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Gates Tries to Explain .Net 613

AdamBa writes "Speaking to financial analysts and reporters, Bill Gates admitted that .NET hadn't caught on as quickly as he had hoped. The headline ('Gates admits .NET a "misstep"') is a bit misleading; he doesn't think all of .NET was a misstep, just the My Services part (aka Hailstorm). He also said that labelling the current generation of enterprise products as .NET might have been 'premature.' Summary: Microsoft got too excited about locking in users via Hailstorm and botched the overall .NET message." There's also a Reuters report and a NYTimes story on the same subject, which includes the interesting line: "Microsoft also warned today that the era of "open computing," the free exchange of digital information that has defined the personal computer industry, is ending." It isn't clear if Microsoft is talking about something happening beyond their control, or if they're boasting about ending it.
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Gates Tries to Explain .Net

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  • Re:CNN has a story (Score:3, Informative)

    by javilon ( 99157 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @11:22AM (#3951384) Homepage
    I guess he would give it an 'A' after the Xbox breaks US sales records [].

    They are very persistent and have lots of money. Do not understimate them.
  • by Johnny Mnemonic ( 176043 ) <> on Thursday July 25, 2002 @11:48AM (#3951596) Homepage Journal

    My understanding of .Net is this: MSFT wants to be a data utility as much as your power company is a power utility. Said again, MSFT wants your data to flow from you to any other service that you can connect to the data pipe, be it your cellphone, your fridge, your car. MSFT intends to provide the mechanisms for making this flow possible, mostly be enabling data forms that are useful anywhere, and by abstracting the application that interprets the data.

    I believe that the vision is that computing devices would mostly allow you to dip into that data stream, and lose almost all of the autonomy that they now possess--while historically useful, it means that I can't have my fridge interoperate with the grocery store and compare my cupboards with what's on special today, and then alert me with a pop-up ad while I'm watching TV. All of these devices would be manufactured independantly, but MSFT would provide the means and the infrastructure to connect their data streams.

    If said data was regulated by an open protocol, you could probably achieve much the same kind of thing; however, MSFT is a demonstrated monopoly, and as such can dictate a data-transfer protocol and make it a defacto standard. MSFT then gains the ability to charge on the basis of each transaction, or rent your data transmission method to you or to the device manufacturers.

    Will it work? I dunno. I suppose anyone can install solar panels and resume their autonomy from the infrastructure. However, there's lots of good reasons to still be connected to the grid, even though it costs you more in the long run. Took a long time for this infrastructure to be implemented, though, and I'm not sure MSFT has the patience.

    This is really all just speculation and conjecture--I would love to hear what others think of these assumptions. Am I right?
  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @11:58AM (#3951678) Homepage Journal
    Two reasons to begin with:

    1: They're manipulating their balance sheets. Under-reporting is as bad as over-reporting, neither is "transparent". (the new accounting buzzword) Besides, last I heard, and I admit I can't currently substantiate this, they were "revenue smoothing", under-reporting on very good quarters, and holding that around to over-report on lean quarters. The net effect was to always meet/beat projections, which helps the stock keep going up. And isn't this where it all started, with "opaque" accounting practices being used to inflate stock value.

    2: Stock options counted as a business expense for tax purposes, but not counted against revenue. Though recently S&P and TIAA-CREF have called for this to change market-wide.
  • by tshak ( 173364 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @12:18PM (#3951837) Homepage
    I'm in the same boat as you. .NET is stupid. Hailstorm that is. Windows .NET server makes a little bit of sense, but the concept of naming it .NET is kind of stupid as well. .NET as a technology is great. It's not perfect, but for a 1.0 (and an MS 1.0 at that!) it's incredible.

    What's interesting is that it's not just PHB's that don't understand this issue, many developers don't either - especially those in the Java camp. They see headlines like this and say, "MS's java copy failed LOL!".
  • Re:CNN has a story (Score:3, Informative)

    by bryanbrunton ( 262081 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @12:22PM (#3951864)
    The real story for the XBox will be can it be the only console in gaming history to be sucessful and survive as a respected gaming platform in only 1 of the major 3 gaming markets.

    -- US --

    XBox has managed to take to number 2 slot in this market, although closely followed by the GameCube.

    -- Europe --

    Recent figures show XBox has only managed to sell 500,000 units throughout the entire EU.

    GameCube has managed 800,000 in a much shorter time period.

    -- Japan --

    In the most recent weekly sales period, XBox sold 2,400 units, PS2 90,000, GC 27,000.

    With the Japanese developers quickly jumping ship on the XBox, its future is bleak at best.
  • Re:Dumb question (Score:4, Informative)

    by erasmus_ ( 119185 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @12:46PM (#3952038)
    Not a dumb question if you're unfamiliar with the technology. All of the improvements in .NET for developers are essentially manifested server-side, where ASP.NET intercepts calls for .aspx pages and processes them. The result is javascript that is supposed to be browser-independent, and allows developers to write a heck of a lot less code. So the short answer to your question is that users would see no difference, whereas developers see great improvements.

    Of course, there are some browser-specific features, but the code for those is not written to the client if the browser doesn't support it. The best example is something called Smart Navigation, which reduces flicker on pages between trips to the server. If you're not running IE, or older IE, you get the flicker, but it doesn't prevent you from working with the page. HTH.
  • Re:Dumb question (Score:2, Informative)

    by ClosedSource ( 238333 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @01:15PM (#3952240)
    "The result is javascript that is supposed to be browser-independent, and allows developers to write a heck of a lot less code."

    If what you mean by "the result is javascript" is that javascript runs on the client, then that's incorrect. ASP.NET returns html. On the server side the logic can be written in any .NET language including jscript (javascript), VB.NET, C++ or C#.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 25, 2002 @01:16PM (#3952245)

    July 25, 2002
    Microsoft Tries to Explain What Its .Net Plans Are About

    EDMOND, Wash., July 24 -- Two years into its quest to create a new kind of Internet-enabled computing it describes as .Net, Microsoft found it necessary to pause today and try to explain what it meant.

    One day before its annual conference for financial analysts, the company assembled its top executives before several hundred reporters and industry analysts and engaged in a tutorial that one participant referred to as ".Net for Dummies."

    The .Net brand (pronounced dot-net) is Microsoft's approach to a computer industry market called Web services. It has two basic ideas: to create standards that allow all sorts of information to be transmitted and acted upon in uniform ways, and to move the software that performs those actions to the Internet, where programs may now span multiple computers.

    Microsoft is now locked in competition with small start-up companies that originally pioneered the Web services field, as well as with software and hardware giants like I.B.M., Oracle and Sun Microsystems, all of which are developing their own Web services.

    Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect, Bill Gates, said that he gave his company good marks so far for creating the basic software infrastructure for .Net, but acknowledged that the company had more work to do in explaining its mission.

    "We still get people saying to us, `what is .Net?' " said Mr. Gates. He said that the idea of the .Net infrastructure was clear, but acknowledged that the company had not created a clear view of what it intended for its customers. Many customers have yet to accept Microsoft's contention that computer software should be subscribed to as a Web-based service rather than purchased as a product they own and use, as most is today.

    Jim Allchin, one of the company's top vice presidents, acknowledged the shift in focus in the industry from personal computers to plumbing, and bemoaned the difficulty of getting Microsoft's traditional consumers to care about its new vision.

    "It's hard to get sexy about protocols," he said. "It really is about plumbing and concrete and protocols."

    Moreover, the challenge that Microsoft faces in explaining and promoting a new style of computing that is intended to harness millions of disparate large and small computers is complicated by a growing consensus in the computer industry that few new software ideas will be realized until large corporate customers resume spending on the infrastructure of information technology.

    Mr. Gates took some time in his review of the company's technology to recalibrate the industry's expectations about how quickly its .Net strategy will take effect.

    "Phase 1 is essentially behind us, with things that went well and not so well," he said. "This is a long-term approach. These things don't happen overnight."

    Microsoft sketched out an abbreviated road map today of how it will introduce products that offer .Net capabilities. One example was a communications server program with the code name Greenwich that is intended to enable advanced multimedia conferencing features for desktop and hand-held computer users. Another example was the next version of the company's database product, SQL Server, named Yukon, which is intended to make it easier to manage distributed data.

    Finally, a brief demonstration was given of Windows Media Center -- a PC-based television that is intended to bring .Net-style information to the television in the living room.

    Mr. Gates indicated, however, that the company's software promised land would be a new version of its Windows operating system with the code name Longhorn, which is still at least two years off.

    Microsoft also warned today that the era of "open computing," the free exchange of digital information that has defined the personal computer industry, is ending.

    The company is trying to influence an industry consortium called the Trusted Computing Platform Alliance, which has been trying to create a new standard that will build a cryptographic key system into future personal computers.

    The idea has been challenged in the past by both civil liberties and consumer groups, who argue that it could potentially undercut privacy and intellectual property fair-use rights.

    Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
  • by quakeroatz ( 242632 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @01:16PM (#3952250) Journal
    You're assuming people will actually buy this DRM hardware, which they won't. Do you actually think any of the Asian mobo manufacturers will actually consider U.S. legislation, ordering manufacturers something to the tune of
    "All Your Hardware Designs are Belong To Bill's DRM Strategy and .NET"

    The whole idea of software copyrights went over really will in China (cough).

    "The era of open computing is ending"
    And who has the power to end it? MS + RIAA + US Govt? ROFL.

    Try again Billy Boy!
    All MS is doing is pushing people to OS alternatives. If all the linux minds could just get together and follow a unified Desktop strategy, the alternative would be crystal clear.

  • by Vicegrip ( 82853 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @04:04PM (#3953456) Journal
    You're welcome to your speculations as well-- we'll see in a couple years or so.

    I *have* researched .NET for my company's needs and I've taken the time to go to Microsoft presentations as well.

    In essence, the major conclusion I drew is that much of our existing code and designs were not useable in .NET-- ADO.NET, for example, can only be used by managed code applications.

    It is apparent to me that .NET is largely just a new version of COM with all the old guts hidden under a new application management layer and runtime. It has advantages that only present themselves if you totally embrace the new paradigm-- a major pain if you use anything other than Windows in your enterprise.

    More details: Existing code written as a COM object interacts through essentially yet another marshalling layer to talk to managed code. Plain win32 native code does this too, even though the visual studio IDE hides much of this. The only native code I've seen that works well when ported to managed environments are Microsoft code samples.

    You mention VB programmers; this is appropriate. This is because they are the only ones who have an advantage to switching right now as VB in it's current state is a waste land of OCX controls of exponential flavors and versions that seem to only ever be good at leaking memory.

    So your company is going to toss away all its PHP, Cold Fusion, ASP/COM code... interesting setup they must have .... and find that magic bullet to fix its problems. To be honest, judging by that little list, I'd say your company has a need for consistency more than anything else. .NET will evolve and change-- do you want to bet your job on Microsoft not forgetting its early adopters?

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.