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Microsoft The Internet The Media

MS Youth-Culture App Gets Gushy Advance Reviews 500

geo writes "Newsweek first reported this new Microsoft beta, threedegrees. The surprise is, Steven Levy, well-known fan of the Macintosh (and unfan of Microsoft) wrote something almost entirely positive. So did CNET news.com.com.com.com.com. Is it possible that something good is coming out of Redmond?"
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MS Youth-Culture App Gets Gushy Advance Reviews

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  • that it justifies this: "To use threedegrees, prospective testers must be running Windows XP with Service Pack 1, the new peer-to-peer update and MSN Messenger 5 installed on their computer."
    No thanks.
    • Nothing's so good...that it justifies this: "To use threedegrees, prospective testers must be running Windows XP with Service Pack 1, the new peer-to-peer update and MSN Messenger 5 installed on their computer."
      No, but many gullible users will install them regardless just to test MS-threedegrees and then forget or be unable/unmotivated to uninstall the cruft.
    • Ohhhhhh, so it's impossible for a sane human being to run it. They should have said higher up the page.

      Jeez, talk about bad documentation.

    • by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:14AM (#5324665)
      that it justifies this: "To use threedegrees, prospective testers must be running Windows XP with Service Pack 1, the new peer-to-peer update and MSN Messenger 5 installed on their computer."
      No thanks.

      In the case of MSN Messenger, they're using existing protocols and applications - which, in the spirit of code re-use, is a good thing.

      Since MSN Messenger is for windows, that would explain the Windows requirement (although admitidally no 2000?). SP1 is an interesting one - maybe something in it is required - or maybe they're just using it to presuade people to run the fix. I don't know.

      Finally the P2P update. Well that makes sense really.

      I know this is a pro-Linux, anti-Microsoft site (you can say what you like to disagree but the comments made by the owners are definately that way and the icons imply the same) but come on, if the requirements had been:

      Requires Linux 2.5.62 with KDE 3.0 and peer-to-peer upgrade.
      (with the subtitling that it doesn't run on windows)

      Would someone have made exactly the same comment?

      • by cranos ( 592602 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:21AM (#5324686) Homepage Journal
        No the first twenty replies would have gone along the lines of "KDE? Why would you use that Gnome is way better" "No its not" "Yes it is" "Well you suck" and so on and so on.

        Never underestimate the geek ability to concentrate on the minute at the expense of the bigger issue.
      • by khuber ( 5664 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:48AM (#5324756)
        Since MSN Messenger is for windows, that would explain the Windows requirement

        Most IM systems are OS agnostic. Do you think MS will publish their protocol?

        Finally the P2P update. Well that makes sense really.

        It only makes sense when everything is "part of the operating system," i.e. it doesn't make sense since this P2P stuff is used only for three degrees. It may be a good idea to have a P2P OS service in the long run, but P2P protocols really haven't standardized. IIRC Clay Shirky had a good article about lack of standardization being a good thing right now.

        Requires Linux 2.5.62 with KDE 3.0 and peer-to-peer upgrade. (with the subtitling that it doesn't run on windows) Would someone have made exactly the same comment?

        No, because in all likelihood the Linux app would be open source and not subject to all this proprietary vendor lock in bullshit that MS is famous for.

        -Kevin

        • Most IM systems are OS agnostic. Do you think MS will publish their protocol?

          Actually, Microsoft submitted the protocol to the IETF and it's all documented here [hypothetic.org].
          • While this is technically true, Microsoft did a very crappy job detailing this protocol. Several key steps and improvements in the protocol are not detailed, and that document is ridiculously out of date. I've tried emailing the original programmers to try to find a document that accurately described the protocol, but none of them took responsibility for it at all.
            Basically, Microsoft really only released that document to try to make AOL look bad and help promote their own instant messenger. But the document doesn't give you nearly enough information regarding the protocol if you were to write your own MSN client....it's a start, but there's a considerable amount of reverse engineering involved.
        • Most IM systems are OS agnostic. Do you think MS will publish their protocol?

          Umm... I'm no M$ fan, isn't it that M$N Messeneger protocol is open? That's you can see a lot of M$N clients for *nix systems, like gaim. They released the protocol years ago because of the IM wars with AOL (because AOL won't let M$N clients connect to AIM).

          And besides, isn't it that there's a group, with M$ as one of it's members, who submitted a draft (I think it's now an RFC) for a new, and open IM standard.

      • I know this is a pro-Linux, anti-Microsoft site (you can say what you like to disagree but the comments made by the owners are definately that way and the icons imply the same) but come on, if the requirements had been: Requires Linux 2.5.62 with KDE 3.0 and peer-to-peer upgrade. (with the subtitling that it doesn't run on windows) Would someone have made exactly the same comment?


        I would if i had to pay for the 2.5.62 kernel or KDE 3.0
      • by Surak ( 18578 )
        SP1 is an interesting one - maybe something in it is required - or maybe they're just using it to presuade people to run the fix. I don't know.

        Or maybe they want to ensure that people are running non-pirated versions of XP. :-P
        • The smily indicates you're joking... Frankly, I think that's exactly why it's required! Certainly, though, there are some major updates and enhancements to the core OS in there.
      • by walt-sjc ( 145127 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @07:49AM (#5324952)
        Me thinks that you do not understand opensource, or Linux in general.

        First, we WOULD bitch if a user-space app required a development kernel. User space applications should not care WHAT kernel is running. I can run the LATEST version of apache on a Very old kernel - like the 2.0 series or even older.

        Second, virtually ANY open source app can be "backported" to older systems / libraries. What happens with binaries that are dynamically compiled is that they can be tied to the version of libraries that they were linked with. This can be somewhat mitigated by static linking which is what apps like Netscape 4.X and Acrobat do - this allows them top run on ANY version / distro of linux.

        Exceptions to recompile-and-run include Kernel Space stuff such as NetFilter which is pretty well integrated into the 2.4+ version of the kernel. Even this is not a hard-and-fast rule as subsystems like USB 2.0 support have been backported from the latest 2.5 dev kernel to 2.4 production.

        So yeah, the WinXP SP1 requirement shows that MS does NOT "get it". It's the continual forced upgrades for no good reason that really pisses us off. Win2K is STILL a CURRENT platform, as it should be. MS needs to support is as a current platform. If they build a new app that needs new functionality, they should backport that functionality to W2K and any other current platform in new service pack. Hell, it's not like they can't afford to do this - the OS is their big money maker.

        The reason you buy commercial software is for support. By not backporting, MS is effectivly End Of Life-ing Win2K WELL before their official stated EOL date. Why are you giving them money again?
      • by Rojo^ ( 78973 )
        SP1 is an interesting one - maybe something in it is required - or maybe they're just using it to presuade people to run the fix. I don't know.
        SP1 is the only patch I'm aware of that actually checks to see if a user has registered Windows XP with a Kazaa corporate license, or a valid license. Perhaps this will begin a trend of every new MS app requiring a valid Windows license and not a pirated one, by requiring SP1.
    • Does that mean my pirated XP won't be able to run it?

      Bugger.
  • They've already created a very effective means for teens to communicate: it's called MSN messenger.
    • by The_Rift ( 257762 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:19AM (#5324680)
      I think you mean "copied someone elses idea (ICQ) and then leveraged their dominance in the market to install it on everyone's desktop"
      Just like they did with every other product of theirs since Q-basic.

      As for the product it feels very much like what Janet Street Porter* would do if she made software.

      *For those of you who aren't familiar with the British media, JSP is a TV producer who regularly embarasses herself by trying to tap into and exploit "yoof culture" and usually ends up acting like a complete asshat who doesn't really get it.

    • Nah. MSN will never be geeky enough. I use Jabber, and can still communicate with MSN, AIM, ICQ and (in theory, although I've never met anyone who uses the network) Yahoo users. None of the service providers can trace my IP, except back to my Jabber server, and (most importantly, from a geek perspective) I can feel smug and superior whenever I talk to an MSNM user.
  • P2P (Messaging)... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rayen ( 633879 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:03AM (#5324627)
    P2P? Wonder how long until someone rigs it to connect to the gnutella network :) Yes, i did read the article :)
  • by Da Fokka ( 94074 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:05AM (#5324634) Homepage
    Bashing Microsoft.

    And although I'm not a big fan of theirs either I have to say I use their Messenger service frequently, although I do use Trillian a as client.
    A lot of people use hotmail as an e-mail service and it's free.
    • Oh its even easier thatn you think. Everyone i know who was on hotmail before MS bought it said that its on that slow journey to kludge hell that MS is famous for. MSNetwork? I still have the problem that content providers are _not_ the internet and that users should 'graduate' from aol/msn and get a real online existance. Palladium, well dont get any of us started.
      Yes it is easy to bash microsoft, (im currently printing from MS Office (on OS X) and using an MS intellitype keyboard, my xbox is now my MAME machine) but thats only because they never make any good products.
    • Bashing Microsoft.

      Easy, fun *and* Karma-rific! :)
    • by Puu ( 596370 )
      A lot of people use hotmail as an e-mail service and it's free.

      I appreciate that it's still free. But I'm not 100% sure Microsoft would have invented it by themselves. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with their buying a good thing -- even if their goal was just to affiliate people with MSN -- I'm simply saying some of the credit should go to the founders of Hotmail. It was the first of its kind, after all. :-)
  • by gazbo ( 517111 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:06AM (#5324639)
    It's targetted at the youth market. Of course they're going to do a good job - by getting them hooked on Wintel, M$ are just trying to ensure their future profits.

    Especially important is that it keeps them away from the "trendy" Macs.

    Like giving away free samples of crack really.

    • Like giving away free samples of crack really.
      Not really. I'm told that you actually get some enjoyment out of crack, before the withdrawal. Using Microsoft products is usually rather the reverse.
    • Especially important is that it keeps them away from the "trendy" Macs.

      How many teenagers do you know that can afford to buy a Mac? I mean, there are limits to pester power, especially once kids get to the stage where they are interested in that kind of tech anyway.

      • When I was a teenager, I managed to get my parents to buy me a Mac. The secret is to convince them to like Macs too, and pester regularly. Bring Macworlds and Macusers home, leave them on the coffee table where parents can see them. Tell horror stories about a friend's PC. Not hard to find.

        And I do have to thank my parents for getting me that Mac LC way back in 1991, because I wouldn't be where I am today: in a large black room in a company in London, slacking off here on /.
    • Wow! It's almost like they are a company trying to make a profit.

      Come on guys, they are a company trying to make their products more appealing. They've been doing this for decades, it's the exact same thing that Apple do (iTunes anyone?) and that you'd do if you want to make a commerical OS. If you want to critise Microsoft, find something else.
  • by z_gringo ( 452163 ) <z_gringo@@@hotmail...com> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:09AM (#5324645)

    has been trying to develop products aimed at the "Net generation," or young people currently between the ages of about 13 and 24.

    With software that can do long distance meetings, and share files and photos, it would be a great business tool for brainstorming sessions, project planning, etc. It would also be great for distance learning applications and study groups. More and more colleges are doing Internet based classes these days, especially in doctoral programs. Too bad They didn't have those in my day..

    • by Diabolical ( 2110 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:19AM (#5324679) Homepage
      Think about it. The new generation is the generation that will make the bussiness decisions later. Get them hooked up on Windows and the future looks bright for MS.

      The current batch is still Windows minded although Linux makes quite a groundswell because the current generation likes it and uses it. So better turn them back to Windows as soon as possible. And the best way to do this is to create an application that gives them what they need. Who cares for the advantages for bussiness and educational markets. If it's good they'll buy it anyway.
      • Go out into the world and you'll see that real people (i.e. people who will be running the world in 20 years) don't really have the slightest idea what linux is. I know everyone on Slashdot and their friends know what Linux is and use it daily, but Joe Public MAYBE has heard about Linux from a friend of his who is a CS major. If I were Microsoft, I'd be a lot more worried about Apple right now. Apple is making REAL inroads-- especially with the "NetGen." I can't tell you how many iBooks I see on campus. And people are happy with them.
      • Think about it. The new generation is the generation that will make the bussiness decisions later. Get them hooked up on Windows and the future looks bright for MS.

        And how would this be any different with advocates pushing Linux into universities and schools and the such?

        Sure, there is the whole licencing issue, privacy and the like - but at the same time Linux advocates also understand that if you introduce technology to the younger audience, they'll grow up using it and making business decisions later in life basing their experiences on it.

        I can't see any problem with MS aiming for the 16-24 year group. It's not like everyone else isn't allowed to.

        --

        On a side note (which actually relates to another persons comment), I do think that likening Microsoft (or any company for that matter) to crack dealers is not the best advocacy tactic to employ. Especially if you want the people who really make the influential decisions to listen to you and not assume you to be some 14 year old school kid.

        I know ESR did it a while back in one of the Microsoft internal memos ... and he sounded like a kid too.

        • I haven't got any problems with regards to Microsoft's motives. This is a normal bussiness practice as far as i'm concerned.

          I think that the best response to this would be a similar service running on other platforms as well instead of MS centric. But hey. I'm not targeted for this product.. im older than 24... ;-)
      • "And the best way to do this is to create an application that gives them what they need."

        I hope everyone is paying attention to what is being said....
    • Actually, this app sounds just like Lotus Sametime, which is marketed at businesses (they're pushing it on us where I work). They've just taken it and marketed it differently.

      Microsoft taking someone else's idea, tweaking it, and calling it their own? I'm shocked... shocked!

      Garg
    • by MisterSquid ( 231834 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @07:43AM (#5324933)

      I'm in agreement with z_gringo, but in a sorta oblique way.

      The description of the software indicates that threedegrees is a P2P app with a desktop interface. Groups are represented by icons that live on your desktop. Dragging files onto an icon causes members of that group receive copies of those files. This is slick.

      Imagine having several groups--Thursday night bowling tourney, monthly staff colloquim, ad hoc governance committee, family, extended family, in-laws, etc.--all of whom could receive some set or subset of different files you choose. You send the files and then chat about what you've received. This is a low-fi version of virtual reality conferencing.

      Popular chat clients do have a feature like this, but one of the most popular--AOL Insant Messenger--requires you to invite people 1 by 1. Seems to me threedegress admirably leverages P2P communications technology by means of a GUI.

      I am anti-Microsoft as they come: their history makes me so. But threedegrees seems to be a significant application of a GUI to P2P technology. I also think the idea of musicmix is *very* interesting, given that it seems to preserve fair use without infringing on copyright (original owner must be online in order for threedegreed files to be heard).

      I'll withhold final judgement until I can test a threedegree client on my Mac. Until then, threedegrees sounds pretty cool, so I'm game. (ugly EULAs and software hiccups notwithstanding)

  • musicmix and DRM (Score:4, Interesting)

    by matvei ( 568098 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:10AM (#5324649)
    The most ambitious feature is called musicmix, an online equivalent of a pajama party where people take turns playing deejay. Each group member contributes favorite tunes into a shared playlist, displayed on a dashboard with a customized "skin," and everyone listens together. A click from any participant can choose a new song. Then everyone chats about the tunes.

    Does this mean that everyone must already have the tunes licenced on their computer? The following quote suggests otherwise:

    Interestingly, men and women use this feature differently: guys will see it as a contest--who's brought the coolest tunes?

    Sounds a bit like P2P on a tiny scale to me. I wonder how this fits in with Microsoft's DRM schemes...
    • The most ambitious feature is called musicmix, an online equivalent of a pajama party where people take turns playing deejay. Each group member contributes favorite tunes into a shared playlist, displayed on a dashboard with a customized "skin," and everyone listens together. A click from any participant can choose a new song. Then everyone chats about the tunes.
      Does this mean that everyone must already have the tunes licenced on their computer? The following quote suggests otherwise:
      Interestingly, men and women use this feature differently: guys will see it as a contest--who's brought the coolest tunes?
      Sounds a bit like P2P on a tiny scale to me. I wonder how this fits in with Microsoft's DRM schemes...
      If you view the demo that's linked from the MSNBC article, it says:
      Just like at a party, if you leave, your music leaves too. And you can only be at one party at a time.
      So the 3degrees software doesn't by itself allow file swapping, just limited sharing.
    • in short, yes (Score:5, Informative)

      by lingqi ( 577227 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:50AM (#5324763) Journal
      but it's still ristricted.

      1) you need to have licenses (maybe via media player DRM modules?)
      2) you can't play more than 60 songs on the playlist
      3) others can't play your songs if you are offline.

      pretty stringent - but better than what RIAA have been dealing out.

      What better to explain the word "clout?"

      btw, Ars Technica has a small writeup on this too - so check there for more geeky-perspective.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Is it possible that something good is coming out of Redmond?"

    Uh. I know that MS bashing is second nature here and all...

    However I really enjoy using XP. I enjoy using my Intellimouse Explorer. I enjoy several Microsoft games.

    I appreciate having people out there who watch every step MS makes. However I think it's taking it a bit far to imply that MS NEVER does anything right.
  • by cranos ( 592602 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:12AM (#5324656) Homepage Journal
    Just RTFA and I cringed when I saw the bit about the instant sharing of files and images to the entire group. Crap like this is going to play havoc with business networks.

    Also it seems to me that MS is getting a little confused, aren't they meant to be sucking up to the RIAA? If so whats with the music sharing?
  • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <<ChristianHGross> <at> <yahoo.ca>> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:13AM (#5324661)
    Take a look at Avril or at Blink 42. These are not people from a generation who wants to adhere to society. Consider the following quote from the article:
    >>>
    After much negotiation, the labels OK'd musicmix, once Microsoft agreed to somewhat hobble its features. (Playlists have a maximum of 60 tunes, and the songs won't play unless the original owner is participating.)

    This is not how it goes. While this stuff might be interesting for the 8-12 year olds, beyond that they will be savy enough to figure out how to do things on their own.

    MS while the intention is good is also misdirected. They want to get AOL IM client back. Last I remember the teens do not seem to use AOL since, well, its, for old geezers.... You know those that cannot use a computer ;)

    If MS were to stop worrying about the legal implications and stopped looking over their shoulder then maybe this 3degrees will be popular....
    • by Exiler ( 589908 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:18AM (#5324677)
      Crappy bands like Avril and Blink ARE teen society, right now those horrible pop-punkish bands are terribly 'in'
      • by sporty ( 27564 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @07:47AM (#5324945) Homepage

        Crappy bands like Avril and Blink ARE teen society, right now those horrible pop-punkish bands are terribly 'in'


        Hey now. They do have some redeeming qualties. Yes, they are pop punk, but it doesn't mean they don't do it well.

        Look at the Beatles. They don't particularly chime anything for me as a musician. Do I like them? Not at all. But hey, they captured hearts, even in todays day and age. Madonna... great girl, all natrual and that, pop artist. Doesn't do a bad job either. Just not good to me in what I'd like to hear.

        It's all a matter of personal taste and culture. "I don't like blink182, and a thousand other people I like don't like them. Yeah! They suck!" Remember when Metallica was the shizit? Because of a lot of.. bad stuff from them lately, who would want to like them?

        Someone said it best. If someone likes it, it must be music. Probably because it reflects as something to someone somewhere. As for Britney Spears.. I don't know how that works. But that's just me :)
      • they're 'in' only because the underground punk rock scene is experiencing a great revival. emo, hardcore, ska, old-school punk... lots of bands are getting more experimental and pushing the envelope when it comes to making music. the runoff is that people start thinking punk is cool, which makes the record companies want to cash in.

        Avril Lavigne is a prime example. she gets paid to "act tough" whenever a reporter or photographer is in the area. in person she's reportedly a really sweet, nice girl. she's just a sellout, though. no self-respecting sensible teenager would really support her, as she goes against all the morals and ideals that the punk community has encouraged. i guess that's why the real punks hate her and the normal kids like her so much - she's a conformist, but a conformist who lets them tap into the image of punk and rock, without bothering them with the flak you get if you really are a punk.

        if you want to have a taste of what's been going on 'behind the scenes', so to speak, try these bands:

        Coheed and Cambria
        The Used
        Thrice
        Killswitch Engage
        At The Drive-In
        Camp Kill Yourself (you might recognize their music from the Jackass movie)
        Glassjaw
        Finch
        Mindless Self Indulgence
        Rufio
        RX Bandits
        Showoff
        Tsunami Bomb
        Youth Brigade

        enjoy.
    • by LeiGong ( 621856 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:42AM (#5324733) Homepage
      GEEZER ALERT! Psssssh. Everyone knows Blink 182 or (to the old folks Blink 42) is no longer in. That band Sum 41 is totally hot and was even cooler when they performed on TRL! OH MY GOD!!!! And the Bizzy D is like a total hottie! *faints*

      What was I saying? Oh yeah, like all of my friends are on AIM. You don't have to use AOL to use AIM, I'm no computer dork and even I know that! Only losers use all the other stuff! DUH! Like all those geeks that surf for porn in class use MSNMessenger or IRC, I'm not even going near that! And since I don't get my own cellphone like Amy or Kelly, my stupid 'rents are forcing me to use AIM to talk to all my friends. This 3degree thing could really make hanging out online like totally easier. It's not like we have cars or anything that we can drive to our friend's houses with. :(((

      Dang, gotta Brenda is having like a total breakdown over her break up with Steve. I never did like Steve...

      ttfn! ^_^

  • by kahei ( 466208 )
    ...see, previously, P2P was controlled by those meddling kids. But if MS can become the maker of the biggest, coolest, easiest to use P2P sharing system... and wait, aren't they also trying to become the makers of the biggest DRM system? Could there be some synergy between those two things??

    It... it's too horrible to think about... yet...

  • Judging from the setup, it looked more like an ad for threedegrees than a real article. The MSN logo, the MSNBC logo, and the gushing "try threedegree's features!" link insert left me wondering how much of Mr. Levy's article got trimmed by the editors.

    Still, describing it as perfect for the Kelly Osbourne crowd is subtly damning praise. Associating a media-created star who acts rebellious for ratings with a Microsoft product...but more likely I'm reading too much into this, or crediting Mr. Levy too much.
  • by NZheretic ( 23872 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:25AM (#5324692) Homepage Journal
    "To use threedegrees, prospective testers must be running Windows XP with Service Pack 1, the new peer-to-peer update and MSN Messenger 5 installed on their computer."

    [ With deepest apologies to Mark Knofler and Dire Straits ]

    "Money for Microsoft" by Dire Warnings

    Sung by Steve Ballmer, backing by Bill Gates

    You must buy ... You must buy Win-XP

    You must buy ... You must buy Win-XP

    You must buy ... You must buy Win-XP

    You must buy ... You must buy Win-XP

    Now look at them bozo's that's the way you do it
    You lock them always on the Win-XP
    That ain't workin' thats the way we do it
    Money for Microsoft from Dot Net usage fees
    Now that ain't workin' thats the way we do it
    Lemme tell ya them guys are dumb
    Maybe get a licence on your little desktop
    Maybe get a licence on everyone

    They gotta install Media Player
    Passport Dot-Net deliveries
    They gotta take these applications
    They gotta take these subscription fees

    Look at that, look at that

    See the little Win-Troll spreading spin we makeup
    Yeah buddy thats our own fear
    That little Win-Troll got them always complain'
    That little Win-Troll makes us billionares

    They gotta install Media Player
    Passport Dot-Net deliveries
    They gotta take these applications
    They gotta take these subscription fees

    They shoulda learned to use the Linux
    They shoulda learned to use them Macs
    Look at that user, we got it stickin' to the customer
    Man we could have some fun
    And their down there, whats that? Protesting noises?
    Plannin' on me dancing like a chimpanzee
    That ain't workin' thats the way we do it
    Get the money for Microsoft get our usage fee

    They gotta install Media Player
    Passport Dot-Net deliveries
    They gotta take these applications
    They gotta take these subscription fees

    That ain't workin' thats the way we do it
    You lock them always on the Win-XP
    That ain't workin' thats the way we do it
    Money for Microsoft from the license fee
    Money for Microsoft from subscription fees

    David Mohring - Original author

    Note: dancing like a chimpanzee - see http://www.google.com/search?q=ballmer+monkeyboy+m peg [google.com]

    If you have not already listened to, or read Lessig's speech on free culture. I urge you to do so ASAP. The flash presentation brings home just how much we, as a society in general, have to lose. http://www.eff.org/IP/freeculture/ [eff.org]

  • Hrm.... (Score:2, Funny)

    by smagruder ( 207953 )
    Wasn't MS Bob also lauded in a similar way *before* it was released?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:35AM (#5324710)
    I guess this means another 10 projects on sourceforge, all in planning stage.

  • I've been thinking for a while about using Instant Messaging/ICQ or whatever at work. We have people working together in offices in several different countries, on various platforms. We normally use email/phone to communicate. Anyone use ICQ or Messenger? Good or bad experience? What's the best software to use?

    • We use Trillian at my place of work (due to the fact that it allows for encrypted communication, and it does the 4 major instant messengers AIM/ICQ/MSN/Yahoo plus IRC). It has become indispensable to talk with co-workers in other cities, people working from home and even people across the hall :P. We've even used it with one of our vendor's support engineers.
  • huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mshiltonj ( 220311 ) <mshiltonj@SLACKW ... com minus distro> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:44AM (#5324742) Homepage Journal
    Core to threedegrees is the group instant messaging

    Um, that's called a chat room, and it's been done. Way to build a product based on a new feature.

    Other stuff sound kinda interesting, but hardly revolutionary.

    Why the imposed limits, anyway? Only 10 user in a group? Only 60 songs?

    How is this different from using a Gaim/Shoutcast combo?

  • Observations (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gryftir ( 161058 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:45AM (#5324748) Homepage
    While I think that three degrees seems in theory like a community building tool, what worries me is the limit to 10 participants in a "posse" will create in groups.

    Unless you can join multiple "posses," and what I read doesn't seem to suggest it, your going to have groups of ten or less which get to decide who can join.

    In MSNM there is not set limit to the number of people you can chat with, and you could make one on one connections. Before you could ignore a person, now you can exclude them. And if it's intended to be for 13 to 14 year olds, I think social cliques are inevitable. This fails to mention those who can't participate fully in the program, which seems to require broadband for what I personally view as the most interesting aspect, the ability to listen to shared music.

    I'm not bashing on Redmond on this. I honestly think that the basic idea of the program is meritorious, but by limiting users to ten per group, and (and I could be wrong) users to one group, the collaborative aspects are blunted.

    Gryftir
  • From the first article:
    Threedegrees is a surprising departure for Microsoft. The company that's relentlessly focused on productivity has now produced an anti-productivity tool, constantly interrupting you and urging you to waste time with your friends.
    Has this writer never heard of the Office Assistant? Or the stupid 'DHTML' scripting features which IE is so keen to support? Or window animations, or sound effects, or screensavers... the whole focus of Microsoft software is to get something that looks cool before something that works and gets out of your way.
  • If Microsoft wanted to be relevant in the future, she told them, it had to adjust to NetGen, even if it meant producing software that the middle-aged guys in the room didn't care for.
    In early 2001, she set up in the hip waterfront area of Seattle--miles away from the orthodoxy at Redmond--recruiting kids barely out of college, promising them the opportunity to make an immediate impact.
    Is it me, or does the whole article feel five years out of date?
  • So..... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FaRuvius ( 69578 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:53AM (#5324767) Homepage
    Is it just me...

    Or is this just IRC with a pretty GUI, integrated shoutcast and a channel limit of 10?

    • Re:So..... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Patrick ( 530 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @09:51AM (#5325762)
      Or is this just IRC with a pretty GUI

      This "Netscape" you speak of... is it me, or is it just Lynx with pretty pictures and sounds? This "Doom" you speak of... is it me, or is it just Rogue with an unnecessary first-person viewpoint?

      Never underestimate the power of a good interface. Leaving out OPs, kicking, and banning goes a long way, too.

  • For God's Sake... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by colinramsay ( 603167 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:57AM (#5324781) Homepage
    "Is it possible that something good is coming out of Redmond?"

    Is it possible that a Slashdot editor could take submissions with at least some degree of subjectivity? Whether threedegrees is good or not, this sort of opinion in the post itself surely taints the comments.
  • Really for a minute i thought i was going to be reading about something that was actually interesting. But no, its just another hyped up nothing. Im sure you could modify jabber to do the same useless things as this. When they talked about "not developing technology first" they wernt kidding.. theres really not much technology involved in allowing someone to send an image by draging it onto an icon, using an existing protocol/library. The music feature is the only slightly interesting thing but it restricts what you can do so its useless to me. Usually me and my friends use the technologically inferior method of typing the name of the song and getting the other person to download it. Or, ampache.org created a simple (100KB) way of sharing playlists, and its platform independent.
  • by hacker ( 14635 ) <hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @06:59AM (#5324787)
    "Here's how the software works. You invite friends to form a posse of up to 10 participants. Representing the group on your desktop will be a colorful image, either one from a set provided by the software or something one of the group has produced. (It could even be a digital photo.) If you're online and since threedegrees assumes you have broadband, you're probably online all the time, you give your friends a holler simply by sending the equivalent of an instant message. Everyone in the group will see it. "

    Wait, you mean Microsoft reinvented... IRC?!

  • Isn't this just IRC? (Score:5, Informative)

    by IvoryRing ( 1708 ) <ivoryring@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @07:00AM (#5324792)
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but reading the article makes it sound just like IRC to me.
    1. cliquey little channels? check.
    2. play music in the background? check.
    3. emoticons? check.
    4. swap files? check.
    5. chat and be online all the time? check.
    Makes me wonder if perhaps MS is glad to have seen the recent attacks on DalNET - now they can say 'sign up for threedegrees, we never get attacked because we are too cool' or some such marketspeak.

    By the way, all of the items in the checklist have both positive and negative implications.

    Notes: Background Music on IRC? Yep - on the more social/chatty channels, I've seen all kinds of CTCP or in channel requests that look like "please play this music, and if you don't have it, fetch it from me via DCC" - I'm assuming that some clients have automated support for this, and they word the request such that you can still do it manually if you really want (clue for commercial software vendors that think you need a new protocol for every new feature - it's called interoperability and backwards compatibility)

    Emoticons? But winks are animated! Um... yeah, so? Perhaps somebody doesn't quite understand yet - slang originates from exclusivity of communication, not 'ooo, shiney!'. Because you can make up ASCII emoticons on the fly, just as you can with slang, I actually think that the ASCII version is a better tool for the communication purpose. Maybe I'm giving the youth of today too much credit, but I don't really think they are willing to accept the limitation to language fluidity. So some will use winks, and some will use ASCII emoticons within the contect. Of course, I'm not sure how much the 'new great thing' factor will play into this.

    • I was thinking the same thing. But it might work if they don't support channel ops, kick, and bots. It sounds like it's invite only.

      But rest assured, even good friends get into wars, and sooner or later someone is going to get thrown out of a posse and then be determined that if he can't be in it, no one can, and launch massive DOSes against the network.

      Microsoft still doesn't understant the culture. They need to join an irc network and spend all day on it. Then again, for a lot of people, the irc anarchy is part of its charm. I doubt that can ever be duplicated on a commercial net!

    • Where can I buy it?
    • by Quarters ( 18322 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:08AM (#5325917)
      The fact that is is similar to IRC should tell you (and any person who writes apps for Linux) something.

      The user interface and user experience is key. Yes, this technology is like IRC. But, it probably doesn't have all of the cruft and baggage of IRC. No obscure server names to remember, no Ops, kicks, bots, channel storms, etc... Easier setup and connect, etc... The list of IRC woes is long. IRC was (is) a medium made by geeks for geeks. It's not an easy thing to understand and it's learning curve is practically vertical. The problems are a shame too, as the underlying concept of communication channels/rooms is valid and useful.

      Dynamix did a lot to clean up IRC and make it easy to understand in their Tribes2 pre-game UI. 3deg of Separation sounds like an excellent attempt by Microsoft to make IRC style communications go mainstream.

      Anyone who's ever written an IRC client should sit back and ask themselves, "Why wasn't I concerned with making IRC better instead of just making yet another IRC client?"
  • Remember his whitewash [slashdot.org] of Palladium?
  • Well I've got two things.

    One, where's the market? I mean rilly?
    Two, this is supposed to make cash for MS how?

    news.com.com he say:

    A team of 12 recent college graduates, led by group manager Tammy Savage, has been trying to develop products aimed at the "Net generation," or young people currently between the ages of about 13 and 24.
    Well the first thing is, does this market even exist? You see such people using AIM, ICQ etc all the time. This software is junk. Do the 'Net-Gen' (sic) care? No. They have other things to do than learn any more than the most trivial UI. As for heavy teenage net users, what about this, from the other article:
    You invite friends to form a posse of up to 10 participants.
    What's with the arbitrary limitation? My kid sister's 'posse' (blech) is easily twice that big. Sounds like a mess. What are you supposed to call your group? 'J. Sixpack's buddies'? It doesn't work - that's like having gang leaders in the playground. That's not how kids do instant messaging. Is it?
    musicmix... Playlists have a maximum of 60 tunes
    Drag-n-drop ('push') filesharing is a nice idea, but the kids already know about Kazaa, especially the heavy users. For anyone with enough bandwidth to stream nice audio to 10 buddies, they're way better off getting redistributable files from real P2P and letting friends/randoms pull them back off at their leisure.

    Right, point two... well hello, profit model? Looks like this is just another MSNIM-a-like project to be rolled into the OS. I don't see this as making any legit cash for Microsoft - it's not something the kids will pay for (and it's not corporate P2P). Can we say 'bundling'?

    3 degrees might be great, especially if it has better than the usual godawful Microsoft UI. I suppose I shouldn't knock it till I've tried it (or a Linux clone...). And surely MS have got some market research to go on. But while making money out of kids is tricky (e.g. no-one likes adware), MS's strategy is obviously just to bundle, embrace and extend. And that rankles.

  • by chad_r ( 79875 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @07:10AM (#5324815)

    Is it possible that something good is coming out of Redmond?

    From the article:

    The new software comes out of the Microsoft's 18-month-old NetGen division, which operates on a separate campus in downtown Seattle. Microsoft's main operations are location in Redmond, Wash.
    There's your answer, Timothy.
  • I really don't get this whole "instant message" craze, but I guess it really is popular with generation Y -- I work with some 22-year old people fresh out of university and they all chat with friends (both those at the company and elsewhere) using instant messages. Ignoring the debate about whether they should be doing this at work (they do get their work done, so it can't be that bad for productivity) I find it amazing that they would enjoy the interruptions. I personally vastly prefer e-mail to phone conversations because I can deal with e-mail when it's a good time for me. IM seems to me to be a return to the annoying days of the telephone.
  • At first glance, it seems like they're doing everything wrong. The idea seems stupid.

    But on the other hand, so much of what's popular out there is also stupid. So who knows, maybe it'll pan out. One of the most annoying things is the requirement of XP. WTF?

    If the people at MS actually managed to do sound research on this, then there's no reason for it to fail. I don't think most people have the same kind of negative reaction to being obviously manipulated that we do... But who knows?
  • Regardless of who she works for, I applaud her drive and use of technology. Three Degrees seems like fun, er, cool, software. Her research into the project was intriguiging.

    If this were through some startup, more people would think it was cool, but she'd be plagued with a lack of resource and substantiation. Now, she has the flipside of all that with Redmond behind her.

    I hope it succeeds though my deepest desire would be for it to be platform independant.
  • People wonder why the state of commercial software is so sad -- I think that this article sums it up.

    The fact that one of the largest, if not the largest, commercial software companies needs to be told that "the needs and attitudes of the customers should determine what software Microsoft should produce" denotes a total lack of clue on the whole issue of software production.

    Software exists to automate or otherwise make better THE THINGS THAT PEOPLE DO. Thus, these things should be what drive the software. Hence the thrust toward usability, contextual design, the user stories of XP, etc.
  • For a Mac OS X version of this thing? You think?

    Sadly, I'm guessing the answer is either "Nope" or "Sure...in a couple years."

    Does Microsoft want to take over AIM's domininance so much that they'll go head-to-head with iChat???

  • Trying to mandate that people switch over to DRM'd music formats is like trying to mandate that they cut off their feet before they go for a walk. I personally think that the lack of MP3 support will kill that particlar app.
  • "Socializing", eh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pommaq ( 527441 ) <straffaren@nOSPaM.spray.se> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @08:01AM (#5324995) Homepage
    We already have something similar to this in Sweden, called Lunarstorm [lunarstorm.se]. It's got picture uploads, friendfinders, guestbooks, discussion forums, interaction via SMS and mobile phones, voting, voice messages - you name it. It's a very feature-complete site and it's got an incredibly high market penetration among the youth of Sweden and I don't think I'd be exaggerating if I say that at least 70% of Swedish teens have a Lunarstorm account. It's a "community" on the outside, but Lunarstorm is used almost solely for meeting chicks (or guys, depending on gender/preference :)). Recently they've recently adopted a pay model where you can pay a small sum each month to get access to the 'plus' features. They're doing pretty well.

    So what am I getting at? Well, Sweden's a pretty small country, but the sheer momentum of teenagers registered on Lunarstorm creates a singularity that draws everyone in. I wouldn't be surprised if their market penetration among teens reaches 90% in a year or two, if they're not already there. If all your friends have Lunar accounts, you're going to get one, too. If Microsoft can gather the critical mass of teenagers, and deploy something like this in the ol' US of A, it could be massive. They'd get an instant reputation boost among younger people, a chance to market stuff to the teens (Lunarstorm has many insidious ways of doing this), a way of sneaking new software on people (Microsoft DRM mp3's are even in the article!) and, if they've got the balls, a new source of income provided they adopt some sort of pay model. Could be a smart move! Or, it could flop, of course. I'm no genie :)

    I'll dare state this, however: it's all about the critical mass. If Microsoft are clever, they'll subtly make it about the boy-girl interaction. Powerful stuff, that!
  • case that they were clue-challenged in understanding an entire generation

    Have a look at that picture, it just screams "We are cool, hip, "individiuals" (the Marketing Idea -- not the adjective). Please read "No Logo by Naomi Klein [nologo.org]

    "We wanted things that paralleled our customers' priorities, which was hanging out with your friends and having fun."

    This idea makes me sick. If someone's "priorities" are as above, they should please (PLEASE) read: Neil Postmans' 'Amusing Ourselves to Death' -- here is the foreword [magnet.ch]

  • A group can have no more than ten members


    Songs will be played from the participants' hard drive, rather than illegally swapped.


    So, you're going to be streaming MP3s to ten people at once? The bandwidth requirements for that are going to narrow their market considerably. That would kill my 768k/128k ADSL, it would almost certainly kill a cable modems' outgoing bandwidth, and you could forget about dialup entirely.


    So do they expect these "trendy teens" to also be fantastically rich and have their own personal T3 lines?

  • by syle ( 638903 )
    "They have a way of vouching for each other as friends, figuring out who to trust and not trust."

    I think we all know who not to trust in this situation -- the people who want you to switch/upgrade your OS to run a glorified instant messanger.

  • From the article:
    "
    Instead, Savage reasoned, the needs and attitudes of the customers should determine what software Microsoft should produce, and the technology should come later."
    Wow! This person discovered the most fundamental and obvious prerequisite for being successful in business! Jeepers!

    [pause]

    Well, I have to admit that this was apparently not very obvious to most of the dot-com crowd.

  • by ChaoticCoyote ( 195677 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @09:24AM (#5325524) Homepage
    Is it possible that something good is coming out of Redmond?

    Only a myopic, narrow-minded fool would ask such a question. Microsoft has developed and released some excellent products that continue to kick the fanny of most "free" applications. If all Microsoft software is crap, why do "free" software people keep trying to clone Word and Excel?

    Upon occasion, I've been known to rag on Microsoft for their business practices, security holes, and over-featured monstrosities. They ruined Visual Studio with .Net (it's now REALLY slow and clunky), and Microsoft is often paranoid and downright nasty in their tactics. Word, for all of its good features, is a bloated corpse of technological excess. So hey, I'm no Microsoft shill, and more of my systems run Linux than run Windows.

    Yet for all their faults, Microsoft has accomplished a lot in the last two decades, producing some useful and powerful software. Denying that is simple bigotry, seasoned with jealousy.

    • by pohl ( 872 )
      Doesn't it really come down to one's own vision of what constitutes "good"? Speaking only for myself, "powerful" and "useful" are not sufficient conditions for "good". Call me a zealot, but I like the commercial software that I buy to play nice with software from other vendors, meaning open protocols and document formats. I also like it to require a platform upgrade only when the unique needs of the application genuinely demands it.

      Being a disappointed ex-customer of Microsoft is not necessarily bigotry...sometimes it's an informed opinion.

      Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Let the buyer beware.
  • by rabidcow ( 209019 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:08AM (#5325920) Homepage
    What, was sixdegrees [everything2.com] too much?

There is nothing so easy but that it becomes difficult when you do it reluctantly. -- Publius Terentius Afer (Terence)

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