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Dave Stutz's Parting Advice To Microsoft 314

thasmudyan writes "Like probably many others I followed the recent link to Heise only to get a much more interesting story than the one about Mozilla/OpenOffice: Dave Stutz, an influencial guy at Microsoft, is resigning his position. He posted an open letter to his ex-employer and this rest of the world, explaining what MS is doing wrong in his opinion. I thought it made an interesting read, maybe Open Source projects should consider some of the key points (as MS seems to be too slow to adapt, it may be good time to move faster than 'the industry')." (Read this Slashdot post from 2001 to see an interesting interview with Stutz about "shared source" and .NET.)
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Dave Stutz's Parting Advice To Microsoft

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15, 2003 @01:48PM (#5309030)
    He used a Microsoft security hole to go back in after he left and post it on their website.
  • About time (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15, 2003 @01:53PM (#5309054)
    What was this guy doing at some random company selling windows, desktops and office material? I know it's impressive they can fold windows and even whole offices into small lightweight boxes, but personally I only trust hard heavy furniture.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15, 2003 @01:55PM (#5309059)
    This note was originally published at John Munsch weblog on January the 14th.

    Lots of reasons why I want .NET to fail and fail badly

    It's benefits a criminal organization. Not one that's been found guilty of crimes once or maybe twice, but lots and lots of times. Those crimes are many and varied, but here's just a few of them: Stac Electronics v. Microsoft, DOJ v. Microsoft, Sun v. Microsoft.
    P.S. If you want to split hairs, Stac v. Microsoft isn't a criminal action, it's doesn't stem from a criminal abuse of their monopoly like the other two cases. Instead it was just a case of a small company being driven out of business by willful patent infringement, theft of trade secrets, etc.

    Microsoft isn't just one thing anymore. It's too damn big for that. I'm sure even Bill himself knows better than to think that he truly controls the whole ship because it's become big enough that he can't possibly know all the projects, people, etc. anymore. But even a really large company still has a kind of collective personality that it exudes and a large part of the personality both internal and external to Microsoft for many years now is that of a total control freak.
    If they don't own it, if they don't control it, if they didn't create it, if it doesn't have a broad stamp from Microsoft on it, then they don't want it. Sometimes it's sufficient for the thing to merely exist and they'll refuse to acknowledge it, other times they need to actively stamp it out because they can't control it.

    When was the last time you can remember Microsoft saying they supported a standard? That is, not something they invented and submitted a RFC for, an actual, take it off the shelf and re-implement it without renaming it or "improving" it so it doesn't work with anybody else standard. C++? Basic? HTML? A video or audio codec? Java? Anything?

    I'm sure there's something, somebody will point out their excellent support for TCP/IP or something and I'm sure that's true. But if you were to look at Microsoft as a person in your life, you'd wonder what was wrong with him or her such that so much had to be controlled by that person.

    When your business is selling the operating systems that 90+% of everybody uses, software development tools should not be a profit center.
    Why should I have to plunk down a couple of thousand dollars for a "universal subscription" in order to have access to compilers and basic development information? Sun doesn't have to do that? On this point I'll quote from the .NET "rebuttal" that I linked to above, "For non-profit use VS.NET can be had pretty cheaply, especially if you know anyone that is in college somewhere." Pretty cheaply? For a non-profit (that means charities, churches, universities, the hobbiest who is going to give away his work for FREE)... pretty cheaply? Wow. That is well and truly pathetic. To try and justify it, and say, oh well, you can try to scam an educational discount so it won't be so dear, is even more pathetic.

    Marketing. Have you been "lucky" enough to catch one of the .NET commercials with William H. Gacy telling you how great it is without really ever telling you anything about it? Microsoft doesn't trust .NET to stand on its own technical merits and it knows it may go like cod-liver oil down the gullets of a lot of people who have seen how the company works behind closed doors even if it were the tech shiznit.
    So they are going to pull a page out of Intel's bum-bum-buh-bum "Intel Inside" playbook and try to sell the brand like it's sneakers and cola. Trust us, you'll look cool if you use it, and we'll keep hammering the brand on TV so somebody who doesn't have much tech savvy in your organization will ask you if you are using it, or have plans to port to it, or whatever, even if he hasn't got a clue what "it" is in this case.

    They don't trust you. They don't like what they can't control and they can't control you. They can try and they always will keep trying but ultimately you are going to see them keep trying to do things and always keep a step towards the door just so they can bolt if they have to. Want to see what I mean? Go visit GotDotNet sometime if you haven't already been there. It's the grassroots community website that Microsoft put up to support .NET just in case there wasn't any grassroots community who actually wanted to do it. Or maybe just in case there was and they couldn't control it.
    Ever been to SourceForge? Of course you have, everybody has because that's one of the hubs of all open source projects. You can go there and get the source of thousands of cool open source projects and it really serves the community well. There's even hundreds of projects now that list C# among their programming languages. So why did Microsoft feel compelled to create their own GotDotNet Workspaces that is clearly just a ripoff of SourceForge?

    A few reasons are fairly clear: First, at many of their workspaces you don't get in unless they know who you are. Ever been stopped at SourceForge and asked for a name and password to look at a project? What about download binaries or source? No? At GotDotNet you will, lots of projects are marked with a lock. Second, forget about all those messy licenses that Microsoft might not approve of, you don't need to worry your little head about BSD vs. GPL vs. LGPL. You've got the one true workspace license that you have to agree to, or else you won't be putting your project there. Lastly, well it's kind of obvious, but it's really all about control isn't it. After all, if you aren't under their thumb, that has to be a bad thing. So a SourceForge that they control is pretty much a requirement, isn't it?

    It's a really sad way for a lot of people to waste a whole lot of time rebuilding that which already exists. Wouldn't the whole computing world be a lot better if there wasn't a team of people, maybe a couple of teams of people building complete copies of .NET for other platforms? If those same people were working on giving us new libraries and new tools for an already existing language instead of pouring in the thousands of man hours it's going to take to build a copy of the C# compiler or a .NET version of Ant and JUnit?

    In the end, we'll all just be left with another way to do the exact same thing only in a different language. Lord knows the world benefits now from being unable to share media between France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the US, and Japan because we can't all speak the same language. I benefit every day from the fact that I can't read a Japanese manga I might enjoy or understand a TV show from Europe. Once you are done building this tower, go build a few more right beside it using Perl, Python, and Ruby too. They're all trailing behind in certain areas, we need to make sure the same set of stuff is reinvented and rewritten for all of them too.
  • The market for shrink-wrap PC software began its slow upmarket ooze into Christensen obsolescence right around the time that Microsoft really hit its stride. That was also the time of the Internet wave, a phenomenon that Microsoft co-opted without ever really internalizing into product wisdom. While those qualified to move the state of the art forward went down in the millennial flames of the dotcom crash, Microsoft's rigorous belief in the physics of business reality saved both the day and the profits. But the tide had turned, and a realization that "the net" was a far more interesting place than "the PC" began to creep into the heads of consumers and enterprises alike.

    Wow. Without reading the rest of the article, would anyone know what that paragraph meant?

    --naked []

    • Cool.

      The translation is easy enough. After years of denying that "the network was the computer" MS got caught flatfooted by the internet. They cater to the business now, but have not really come to terms with it.

      Least of all the fact that its very existence renders their bread and butter, the shrink wrapped software product, obsolete.

      That clear it up for you?

      I guess this post is now both off topic and redundant. Go figure.

    • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @02:31PM (#5309199)
      The market for shrink-wrap PC software began its slow upmarket ooze into Christensen obsolescence right around the time that Microsoft really hit its stride.

      might be referring to James C. Christensen's book, "The Pelican King" having to do with the growth or aging of organizations related to becoming obselete quickly in a very innovative climate. Just quickly did some searching on this so I might be off though it seems like what he was getting at. Also, IIRC, Windows 95 was released and the Y2K scare was in sight at this time and so there was a massive upgrade cycle going on though network fed upgrades were not the norm.

      That was also the time of the Internet wave, a phenomenon that Microsoft co-opted without ever really internalizing into product wisdom.

      Microsoft was able to win the browser war and get Exchange and LookOut dominant but didn't/haven't been able to proprietize it or enable all their software to effectively use the network. That with the exception of their virus platform. ;)

      While those qualified to move the state of the art forward went down in the millennial flames of the dotcom crash,

      Many of the innovative ideas and people had their business's collapse around them when the dotcom bust removed much of the funding. Again, a Christensen like reference to better/faster innovation happens in the smaller organizations.

      Microsoft's rigorous belief in the physics of business reality saved both the day and the profits.

      Might be realated to Microsoft owning the OEM channel and therefore maintaining profits because nobody else could sell their products directly into the channel. Profits keep flowing to Redmond while others lose them left and right.

      But the tide had turned, and a realization that "the net" was a far more interesting place than "the PC" began to creep into the heads of consumers and enterprises alike.

      It's the network stupid... And finally, that concept is getting accepted throughout the industry.

      IMO, this is VERY important to Microsoft because 30% of it's profits come from a PC OS and another 30% come from using that PC OS monopoly to sell their office suite. Because Microsoft is losing the server war to Linux, their plan to make the network proprietary has been foiled while at the same time, their PC OS is becoming less and less important to consumers and the business world.

      That's MY take on what that means.


      • "Because Microsoft is losing the server war to Linux"

        Since when? Linux has about a 17% marketshare on servers, using the most optimistic of measurements. Microsoft is in the 50-60%, with the remaining 25% or so being commercial Unix, Novell and such.

        If what you mean by losing is that Microsoft is not making signifigant strides to gain additional marketshare, then ok. But if you mean they're losing marketshare to Linux, then you are incorrect. The only entity losing the server market to Linux is Sun/HP/IBM commercial Unix solutions.

        I realize you probably didn't mean to intentionally lie. I'm sure you truly believe that Microsoft is losing marketshare to Linux. But you'd do yourself a favor by looking up the facts, and then deriving conclusions based upon those.

        I think the letter is somewhat interesting, but I also disagree. Customers do want networkable solutions, however they still want them as shrinkwrapped solutions that they can run on their own networks. The problem stems from the internet still being unreliable. As that improves, then there will be more acceptance for the networked paradigm.

        One just needs look at the ASP model and how it has succeeded and failed. Yes, it's working, but nowhere near as widespread as it's proponents claimed it would be.
        • my comment about MSFT losing the server war relates to the fact that they won't be owning the server space. For Microsoft, that is a big loss. They won't be able to control that space and therefore can not control the protocols and API's in that space. This is going to force it's way back into their client OS's too.

          With Microsoft, winning means total control. Nothing less.

          Sorry for the confusion.

      • by cheesedog ( 603990 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @04:27PM (#5309777)
        Where did you pull this from? James C. Christensen is an artist and retired BYU [] professor. The "Pelican King" piece that you refer to is an oil painting.

        "Christensen obselescence" refers to Clayton Christensen's book: "The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail". Christensen is a professor at the Harvard Business school. He is a renowned expert on disruptive technologies, which is really what the Innovator's dilemma is all about, and thus, the reference to the Internet and Open Source.

        But, getting the two confused is understandable, they are both BYU grads. :)

        • My bad. I just did a search for "Christensen" and "obsolete" and banged through the resulting pages. I screwed up by not looking at the first names and used the first name of the first hit, which didn't result in much data. Sorry and thanks for doing the "research" correctly.

      • >
        Microsoft owning the OEM channel and therefore maintaining profits because nobody else could sell their products directly into the channel. Profits keep flowing to Redmond

        MS has not had a real profit since 1.995, as Bill Parish [] has shown [].

    • I think Tim O'Reilly out it more clearly (quoting from memory:
      Recently I was talking to a friend who didn't own a computer. He said he was thinking about getting one so that he could shop at Now
      that's the definition of a killer app -- something that makes you want to go out and buy a computer. Note that the killer app of today is no longer a game, or an office suite -- it's a website.

      That's his point. What do I spend time on my computer doing? Well, I use emacs (for coding), freeciv (for fun), slashdot and indymedia (for news).... What's out there on the net is as important as what's in here on my computer. It's a big shift -- and one M$ has been trying to ignore.

      Of course, what's on the computer seems to make a whole lot more money than what's on the net, so this decision has done well for them so far. They just can't keep it up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15, 2003 @01:59PM (#5309074)
    Visit project burn copies for you and for any businesses or schools you know. each copy you give away is 4-500 dollars Microsoft does not make or hold people in a strangelhold.

    the ISO is about 300 megs or if you want Office alone
    get it at: in dex.html

  • hmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mschoolbus ( 627182 ) <travisriley&gmail,com> on Saturday February 15, 2003 @01:59PM (#5309075)
    Linux already has enough ground an influence to make Microsoft want a piece of that pie... They will try to do something 'innovative' with it, hoping to control that too. And as I read in a story a few months ago, they may just build the next Windows on Linux, but I doubt we will see something quite like that.

    But what if M$ tries to get in the Linux market? Would you guys use it? I mean, is it about Linux to you guys or strictly OSS?
    • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @02:19PM (#5309150)
      it seems unlikely I'd use it. Not necessarily because it was MS, although that would be part of it ( as someone who ran an all Windows shop for years they've damned well *earned* my distaste).

      No, it would be because they did it on the Apple model. Take an open source core and heavily wrap it in a propriatary shell.

      Odds are I wouldn't like the shell either, and would be just as constrained from changing it as I am in changing Windows now ( where I have to hack the executable binary just to change the label on the "start" button).

      I've already rejected a pure Linux company's offering for similar reasons. That would be Lycoris. Why should I accept MS's?

      • That's why I don't support Suse, Lindows, Xandros, or UnitedLinux. Taking an entirely opensource group of software and then dropping a small fraction of proprietary code that if removed cripples the distro or prevents redistribution is something I don't believe in and try not to support. Using your example of what Apple did, at least they did it right. They used BSD software properly and thankfully didn't try to hijack linux which is what the above companies are more concerned with. I've gotten flamed in the past for complaining about Suse in particular, but considering how Redhat and Mandrake opensource some very good gui admin tools, Suse just ends up looking stupid for the way they treat Yast.

        It's a hard line to walk. On one hand I believe the core distro should be free but at the same time you should be able to run whatever closed source apps you want on top of that. For example I would have no problem running a port of Photoshop on Debian, but I would never support a proprietary version of APT no matter how well it worked. I also REALLY don't like companies basing their distro on Debian and then adding a lot of proprietary crap and preventing distribution. That really makes no sense and I always write the companies telling them they should have used one of the BSD's instead.

        My logic may be flawed but that's just the way I feel. If the future of linux is distros in which many parts become proprietary and they all cost money then I'll just use something else. It's not about being cheap either. Its about having a quality free OS available that truly belongs to the community and is above commercial interests.
    • by travail_jgd ( 80602 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @02:30PM (#5309197)
      But what if M$ tries to get in the Linux market? Would you guys use it? I mean, is it about Linux to you guys or strictly OSS?

      There's a lot of reasons Linux/OSS users don't use Microsoft:
      • Source code isn't commonly available for review and/or modification, leaving open the possibility of backdoors or undocumented API's.
      • Licensing and EULA shenanigans
      • Cost
      • MS software not playing nice with others (file formats, drive formats, etc)
      • Reliability and security

      Even if those issues were addressed, it doesn't change the fact that Microsoft's history has been one of "extend and embrace". Regardless of how good their Linux products would/could be, it would be difficult to accept them unless Microsoft changes as a company.
      • And another (Score:3, Interesting)

        I don't like M$ software for several reasons, in order: it's buggy, i's inflexible, and M$ ethics.

        Several months ago, I had to use Visual Studio 6, for the first time, and within a day had found several bugs in it. Now whether these bugs were me not knowing the "proper" usage, or genuine bugs, that has been typical of my experience with M$, and leads to the second point, inflexibility.

        If you don't use M$ products in the M$ way, you can't use them at all. Take windows, for instance, multiple windows. You get click to focus and raise on focus whether you want that or not. Sometimes I like to have several windows open for reading while typing into another window which is mostly hidden behind the others, and the mouse is in the small visible piece of hat window and thus my typing goes there while reading from the windows I have arranged so I can read what I need. This is not an everyday usage, but often enough that using M$ windows frustrates the heck out of me.

        Lack of ethics is the third reason, but not nearly as important.
    • Re:hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jdkincad ( 576359 ) <> on Saturday February 15, 2003 @02:39PM (#5309227)
      I run Linux for three reasons:

      1. I don't like some things in Windows and I cannot easily change or replace the things I dislike.

      2. I don't have to use any specific, Windows-only apps.

      3. I have the luxury of letting politics influence my choice in software. I'd rather use OSS then stuff from a company that has been shown to usedispicable bussiness pratices.

      A Windows GUI on top a Linux kernel may fix #1, but #3 is a far more important point.
      • Re:hmmm (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 )
        I have the luxury of letting politics influence my choice in software. I'd rather use OSS then stuff from a company that has been shown to usedispicable bussiness pratices.

        That's not politics, that's level headed reasoning and solid business practice. Microsoft's licensing system gives them alot of power over you. To take just one example, they can force a software audit on you, and even if you keep perfect records it will cost you non-trivial time and money. If you don't trust Microsoft to use this power in a way you accept, it's only a logical business decision to switch aware.

        Free Software also means Freedom from control by corporations you don't trust. Free Software means you don't need to trust anyone but yourself, that has real value to business or personal users.

    • Re:hmmm (Score:2, Funny)

      by The Bungi ( 221687 )
      Personally, I'm waiting for GNU/Windows.

      Maybe that will make RMS shave and take a bath.

    • Re:hmmm (Score:3, Interesting)

      I wouldnt use MS Linux for the same reasons that I wont use OSX. It leverages the Free Software efforts (bsd in case of osx) in order to off-set the cost of development to the volunteers and lock you into the Closed Interaface... its the Razorblade scam.

      The idea of value in software is fiction. Once its written, the effort to create it has been spent - the idea of copyright is a stranglehold (before you hit reply: An idea that has been debated at lenght on /., so lets agree to disagree ok?)

      The *Freedom* aspect of GNU software attracts me. Im also have very left politics, and abhor Corporate Masters, be they MS or GM. Using GNU/Linux allows me to be free of that 'influence'. No, I wouldnt use M$GNU/Linux.

    • Linux is nice. OSS is better. I use Linux not only because it is technically superior, but because I don't have to be under the thumb of a corporation. Some stuff is too important to be commercialized. I have no problem paying Nike for my sneakers, or Levis for my jeans. But my operating system? To a heavy computer user, the OS is so fundemental, that it is just plain dangerous to depend on a corporation, especially a monopoly, for it. If Levi's tries to screw me over, I can just buy Polo. What do I do when my OS vendor tries to screw me over? Get used to a whole new set of software and services, reimplement my entire system, so I can move to a competitor (if there is one!)
    • But what if M$ tries to get in the Linux market? Would you guys use it? I mean, is it about Linux to you guys or strictly OSS?

      I wouldn't use it unless there was some indication that MS has really changed its stripes: a complete turn-over of management, and the old guard currently in place at MS marched into the center of Redmond campus and hung from the lamp-posts. (Monkey-boy's last dance, as it were).

      But hey, if that happens - you can reach me here at /. and I'll cheerfully go out and buy some MS open source software.

  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @02:00PM (#5309082) Homepage Journal
    it's not been uncommon these past years for MS employees to expand their embrase by leaving on such supposed terms that allows them to be accepted elsewhere where they otherwise would not be. And in time to undermine any competitive ability against MS, of where they go. Note: such leaving doesn't mean they sold their stock in MS.

    AS an example: what remains of the Amiga Intellectual Property is now controlled bith directlky and indirectly by MS thru Gateway held patents and an agreement they have with MS and former MS employees now in important positions at Amiga Inc.

    The Recent .net patent applications should be enough indication of MS intent to bait and switch and commit acts of entrapment, etc....

    Here on slashdot even, there is an infilteration of MS from the spectrum of buying ad space to posters.
  • He, rather eloquently, makes the point that has been made over and over again here on /. about what MS should do. It also points out weak points in MS's strategy that need to be exploited. The question is who is best suited to take advantage of these ideas. Some companies seems to be headed in this direction but is anyone, commercial or Open Source, already on this path?
  • by citking ( 551907 ) <> on Saturday February 15, 2003 @02:01PM (#5309087) Homepage
    Recovering from current external perceptions of Microsoft as a paranoid, untrustworthy, greedy, petty, and politically inept organization will take years.

    IMHO, I think that M$ will never be able to recover from these stigmata because M$ refuses to change. For example, I go to the University of Wisconsin Platteville and we aren't going to be able to renew our M$ contract for next year. Why? Because M$ has decided that the amount we paid a few years ago to renew is no longer sufficient even though we have not deployed any new software from them!

    Another unfortunate side effect is that fact that the students who were able to purchase software at discounted educational prices are going to be hurt to discover that their licenses won't be valid any longer! So try explaining to a student who knows nothing about computers that the $30 he forked over for Office XP was just wasted.

    • I think that M$ will never be able to recover from these stigmata

      Microsoft is our savior =D
  • Altruism (Score:5, Funny)

    by Radical Rad ( 138892 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @02:03PM (#5309092) Homepage
    disgruntled Microsoft wannabes have poured huge quantities of often inferior, but nonetheless requirements-driven, open source software.

    Right. We 'wannabe' wealthy criminals so badly that we offer our work freely to the world.
    Step 2: profit!

  • by brianvan ( 42539 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @02:04PM (#5309096)
    Microsoft actually happens to adapt to things very quickly at times, in comparison to organizations with their size and complexity. Some large corporations take years to adapt to the presence of a new product, a new strategy, or a new competitor. Microsoft has, in the past, made big changes in weeks.

    Sure, a small development team may be able to change directions more quickly, but that's an apples-to-oranges comparison.

    So, if MS really wants to adapt to something, they will, and they will do it quickly, and they will roll over anyone who tries to stand in their way. And, as far as I see, their current strategy is still making money and is still leading the software industry.

    Just for concession's sake, though... the fact that the open source movement (or for that matter, Apple) has been able to live and thrive on the niche markets and margins of the software/hardware industries is a great credit to their tenacity and robustness. It's a difficult market out there...
    • Microsoft actually happens to adapt to things very quickly at times

      I think the idea is that Microsoft needs to learn to do it themselves instead of adapting by buying out a small company who has already done so.
    • Microsoft actually happens to adapt to things very quickly at times

      I agree. And the first part of his advice sounds like it was written in 1996.

      "Windows has yet to move past its PC-centric roots to capture a significant part of the larger network space..."
      What in the world does he mean by that? Novell, the networking pioneer, has suffered greatly from Microsoft's deep inroads into networking. If it weren't for universities and schools entrenched in Netware, Microsoft would have run Novell out of business.

      "Microsoft's reluctance to adopt networked ways is understandable."
      Excuse me? The biggest thing at Microsoft is DOT NET, not DOT PC. Web services (XML, RDF, SOAP, WDDI) is all the rage in Redmond. MS was a founding member of the W3C XML Working Group in 1997. They invented the MAPI protocol several years ago. They run an ISP (MSN) and the largest Internet mail service (Hotmail). They make the most popular web browser, the most popular web design program, and the most popular e-mail client. You can publish Office documents to the web (ActiveX required to view, unfortunately), and Office 11 will have XML document formats for all its programs.

      I don't agree with the way Microsoft does everything, but to say that they're stalled in the single-PC paradigm is just not true. In fact, people on this forum have expressed fears that MS could almost own the Internet. With IIS/SQL Server/Exchange (servers), Windows (clients), FrontPage (producing non-standard HTML and JavaScript), IE (FrontPage content viewer), MSN, and Outlook, the only part of the Internet they don't have their hands in is the routers and cables.

      Even more beyond the PC, they're now selling game consoles (XBox), and they've been trying to get their software into cars [] since at least 1998.

      • by leandrod ( 17766 ) <> on Saturday February 15, 2003 @07:10PM (#5310613) Homepage Journal
        Novell, the networking pioneer, has suffered greatly from Microsoft's deep inroads into networking.

        When you say networking, you mean LAN. When he says it, he means Internet. MS has beaten Novell in the LAN, but is beaten by free software in the Net.

        Novell was a, not the, LAN pioneer, but not networking pioneer. ARPANet and other networking existed much before Novell.

        The biggest thing at Microsoft is DOT NET, not DOT PC.

        .Net is still PC-centric. Despite Rotor and mono, it is still MS-centric, and that means PC-centric. See, this is the guy behing Rotor, and even him sees it. .Net is still built around proprietarisation -- AKA decommoditisation -- either by non-documentation a la AD Kerberos or by patents & copyrights.

        Web services (XML, RDF, SOAP, WDDI) is all the rage in Redmond.

        XML is text markup, instrumental as it is to the human interface called Web. SOAP and WDDI are higly contentious, and IMNSHO are the wrong answer to the wrong question. They are mostly pigbacking on HTTP to bypass some inconveniences in RPCs, CORBA, distributed computing -- the problem is that mostly this are inherent issues, and bypassing them will only make things worse in the long run.

        See, you talk about Web services. The problem is, the Web is just a human interface. Services are data and communications: we need databases with shared, agreed-upon relational schemas, and standard protocols. The human interface is orthogonal to that. Forcing protocols, formats and a mindset honed on Web onto services is bound to failure IMNSHO.

        And even if all these protocols and formats eventually succeed, MS will still decommoditise them, and effectively isolate itself from free software, until it gets critical mass to eventually make MS irrelevant.

        So yes, MS (and others) is paying attention to the Net. But it is getting it wrong.

        MS was a founding member of the W3C XML Working Group in 1997.

        Which was basically created to dumb down the much older, more capable SGML. So what?

        They invented the MAPI protocol several years ago.

        Invented? Come on, MAPI is just a interface. You cannot invent an interface, any more than you invent a book. You craft, write, create it, but not invent -- no matter what the USNA patents system seems to think. And MAPI was not an unanimity, having (arguably better) competitors that would have given us a more open, level playing field.

        Anyway, what has MAPI to do with all this? It is just a mail API. Never contributed to make MS less closed.

        They run an ISP (MSN) and the largest Internet mail service (Hotmail).

        The ISP has repeatedly fallen short of its goals, and I still remember they trying to make it bigger than the Net when it was just another online service. Still has a bad taste in the mouth from those times. Hotmail was bought outside, and is still closed: no IMAP, no POP, vulnerabilities, all that. So what?

        They make the most popular web browser

        Which they bought elsewhere, and the effectively stole from its vendor.

        You can publish Office documents to the web (ActiveX required to view, unfortunately)


        Office 11 will have XML document formats for all its programs.

        The quality and usefullness of MS Office 11 XML DTDs or schemas remain to be seen. If History is any good as a guide...

        people on this forum have expressed fears that MS could almost own the Internet

        ...because this would kill it, or at least its openness.

        the only part of the Internet they don't have their hands in is the routers and cables.

        Not surprisingly, this is the part where failure would be most painful to users and companies alike. But for the rest, only the client they have in their hands, and even there they have free software as a potential competitor. All the rest is still up to grabs.

        they're now selling game consoles (XBox)

        A lousy one, on which they are loosing loads of money they robbed from retirement plans and such thru creative accounting...

        they've been trying to get their software into cars since at least 1998.

        With resounding failure, as the BMW series 7 issues make patently clear.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    To any seasoned observer, the points in his letter were obvious to the point of banality. They may seem like revelations to an "executive" (read: heard about the internet at HBS or on a golf course) audience, but to the rest of us (apologies to Woz), this is like an open letter declaring that the atmosphere contains nitrogen.
  • by nsayer ( 86181 ) <`nsayer' `at' `'> on Saturday February 15, 2003 @02:09PM (#5309115) Homepage
    From the article:

    "Stop looking over your shoulder and invent something!"

    That's just it: Microsoft has never invented anything. Everything Microsoft ever sold (with the possible exception of that first BASIC interpreter) they either bought or stole (sometimes both []) from somwhere else. Microsoft can't innovate because they've never known how.

    • It's hard to call BASIC innovative. It's just Fortran with line-numbers added and most of the useful stuff (procedures, local variables, etc) omitted.

      Ok, so I guess you can claim Microsoft invented the one-prong fork.

    • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @02:36PM (#5309218)
      really serves to show how out of touch with OSS he really is.

      Naturally MS, and MS's employees, would be most aware of the OSS software specifically designed to make the switch easy for Windows users. This is also the software that the MS oriented computer press focuses on, and the software that new Linux users are most likely to come in contact with.

      Just because the innovation is below your radar doesn't mean it's not there. Linux is now the OS of choice for those doing innovative work, particularly in the academic setting, most because it's the most viable OS for *doing* just such work. It's free, you have the source, and the right to dick with it all you want.

      If he wants an example of something the OSS model has already produced he could start with the World Wide Frickin' Web.

    • I disagree.

      They created all of MS Bob, you know.

      See? They did invent something. :)

  • by czarneki ( 622927 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @02:11PM (#5309127)

    Some people seem to think that the letter suggests that Microsoft should embrace OSS or that the letter is saying something very positive about OSS. The letter does no such thing.

    It's a very candid evaluation of what the threat of open source looks like from someone who is not really interested in the values and politics of the movement and doesn't see open source as innovative:

    If Microsoft is unable to innovate quickly enough, or to adapt to embrace network-based integration, the threat that it faces is the erosion of the economic value of software being caused by the open source software movement.

    There you have it. His point, if you read the rest of the article, is that Microsoft is too focused on the PC-client side of things, and that's hopeless because anything Microsoft can create on the PC client document-centric side of things the Open Source "cloners" (his word) will just copy and give away for free, and this eats into MS's profit margin. He wants Microsoft to go into network-centric software that will presumably be difficult for open source to clone.

    Basically, he sees OSS as cheap, inferior copies of MS's beautiful software (the "best client") not worthy of admiration except for the fact that cheap customers are willing to settle for the inferior thing.

    • It is an interesting viewpoint - more suggesting that MS adopt Apple's recent strategy than, say, GNOME's. It actually makes quite a lot of sense - witness even pro-OSS (or perhaps more accurately pro-UNIX) slashdot editors falling all over themselves in praise of Mac OS X.

      Hell, Apple made people pay for a point release (Jaguar) - and Mac fans willingly do so. Perhaps the kind of stuff included there (e.g. the iLife suite, and OS X's stability) would be the sort of thing MS should try to offer in the next rev of XP, rather than a more subtly DRM-crippled Winamp competitor than nobody will use? Just a thought.

      • by kherr ( 602366 )
        Hell, Apple made people pay for a point release (Jaguar) - and Mac fans willingly do so.
        I tire of this FUD. Just because you have issues with the numbering nomenclature does not change the reality that Jaguar was a significant release of Mac OS X.

        The sins of Microsoft for charging big money for crap like Windows ME deserves a class-action lawsuit. You could argue Windows 98 was not much better than Windows 95.

        In the linux world, how dare RedHat charge for their shipping of each version of RedHat. All they do is add new versions of packages and maybe change the kernel. (That's all sarcasm, btw. And consider RedHat as the archetype commercial linux distro.)

        There are plenty of costs associated with managing releases from a company standpoint and Apple has been very generous in its updating of Mac OS X. We got disk journaling as a freebie, as an example. With Jaguar, maybe Apple's mistake was not manipulating people with marketing. Should they have called it "Mac OS Y"? Would that make you feel better about spending money? Or are the new features and performance what you want to spend money on?

        • And (except for the horrid font smoothing) I love it. I agree that Jaguar is much better than what came before. The point is that if the content is good enough, people should and will pay for it.
  • by NigelJohnstone ( 242811 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @02:14PM (#5309133)
    "Any move towards cutting off alternatives by limiting interoperability or integration options would be fraught with danger, since it would enrage customers, "

    He was spot on with this - they made MSN break Opera browsers and it sure pissed off a lot of people, (especially me).

    I have a side question to any Yahoo staff here.

    Your terms for being submitted to Yahoo Directory include the requirement that the site must work properly across different browsers.
    You have MSN, msn uk etc. listed under Portals in the World Wide Web section.

    Many of MSN portals still do not work properly in Opera. What procedure do you have in place for delisting those Microsoft sites that do not support different browser?
  • Hypocrit (Score:3, Funny)

    by stepson ( 33039 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @02:18PM (#5309146) Homepage Journal
    I really like this comment of his:

    "...and disgruntled Microsoft wannabes have poured huge quantities of often inferior, but nonetheless requirements-driven, open source software" runs on Apache.
  • by pommaq ( 527441 ) <straffaren@s[ ] ['pra' in gap]> on Saturday February 15, 2003 @02:22PM (#5309156) Homepage
    Some parts of it were coherent and insightful, but he also said stuff like:
    Unfortunately, network protocols have turned out to be a far better fit for this middleman role, and Microsoft, intent on propping up the PC franchise, has had to resist fully embracing the network integration model. This corporate case of denial has left a vacuum, of course, into which hardware companies, enterprises, and disgruntled Microsoft wannabes have poured huge quantities of often inferior, but nonetheless requirements-driven, open source software.

    Huh? Open sourcers are "disgruntled Microsoft wannabes"? Most open source software was created because either
    a) There WAS no such program, and someone needed it
    b) There was a program, but it lacked certain features/was too expensive/the author just wanted to write a new one, etc
    He clearly understands how big a force the Open Source community is becoming, and how it will affect Microsoft - but he doesn't seem to grasp the reasons. And his remedy was very vague to me. So, Microsoft should stop looking over their shoulder, and go with network apps instead of their OS... what network apps would those be? Yeah, if Microsoft doesn't change and roll with the punches, they surely will be going down. But I'm not sure their future lies in some fluffy concept of platform-independent "networked applications". I don't think we'll see a networked linux version of Office anytime soon, but it's good to know the ol' 800 pound gorilla is starting to get anxious.

    • He clearly understands how big a force the Open Source community is becoming, and how it will affect Microsoft - but he doesn't seem to grasp the reasons.

      To the contrary, it seems clear that he grasps the reasons, and points out that Microsoft isn't paying attention to those reasons. He doesn't say "requirements-driven, open source software" with nothing in mind -- this man knows exactly why open source software exists and thrives, and I believe this is main idea he's trying to get across.

      He's saying "Wake up, Microsoft! You're so impractical that people have come down to making their own small software in leiu of buying your expensive bulky crap! Unless you change your closed-minded ways, the people will toss you aside in favor of the streamlined customized software they've always wanted, which the open-source movement will give them."
  • Great Quotes: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tshak ( 173364 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @02:31PM (#5309201) Homepage
    My favorite quotes:

    Recovering from current external perceptions of Microsoft as a paranoid, untrustworthy, greedy, petty, and politically inept organization will take years.

    Linux is certainly a threat to Microsoft's less-than-perfect server software right now (and to its desktop in the not-too-distant future)

    My absolute favorite: Any move towards cutting off alternatives by limiting interoperability or integration options would be fraught with danger, since it would enrage customers, accelerate the divergence of the open source platform, and have other undesirable results.

    There are many clever and motivated people out there, who have many different reasons to avoid buying directly into a Microsoft proprietary stack.

    I like how he doesn't judge people who go against MS - he respects their intellect and their decision making process. OSS folks should do the same for those of us who make the decisions to use MS in certain areas.
    • Talent pool (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bstadil ( 7110 )
      There are many clever and motivated people out there

      This is the #1 reason Linux et al will achieve the famed world domination in the not too distant future.

      It is like a rite of passage for the best and the brightest. Look at the cost benefit ratio to your CV (cost measured in time, benefit measured in getting a desirable job) of having some of your code accepted into a key high profile OSS. There is no better way to spend your time. This will secure that the very best this world has to offer will add value to OSS. No corporation however rich can match that. No one.

      There is currently 1000+ people working on the various aspects of the Linux kernel. (source IBM) How can anyone organization match that. It is like NASA in the 60's or the Manhattan project during later part of WW2.

      The idea of MS innovating its way out of this is silly. Innovations will arrise at the grassroot level and continue to rise to the level the initial idea merits. Attracting the skills needed at the appropiate levels thru a natural selection process from an endless pool of talents.

      • This is the #1 reason Linux et al will achieve the famed world domination in the not too distant future.

        I disagree. I think that OS X has a better chance at this. Apple keeps surprising me left and right on both the software and hardware front.

        It is like a rite of passage for the best and the brightest.

        No, a $40B bank account is the rite of passage for the best and the brightest. Google is one of my favorite examples for this. They have incredible compensation plans (salary, working environment, benefits (gormet chefs ON STAFF!)), and they get extremely bright people.

        There is currently 1000+ people working on the various aspects of the Linux kernel.

        Again, Google is a very small company yet they innovate without a large number of people. The Cliche "Too many cooks in the kitchen" comes to mind.

        The idea of MS innovating its way out of this is silly.

        No, it's not. MS has some extremely bright people working for them, they have contributed a lot to computing, and it's rediculous to attribute all of their success to "luck" or "aggressive business".

        Still, as successful as Linux is, I think that OS X is going to start eroding Linux's [potential] marketshare within the desktop OS product space, and eventually the server product space. Heck, if Apple would get it's act together and build proprietary x86 based hardware (which would make cross-platform coding a bit easier, and make Apple's hardware more affordable and performant), I'm not sure if Linux could compete at all on the desktop.
      • Re:Talent pool (Score:3, Insightful)

        by be-fan ( 61476 )
        Is software becoming like the scientific community of the not to distant past? Where people proved themselves by contributing to the common good and made money by *applying* the knowledge gained from those contributions. Interesting concept.
  • Why start now? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by osgeek ( 239988 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @02:32PM (#5309203) Homepage Journal
    Stop looking over your shoulder and invent something!

    Microsoft always made its money as a replicator, not an innovator. Why would they want to change that formula when it's gotten them so far?
  • Couldn't resist after my JavaScript [] became a little famous [] yesterday (it was the one slightly modified and embedded in Opera to perform that neat little trick)...

    Edfeece-a tu Meecrusufft regerdeeng cummudeety sufftvere
    (c) 2003 Defeed Stootz

    Zee merket fur shreenk-vrep PC sufftvere-a begun its sloo upmerket oouze-a intu Chreestensee oobsulescence-a reeght eruoond zee teeme-a thet Meecrusufft reelly heet its streede-a. Thet ves elsu zee teeme-a ooff zee Internet vefe-a, a phenumenun thet Meecrusufft cu-oopted veethuoot ifer reelly interneleezing intu prudooct veesdum. Vheele-a thuse-a qooeleeffied tu mufe-a zee stete-a ooff zee ert furverd vent doon in zee meellenniel flemes ooff zee dutcum cresh, Meecrusufft's reeguruoos beleeeff in zee physeecs ooff booseeness reeleety sefed but zee dey und zee pruffeets. Boot zee teede-a hed toorned, und a reeleezeshun thet "zee net" ves a fer mure-a interesteeng plece-a thun "zee PC" begun tu creep intu zee heeds ooff cunsoomers und interpreeses eleeke-a.

    Dooreeng thees pereeud, must cure-a Meecrusufft prudoocts meessed zee Internet vefe-a, ifee vheele-a cleeeming tu be-a leedeeng zee perede-a. Ooffffeece-a hes yet tu mufe-a pest zee ducooment ebstrecshun, despeete-a zee vurld's veedespreed understundeeng thet vebseetes (HTML, HTTP, fereeuoos imbedded cuntent types, und Epeche-a muds) ere-a fery useffool theengs. Veendoos hes yet tu mufe-a pest its PC-centreec ruuts tu ceptoore-a a seegnifficunt pert ooff zee lerger netvurk spece-a, elthuoogh it mekes a hell ooff a guud cleeent. Meecrusufft defeluper tuuls hefe-a yet tu imbrece-a zee luusely cuoopled meendset thet tudey's leedeeng idge-a defelupers epply tu vurk und pley.

    Meecrusufft's relooctunce-a tu edupt netvurked veys is understundeble-a. Zeeur edfunteged puseeshun hes beee booeelt oofer zee yeers by edhereeng tu zee tenet thet sufftvere-a roonneeng oon a PC is zee netoorel pueent et vheech tu integrete-a herdvere-a und eppleeceshuns. Unffurtoonetely, netvurk prutuculs hefe-a toorned oooot tu be-a a fer better feet fur thees meeddlemun rule-a, und Meecrusufft, intent oon pruppeeng up zee PC fruncheese-a, hes hed tu reseest foolly imbreceeng zee netvurk integreshun mudel. Thees curpurete-a cese-a ooff deneeel hes lefft a fecoooom, ooff cuoorse-a, intu vheech herdvere-a cumpuneees, interpreeses, und deesgroontled Meecrusufft vunnebes hefe-a puoored hooge-a qoounteeties ooff oofftee inffereeur, boot nunezeeless reqoourements-dreefee, oopee suoorce-a sufftvere-a. Meecrusufft steell booeelds zee vurld's best cleeent sufftvere-a, boot zee beeggest ooppurtooneety is nu lunger zee cleeent. It steell cummunds zee beeggest mergeen, boot netvurked sufftvere-a veell ifentooelly icleepse-a cleeent-oonly sufftvere-a.

    Es netvurked cumpooteeng inffrestrooctoore-a metoores, zee PC cleeent booseeness veell remeeen impurtunt in zee seme-a vey thet ootumuteefe-a munooffectoorers, reeel cerreeers, und phune-a cumpuneees remeeened impurtunt vheele-a zeeur oovn netvurks metoored. Zee PC furm fectur veell poosh furverd; zee Pucket PC, zee Teblet PC, und oozeer furms veell imerge-a. Boot ootumekers, reeelrueds, und phune-a cumpuneees ectooelly munooffectoore-a zeeur prudoocts, rezeer thun selleeng intungeeble-a beets oon a CD tu herdvere-a pertners. Veell Meecrusufft cunteenooe-a tu cunfeence-a its pertners thet sufftvere-a is deestinctly felooeble-a by itselff? Oor veell zee cummudeety netoore-a ooff sufftvere-a toorn zee indoostry oon its heed? Zee herdvere-a cumpuneees, vhu ectooelly munooffectoore-a zee mecheenes, smell bluud in zee veter, und zee oopee suoorce-a sufftvere-a mufement is zee resoolt.

    Ispeceeelly in a metooreeng merket, sufftvere-a ixperteese-a steell metters, und Meecrusufft mey fery vell be-a eble-a tu seedestep irrelefunce-a es it hes in zee pest. Zee term "PC fruncheese-a" is nut joost a suoondbeete-a; zee noomber ooff prugrems vreettee fur zee PC thet du sumetheeng useffool (dreefe-a a luum, cuntrul a meelling mecheene-a, creete-a a spreedsheet templete-a, ideet a recurdeeng...) is tremenduoos. Boot tu cunteenooe-a leedeeng zee peck, Meecrusufft moost innufete-a qooeeckly. Iff zee PC is ell thet zee footoore-a hulds, zeen groot pruspects ere-a bleek. I'fe-a spent a lut ooff teeme-a dooreeng zee lest foo yeers perteecipeting in demege-a-cuntrul ooff fereeuoos surts, und I respect zee need fur sereeuoos edoolt sooperfeesiun. Recufereeng frum coorrent ixternel percepshuns ooff Meecrusufft es a perunueed, untroostvurthy, greedy, petty, und puleeticelly inept oorguneezeshun veell teke-a yeers. Beeeng zee looest cust cummudeety prudoocer dooreeng sooch a recufery veell be-a erdoouoos, und veell hefe-a zee seede-a-iffffect ooff chungeeng Meecrusufft intu a plece-a vhere-a creeteefe-a munegers und eccuoontunts, rezeer thun feesiuneries, veell cell zee shuts.

    Iff Meecrusufft is uneble-a tu innufete-a qooeeckly inuoogh, oor tu edept tu imbrece-a netvurk-besed integreshun, zee threet thet it feces is zee iruseeun ooff zee icunumeec felooe-a ooff sufftvere-a beeeng coosed by zee oopee suoorce-a sufftvere-a mufement. Thees is nut joost Leenoox. Leenoox is certeeenly a threet tu Meecrusufft's less-thun-perffect serfer sufftvere-a reeght noo (und tu its desktup in zee nut-tuu-deestunt footoore-a), boot oopee suoorce-a sufftvere-a in generel, roonneeng ispeceeelly oon zee Veendoos oopereteeng system, is a mooch beegger threet. Es zee qooeleety ooff thees sufftvere-a imprufes, zeere-a veell be-a less und less reesun tu pey fur cure-a sufftvere-a-oonly essets thet hefe-a becume-a styleezed cetegureees oofer zee yeers: Meecrusufft sells OoFFICE (zee sooeete-a) vheele-a peuple-a mey oonly need a smell pert ooff Vurd oor a beet ooff Eccess. Meecrusufft sells VINDOVS (zee pletffurm) boot a smell oorg meeght joost need a vebseete-a, oor a feeleserfer. It nu lunger feets Meecrusufft's booseeness mudel tu hefe-a muny indeefidooel ooffffereengs und tu innufete-a veet noo eppleeceshun sufftvere-a. Unffurtoonetely, thees is ixectly vhere-a free-a sufftvere-a ixcels und is mekeeng inrueds. Oone-a-seeze-a-feets-ell, oone-a-epp-is-ell-yuoo-need, oone-a-epee-und-demn-zee-turpedues hes toorned oooot tu be-a un imperffect stretegy fur zee lung hool.

    Deegging in egeeenst oopee suoorce-a cummudeetizeshun vun't vurk - it vuoold be-a leeke-a deegging in egeeenst zee Internet, vheech Meecrusufft treeed fur a vheele-a beffure-a getteeng veese-a. Uny mufe-a tooerds cootteeng ooffff elterneteefes by leemiting interuperebeelity oor integreshun oopshuns vuoold be-a frooght veet dunger, seence-a it vuoold inrege-a coostumers, eccelerete-a zee deefergence-a ooff zee oopee suoorce-a pletffurm, und hefe-a oozeer undesureble-a resoolts. Despeete-a thees, Meecrusufft is et reesk ooff fullooeeng thees pet, dooe-a tu zee curpurete-a delooseeun thet gues by muny nemes: "better tugezeer," "uneeffied pletffurm," und "integreted sufftvere-a." Zeere-a is felse-a hupe-a in Redmund thet zeese-a ooootmuded epprueches tu sufftvere-a integreshun veell ettrect und keep interneshunel merkets, gufernments, ecedemeecs, und must impurtuntly, innufeturs, seffely veethin zee Meecrusufft sphere-a ooff infflooence-a. Boot zeey vun't .

    Ixceeting noo netvurked eppleeceshuns ere-a beeeng vreettee. Teeme-a is nut stundeeng steell. Meecrusufft moost soorfeefe-a und prusper by leerneeng frum zee oopee suoorce-a sufftvere-a mufement und by burrooeeng frum und imprufeeng its techneeqooes. Oopee suoorce-a sufftvere-a is es lerge-a und pooerffool a vefe-a es zee Internet ves, und is repeedly eccreteeng intu a legeetimete-a elterneteefe-a tu Veendoos. It cun und shuoold be-a hernessed. Tu efueed dure-a cunseqooences, Meecrusufft shuoold fefur un eppruech thet tuleretes und imbreces zee deefersity ooff zee oopee suoorce-a eppruech, ispeceeelly vhee netvurk-besed integreshun is infulfed. Zeere-a ere-a muny clefer und muteefeted peuple-a oooot zeere-a, vhu hefe-a muny deefffferent reesuns tu efueed booyeeng durectly intu a Meecrusufft prupreeetery steck. Meecrusufft moost impluy deeplumecy tu vuu zeese-a eccuoonts; stoobburn inseestence-a veell be-a but cuoonterprudoocteefe-a und ineffffecteefe-a. Meecrusufft cunnut prusper dooreeng zee oopee suoorce-a vefe-a es un islund, veet a deffenses booeelt oooot ooff leetigeshun und prupreeetery prutuculs.

    Vhy be-a deestrected intu luukeeng beckverds by zee cummudeety cluners ooff oopee suoorce-a? Useffool es cluneeng mey be-a fur preece-a-senseetife-a cunsoomers, zee cummudeety booseeness is loo-mergeen und heegh-reesk. Zeere-a is a noo frunteeer, vhere-a sufftvere-a "cullecteefes" ere-a beeeng booeelt veet ed huc prutuculs und veet cloostered defeeces. Rubuteecs und ootumeshun ooff ell surts is ixpuseeng a demund fur supheesticeted noo veys ooff theenking. Cunsoomers hefe-a un unslekeble-a thurst fur noo furms ooff interteeenment. Und herdvere-a fendurs cunteenooe-a tu poosh tooerds ercheetectoores thet veell foondementelly chunge-a zee vey thet sufftvere-a is booeelt by intrudooceeng feene-a-greeened cuncoorrency thet seemply cunnut be-a ignured. Zeere-a is nu cleer cunsensoos oon systems oor eppleeceshun mudels fur zeese-a erees. Useffool sufftvere-a vreettee ebufe-a zee lefel ooff zee seengle-a defeece-a veell cummund heegh mergeens fur a lung teeme-a tu cume-a.

    Stup luukeeng oofer yuoor shuoolder und infent sumetheeng!
  • BFD (Score:3, Funny)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @02:54PM (#5309273)

    I've given lots of former employers some "parting advice" over the years. It usually centers around a verb synonymous with "stick" or "stuff" or "shove" or the like.

  • that their vision starts and stop on the desktop.
  • Not impressed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @03:05PM (#5309357)
    No offense to Mr. Stutz, but after reading this, I think he should stick to commenting about technology, because I really don't see enough of a grasp of business strategy here to merit taking it seriously.

    The network is the computer - yes, we all learned that several years ago. Microsoft lagged like crazy and ALMOST lost a lot of mindshare and control in their failure to catch up. In fact, they did lose a lot of mindshare and control, and provided the opening for commodity software running on commodity hardware to take over a lot of the low end server market and a lot of development mindshare. This was all the past. This was several years ago.

    Mr. Stutz seems to be still looking at this stuff that happened in the past, and looking at Java v. .NET and thinking that somehow this is the entirety of the Microsoft strategy. Mr. Stutz, don't you realize that MS had an entire group _several years ago_ called their Office.NET group which was working on a completely Internet-based and enabled variant of Office? It was attempting to move the paradigm from the centralized, document-focused Office suite to a distributed corporate information creation system. Guess what? They scrapped the entire group, and the new Office product (Office XP) was just a new version produced by the old Office group. Why? Market research with their corporate customers showed pretty clearly that people weren't ready for this, and it wasn't what they wanted to buy. This is several year ago news - a friend of mine from Harvard worked in that now-defunct group. Stutz acknowledges that requirements should and must come from customers in a profit-driven business but then throws out there these kind of pie-in-the-sky ideas. They sound nice in theory, but they belong for the time being in Microsoft Research, until the market is there.

    Mr. Stutz fails to realize that Microsoft's business leadership is as bright as he is and as bright as some of us are, and know perfectly well that large portions of the software world are become commodities. Software just ain't what it used to be. That's why Microsoft has been moving inexorably to take over your living room.

    That's right. Microsoft is betting the boat (or perhaps the future earnings) in large part on their X-Box/WebTV/UltimateTV strategy. Shrinkwrap PC software and enterprise software alike are suffering from big hits on margins. The open platform of x86 makes it too tempting for those Open Source people to get their hands into the mix. Though it's not popular to mention it here, companies like Lindows and the like are doing a decent job at taking a Unix-like core and wrapping a Windows-like front end around it, and even making something pretty close to compatible with the Win32 API using Wine. This is, I believe, inevitable. A nice clean desktop environment will likely not be entirely free, at least initially. Though each of those component apps can be developed using the Open Source model, pulling it together, bringing in nice fonts and graphics, and a well-packaged desktop experience does cost money to produce, especially with its non-software components. This can't be prevented by Microsoft in the long run.

    Microsoft knows they have to shore up their powerful market position, and knows they have to find ways to sell new products. They really want to be the king of the media stream flowing into your home. If they control the set top box, they can charge for placement of media. They want to beat AOL/Time Warner at their own game. This is a large complex strategy, and the first step in it is spending BILLIONS (well, nearly a billion) of dollars on X-Box development and marketing, and selling the boxes at a loss. If the gaming consoles made by Microsoft dominate the market, the next steps are easier to enact. The integrated media console, connecting the PC to the set top box, bringing in media to the television using the Internet, all with MS-controlled DRM. The X-Box, Media Player DRM - these are the first steps in producing secure boxes controlled by MS. Do they have to be truly and absolutely secure? No, they just have to be good enough that MS can sell the media players on playing nice with them, and if they have a box on top of everybody's TV that talks to everybody's computer, and allows secure media transmission, they'll get a huge cut out of the in-home entertainment business.

    Creating new markets, adopting their strong market position (i.e. monopoly on the desktop) and using their immense cash reserves to finance the process - on the contrary, I'm still quite scared of what Microsoft can do. Hopefully we won't all sit on our laurels thinking the hulking behemoth is dying. How many times have people thought that about IBM?

    • Re:Not impressed (Score:2, Interesting)

      by budGibson ( 18631 )
      Personally, I think Stutz got a lot right. A lot of Microsoft's control in the past has been based on controlling the operating system and its APIs. This allowed them to create category-killer office applications that others could not duplicate because they did not have the inside track. That is the sum-total of their success. Period. Evidence: Lotus 1-2-3, Word, and various presentation products.

      Their Internet software is over-priced. This is why open-source software has lower TCO for internet apps. The web service standards I see catching on (SOAP, XML over HTTP) do not seem to require Microsoft.

      Now, Microsoft and others can still make money on clients. OSS has not done as good a job there and people are willing to pay something for this. However, without the inside track on operating system APIs one wonders what Microsoft's basis for competition is. My cut, look for a resurgence of Apple given their interface design expertise and the lesser importance of proprietary APIs in software creation.
    • Some years ago, I read about how MS was going to attempt to control the "set-top box" of the cable industry. If you've followed the story, the cable operators were well aware of the typical MS strategy and never allowed a "single source" type solution.

      The quote from the article (years old now) that still sticks in my mind today compares the cable magnates like Ted Turner, AT&T, whatnot to microsoft like this...."..These people (Ted Turner and others) INVENTED the idea of making money through small you think for one moment that they are going allow Bill Gates to take that away? There's no way they will allow MS to insert a toll booth before THEIR toll booth..."

      Or an even better quote from Goodfellas..."...he's skimming our skim!"

      In short, the idea that MS is going to end up controlling the living room is nonsense...there are already too many big players there. The cable guys are not going to allow anyone else into their game, unless it's some poor sucker they can shake down for a little extra cash. MS better look elsewhere.
  • He is right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by master_p ( 608214 )
    The guy does not speak about embracing open source or borrow from open source. The guy is saying that the PC software business is quickly shrinking and Microsoft will not be able to produce another killer app to sell.

    So he is proposing Windows to become network-centric, just like Unix.

    I am wondering though, what Microsoft's .net is all about. I mean, if it is not for the network, what is it ? Lots of .net APIs have to do with developing networked apps. I think MS is already on the right track.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @03:46PM (#5309546) Homepage
    The "network centric" computing thing has been overblown. If you do too much out in the network, you're back to time-sharing, which is stupid in an era of cheap CPU cycles.

    "Networked computing" has been through several generations of this idea, most of which suck. Diskless workstations, application servers, and X-servers are examples. Most of the current proponents of the concept have a concept of "networking" that includes a direct connection between the user's wallet and their bank account. This is called a "revenue stream" by them, and a "rent" by everybody else.

    The business-model version of this idea was "application service providers". Remember them? Where are they now? Remember those schemes for running pay-per-view Java programs on the desktop? Much of this stuff attempts to emulate the RIAA and telco view of the network - they own, you pay, repeatedly. It's not going to happen.

    The data needs to be out on some server somewhere. That's why we have database servers, file servers, and HTTP servers. Those work fine, everybody uses them, and the division between client and server is clear.

    Transaction servers, that do something to the data for you, are also key components. But this works best if transactions are relatively infrequent. "Buy ticket" is an appropriate transaction. "Update line in text buffer" is not.

    Most of the corporate thrashing in this area is a desperate attempt to avoid the inevitable - mass-market software is going to become a commodity, and a very cheap one. Browsers are free. OS kernels are free. Office suites are becoming free, or very cheap. And you buy computers at WalMart for $299. There's no reason for the computers used by 90+% of the population to cost very much, and they're not going to.

    Big problems remain, but at the network level they involve finding your data (typically when you're on a machine different from your usual one) and keeping it secure.

  • I find it ironic that OSS projects have often been criticized of copying Microsoft, yet Mr. Stutz believes Microsoft needs to stop "looking over it's shoulder" at OSS!

    So which is it?

    I guess the "purpose" of OSS is for us to keep promoting crazy shit until it gets popular and then commericially accepted. I'm talking about the remote desktops, jabber-look-a-likes, etc.
  • Microsoft still builds the world's best client software...

    I know I'm going to get flamed as a "slashbot" who can't see objectively about Microsoft, but my reaction to this clause was, "huh!?!?"


  • Value of Software (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cgreuter ( 82182 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @04:27PM (#5309776)
    The thing that struck me about this article is Stutz's offhand comment that OSS is eroding the value of software. I've seen this on various people's blobs and it's wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong!!!111!!

    The value of a piece of software is what it does for you. The sticker price is only what the vendor decided to charge you for it. This is why OSS won't destroy the software industry. If it's economically worthwhile to develop a program, someone will pay for it.

    In the case of Linux, for example, the software is mostly paid for--in the form of time--by the volunteers who develop it because those people want the features they're adding. If, on the other hand, someone wants a program to run their milling machine, they're pretty much stuck needing to hire programmers to write it. The secret to making money writing commercial software these days is to do something the OSS developers can't or don't want to do.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @04:38PM (#5309828)
    As others have pointed out, the article ends with a note that Microsoft needs to innovate instead of stagnate.

    As even more have pointed out, Microsoft cannot innovate on thier own... they buy innovation.

    Here's the real problem with open source. More and more innovation is originating from the open source world. Therefore, there is nothing for Microsoft to buy!! They are unable to simply borrow froom projects because they would mean others could do the same - they need to buy something, and all of its patents, outright or the culture is not going to want it. That, more than anything iis the real problem for MS, even more than the whole $$$ "free" thing.

    What do they do to solve this crisis? I don't know, but I am rooting for them to remain clueless and floundering. The more true innovators leave, the more they will flounder... hopefully it's a repeating cycle. The only fear I have is those leaving Microsoft bringing the same value system into other companies.
    • The only fear I have is those leaving Microsoft bringing the same value system into other companies.

      And to think that MS called GPLed software "cancer". Maybe rooting for MS to die isn't the the right thing to do. If MS is cancer then at least the tumor is all in one place where it can be contained. That quote makes it sound like they are about to metasticize.

  • He keeps harping on "network centric" as the salvation for MSFT. What's to stop Open Source developers from writing "network centric" apps too? Clients dead? Hardly. They can have my hard drive when they pry it from my cold dead fingers, followed by my favorite: "I can't use my word processor--the netork's down". :)

    If "network centric" is such a hot deal, why isn't SUNW sending out dividend checks? Don't give me that "network centric is the future" crap either. It's all software. If it makes sense to use the network, use the network. Surely both Open and Closed developers use the network when it makes sense.

    If by "network centric" he means "provide services over the network" they have already done that--by purchasing HotMail and setting up MSN.

    Look, for MSFT to save itself is not rocket science. It just has to diversify. Whenever you stumble into a tremendous horde of cash, that's what you do. For example, let's say you hold stock in company XYZ, and it gets a huge government contract which causes your stock to increase 100 times in 2 years. You believe the increase is unjustified, the company is overvalued, and will likely drop in value. The drop in value will exceed your tax penalty for selling. Your initial $20,000 investment is now $2 million. What do you do?

    Answer: Sell out most of your position and invest in a diversified portfolio.

    There are already rumors afoot that MSFT is going to do that, by forming "Microsoft Capital" which will be like "GE Capital". In essence, they will be making loans and investing in a wide variety of businesses.

    Once MSFT gets itself in that position, it can invest in whatever technology it can afford using its considerable resources and expertise, Open Source or not.

    Stutz hits one key point that jibes with this--the part about innovation coming from accountants and not "visionaries". That's somewhat true for now. MSFT needs to juggle its business to stay alive, but that doesn't mean that innovation can't take place within various divisions while this juggling occurs.

    Of course, the whole premise of a guy who just left the company giving them advice on how to survive is... well.. suspect. If he had a plan to help them, the desire to help them, and the means to implement it, he'd have stayed. One of those 3 is missing. If it's the means to implement that's missing (because of opaque management or something like that) I feel for him, but I suspect he just didn't have a real plan or desire to help them, and found an early out more appealing.

  • Not on technical grounds, for that is where the author's argument appears to hold a lot of truth.
    No, it's about organizations. The genius of Bill Gates is that his vision extends to the people as well as the tech.
    Them peeps want a system that doesn't bother them with case sensitive strings and granular file permissions. Furthermore, eye candy=good, command line=bad.
    Peeps are as likely to abandon 'Doze for Open Source as they are to exercise regularly, eat healthy things, educate themselves, and live peacefully with their neighbor.
    If you roger up for any of the activities in the previous para, you are not a representative sample. Sorry.
    This is not a pro-Microsoft troll, for all it might appear to contradict the /. orthodoxy.
  • Despite this, Microsoft is at risk of following this path, due to the corporate delusion that goes by many names: "better together," "unified platform," and "integrated software." There is false hope in Redmond that these outmoded approaches to software integration will attract and keep international markets, governments, academics, and most importantly, innovators, safely within the Microsoft sphere of influence. But they won't .

    No one has respect for innovators who are kept whores of a mega-corp.

    Why do you, David Stutz, get so soft and warm and mushy about your (former) employer? Can't you see what a vastly better place this planet will be once their pernicious influence on the computing landscape is scrubbed away?

    Unless your article was a disguised way of telling MS why they suck; but it really does seem like a heart-felt bit of advice to the vicious monster you love; an agonizing "Dear John" letter sent as you set out for other climes.

  • Influencial? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ClosedSource ( 238333 ) on Saturday February 15, 2003 @06:17PM (#5310325)
    "Dave Stutz, an influencial guy at Microsoft"

    If the guy is so influencial why didn't MS follow his advice before he left? I can understand how you might want to give some parting advice to your employer, but releasing it to the world suggests his motive is really publicity for himself rather than any real concern about the future of MS. Looks like he's positioning himself for Guruism.

He: Let's end it all, bequeathin' our brains to science. She: What?!? Science got enough trouble with their OWN brains. -- Walt Kelly