, you're right. You are the reason for open-source software. Just not for the reasons you think you are.

    Dick.

  • by astrosmash ( 3561 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:57PM (#2539546) Journal
    MR. GATES: Let me start out, really the reason that you see open source there at all is because we came in and said there should be a platform that's identical with millions and millions of machines, and the bios of that should be open to everybody to use, and all the extensibility should be there.
    So, is Bill "Stop stealing from me" Gates [mindspring.com] now saying that his company is responsible for the open architecture [apple2history.org] of the IBM PC, and therefore open source [gnu.org] in general?

    How very droll.

  • Arrogance (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tuxlove ( 316502 )
    Gates and Ballmer exude pure arrogance in the way they take credit for everything from the BIOS to free software. The victor is the one who writes history, eh? Good thing they're not the victor yet, and their attempts at writing the history books come off as lies.

    Gee, I didn't know Gates was responsible for all that free software I used to use back in the CPM days before M$ even existed. Even the stuff I wrote too! Thank you, Bill Gates! Without you, I wouldn't exist today!
  • by briggsb ( 217215 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @03:01PM (#2539581)
    Here's a different look [bbspot.com] at Microsoft's future.
  • Mennonite church? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by matt[0] ( 12351 )
    QUESTION: Hello. My name is Charles Eng, and I'm representing Seattle Mennonite Church, also a Microsoft shareholder. My question is a follow up on the shareholder's resolution. What ongoing effort is there to ensure that Microsoft is complying with its own Microsoft business practice standards, and compliance policies. Is there an annual report on that?

    I don't know a whole lot about Mennonite churches, but isn't this a little liberal for them?


  • "We understand, based upon the fact that our industry didn't rally to support us, that we need to change the way we interact and relate to our industry."

    Translation: "No more Mr. Nice Microsoft. From now on we will use stronger threats."

  • So if Microsoft is responsible for Open Source, and Open Source (by their own accusations) is Unamerican, then isn't Gates really taking credit for a great deal of Unamerican Activity?

    Hmmm, you know, this IS a time of war. Maybe the new Ashcroft HUAC would be interested...
  • Ultimate summary (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ogerman ( 136333 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @03:08PM (#2539633)
    "MR. BALLMER: I just want to add one thing, echo what Bill said, but encourage you to go to our web site. If there's a key learning for us, we can't have free software, it's kind of inconsistent with the goals of most people in the room. We recognize it, it probably doesn't fit in most of these people's mind's eye, so we're not going to embrace that."

    It's quite simple really. They tell shareholders what they want to hear and their shareholders don't want to hear about free software.. Yet! I've said it a hundred times: the free software revolution is in its infancy. When the 'critical mass' of OSS code base is reached, which is inevitable, Microsoft is going to have to innovate or die. Free and proprietary software are not complementary and they will not peacefully co-exist for much longer.
  • I think Gates & Co. is exploring the tactic of making open source work taxable. True, no money changes hands - but you owe taxes on barter transactions. If you look at it just right (i.e. from the perspective of a politician who's just had a big wad of cash stuffed up his ass), you could see open source work as a large amorphous blob of untaxed barter transactions.

    I don't think this holds any water whatsoever but it might serve as the thread of a pretext to unravel the warm snug cozy wool poncho we all call open source. There are several dozen ways you spin this to make it look like those damnable hackers and terrorists aren't paying their taxes like everyone else has to.

    "The power to tax is the power to destroy." - Some dude whose quote I haven't given much thought to until recently

  • "And so it was very predictable that once we had gotten the PC going, and going and gotten hundreds of millions of machines out there, that it had always been sort of free software and the universities would flourish and there would be more of that."

    Bill's right. We should be nicer to Microsoft. The universities are flourishing, fer chrissakes!!
  • "We understand, based upon the fact that our industry didn't rally to support us, that we need to change the way we interact and relate to our industry," Ballmer said.
  • by DG ( 989 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @03:20PM (#2539716) Homepage Journal

    Take a gander at this excerpt: (emphasis added)

    MR. GATES: Let me start out, really the reason that you see open source there at all is because we came in and said there should be a platform that's identical with millions and millions of machines, and the bios of that should be open to everybody to use, and all the extensibility should be there. And so it was very predictable that once we had gotten the PC going, and going and gotten hundreds of millions of machines out there, that it had always been sort of free software and the universities would flourish and there would be more of that. We certainly accept free software as part of the software ecosystem. In fact, there's a very virtuous cycle where people do free things, some people find that adequate, sometimes companies will take that work and turn it into commercial products, those companies will hire people, pay taxes. And so you see the free software and the commercial software existing together.

    There is a particular approach that breaks the cycle called the GPL that is not worth getting into today, but I don't think there is much awareness about how so-called free software foundations designed that to break that cycle

    In terms of getting people excited about software and building communities around them, yes, that is a key to success. Nobody has done that more effectively than we have with Windows. Are there ways that we can do that better? Are there aspects of this where we're actually learning from all our different competitors out there? I think it's fair to say yes.

    In the free-software vision is that there would be no jobs in the software industry, there would be no testers, no engineers, no taxes paid, or anything of that notion. So I certainly don't agree with the full sort of free software foundation view that there should be no jobs in this area, and that the kind of commercial advances and risk taking that we've been able to do you can't get that, you can't get things like speech recognition on a tablet computer coming out of that kind of a paradigm. You can get things that follow along, you can get some smaller software, and so we embraced the idea of the free software paradigm and the commercial software paradigm moving forward in really a self-reinforcing way.

    Sounds like ol' Billy has seen his doom coming, and it's the GPL!

    Take a good hard look at that rambling morass of a quote, and you see the strategy (and the enormous depth of self-delusion) that will be driving Microsoft forward. Free-as-in-Beer, Good! Free-as-in-Speech, Bad!

    In Bill's world, Free Software is fine as a toy, an interim solution, and educational tool, but it takes a company to turn it into something useful! Nothing good ever comes out of the commons!

    Except, of course, the "Microsoft Commons". Funny, when was the last time community work became part of Microsoft, except by force?

    And gee, where have we seen this attitude before?

    How about in the actions of every tin-pot political dictator who tried to buy off the goodwill of his oppressed subjects with free goodies! The barbarians are howling at the Gates, and Bill is offering Microsoft's shareholders bread and circuses!

    Funny thing Bill, those dictators don't have much of a track record....

    Stallman (for all his faults and foibles) is the Martin Luther of the information age, and bill is the Pope. Quick - who can name the Pope who was in service when Luther nailed his manifesto to the door of the cathedral?

    Me neither.

    • by WolfWithoutAClause ( 162946 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @03:43PM (#2539874) Homepage
      >We certainly accept free software as part of the software ecosystem. In fact, there's a
      >very virtuous cycle where people do free things, some people find that adequate, sometimes companies will take that work and
      >turn it into commercial products, those companies will hire people, pay taxes. And so you see the free software and the
      >commercial software existing together.

      I'm sure that Bill Gates thinks the idea of selling software he obtained that was written by the sweat of people that he doesn't have to pay is extremely virtuous. But let's put that to one side for the moment.

      He also seems to be implying to politicians that they should outlaw the GPL licence so that Microsoft can steal open source software and charge for it, and pay more taxes- this would be a good thing- right?

      Of course the fact that this would allow him to sack quite a lot of Microsoft and would end up reducing the taxes that he pays.

      >In the free-software vision is that there would be no jobs in the software industry, there would be no testers, no engineers, no
      >taxes paid, or anything of that notion. So I certainly don't agree with the full sort of free software foundation view that there
      >should be no jobs in this area, and that the kind of commercial advances and risk taking that we've been able to do you can't
      >get that, you can't get things like speech recognition on a tablet computer coming out of that kind of a paradigm.

      Actually, this is extremely not clear. There's nothing to stop companies financing software that they need for their business and paying for it; and having the software remain open source. After all if one company has the software that it needs, it doesn't mean that its competitor can even use the same software that they use; and to the extent that their competitors can; they both benefit, and each can end up contributing improvements back.

      That's where IBM is coming from- the fact that their main competitors SUN and Micro$oft can't use Linux much doesn't hurt.
    • by kannen ( 98813 ) <jkannen AT hotmail DOT com> on Thursday November 08, 2001 @04:17PM (#2539927) Homepage
      You have to admire the man's rhetorical skills. He says its not worth getting into what the GPL is, but in so doing, he implies that the GPL is a mysterious, evil force that is going to keep people from making money. Gates states that the normal business cycle is one in which companies hire people and pay taxes. But the GPL tries to break that, so now you won't be able to feed your family and there won't be any tax money to pay for public schools and neighborhood patrols. Its a terribly insidious idea that the he has planted into peoples heads, and yet he avoids making a single factual statement about the GPL.

      It occurs to me that maybe he should run for public office. His debate skills are most impressive. But then he'd probably find some way to oust the Chancellor, hunt down all the Jedi, and disband the Imperial Senate. (Can't you just see Ballmer jumping up and down in Vader's outfit? Tee hee hee.)

  • by Kiaser Zohsay ( 20134 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @03:20PM (#2539718)
    and I encourage you to go up to Microsoft.com and check out our community areas. It's an area where we have sort of massively mobilized. It's still in the early phases, but we are massively mobilizing to try to stimulate communities, support communities, and really, if you will, borrow one from their playbook.

    I can see it now... Microsoft meets Slashdot... Microdot, news for sheep, stuff that we think matters

  • Yeah, this is nit picky...

    I don't know where Gates gets his figures, but Google [google.com] tells me that Canada is up there with South Korea with penetrations of around 40-50%. This neat page of summary stats [internet.com] shows Denmark and Sweden at around 14% and I suspect many Scandinavian and other European countries are on par with the US's 11% broadband penetration rate. Sounds to me like the US is fighting for fifth at best. Articles at Newsbytes, and [newsbytes.com] Broadband week [broadbandweek.com] both refer to a study by eMarketer that seems to says similar things.

    An older report by the Strategis Group referred to in this [cnn.com] CNN article names Australia, Canada, The Netherlands, Singapore, and Sweden as likely to lead broadband penetration.

    QUESTION: Hi. You talked about broadband and that it was at about 10 percent of households, and that brings to mind streaming media, and I would appreciate it if one of you could address the various aspects of streaming media with regard to where Microsoft is right now compared to its competitor, and where it's expected to be with respect to its competitor in, say, nine months, and then how streaming media plays out in terms of the lawsuit, what kinds of ramifications might be expected.


    MR. GATES: ...The second area, the video area, is the tougher of the two, because that really does require this high speed connection. And most people at work have high speed connections. So you can take a little news clip or video conference, and use that quite easily. In the U.S., as I mentioned, only 10 percent of homes have broadband. Actually, in Korea it's 40 percent of homes, but the U.S. is close to being second among broadband penetration. We'd like to see that go up. Of course, the key element of that is that the price has to come down somewhat from the $50 a month in order to see the wider spread usage.

  • Didn't work before...won't work now. Restraint in the use of power is certainly more difficult for nations than for companies. Actions will speak louder than words for most people when it comes down to it.
  • These days I'm more worried about the possibility of Time Warner/America OnLine buying out the rest of Amazon.com than MS pulling PR moves. I believe TW'AOLzon is referenced somewhere as a Great Old One.

    But all this shareholder crap is just a smoke screen for the coming .NET takeover [gogeek.org]. Don't let down your guard!! My CS buddies and I were at UIUC (sponsored by M$ this year) and we *still* aren't sure what .NET is. I half-jokingly believe that MS doesn't actually *have* .NET specs created yet. They fed the parameters for what .NET was supposed to be into XML and gave it a database of all current programming languages. It's parsing their "strategy" right now. After giving it a cup of really strong hot tea, of course ;)
  • first, Mr. Ballmer says: "The last three years, the period of the lawsuits, people ask us what we've learned. From the lawsuit itself, I don't know exactly how to answer that question from time to time..."

    and shortly afterwards: "We need to expand the range of companies, bigger companies, established companies that we have relationships with, in the telecommunications industry, in the media industry..."

    i thought that if they were a monopoly that they were not allowed to do precisely this type of thing. indeed, it would appear that Mr. Ballmer hasn't learned anything from the law suits.

  • by shanek ( 153868 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @05:03PM (#2539956) Homepage
    From the meeting transcript:

    Let me start out, really the reason that you see open source there at all is because we came in and said there should be a platform that's identical with millions and millions of machines,

    This is laughably wrong. RMS made the GPL and the Free Software movement in the early 80s, when Gates was still piddling around with DOS and saying that 640K should be enough for anybody. The actual movement started even earlier; the concept of open source predated commercial software.

    In fact, there's a very virtuous cycle where people do free things, some people find that adequate, sometimes companies will take that work and turn it into commercial products, those companies will hire people, pay taxes. And so you see the free software and the commercial software existing together. There is a particular approach that breaks the cycle called the GPL

    Gates apparently doesn't know what a "cycle" is. A cycle, by definition, has to link back up again with its origins, in this case, free software. Microsoft breaks the cycle by incorporating open source code into, for example, its TCP/IP stack. The GPL restores the cycle by requiring developers to give their changes back to the community.

    In the pre-software vision is that there would be no jobs in the software industry, there would be no testers, no engineers, no taxes paid, or anything of that notion.

    Tell that to Red Hat.

    Here's a telling quote from Ballmer:

    If there's a key learning for us, we can't have free software, it's kind of inconsistent with the goals of most people in the room.

    In other words, Microsoft is against freedom in software. Remember, we're talking free speech, not free beer. So all this stuff about "Freedom to Innovate" is nothing more than a thinly veiled apologetic for Microsoft's business practices.

  • by opkool ( 231966 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @05:12PM (#2540017) Homepage
    I interpret what really happened in this other way:

    BALLMER: After 20 years of backstabing, copying other's innovations, playing Mafia-games with IT companies, abusing our consumers and stealing children's bubblegum, we have gotten a slap on the wrist by the DoJ. Surely this means something.

    GATES: If I might add a few words...

    BALLMER:, Sure, Bill, go on.

    GATES: Our impressive innovation Laboratories -MS-iLabs , (c) (R) - show that actualy being nice to customers can help selling our product...

    AUDIENCE: (gasps, mutted comments of surprise, a few horror screams)

    BALLMER: Be quiet back there! It is true! You can get the results in ExcelXP format at dubya-dubya-dubya-microsoft-dot-com-slash-ilabs-sl ash-results

    GATES: In fact, in a demo-test carried over at Poukeespie-upon-Avon (Yorkshire, UK) with a cautive population, we discovered that WindowsXP-SE was being bought by people that had no history of verbal-and-phisycal abuse by part of our marketing representatives.

    SOMEONE IN THE AUDIENCE: Don't you think that having both legs not-broken could help? I mean, last year, in the ASF file that you showed us about training methods for Microsoft Certified Marketing Representatives , they were being trained in "MS-Leg-Breaking-As-A-Buying-Stimulous 101". Maybe we should change this module to "MS-**ARM-TWISTING**-As-A-Buying-Stimulous 101" instead of playing nice...

    AUDIENCE: Yeah! yeah! that sounds more sensible!

    GATES: Please! Calm down! I personally worked with the MS-iLabs environment definition and I can assure you that the results are true!

    AUDIENCE: but... but.... We Want Blood! We Want Blood! We Want Blood!

    CATS: All Your Base Are Belong To Us!

    CATS: Make Your Time!

    BILL: HAHAHAHA

    BALMER: Take Off Every ZiggyXP!!!!
  • by Grail ( 18233 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @05:26PM (#2540098) Journal
    The things that bothers me the most from the minutes of this shareholder meeting? The fact that only 8.9% of Microsoft shares (how many shareholders is that?) agreed that Microsoft should avoid engaging in deals with the Chinese Government that would result in further human rights abuses by the Chinese Government.

    The attitude at the meeting seemed to me to be that "as long as we make a buck, we don't care."

There's no sense in being precise when you don't even know what you're talking about. -- John von Neumann

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