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Microsoft's Worst Enemy: Themselves 579

KobyBoy writes "Saw this story posted on OSnews this morning. "Microsoft's biggest threat isn't Linux, OpenOffice, or any piece of software at all--its themselves. Over the last eighteen months two distinctly different Microsoft cultures have emerged, often in opposition to each other." You can get the full article at Sudhian Media."
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Microsoft's Worst Enemy: Themselves

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  • Control (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deanj ( 519759 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @02:47PM (#4982776)
    This all comes down to control. What Bill wants, Bill gets, at least within his own company. You can bet your life that if Gates wanted to do something within the company, they'd turn on a dime, just the way they did back in 1995 to support Internet stuff
    • Yeah, that darned "Internet stuff." Too bad it never got off the ground, it could have been big...
    • Re:Control (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:01PM (#4982886)
      This all comes down to control. What Bill wants, Bill gets, at least within his own company. You can bet your life that if Gates wanted to do something within the company, they'd turn on a dime, just the way they did back in 1995 to support Internet stuff

      Yes and no. The dissonance between the two cultures could be a sign that the "cult of Bill" is waning. An autocratic leader can only be effective if everyone "drinks the koolaid". It's very hard to fight an entrenched culture, and many CEOs have failed because they couldn't get buy-in from the rank and file. I've seen this first hand, when ordinary staffers made no secret of their contempt for senior management... it's the death knell for a company.

      Perhaps Microsoft are running out of the old-skool staff and the new blood they're hiring doesn't automatically defer to Bill on every decision. I'd imagine that Microsoft people are very poor at playing the sort of corporate political games that are taken for granted elsewhere, the old Microsoft culture actively discouraged it. If they've hired a bunch of people who are politically adept, they will be very difficult to control.
      • Re:Control (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:40PM (#4983155) Homepage Journal

        Microsoft's problems do not stem from some sort of corporate culture clash, and I can guarantee you that when Bill speaks people working at Microsoft still jump.

        The problem at Microsoft is that the people running the show (and that includes most Microsoft developers) are more concerned about Microsoft's stock price than the long term survival of the company. Microsoft stock is still priced for rapid growth, and so Microsoft has to come up with a way to provide that growth or Microsoft shares will eventually lose a significant portion of their present value. If you think that Microsoft's $40 Billion is an impressive number calculate what Bill Gates would lose personally if Microsoft's stock lost half of its value.

        The question then becomes where does Microsoft hope to gain its future growth. Linux is cutting deeply into Microsoft on the server side, and there is fierce competition (and very low margins) on the embedded front. That leaves Windows and MS Office, as all of Microsoft's other business units are actually losing money. The XBox is Microsoft's best bet for a new significant revenue stream, but Sony appears to be taking Microsof to lunch on this front.

        That's not all of Microsoft's problems either. The PC market continues to be soft, and MS Office is being replaced on the low-end models of nearly every major manufacturer with Corel's PerfectOffice.

        So what does Microsoft do to keep growing their revenue? They raise prices, that's what. Microsoft knows that their existing customers have large investments in their Microsoft software. Replacing this software would be very difficult, and so Microsoft is making these customers pay the price of their misplaced loyalty.

        • Bill Gates' Money (Score:5, Informative)

          by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @04:54PM (#4983672)
          If you think that Microsoft's $40 Billion is an impressive number calculate what Bill Gates would lose personally if Microsoft's stock lost half of its value.

          His fortune is less tied to MS than you might think. Gates has diversified his holdings over the past several years and as of Sept. 9th of this year [nwsource.com] only held 11.6% of the company's stock. I believe his current net holdings are worth $43 billion. MSFT has 5,346,449,872 shares as of Sept. 30th [sec.gov], and it closed on that day at $43.74. On that day, MS stock was worth $223 billion, and he held only $27 billion in MS stock. If he lost half that, he'd go from $43 billion to $29.5 billion (ignoring the fact that an MS crash would take down the whole market). Boo hoo. He'd still have over 100 times what he was worth back in 1986.

          Of course, this in no way invalidates your argument which is 100% correct. MS is a very stock price-obsessed company, and a lot of mutual funds invest so much money into it because it's preceived as a stable growth company. A major Enron-like shake-up like Bill Parish [billparish.com] has been hoping for would devistate the market as badly as Enron's did. MS's business personnel are wholy obsessed with keeping this growth stable, and it's been well documented that MS uses tricky accounting to smooth losses from one quarter to the next by storing up money from good quarters and counting it as "earnings" later.

          Incidentally, the Bill Gates Net Worth Page [quuxuum.org] is an amusing collection of statistics and extrapolations about his wealth, though its data is a little out of date. It shows things like how long he could buy off every major official in the government (if he stopped earning money), how fast you'd have to go picking up dollar bills from end to end to earn money as fast as he has since MS went public (35+ MPH), and how if he can maintain his current rate of growth per year (over 35%!), he'll be a trillionaire by 2014.
          • Re:Bill Gates' Money (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Zordak ( 123132 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @05:57PM (#4984144) Homepage Journal
            and how if he can maintain his current rate of growth per year (over 35%!), he'll be a trillionaire by 2014
            And this is exactly Microsoft's problem. As has been pointed out, they are obsessed with inflating stock prices. Their entire strategy is like a positive feedback control system. Make money, Extend monopoly, make more money. Setting economics aside, this kind of system cannot even be maintained mathematically. Unbounded systems are inherently unstable. There has to be negative feedback for the system to maintain itself. In the past, the Sherman Act did a fair job of providing the requisite negative feedback (notice how the Bells are still around, and are still solid businesses, if not as large as before), but Microsoft seems to have been able to castrate that in the latest round, so no there is absolutely nothing to hold them in check. Any system -- physical, financial or otherwise -- has limited energy. I really don't know that our financial system has the energy to sustain an individual trillionnaire. I could be wrong, maybe the number is bigger, but ultimately, there is a finite limit to how much mass a body can accumulate before collapsing in on itself. The larger Microsoft gets, the bigger and more impressive their eventual fall will be, and unfortunately, the more collatoral damage they will inflict in the process. So, Microsoft really is their own worst enemy. In my opinion (I am dead serious about this), the best thing they could do is hire a bunch of controls engineers to take over their business development, who could then come up with a stability model. Unfortunately, as someone else pointed out, Microsoft appears to be much more concerned with short-term growth than with longevity. With their present model, there is no question of if they will crash spectacularly, it is only a question of when.
            • Re:Bill Gates' Money (Score:3, Interesting)

              by ninewands ( 105734 )
              Quoth the poster:
              Any system -- physical, financial or otherwise -- has limited energy. I really don't know that our financial system has the energy to sustain an individual trillionnaire. I could be wrong, maybe the number is bigger, but ultimately, there is a finite limit to how much mass a body can accumulate before collapsing in on itself.

              Oh yeah, that's that "Club of Rome" thing I remember from economics back in the 80's ... IIRC, the world economy was going to collapse some time around 2000 because all the resources would have been consumed.

              Don't get me wrong ... I don't disagree with MOST of what you say. In fact, a couple of months ago, I shocked my broker by telling her that I considered (and I still do) Microsoft to be a high-risk investment. There will come a time when Microsoft stock will at least, if not collapse, fall dramatically. Despite (or maybe because of) all their cash, Microsoft is pretty much a financial house of cards, and their continued attempt to pump up the stock price by any means necessary will eventually come home to roost. I cannot predict how much damage will be done when it happens, but I, for one, am keeping my IRAs and other investment funds the hell OUT of MSFT.
        • Re:Control (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sheldon ( 2322 )
          Linux is cutting deeply into Microsoft on the server side

          Not really, Microsoft marketshare is still growing. In 2001 it grew by 3%.

          The PC market continues to be soft, and MS Office is being replaced on the low-end models of nearly every major manufacturer with Corel's PerfectOffice.

          Again, this isn't all that critical either.

          Like you said, the problem is that in order for Microsoft to show rapid growth they need to be able to expand markets. That's difficult to do, Linux isn't cutting into Microsoft's server market, it's cutting into Microsoft's server growth potential markets by replacing Unix. If not for Linux, those Unix servers would be replaced by Win2k servers.

          Similarly with the low priced machines. If not for Corel, chances are those machines would sell with no bundled software in order to keep prices down. It just cuts into the potential sales.

          This isn't just a problem for Microsoft, it's a problem for many companies. One of the challenges the stock market gives is that there is an expectation for growth. Companies that hit a plataeu usually get hammered in the markets.
        • Re:Control (Score:5, Informative)

          by michael_cain ( 66650 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @05:41PM (#4984039) Journal

          If I may summarize, MS faces enormous problems in the not-so-distant future in transforming themselves from a hot-shot growth company into a mature firm. Their share price will not continue to double, so they won't be able to use options as currency (how would you like to be a relatively new hire with MS options at $120?). Some of their newer ventures may end up being profitable -- I would bet on MSN, particularly if AOL continues to screw up -- but the profit margins will not be nearly as good as those for Windows or Office. They have been unsuccessful, so far, in finding the next big thing in software that everyone wants.

          MS is not the only firm with this problem. I would also add Intel and Cisco to the list of large successful tech companies whose share price is way too high for their realistic growth prospects. I have a friend at Intel who reported a rumor that Intel's upper management was shocked at a recent meeting with investment bankers who told them that they were a mature firm, not a growth company, and their share price would adjust downwards drastically as the stock market realized that fact.

      • First, I disagree that Microsoft's biggest enemy is themselves. I think Microsoft's biggest enemy is Moor's Law, and computer power is outpacing people's general needs. This means that computer lifecycles are increasing, and Windows market size hence is likely to decrease. I think there are people in the sr. management who understand this, and I think there are many who don't. But the attempts to move into emerging embedded markets has been severely hampered by Linux and so you have a lot of people trying to figure out what to do.

        Enter Microsoft's Enemy #2-- .NET Development Environment and Framework (i.e. Microsoft). Here is where I think the culture split occurs. Many people at Microsoft see the major competitive threats to be Java and Linux because on some abstract level they reduce Windows' market share. The problem is you end up with two cultures-- one who wants to beat Linux by all means necessary and the other that wants to beat Java by all means necessary.

        These are mutually exclusive goals. The anti-Java camp wants to see the .NET framework be a Java killer and knows that it can only do that if Mono, Portable.NET etc. succeed. So they vocally support all third-party attempts at interoperability, etc. Blinded by their attempt to kill Java and hence dominate the intermediary language world with technologies that Microsoft initially developed (but would likely no longer control) they don't see that this would bring to Linux/FreeBSD/[favorite os] all the RAD tools that Windows now has. Hence the OS market is commoditized, and Windows falls to Linux ;)

        The other camp is the one currently pressing for subscription licensing of Windows, Office, etc. They believe in the market power (i.e. monopoly) of Microsoft and believe that few people can turn to competing products successfully. Most fo them don't understand the .NET framework idea well enough to realize what it might do, but they try to reinvent Windows adding many truly advanced features (like 3d UI, RDBMS-based file-system, etc) that no one really needs and eat upway too much performance...

        The real problem is that Bill has not tried to reconcile these camps, and this is a serius problem, but the root cause is from external economic factors.
  • by KaiKaitheKai ( 531398 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @02:48PM (#4982780) Homepage
    Well, it didn't take a supreme court order to split Microsoft in two.
    • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:58PM (#4983311) Homepage
      As funny as that statement is, I'd rather it be modded as insightful, rather than funny.

      Imagine, if you will, that CmdrTaco's little icon joke about the Borg is indeed correct. OK, now, imagine that we manage to insert a little bit of autonomy (by college education, for example) into one of the drones. Remember Hugh [caltech.edu]? Seems OSS has hurt Microsoft in ways that can't be measured quite yet on the balance sheet.

      I've always thought that the best way to dismantle a machine is from the inside. Here's more credence to that thought, IMHO. Actually, my first thought when I read the article was "Merry Christmas, Soko - there really is a Windows user with a clue."

  • by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @02:49PM (#4982785) Homepage

    Of course Microsoft is their own worst enemy. Who else would allow IIS or Outlook - a security hole which masquerades as an e-mail client - to be some of their flagship products?

    The security holes are even more annoying than the damned animated paperclip.

    • My animated paperclip went on a bender and refuses to speak to me.
      • by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:22PM (#4983024) Homepage

        My animated paperclip went on a bender and refuses to speak to me.

        The last time I heard mine was a dying scream as I mounted my FAT32 partition, navigated to it, and typed the magic letters:

        # rm -rf *

        It was high, blood-curdling, but strangely satisfying. Like the sound of the welds in a Honda's body popping as the car crusher takes it down to 3 apples tall, then the wet thunk of a cast-aluminum engine block cracking like a flowerpot in a vise.

        Mercifully, when I had to install Excel on Wine because OpenOffice doesn't do something as fscking simple as a polynomial regression, the damned paperclip didn't work.

  • well, (Score:5, Funny)

    by kingofnopants ( 600490 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @02:50PM (#4982796)
    Well, this proves it. Microsoft is everyone's worst enemy
  • Eugenia (Score:3, Funny)

    by Illuminati Member ( 541846 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @02:50PM (#4982799)
    Watch out poster, you may feel the wrath of Eugenia (head of osnews.org). She claims to be all about free OS's and such, but the moment you directly quote the site (like in a comment to avoid slashdotting), she immediately gets angry and lashes out. You directly quoted the article!
    Be wary!
  • by TWX_the_Linux_Zealot ( 227666 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @02:52PM (#4982806) Journal
    Microsoft's biggest threat isn't Linux, OpenOffice, or any piece of software at all--its themselves

    When a Time Warner executive stated that using PVR technology was stealing, right as AOL Time Warner dumped tons of money into Tivo, should indicate a lot about corporate culture these days.

    That Time Warner executive should have been fired. He could have even faced lawsuits by AOL Time Warner stockholders, for directly going against (and possibly reducing value) of the parent company.
    • That Time Warner executive should have been fired ... for directly going against (and possibly reducing value) of the parent company.

      Let's be rhetorical for a minute:

      What's more valuable to AOL/Time Warner and its shareholders? A billion dollar entertainment industry or a million dollar PVR industry that may be dead in a few years?
      • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:31PM (#4983094)
        How about both? The entertainment industry will not fall to Tivo, or just about any other technology. Remember that the industry has called this death knell with every major technology advancement, from the vcr, DAT, CD's, online direct distribution etc. And yet every year the industries post larger and larger profits. Technology and ease of access to their products helps the industry so long as they take the bull by the horns and controll it, when they try to quench a technology (with the exception of DAT) they lose a market.
      • What happens when that million dollar technology booms into something huge, and surpasses that currently billion dollar industry? Remember, the RIAA got on the bandwagon too late, and mp3s, streaming, and high bandwidth are causing them lots of headaches now. Had they been in it from the beginning, this wouldn't be nearly so big of a problem, in their eyes, as it is now.

        If the media industries that are still 'safe' invest in technology that will do some of the neat things that we as consumers want, but still leave them in ultimate control, they'll be happy. They won't go away. AOL Time Warner investing in Tivo gives AOL Time Warner some input into the future functionality of the device. This lets them shape what happens, before everyone and their brother has 1,000 movies in divx format on their hard drives.
  • Mac vs Apple ][ (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zanderredux ( 564003 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @02:55PM (#4982839)
    Sounds like the Mac vs Apple ][ fights that took place at Apple.

    Creative destruction anyone?

  • Excellent article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by billmaly ( 212308 ) <bill.maly@NOSpam.mcleodusa.net> on Monday December 30, 2002 @02:56PM (#4982843)
    It puts into words my own feelings about MS that I have not been able to articulate so eloquently. I like Windows 2000, it works and works well (for me). I totally agree that the marketing dweebs will ruin MS's dominance, and drive users to Linux. Linux is still not ready for everyone's PC.....but the day is coming, maybe in Red Hat 10 or Mandrake 11....MS needs to wake up and realize that we don't like being spied on.
  • I love seeing a collection of Microsoft's misdeeds in one article. It makes for a fun read. What is really needed is a big expose kind of article a la John Stossel's recent show on the drug companies. Stossel would have a lot more interesting stuff for a show on MS. Unfortunately, he would also have to face a legion of MS lawyers, even if none of what would be broadcast would be libel.
    • Stossel will claim that the government has no business interfering with the business model of MS, then he'll throw lots of misleading/off-topic/deeply suspect/just plain wrong details at you, look into the camera and demand "Give me a break" and sit back and ignore everyone's pointing out his logical failures.

      He's a worthless hack. Has been for years. Remember his insecticide claims?

  • by anarchima ( 585853 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @02:56PM (#4982849) Homepage
    That's basically what the author of that article is saying. As of yet, the open source community is not putting out software, or indeed an operating system, that can compete with Microsoft Windows. Until it can do this, it shouldn't expect more users to come flocking to their programs. End of discussion?
    • by Bilbo ( 7015 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:19PM (#4982999) Homepage
      > Until it can do this, it shouldn't expect more users to come flocking to their programs.

      Did you read the same article as I did???

      The point of the article had very little to do with the merits of OS software. He was merely stating the fact that he himself had very little experience with Linux.

      The point of the article was that, no matter how good or bad your product is, or how firmly entrenched you monopoly may be, if you piss off your customers long enough, you will eventually strangle yourself to death.

      Or, to put it another way, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall..."

    • I find that a bad way to put it, and it doesn't reflect his opinions very well either. I'd put his thoughts this way:

      As *soon* as Linux give him a reason to go through the hassle of installing and learning a new OS environment, he'd easily do that and (quote) "unlike two years ago, I can see it potentially occuring today".

      So he's definitely not telling us open source operating systems aren't "worthy competitors", but more like closer to make the Windows user base switch than ever due to the "attidue, lying and marketing BS" of Microsoft.
  • Note to self (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CodeShark ( 17400 )
    ...email this article to Judge Kollar-Kotelly.

    Oh, wait, I forgot. The good judge's decision has assured us that Microsoft doesn't really need to change the way the do business all that much because they've promised to be good from now on, cross their crooked little hearts...


  • by kin_korn_karn ( 466864 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:00PM (#4982872) Homepage
    articles about Microsoft = Bad mean nothing when they're posted on OSS/Linux advocacy sites. When the Wall Street Journal has an editorial from the editor in chief saying that Microsoft is going to destroy the world, that'll mean something
    • like this one? http://zdnet.com.com/2100-11-519911.html?legacy=zd nn [com.com]

      there's been plenty of bad press about Microsoft all over all the news palces. and it keeps coming on over and over and over again. somehow their stock continues to prevail and is extremely strong even in these economicly weak times. i think it works something like this:

      1) write extremely buggy and non-origional Operating System.
      2) force all hardware manufactures into exclusive contracts. our OS or no OS!
      3) ?????
      4) Profit!!!

      • by kin_korn_karn ( 466864 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:35PM (#4983123) Homepage
        See, that's just it. #2 makes #1 irrelevant to everyone but us.

        When will you all get it? WE (meaning the tech/IT industry and community) are the ONLY people that care about our OS being buggy. The fact that #2 has happened makes it irrelevant to complain about the lack of reliability in Windows. And we are DEFINITELY the only people that care about it not being original (don't bring up the Apple/Xerox lawsuits, those have been settled now meaning that we are the only people that ever bring it up). My mom doesn't give a shit if the concept Windows was stolen from a Xerox PARC prototype or a mac or from Bill Gates' college roommate or whoever, she cares about whether her email works or not, and guess what? it does. Not the way you'd like it to, but it's email and it works. Who gives a fuck. The world is not made up of sysadmins.

        The way you beat microsoft is to make a superior product, and market it better. The government has shown that they won't help level the playing field for any competitors to MS, so that's the world anyone taking them on has to work in.

        Linux is not superior to Windows yet. It's more reliable, on the right hardware. It's got that cool CLI geek cred going for it. So does OSX. The GUIs for Linux plainly suck.

        The legal remedy in the DOJ case should have involved abolishing all copyrights MS has to their interface so that KDE or (god forbid) the GNOME folks could clone the Chicago GUI. People would be comfortable with using Linux if it looked just like Windows.

        This is around the point in this discussion where someone whines that "we can't take on microsoft, they have [insert ridiculously huge corporate asset here]!!!" If you feel that way, then stop bitching about what you've got. The glory is in the fight, anyway.

        Which brings me to my next point. Once the fight is won, then you have to manage what you win. The OSS community couldn't handle being in control of the #1 OS in the world. It's too fragmented and too immature. To handle something with the market share and pervasiveness of Windows would take an infrastructure the size of Microsoft. So, build one. Stop whining about losing and go make yourself into a winner.
        • by wind ( 94988 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:59PM (#4983321)
          WE (meaning the tech/IT industry and community) are the ONLY people that care about our OS being buggy.

          This is simply untrue. Anybody who has ever lost a half-hour's work on a project, has had their system hosed by a virus, or worse - had porn spam sent out to their coworkers in their name, they care, believe me. The list goes on and on.

          The problem is that the people I talk to don't understand that it can be different. They think it's the computer in some vague, "all computers need to be rebooted every few hours" sort of way. They don't seem to really believe me when I tell them to use a different operating system with different programs that aren't so buggy or virus prone.

          I think anyone who uses a computer to do something that they either care about or are paid by someone else who cares, DO care about buggy code. They just don't know it. They think computers are just like that.
          • by Doc Hopper ( 59070 ) <slashdot@barnson.org> on Monday December 30, 2002 @07:06PM (#4984625) Homepage Journal
            I used to think I was at least somewhat in touch with what users wanted at my work and at my home. I thought I was responsive to their needs.

            Then I sat down with a regular computer user. He asked why I had "Don't use this" underneath the "E" on my desktop (Crossover Office, Internet Explorer icon on Windows desktop). I explained that the browser was insecure due to some recent security exploits, and that I only had that particular browser installed so my wife would be able to do online ordering for one particular business she runs.

            "So, you mean, you don't use the Internet?" he asked.

            "No, we just don't use Internet Explorer here due to security problems." I responded.

            "But when I click on the Internet, it still works," replied he.

            I shortly thereafter realized, this kid thought the "e" on the desktop WAS THE INTERNET. He had no idea that it is a network of high-speed fibre circumnavigating the globe, carrying terabytes of information. He had no clue what a web browser or email reader was. He had no idea what a protocol was, or even the concept of security beyond it being what those guys in uniforms in the mall do.

            This is the state of the average computer user. We either educate them, or dumb the computer down enough that they can use it. So I have to agree that it seems that only the "geekier" chunk of society even understands what a computer bug is, much less why we'd want few of them...
        • by po8 ( 187055 )

          To handle something with the market share and pervasiveness of Windows would take an infrastructure the size of Microsoft.

          By many measures, the OSS infrastructure is already far larger than Microsoft. Number of developers, or developer FTEs? Not even close. Number of lines of source? Again, not close.

          The fair comparison, of course, isn't Microsoft and OSS: it's OSS and the Microsoft community. What even MS seems not to understand is that their monopoly-producing asset is the result of maybe the largest first-mover advantage in the history of the world. The biggest advantage of the first mover is that the community tends to form around them. As someone who bought one of the first IBM PCs off the line, I recall perfectly well the reasons why I bought PC-DOS for it rather than the obviously technically superior CPM/86: one of them was that it was clear that PC-DOS would win, and I wanted to be part of the PC community.

          (The other was price. folks forget that while both CPM/86 and PC-DOS were available for PCs in retail computer stores, CPM/86 was a lot more expensive. If DR hadn't priced themselves out of the market, they still might have won.)

          In short, OSS vs MS is first and foremost a contest in community building and maintenance. The MS community began with an enormous headstart, but so far seem to have done a good job of squandering it. It will be interesting to see whether this trend continues to hold.

    • articles about Microsoft = Bad mean nothing when they're posted on OSS/Linux advocacy sites.

      Sure. But times have changed.

      It used to be a small group of advocates would compare notes and bitch in their own little confines, well seperated from the mainstream business and tech press. Slashdot is a prime example of one such enclave. And whatever message preached to the choir would stop at the confines of that site... or at least the advocate community if some linking happened.

      And then Linux and Microsoft's bad behavior both became big news. Slashdot started showing up more and more in spurious mainstream articles. And its not just Slashdot. Other sources for various advocate groups are more common in an increasing number of non-Microsoft (or Microsoft-critical) articles.

      Once an idea, or a particularly well-written article (and even some not-so-well-written), make it in to the advocacy community there's now a good chance some reporter for the mainstream business and tech press will pick it up. Granted - its not the same article. And sometimes the message gets garbled going through that filter. But the idea is still making it where those outside the advocacy group are exposed to it - and with any luck, they get a link to the origional article and the unfiltered message.

      Yes. This is no Wall Street Journal expose on why Microsoft is bad for your business. But then, its note entirely a message doomed to obscurity either.
  • perspectives (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neildogg ( 119502 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:00PM (#4982877) Homepage
    What I find terribly funny, as a non-American, is that similar things are taking place in American society as a whole, the Patriot Act for example, denying people civil rights in order to exercise freedom. I don't understand the complaint that a company is doing things that impose on privacy when it's a common thread in the entire society around it. Linux is counter-culture; I don't think many people would deny that. Once I see America embracing the freedom it so adamantly preaches, I'll understand complaints such as this one.
    • I really think it's all about the pendulum swinging the other way. Microsoft, for most of us, has been around since we first started putting together our IBM-Clones, I mean that's all there was. The industry has had MS for so long that maybe the pendulum will swing the other way now -- what that future means, I'm not sure.

      This is typified, in a similar vein, in the Patriot Act. For many decades, immigrants and foriegners, were granted carte-blanche access to the US, and citizens, likewise were finding that we were unable to find a middle ground on the appropriate amount of inalienable rights -- letting therefore the courts to define what that really is (for anyone who cared to sue somebody). Now I think the pendulum has swung the other way.

      Now as I step down from my soap box, I leave you with this: your rights end where the rights of the next person's start. It ends up being a small circle.

      The answer to the article as to MS's greatest threat: nothing (with a GDP of a small country, they can buy away any threat).

      Happy New Year
      • Re:perspectives (Score:2, Interesting)

        by hackwrench ( 573697 )
        your rights end where the rights of the next person's start.

        So, um where do the other person's rights start? I keep running into people that try to lay claim to rights I have no interest in, that interfere with rights I want.

        I remember in Dragonball where Goku asked a policeman where Bulma lived and the policeman could call up a picture for every person named Bulma in the city and helped him find her. Impossible with the rights some people want. But then, some people want to be afraid of their government.
        • Re:perspectives (Score:3, Interesting)

          Shouldn't there be some corollary to Godwin's Law, but involving Dragonball instead of Nazis?

          Here is my formulation: As the number of idiots posting in a thread increases, the chance of a Dragonball reference increases accordingly. In case of said event, the person who made the comment will have everything he has said or ever will say forever invalidated.
      • Re:perspectives (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        your rights end where the rights of the next person's start. It ends up being a small circle.
        Nice to say, but few politicians are practicing. The last year has been about removing all our rights to have oversight of our government. Many things that required full public access is now conducted behind doors. The funny thing is that W. started all that Before 9/11.
        How fortutious for Bush that 9/11 happened when it did. I have always that it strange that Clinton could protect our shores with the CIA/FBI while Bush blames them.
    • Re:perspectives (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Jahf ( 21968 )
      It's obvious you're judging the attitude of the every day US citizen by the bogus crap that has been put into law here lately.

      I for one can not think of a single non-politician that I have met who has supported the Patriot Act or it's relatives. Most people are neutral pending seeing it's results and more than a few are actively against it.

      It will take awhile, the voting public still seems to be in shell shock, but when enough people become active again the Patriot Act will be fixed/removed. I wouldn't be surprised to see it essentially nullified within 5-10 years, and probably the same with the DMCA. I wish it would take less time, but that's the way things work. The population mass has reached a point where turn-on-a-dime democracy is very hard to do.

      As for you ignoring people's opinions based on the laws that their government enacts, well, that seems rather ignorant.
      • Ignoring is ignorant? Wow

        I was merely pointing out that this specific opinion parallels problems in society as a whole, or at least with the government. I completely agree with this guy's opinions.
    • Re:perspectives (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jackbox ( 398140 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:45PM (#4983195)
      Indeed, switch a few words around on page 2:

      Add it all up and what you have is a company (country) that, at the least, displays a profound level of arrogance coupled with the unshakable belief that they have not only the ability, but the right to dictate to the rest of the world, from charities to corporations, (to governments) how the world should look....

      Guess Microsoft is succeeding in the American Way. (sigh)
    • would you like a little Nuclear War with that sir?

      As a New American I'm forced to ask you the following questions:

      (1) why do you hate america so much? that is, what is it that you despise about freedom?

      (2) if other countries are so great, why is America the only democracy in the world?

      (3) how do YOU know what's going on in American society... are you some sort of SPY!?!?!?!

      Have a nice day.

      PS: satire+cynicism+sarcasm
      • Lets pretend you are serious:
        1] You preach freedom, but practice intolerance of any economic system other than capitalism. You are so free, that you made it illegal to vote communist. (As a Canadian, I enjoy federal and provincial elections featuring "commies" who get just slightly fewer votes than the lunatic right wing). You are also so "free" that you think its ok to tell other countries how much they should spend on their military.
        2] You are not a democracy, you are a representative republic. There have been very few direct democracies since the times of the Ancient Athens.
        3] CNN, Time mag, etc... tell me what is going on. In fact, it takes abit of effort to get good local news as we are swamped by USA news.
        The most annoying things about the USA is its complete inability to understand why anyone would not want to instantly make their country over in the image of the USA.
  • by Flamesplash ( 469287 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:01PM (#4982885) Homepage Journal
    The problem is that MS is trying to give different customers what they want in the same package. People want security, bam there you go, oh but wait we want flexibility, bam there you go, but oh wait we had to remove some of the security so you could be flexible. vice versa and repeat

    While ppl will argue linux gives you both, if you are a computer geek, this isn't a valid solution for the average home user. While linux may be secure enough for them, if purely because linux isn't a target platform for widescale hackers and virus writters, the average person will never make use of the flexibility in linux.

    "And you can make kernel modifications as you want them"

    "What's a kernel?"

    "err well you can download other peoples kernel mods off the internet, compile them and add them to your kernel"

    "Uhh What's a compile"?

    MS is in the unfortunate position of catering to a large diverse market, and I don't really think there is a unified theory of doing so. I run w2k because it is stable. It may not be as flexible as say XP, but it suffices for me and what I want to do. And I have a win98 parition if a game won't work under 2k.
  • Split Indeed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cokelee ( 585232 )
    MS has not just been a software company for a while. It is a monstrous thing. Not for its software, but for its policies. It has become a sort of governmental figure in the Software industry. They create policies and exist under a huge bureaucracy wherein Billie boy is the the ruler in pertuity.

    People are fearful of and distrustful of MS the same way they have been of the government since the LBJ days (I'm thinking Vietnam here)-- and many before then (I'm thinking Ralph Waldo Emerson types here).
  • by nizo ( 81281 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:04PM (#4982904) Homepage Journal
    If we can get one half to sue the other half, we will have something.
  • by bmetz ( 523 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:05PM (#4982907) Homepage
    This guy's arguments, listed at the bottom of the article, are asinine. To quickly address some of them:

    - Microsoft put little more than a CDDB lookup into their player. Since everyone freaked out they've made it very very obvious during the install what gets sent. Take a look at everyone else's player and you'll see they are not trying to take over the world in some sinister plot. And product activation sucks but so does having perhaps the most pirated piece of software in the world so you really can't blame them.

    - Microsoft lobbies. Welcome to the united states of america.

    - Attacking microsoft because the PCs it donates aren't good enough? Come on! Donations are voluntary and should be welcomed no matter what they are. Don't forget Gates does some serious giving-back. Funny how he forgets to mention this..

    I'm tired of reading this poorly thought out crap. People will find any excuse to rag on Microsoft. News flash: it's 2002, not 1992. Microsoft-bashing is getting a little old.
    • by Bilbo ( 7015 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:31PM (#4983093) Homepage
      > - Attacking microsoft because the PCs it donates aren't good enough?...

      No, because the donated PC's are simply blatant attempt to supplant Apple's dominance in the educational market, and to generate more license revenue for Microsoft. Who do you think pays to upgrade those PCs when people realize that Windows 3.1 doesn't run any real software?

      (Also, when another independent company tried to do the same thing, MS took them to court because they couldn't prove they had valid licenses for all the copies of Windows 95 that the used computers were running. They ended up having to trash several thousand used computers because they didn't have enough money to buy all brand new licenses for them.)

    • by theLOUDroom ( 556455 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:51PM (#4983249)
      Microsoft put little more than a CDDB lookup into their player.

      Too bad you have no idea what you're talking about.
      You should read more about what media player really does:
      Media Player sends a unique id number along with the info about what you're watching.

      Are you an astroturfer or something or are you just clueless/insane? I don't need to even get into your other points as they're just ridiculous.
      News flash: MS is worse now than they've even been.
      Why exactly should I pretend they aren't?
      • by sheldon ( 2322 )
        Oh no! Windows Media Player sends a GUID that uniquely identifies the bundle of requests, but is in no way able to link back to your machine.

        Oh no! Oh my God!

        I don't need to even get into your other points as they're just ridiculous.

        Uh huh.

        News flash: MS is worse now than they've even been.

        No, you've just proven the anything-but-Microsoft astroturfers are more insane than they've ever been.

        Christ, next you'll be claiming the government puts flouride in our water supply for mind control.
  • <quote> Before you arrogantly claim it couldn't possibly happen to you, take a good look at companies like Apple, IBM, or 3dfx who's names were once SYNONYMOUS with computing--and who now, without exception, are either dead or relegated to niche markets in the areas they once utterly dominated. </quote>

    IBM sure ain't dead ...

    Revenues last quarter:

    • Microsoft:
    • IBM:
    Interestingly, IBM made more GROSS PROFIT the last quarter ($8,094,000,000) than Microsoft's total revenues.

    Contrary to popular belief, IBM, not Microsoft, is the worlds' largest software company. IBM just happens to bundle a computer with many of their offerings.

    • Yeah, but do you think you really want a clone?
    • Amen to that sir. IBM is alive and kicking, it's just that the IBM name just isn't as ubiquitous as it once was in the media. The author is clearly viewing anything other than the desktop PC market as niche. I wonder what the author thinks about Texas Instruments?
    • by Tide ( 8490 ) <chad@chLIONadsdomain.com minus cat> on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:29PM (#4983079) Homepage
      Well IBM makes boatloads of cash, thats for sure, but I wouldn't call them just a software company. Like Sun they make their cash off of services and support for overpriced hardware. MS is pretty much all software, and has a market cap more than twice that of IBM, which is why they are the worlds largest software company. Plus Im not sure where you got your profit numbers, but on Quicken a different story is painted:

      Revenue - $7,746,000
      Net Income - $2,726, 000

      Revenue - $19,821,000
      Net Income - $1,694,000

      And also from Quicken:
      What is Net Income?
      The amount of a company's total sales (revenue) remaining after subtracting all of its costs, in a given period of time (also referred to as "net earnings"). This very important figure (literally the source of the term "the bottom line" for where you find it on an income statement) is the best measure of the current operating state of a company.
      • by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @04:26PM (#4983506) Homepage
        they make their cash off of services and support for overpriced hardware.

        Overpriced? With respect to what measure? Most of the people who use IBM hardware do so because they can't find alternatives that provide the stability and service provided with an IBM solution. When you get me a PC platform where I can hot swap memory modules and CPUs we can talk. Plus make sure that the OS that it's running supports such usage. Self monitoring so that I don't have 75% of my scheduled jobs crashing before I found out CPU 3 has crashed would be nice, too. People who use these machines might find them overpriced if you want to talk MIPS, but most have other, very rational reasons to use these machines.

      • The IBM finacial statement for the quarter can be found here:

        http://www.ibm.com/investor/3q02/3q02earnings.ph tm l

        The line that is most relevent is how much they paid in federal taxes. Microsoft does not pay any taxes. Nor do they pay investor dividends (IBM Does).I don't think we can call Microsoft just a software company with the introduction of X Box.

        I also would not trust any earnings report from Microsoft. Like Enron, standard accounting practices do not apply. Read some of these articles:

        http://abcnews.go.com/sections/business/DailyNew s/ msbooks990121.html


        http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit1999052 7. html



  • Greek Saying (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shadow Wrought ( 586631 ) <shadow,wrought&gmail,com> on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:07PM (#4982922) Homepage Journal
    One of my history teachers taught us that the Greeks used to have a phrase something along the lines of "Those whom the God's would destroy, they first make proud."

    My own $0.02 is that M$'s hubris will eventually provide the catalyst for their decline and eventual demise.

    • One of my history teachers taught us that the Greeks used to have a phrase something along the lines of "Those whom the God's would destroy, they first make proud."

      I think it was "they first drive mad". Hubris is what brought a mortal to their attention in the first place. Didn't like the competition, see.
  • I remember well how MS and BSA jumped on the school districts with their audit demands. But this is the first I can recall hearing that the counties in question had been investigating switching to OSS. Have I forgotten this important motive detail in a wash of MS corporate bad-doing, or was this aspect not extensively noted at the time (or is it just a probably valid supposition considering MS's general way)?
  • by k3v0 ( 592611 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:17PM (#4982987) Journal
    i wish i hadn't wasted my mod points yesterday so i could mod down the stupidity of the replies that are sure to follow bashing MS. i hate MS as much as the next guy. bill's icon is a borg for a reason. every post about MS is time wasted you could be writing fun and useful GPL'd software. fortunately i'm no a code monkey so I can say this and not be hypocritical.
  • by tstoneman ( 589372 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:17PM (#4982992)
    The article is not bad, and it basically shows the problems that affect any software company: techies vs marketing.

    However, I do think he went out on a limb with the following comment:

    "The recently-revealed fact that Microsoft, in effect, offered states a bribe in order to drop their anti-trust suits against the Redmond giant. While I hold the states equally responsible for accepting the money in the first place, Redmond is known for displaying a remarkable level of NIH syndrome (Not Invented Here) perhaps only equaled by Steve Job's unparalleled Reality Distortion Field."

    I haven't heard about any of this bribe business, but if it isn't true and if he is exaggerating, I think the writer has really set himself up for a potential lawsuit. To accuse someone of committing a felony like that in this day-and-age when it hasn't been proven is kind of stupid, and I would have changed the wording around if I were him.
  • by i_luv_linux ( 569860 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:19PM (#4983003)
    The whole artice's value = zero. Here is why.

    The article wants MS not to donate any machine or Windows to poor schools for competitive issues, to protect Apple's interests, but yet at the same time it critizes MS because it donates old technology.

    The article accuses MS of bribing, yet there is no known evidence of such a criminal conduct. If the bribe means here a settlement, it is a legal move. There is nothing to talk about here.

    Licensing program is not a good move, but let's talk about Oracle's licensing practices. Let's talk about other licensing plans out there in the industry. If you are going to critize MS for this and not others, you are just plain lying about your facts

    It is also unbelievable that any person who bullshits to bash MS can get this much of attention. It doesn't even matter what you say anymore, as long as you bash MS. The facts mentioned in the article are all very well known, but still we see it here because it is yet another MS bashing article.

    I just hope the real workers behind the open source are not following this stupid trend. Otherwise open source movement is doomed.

  • What if... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lokatana ( 530146 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:20PM (#4983013) Journal
    It's interesting to notice that the author of this article claims to barely know Linux or other competing products to Microsoft. I'm not sure how much I agree with his thoughts regarding a "split" within Microsoft, but...

    What if this type of thinking begins to really penetrate MS's customer base? If Joe User (think of all of your friends and family who use you as their technical support hotline) starts to believe that Microsoft is taking them to the cleaners - not just believe it, but become convinced of the fact - and is willing to make the jump to an alternative OS, what then? What if the tools to make the switch are easy enough for anyone's grandparents to freely obtain and use? (Today, most of these kinds of users don't even know how to locate an ISO, let alone download & burn it! I'm also assuming they don't want to pay for the software from a vendor or store)

    What would MS do if their customer base starts to erode noticeably? Will we see more "Satanic" actions to lock in their customers, or will MS respond in a way that will benefit the overall user community?

    Perhaps this would be a good followup "Ask Slashdot", but I'd love to see people's thoughts on this.


  • I agree with the author that MS seems to be self-destructing, but that is not really the case. MS has always faught amongst itself. That is a similar approach to the OSS world. The only difference is that OSS does not have Marketers.
    As to them, well, Bill is needing to change the strategy to survive. He was able to buy off states and even our current administration without too much repercussion. This shows that MS can adopt. What is happening behind other scences is what ppl should notice. From what I understand, there are a number of start-ups by bill that are designed to push MS. These are targeted towards unique niches. 2 companies are directed at Intuit to compete against TurboTax.
    While I am a Linux developer, I do forsee that we have a rough road ahead of us. MS should never be underestimated.
  • by Konster ( 252488 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:21PM (#4983022)
    "What I am, however, is concerned about how Redmond intends to safeguard my privacy, my right to use an operating system as I see fit, and my rights of fair use. I am, in fact, very concerned."

    Then he goes on to say, a paragrah later, "Right now, Linux has yet to offer me any reason why I should go to the monumental hassle of switching and re-training myself to the new OS..."

    You must NOT be all that concerned about your privacy, the right to use the OS as you see fit (Click on Agree or Decline after reading the EULA? A thought), or your rights of fair use if you blindly click through the EULA and install their product.

    RTFEULA. Worried about all that and still agreeing to MS's EULA and being too lazy to learn an OS that's free from all that just befuddles me.

    And since when did learning Linux become a monumental effort? Rocketing into space is a monumental effort. Learning Linux is akin to Bellybutton Lint Removal 101.

    How does this crap make the news, anyhow?

  • by weave ( 48069 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:22PM (#4983029) Journal
    Microsoft claims on one hand that Linux is more expensive, because you have to hire expensive experts to maintain it. On the other hand they push the value of an MCSE to IT people, how it's a serious certification and not something that any chump can get, and how much more money we can make if we just become certified.

    So which is it? I administer a nice big AD domain on w2k servers and I personally am insulted that Microsoft is doing their best to convince my administrators as well as others that Windows administration can be done by a non-expert. How long before CFOs believe this and wonder why they are paying for all of these expensive personnel down in IT? It's bad enough they don't understand the complexity of our jobs, now Microsoft is telling them it doesn't require an "expert" to administer Windows servers. :-(

  • I'm no Linux user. I've never booted a distro of the OS in any of its flavors...

    Right now, Linux has yet to offer me any reason why I should go to the monumental hassle of switching and re-training myself to the new OS environment...

    This explains in a nutshell why Linux developers should concentrate, at least in the short term, on recreating the look and feel of the MS Windows desktop.

  • Like any big company with very few major products making most of the revenues, and lots of opinions on where it should go, there is always an internal power battle

    Some of the more public ones that I've heard about include

    Battle between the VMS guys and the rest of management and the Windows squad (covered in the book Fumbling the Future)

    Battle between the Windows manager and the standalone IE manager during Win98's browser integration. Forgot which book that was in

    I'm sure that Microsoft Research creating new technologies largely independently of the product teams also creates PARC-style battles as well.

  • Parallels (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tall Rob Mc ( 579885 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:28PM (#4983070)
    It is most likely that I'm not the first person to draw this parallel, but I've noticed it more and more recently...

    Microsoft and the US government are in very similar situations.

    Here, we have two extremely powerful entities that are very prone to extend beyond their reasonable range of influence to make everything go exactly the way they want it to.

    Both are facing enemies (the US against terrorists, and Microsoft against Linux) that have emerged as a decentralized and nearly attack-proof.

    Both have earned a good deal of resentment from the communities which they supposedly serve (MS has people like us constantly bitching while President Bush's approval rating has dropped below 50% this December: and both rightfully so).

    Both, despite the great amount of disapproval, appear to be doing nothing to change their situation (except for Bush's recent decision to back down on threats of attacking North Korea, though he intends to push for isolating them economically).

    Could a few good leaders in Washington clear this whole mess up? I think so. Now if only such people existed... -sigh-

  • utter nonsense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fermion ( 181285 )
    I partly agree with the article. It is completely true that if you manufacture an adequate product and don't try to cheat your customers, you will be perceived as a good company. Beyond that, the article is nonsense.

    Beyond that, it is nonsense. My experience with XP is that is more stable than any other consumer MS OS, but not as good as 2000. For one thing, the adaptive GUI just gets in the way. The market has spoken on XBox. It is a good machine, but not good enough. Without the benefit of monopoly, MS was not able to set the price on the product, and had to do several price reduction in order to get the results it wanted. This would also be the case with it's OS and apps if competition exists. In countries that aren't MS hostages, the XBox is not doing well. As for the tablet PC, it is not yet a product. We do not how exactly it will act. It is probably as good as XBox, which may not be good enough.

    The problem with MS is that it does not have to innovate. It does not have to create great products. Without competition, there is no need to excel. It can steal , cajole, and threaten. The creativity is limited to calling the OS 'Windows'. The charity is limited to giving kids junk and then taking a writeoff for the inflated value. The programming wonders are limited to creating a paperclip that you can't get rid of, or wizards that won't let you get back to the menu. I find the culture to be pretty unified.

  • by ManoMarks ( 574691 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:29PM (#4983077) Journal
    are premature. People have been claiming the end of MS for years, and it's still going strong. While I'd love to see it at least shaken up and reformed, and more consumer friendly, I don't yet see any evidence of even a mild decline.
  • Absolutely Correct (Score:5, Interesting)

    by awitod ( 453754 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:35PM (#4983115)
    This author is dead on. The IT graveyard of invincible vendors is wide and deep, and without an exception I can think of the killing blows were always self-inflicted: Micro-Channel Architecture, Word Perfect 5.0 for Windows, Unix-Ware, and on and on and on.

    I watch this board closely to try to gauge perception. (I watch lots of other things too, because everything has some inherent bias, borg toon anyone?) I want to know where the industry is headed. In the past I've felt the pain of backing the wrong technology and after many years have come to appreciate such an error's effect on my families ability to do things they enjoy, like eat and sleep inside.

    For the last several years the food on my table has come from a deep knowledge of many of Microsoft's products. At the end of the day, I really don't care what tools I used to create a new system. What I care about is that I can do what I love (design and build software) for someone who appreciates the effort enough to pay me a decent sum of money.

    I view many of the arguments on this site with mild amusement (open vs. closed source) as the ravings of modern-day hippies or the very young. Unfortunately, I am constrained by certain requirements in my life and I doubt very much that my wife or my children would care about free-as-in-speech vs. free-as-in-beer, and as such care much more about the bottom-line than high-minded principals, no matter how appealing.

    That said, I am starting to study and use Linux and other offerings of this community. Some of it is very impressive and some of it, I must say, is promising but primitive crap. I do not believe that the movement will overthrow Microsoft on its own merit. I do believe that Microsoft is creating enough incentive for the market to make this a commercially viable alternative.

    The PS2's were awesome and reliable machines. They were probably worth the additional price. But, by the time IBM really tried to strong-arm the market, the IT buying community was pissed off enough that the platform's relative merits meant nothing. I believe that OS/2 was equally affected by this, although it's terrible setup procedure hurt it as well. Microsoft is today's IBM. I hope they get their heads out of their asses soon, but they'd better do it quickly.
  • Pots and Kettles (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Swanktastic ( 109747 )
    "Microsoft has serious problems because they have a dichotomy in their strategy and thinking!" or so says the slashdotter...

    Listen folks, if this is a problem, then the Open Source movement might as well quit while the quitting is good. If you can get N OSS developers in a room, you're guaranteed to have N completely different opinions on what should be done in terms of any software strategy: technical, marketing, or other. And why should it be any different? After all, projects are done ostensibly for fun and self-improvement. No one should be allowed to tell me what to do with my code! Multiply this logic by a million and you have a good handle on the swarming behavior of the Open Source community.

    Besides, if I am to read the article correctly, the main problem with Microsoft is that they are making better products while they still haven't cleaned their act up in terms of being a "good corporate citizen."

    This isn't really grounds for celebration. If anything, it should be a wake up call that Linux on the desktop is becoming less competetive by the day in terms of functionality and 'meeting the consumers needs.'
  • Dumb and Dumber (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Veteran ( 203989 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:44PM (#4983188)
    Microsoft's managers by the standards by which people in that field judge success are superb.

    What do I mean by that? If you judge Microsoft's management by the universal business scorecard - money - then no one can argue that they are doing a bad job.

    From a technical viewpoint Microsoft's managers are clueless idiots, from an ethical standpoint they are amoral cretins who barely qualify as human; but from a business standpoint - the company has made a lot of money on their watch.

    In reality Microsoft's management is a lot like a defensive lineman who gets a pass stuck in his face guard - then stumbles blindly into the end zone to score a game winning touchdown; they were in the right place at the right time - every thing else was pure dumb luck.

    Of course, Microsoft's management believes that their brilliant business decisions are responsible for Microsoft's success; but then I have already written about their technical judgment.
  • by jordanda ( 160179 ) on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:44PM (#4983190) Homepage
    I work at Microsoft Game Studios. Every full time engineer in my department runs Linux on at least one of their home computers but I've met project leads who don't even know what the GPL is. A lot of our staff come from companies that we've purchased. The difference between a native Micosofty and a bought one is staggering. The most comic example are the guys who work for Bungie. Bungie made Mac games for years and they all come to work in Mac schwag.
  • by serutan ( 259622 ) <snoopdoug AT geekazon DOT com> on Monday December 30, 2002 @03:53PM (#4983270) Homepage
    Hruska couldn't be more accurate. In my past 5+ years as a contractor working mostly at Microsoft, I've definitely seen the internal character of the place becoming less geek-centered and more suit-centered. Recently there was a poster on the wall exhorting people to save the company money by remembering that the free beverages are for consumption at work only. When you have administrative people busying themselves with that type of "hall monitor" behavior, you are also going to see things like junk-computer disposal disguised as charity, advertising disguised as customer feedback, and lawyer-driven software design.
  • Um. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by runderwo ( 609077 ) <{runderwo} {at} {mail.win.org}> on Monday December 30, 2002 @04:18PM (#4983453)
    From the article:
    I'm no Linux user. I've never booted a distro of the OS in any of its flavors, and save for playing with it on a friend's machine, I've never spent much time in it. I am not an open source maverick, nor am I anti-business or anti-profit.
    You know, if someone has to qualify their editorial claims by saying that they aren't part of those "open source mavericks" over there, or that they are not "anti-business or anti-profit", what does that say about us open-source mavericks as a desirable group of people to identify with?

    I think the very idea that someone in the mainstream has gotten the idea that we are anti-business/anti-profit is very BAD, as it constitutes a fundamental misunderstanding of the movement behind free software and the open source development model.

    Who in the mainstream is going to align themselves with us, if we give them the impression that we're anarchists and commies?

    • Re:Um. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sheldon ( 2322 )
      I think the very idea that someone in the mainstream has gotten the idea that we are anti-business/anti-profit is very BAD, as it constitutes a fundamental misunderstanding of the movement behind free software and the open source development model.

      On the contrary it shows that they have a very good understanding of the movement behind free software. [fsf.org]

      Who in the mainstream is going to align themselves with us, if we give them the impression that we're anarchists and commies?

      They are not. But if you want to shed that image you need to stop acting like Software Communists.
  • by miffo.swe ( 547642 ) <daniel.hedblom@g m a il.com> on Monday December 30, 2002 @05:05PM (#4983758) Homepage Journal
    I have come to the conclusion that wether Microsoft survives or not doesnt bother me a piss. One part of me would most gladly see the Borg go down in agony. The other part looks at his nice linux desktop wich does everything he did in windows and much better and feels a state of nirvana. As long as i have my linux and no one tries to destroy it i couldnt give less sh*t about windows. We need to stop looking at what Microsoft is doing and do our own stuff.

    They are hurt if linux makes a success, we shouldnt care less if Microsoft do. Lets focus at linux and let Microsoft play in their own little pond by themselves.

  • Know your history (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mabu ( 178417 ) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @05:13AM (#4986993)
    First off, all this talk about "Microsoft Technology" is a farce. From the very beginning when Bill Gates weaseled his earliest software licenses from real coders, Microsoft was more a marketing machine than a development company. It amuses me that anyone ever thought of them differently. The company's modus operandi hasn't changed one bit since day one: take other peoples' technology and leverage it for your own gain and garner as much control over the environment as possible.

    The saddest part of all this is the new generation of "programmers" who don't really seem to understand that stability and performance have NEVER been platform or hardware dependent. The new breed of developers as well as users has been conditioned to accept failure and mediocre performance as the status quo. Microsoft, Oracle, and other companies have shifted their business model to exploit the instability of their own products to create entirely new (support) industries from which to profit. It's like they're selling you tainted food and offering health insurance at the same time.

    With few exceptions, Microsoft puts out crap. They don't even spray it with perfume any more.. The computing public has learned to enjoy the taste of crap, and they'll serve you a bigger pile of crap each season and you'll love it. What else are you going to do?

    I would really like to see OSS take over, and I do my part, but I see an increasingly lazy, uneducated and unmotivated public that is becoming more and more difficult to reason with. I am at a loss how to knock some sense into the public without an ad budget of less than many millions of dollars. Welcome to the new millennium. It looks like it will have to get much worse before it gets better.

  • by m1a1 ( 622864 ) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @05:19AM (#4987004)
    This is a little offtopic, but it is at the bottom, so nobody will read it anyways.

    I look at the tech industry, that I am preparing to enter, and I see my life ahead of me as a great gamble. I have to pick what platform to develop for, who to develop for, and where to develop at. All of these choices will seriously affect my life, my earning value, and the future of my family. This is scary! Five years ago, I was still in high school. If someone asked me then what platform I would develop on I would say, "The newest Win32 of course!" In a perfect world I would have wanted to work for my MS. Now though, there is no guarantee. I honestly believe linux is the future of computing, but I have no idea what business model is best to use with it! OSS is new territory in the business world. The GPL is a big question mark! I am pretty damn good at poker, but I don't enjoy the prospect of gambling with my life. Oh well, here it comes.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson