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Microsoft The Almighty Buck

Microsoft At Middle Age 616

gordyf writes "The Seattle Times has an interesting article concerning Microsoft's current position in the market. It describes how its customers and parners are reacting to its heavy-handed tactics, and how 'you can point to Linux being one of the major drivers for this decade.' An interesting read."
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Microsoft At Middle Age

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  • by decok ( 472471 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:08PM (#5371448)
    For those interested , it's a weeklong "series" in the SeattleTimes.
  • Yep (Score:5, Funny)

    by Raul654 ( 453029 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:08PM (#5371450) Homepage
    ...creating new software to entice people to buy more powerful computers

    That just about says it right there.
    • Re:Yep (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      How is this so damning? Every company in the world is working to develop new products or services to entice people to buy something new and better. That's why we don't drive around in Model T's anymore.
      • Re:Yep (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Raul654 ( 453029 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:16PM (#5371529) Homepage
        It's damning because they have a history of making Operating Systems so bloated that you *HAVE* to have the newest and fastest machine in order to run it.
        • Re:Yep (Score:2, Insightful)

          by ChetPan ( 187356 )
          Sure, that's obvious. Their software is bloated and runs better on more powerful computers. But who's going to argue that the latest versions aren't more user-friendly and feature laden than earlier editions? Their software is getting better, you know.

          Ok, code bloat accompanies improvements. But is that really such a big deal? Newer computers can handle it. If you've got an old computer, don't upgrade.

          Anyway, you can see the same trends in Linux. I mean Linux distros aren't getting any smaller. And the newest window managers definitely take some processing power. But if you don't like it, who's forcing you to upgrade?
          • Re:Yep (Score:5, Interesting)

            by damiam ( 409504 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:37PM (#5371716)
            And the newest window managers definitely take some processing power

            For the record, Gnome 2 is generally faster and has lower system requirements than Gnome 1.4.

          • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

            by jaavaaguru ( 261551 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:49PM (#5371825) Homepage
            Windows XP is less user friendly than Windows 2000 or KDE, to someone who's used it for a year. Continuously messing things around doesn't make it easy to use.
            • Re:Yep (Score:5, Interesting)

              by tshak ( 173364 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @05:41PM (#5374170) Homepage
              For the record: I do not use XP and what little I've seen of it confused me.

              That being said, although XP isn't perfect, I've anecdotally heard a lot of positive comments regarding it's UI. Sometimes you HAVE to change things around to make something more intuitive. Sure, you and I are very used to the win9x interface, but a new computer user may find XP more user friendly. Human's naturally resist change, so don't mistake change as "less user friendly" in this scenario.
          • by Lodragandraoidh ( 639696 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @03:20PM (#5372675) Journal
            There is one thing you failed to mention: You can't recompile the windows kernel to make it smaller.

            I regularly tune and recompile my linux kernels to support the specific hardware I have on my eclectic assortment of old boxes (P100s etc..). This fine tuning makes the kernel run quicker, and allows me to lower the disk and memory footprint. (P.S. I burn CDs that contain these unique kernels as recovery disks - so no worries on catastrophic failures). You don't have to live with a bloated 'one size fits all' distribution if you don't want to under linux. Not so for windows (unless you pay a price of course).

            I have all of this flexibility in Linux for free. Windows can't beat that.

            It is a big deal for me. I demand quality over quantity and glitz. Windows does not deliver.
        • Re:Yep (Score:4, Informative)

          by cheezedawg ( 413482 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:36PM (#5371696) Journal
          No you don't. Tomshardware [tomshardware.com] just did some Windows XP benchmarks on a Pentium 100.

          I don't know why you think its so bad that they have added features. Thats a pretty natural progression of software development. Look at Linux, KDE, Gnome, Mozilla, etc.
        • So what do you call OS X? Had to buy half a gig of RAM to make that run to my satisfaction on a 400 mhz iMac, could still use a lot more pep tho. (Quartz Extreme would be nice too, but as far as I know I can't upgrade video cards in there... please let me know otherwise!) :^)

          Everyone does it, it's just a question of to what extreme it is done.

  • by AugstWest ( 79042 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:09PM (#5371453)
    Microsoft at middle age can best be represented by Ballmer leaping and hooting like a baboon in the dance monkeyboy videos. [earthlink.net]

    A little crazy from the pressure, outwardly appearing both eager and desperate, balding, and starting to stain at the armpits.

    (Anyone got a URL for the remixed version of the video?)
  • by caluml ( 551744 ) <slashdot@s p a m ... e r e.calum.org> on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:10PM (#5371462) Homepage
    Is that an evil picture of Billy, or what?! :)

    His eyes are boring into your soul, searching for unlicenced copies of Windows...
  • midlife (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:10PM (#5371464)
    can we be so optimistic to say that ms is in its midlife?

    you mean it's going to die in 28 years?! woohoo!
  • by thoolie ( 442789 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:11PM (#5371475) Homepage
    Microsoft will be at old age, thus helping the viagra market!

    But really, I do feel that there time has come and gone. In the history of industry, the big companies fall after their reign at the top. The consumers start to look elsewhere (eg, Japanese cars,ect...). The day will come that the majority of people will turn to FREE software for their computer, it is the way of life, it is evolution. The days of 200$ consumer end opperating system will fall by the wayside, and free software will be the norm (when i say free software, i am refering to the OS, btw)

    That is how i see it. It is evolution. Look at FORD, they are still around, but they aren't No. 1 anymore. Look at KMart, they were No. 1 in the 80s, but now, Chapter 13.

    People want better, faster, cheeper, and as long as MS isn't giving MS Windows away, they will be losing ground.

    (on a side note, i do relize that a large % of /. readers are using a PIRATED version of windows 98/2000..but that isn't what i am talking about ;-)
  • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:11PM (#5371476) Homepage Journal
    I'm sick of hearing zealots spout crap like "Wait until DRM is in, then everyone will tell MS to shove it!"

    MS is a superpower. If they told everyone they plan on cornering the stock market, and taking over the world, people STILL would be buying their product. Face it people, if there is going to be a change, it will happen slowly.

    I'm not saying Linux is bad, or that there is no way it will ever take over MS, I'm just saying don't expect it to happen overnight (or in the next 5 years, for that matter).
    • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:14PM (#5371503) Homepage Journal
      Thought of a good analogy after hitting submit.

      Think of MS like the tobacco industry!
      Its bad for you.
      Everyone knows it.
      Yet there are millions of smokers, kids learn it early, there are thousands of Tobacco farmers that would be out of a job, and the industry is so big, no one could topple it.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Yeah, it's called nicotine. MS may have some heavy-handed, and even illegal, tactics. But they don't lace their computers with a highly addictive substance.
        • by Sylver Dragon ( 445237 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:41PM (#5371749) Journal
          But they don't lace their computers with a highly addictive substance.

          Yes they do, they are just called minesweeper and pinball. Those two little games can be damn addictive. And even if you uncheck the Games box during install, they are still put on the computer, you just don't have the ready to use shortcuts in the start menu.

        • MS may have some heavy-handed, and even illegal, tactics. But they don't lace their computers with a highly addictive substance.

          Uh, actually they do. It's called "vendor lock-in" and Bruce Perens has likened it to an addictive substance. I wish I could supply a link but his website appears to be down right now.

      • So just legalize marijuana and you can fit linux into your analogy...

        - the best crops are created through a community effort in cross breeding
        - the only thing you'll have to actually pay for are the initial seeds (think CD's)
        - works well in server environments (bong) as well as desktop (hash pipe) and portable (joint) implementations
        - companies will initially be leery of this but inevitably everyone's going to have to wonder what this "linux" thing is that's becoming so popular
        - a sense of kinship is felt among users (read: Free Love)
    • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:18PM (#5371540) Homepage
      MS is a superpower. If they told everyone they plan on cornering the stock market, and taking over the world, people STILL would be buying their product. Face it people, if there is going to be a change, it will happen slowly.

      Nobody stays on top forever. In fact, the really big [fordham.edu] dogs [us-highways.com] who like to abuse their power [usdoj.gov] are the ones who tend to fall apart the fastest.

      Microsoft is a big, inflexible company. I'm not saying they're going to go chapter 11 or anything, but I do believe that they might become startlingly irrelevant in a very short amount of time like IBM did in the 80's-90's. Ironically, for IBM, it was an inability to see the OS as the real market; for MS, it'll be an inability to see that the OS is no longer the real market...

      • by tundog ( 445786 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:38PM (#5371721) Homepage

        Well, as far as Standard Oil goes, you will need someone of with the level of itergrity that Teddy Roosevelt had. And that is certainly not in the cards with the current administration. Moreover, IMHO that kind of politician is dead. Parties control the system, and bid corporations control the parties, BOTH of them. If Teddy were around toda, I can't say that he would have split MS up, but he wouldn't have taken kindly to the string-arm tactics that have foced a lot of the small fish out of the market.

        I can say, however, that if Teddy were here today, he'd sure would have loved that Dear Hunter game.

      • by EdlinUser ( 50699 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @02:01PM (#5371929)
        IBM thought they could dictate the new *standard*.
        Their arrogance cost them dearly.
        Palladium, .NET, License 6, and other MS BS look more and more like an MCA kind of thing.

        I think that within 2 years there will be a mass exodus from Microsoft by developers, OEMs, large and small business sites, and finally, even home computer users.

        May you live in interesting times, Mr. Gates.

      • "I'm not saying they're going to go chapter 11 or anything, but I do believe that they might become startlingly irrelevant in a very short amount of time like IBM did in the 80's-90's."

        LOL!

        I think it's funny that just because you aren't aware of what a company is doing you suddenly think they are irrelevant.

        Let's use another example. General Motors. Used to have 50% of the automobile marketshare, now they have around 20%. Are they irrelevant? They are the 2nd largest employer in the US(Wal-Mart is first but those are mostly part-time), and you can't go one day to the next without at some point using a service or product that they're behind in some way. But because you aren't aware of every thing they touch, they are invisible to you? Much like IBM today.

        "Ironically, for IBM, it was an inability to see the OS as the real market; for MS, it'll be an inability to see that the OS is no longer the real market..."

        There was much more to it than that. IBM certainly suffered from the innovators dilemna. But they got themselves into a situation where they were afraid to lose. They didn't commit the full resources to OS/2 that it needed to succeed. They weren't willing to admit quickly that they were wrong with Microchannel architecture, and so forth.

        If MS didn't understand that the OS isn't the real market, they wouldn't be moving in so many directions at once. From online web services, to XBox, to applications, to development technologies and so on and so forth. Sure some of these are failures, but many aren't. But Thomas Watson who made IBM the great power that it was understood the secret to success is to risk failure. When IBM became risk adverse, they went on the decline.

        That is what is so interesting about their push for Linux now... it's a tremendous risk. Maybe it works for them, maybe it doesn't... but it's different from their past strategies.

        I'm afraid you suffer from wishful thinking, my friend. Don't worry, it is a common trait on /. people forcasting the future using tea leaves instead of common sense.
    • My take (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Raul654 ( 453029 )
      Linux needs a MUCH better graphical interface (anti-aliased fonts, copy-cut-paste between applications) a decent program manager (Pray for Autopackage [autopackage.org]), and better hardware support. Oh, the day the RTFM mentality is laid to rest will be a BIG step forward for open source.

      On the other hand, Microsoft needs to become better for security, stability, and development. Losing all the annoying bells and whistles (ala, the default installation of XP) would be a plus.

      The real question is, which one will happen first.
      • Re:My take (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:25PM (#5371604) Homepage
        Support is important, but it's already available (it you want non-RTFM support, you have to either accept abuse from the usenet folks or pay for it, just like with any other software).

        GUI is just a small part of the real battlefield: functionality. Sooner or later, Linux is going to blow past MS in terms of user experience due simply to the fact that they can pick-and-choose which bits to emulate (fast-launching browser in, annoying Clippy and friends out). At that point, it won't matter if MS gives away Windows because nobody'll want it anyhow. The only way they'll survive is if they can consistantly innovate new, useful features at a reasonable price to stay ahead of the curve, something which MS has *never* been able to do.

        So, MS will have to flee off the desktop to other things the OSS community doesn't do well -- game development, console systems, etc. There, they'll have to compete in a far more level playing environment and will in the long term probably get their monopolostic asses handed to them by smaller, faster companies.

        How can I predict this? Because that's how things work with most industries which don't exist as regulatory monopolies. I don't see software being any different -- in fact, I predict the decline of MS on the desktop will come so quickly that if you blink you'll miss it.

    • by xchino ( 591175 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:43PM (#5371772)
      I would have agreed with you on this a year or two ago, but Linux has grown enough since then that it can compete with the functionality of Windows as a desktop. OpenOffice is poised to be an MS Office killer. Those are the only two things MS makes a profit on. They lose tons of money everywhere else.

      If Linux starts pecking away at their two cash cows, they won't be able to lose billions on a non profitable anti-competitive ventures. Their stranglehold on the market is loosened.

      I know it's not happening overnight, but I think withing 5 years Linux could very well oust M$. 5 years is an eternity in the IT industry.

      Think of how far Linux has come in the past 5 years. Now think how far M$ has come.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:11PM (#5371480)
    **** THE PROOF THAT Microsoft IS EVIL ****
    M I C R O S O F T
    13 9 3 18 15 19 15 6 20 - as numbers
    4 9 3 9 6 1 6 6 2 - digits added
    \_____/ \_____/ \_____/ \_____/ \_/
    4 3 7 3 2 - digits added
    Thus, "Microsoft" is 43732.

    Turn the number backwards, subtract 1957 - the year DEC was founded. The number is now 21777.

    Subtract 7491 from the number - this is the year Aleister Crowley paid a longer visit to hell, written backwards. It gives 14286.

    Multiply the number by 002 - this is the symbol of greed, from right to left. It gives 28572.

    Turn the number backwards, divide by 6 - the smallest perfect number. The number is now 4597.

    Turn the number backwards, and add 1927 - the year Fidel Castro was born. The number is now 9881.

    This number, read from right to left, is 1889, or the year Adolf Hitler was born.

    No further questions. QED.
  • Heh.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:12PM (#5371483) Homepage
    The 47-year-old Microsoft chairman has a good idea about when he'll be retiring, he enjoys driving his daughter to school, and he has a home-improvement project he wants to get to one of these days.

    By home-improvement, I hope he means replacing that NT cluster he has running everything with a more reliable system [debian.org]. I figure he's got to be sick of getting locked out of the john at 3 AM by a system crash...

  • by sczimme ( 603413 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:12PM (#5371485)

    From the article:

    Gates said he plans to retire "somewhere in my late 50s" but will probably remain associated with the company, perhaps in an advisory capacity, a role he described as "ongoing support."

    So when will he be EOL-ed?
  • by colmore ( 56499 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:12PM (#5371491) Journal
    The little blurb at the side tells us that Mr. Gates' net worth is a bit over $50 billion. That's a lot of money, in fact, I've read estimates of the cost of constructing a small moon colony that run below that.

    So think about this: if you had the chance to liquidate most of your assets, and then finance a moon colony how could you say no? Oh I'm sure there are more humanitarian things he could do with that money, but he isn't really doing that either. But come on, Bill, a *moon colony* you could do it!
    • by gorilla ( 36491 )
      Gate's net worth is mainly tied up in Microsoft shares. If he was to liquidate his assets all at once, then he wouldn't realize that much, because the act of him liqudating would decrease confidence in Microsoft, and also any flood of shares would reduce the prices.
    • I think Mr. Bill is cursed by his money. It seems his main motivator in life is that he is afraid of losing it. Imagine having all that cash and being afraid? Never enough. Buried in lawsuits. Feeling like you must kill your competition.

      I wonder how many people he trusts?

    • Re:Off Topic, but... (Score:4, Informative)

      by MagPulse ( 316 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:34PM (#5371675)
      Yes, actually he is [gatesfoundation.org]. He's given over $3 billion to global health alone. You can't expect Bill to give away close to his full net worth, especially at the young age of 47. People don't get to be multi-billionaires by spending everything they have no matter what the cause.
      • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:52PM (#5371848)
        "He's given over $3 billion to global health alone."

        How much of that is charity on his part, and how much of that is tax-deductible (ie. "he'd simply be giving it to the IRS otherwise")? I'd suspect that the "Gates Foundation" is more of a PR gimmick than anything else. "This public broadcasting program was brounght to you by the Gates Foundation" sounds better than "This public broadcasting program was brought to you by taxpayers."
    • Re:Off Topic, but... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:39PM (#5371737)
      I'm sure there are more humanitarian things he could do with that money, but he isn't really doing that either.


      Actually, Gates is probably the biggest humanitarian in the world -- he founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation [gatesfoundation.org], which is dedicated to fighting for health improvements in the 3rd world. The endowment of that foundation is ~$24 billion. I've also heard that Gates plans to gradually denote the remainder of his money to charity before he dies.



      Regardless of what you think of Gates, accusing him of not being a good humanitarian just demonstrates that you really don't know what you're talking about.

    • by badansible ( 630677 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:59PM (#5371914)
      Ha! Bill Gates's moon colony. You go first.
  • Linux? (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by The Bungi ( 221687 )
    How is an article that focuses on many other things and mentions Linux two times fodder for the peanut gallery again?
  • by MourningBlade ( 182180 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:13PM (#5371496) Homepage

    I can see it now....

    Linus: We can now be loaded in Windows as a driver, either taking over the entire system, leaving the Windows API and GUI shim in place, or just providing industry standards.

    Microsoft: Our new mandatory patch fixes a recent stability feature....

  • by alaric187 ( 633477 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:14PM (#5371505)
    These articles make me sad. I mean, think about it. Doesn't Bill Gates seem like the type of guy you could kick back and watch LotR with? Seriously, he seems like your standard cool dork guy. I wonder how he could have ever sold out like that...

    Oh yeah, the billions of dollars he's worth. I'd sell out too for some of that kinda loot. If someone gave me just $1 billion* I'd spend the rest of my life convincing people how cool Microsoft is.

    *=obviously, I'm just kidding. My price would definately only be around the $1 million mark
  • After many legal battles over Microsoft's monopoly - the court rules that to pay the fines to the US government Microsoft has to be sold to them. It then becomes part of the State. The end. :)

  • all your base belong to us
  • by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:16PM (#5371528)
    "It describes how its customers and parners are reacting to its heavy-handed tactics..."

    So.. what'd they do? Research gunpowder? Build more villagers?

  • From the article:

    Then there's the widely held notion among critics that Microsoft is essentially unchanged after its antitrust settlement with the federal government. Earlier this month, competitors alleged in a complaint to the European Union that the company is still using its monopoly on PC operating systems to shoulder into new markets.
    ...
    Customers are less likely to praise the company's software than to gripe about its prices, aggressive sales tactics and stranglehold on their machines even as it changes its practices as a result of the antitrust case.


    It doesn't sound like MS has changed much at all. Or am I missing something?
  • I think Microsoft has somthing to do with this article and the *timing* of their adware they placed an inch below the story...

    I need to point my finger at someone. Is it slashdot that holds its own ads or is it the Open Source Developers Network (OSDN) that serves the ads? If I remember corectly, isn't the OSDN a subsidiary (owned) by VA Software (NASDAQ: LNUX)? This is sad, if VA calls this their business model: throwing banners at anyone, for small money. VA should have stayed in the desktop and server market, or at least enter into the notebook market with portable thin terminals, just as DEC first entered into the market with thin terminals and mainframes. Realistically, who would want a laptop-like computer, boots linuxBIOS into a Linux, with a lean XFree86 4.3, with your RADEON 9000, no harddrive; just the basics in portability; somewhat like a PDA with a large pretty screen and infinite expansion capabilities that don't limit you to embedded dirtware? Or is that what Microsoft plans to do with their "Tablet PC"? Damn I despise shitty software companies throwing their monopoly money around in markets where their product is the dead worst yet is found everywhere.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:19PM (#5371547)
    Microsoft will undoubtedly continue to be a strong corporation for as long as Bill G is actively involved in the management. He's very agressive, but his killer intelligence is even more impressive.

    Microsoft and Linux are taking small amounts of market share away from each other, but both are winning big at the expense of proprietary UNIX systems. Microsoft continues to look for ways to get more money from existing customers, but they back away from schemes that don't work. They also expand market share by improving products; new Windows operating systems on IA64 (and on x86-64 when it is available) and better management features mean that Windows is going upscale.

    At the same time, they are expanding into new markets. Although the XBOX is losing money, it is a new platform from a new player in its market. Sony wants to push the PS3 as a PC replacement, but it won't happen. PC capabilities are increasing faster than a system that isn't updated for several years can, and the XBOX2 will continue the XBOX tradition of being technically superior to the competition.

    Microsoft is expanding into other promising segments as well. Small and embedded devices (phones, VCRs, tablet PCs, cars) form a key part of the future plans.

    Anyway, my point isn't to worship Microsoft. Just to point out that their business is exceptionally well run and well positioned for the future. Those are facts you would normally miss reading Slashdot.
  • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:20PM (#5371564) Homepage
    If 27 is middle age, then I guess it's about time for me to buy a flashy new car and have an affair.
  • But the court findings that Microsoft violated antitrust law revealed the company's harsh side, and today it's distrusted by rivals and even partners.

    Most people who've watched the story can already guess this.

    • Microsoft licenses Java(a real good sign back then), then corrupts it.
    • Microsoft develops USB with Intel, but is working with AMD on its Hammer support.
    • Microsoft pretends to adopt Open Source, calls it Shared Source, and tells people it's Just As Good.
  • by burgburgburg ( 574866 ) <splisken06@NoSpAm.email.com> on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:21PM (#5371569)
    Gates insists the company has maintained an entrepreneurial culture that encourages creativity and innovation

    In competitors, agreed.

  • What scares me. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Slime-dogg ( 120473 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:21PM (#5371573) Journal

    "In a sense, despite the market climate, everything, we need to be even more committed to charging in and helping out and building products in areas where we don't compete today ... because that's what's really in the best interest of the customers," Ballmer said.

    The last thing I want is for MS to be in new markets. They have a tendancy to move in to a market, play 'fairly', and manage to use Windows to kill everyone in the market.

    The problem here is that they don't really make great products. They make mediocre products that 'look nice,' but nothing that's really spectacular. Shouldn't they be dedicating more of their time towards creating an OS that is not a security risk, and not in expansion to other markets?

  • by Flamerule ( 467257 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:22PM (#5371577)
    I'm not really familiar with how things work in Seattle, but that was a pretty flimsy piece. We get lines like the following, supportive of Microsoft:
    The 28-year-old company is transforming from a fast-growing, young organization into a big, mature enterprise more aware of its responsibilities and the effects of its legendary aggressive -- even illegal -- behavior. The company is trying to adopt a more paternal role. It's using its vast resources to help the ailing PC industry in new ways.
    Then we hear about the viewpoint of the anonymous, amorphous "critics":
    Then there's the widely held notion among critics that Microsoft is essentially unchanged after its antitrust settlement with the federal government.
    ... except 2 paragraphs down, the writer flat out says that Microsoft is changing, downplaying the validity of customers' complaints.
    Customers are less likely to praise the company's software than to gripe about its prices, aggressive sales tactics and stranglehold on their machines -- even as it changes its practices as a result of the antitrust case.
    Anyway, there's a lot more stuff like that. It's not a blatant flack piece, but they've got Gates and Ballmer with smooth marketing-speak from the interview, and no one to respond and call them out on it. If the Seattle Times wants to present a more reasoned article, they should actually go out and get more objective viewpoints than a single "technology analyst" with the "Giga Information Group".
    • Yeah, kinda like when NewsForge does a piece on Alan Cox or Linus Torvalds.
    • I am from Seattle and I can tell you that is pretty much how both major papers there treat Boeing, Microsoft and other big employers in the area. (Actually they are a little meaner to Boeing since the company bailed on Seattle for their corporate headquarters.) When you carry a big chunk of the local economy you get the VIP treatment just about everywhere.

      I suspect many other large cities with a few big companies work the same.
  • innovation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cribb ( 632424 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:25PM (#5371607)
    i really hope that what they say in the interview about microsoft investing more into helping the computer industry and boosting promising technologies like tablet pc.
    unfortunately microsoft have always had the habit of promising much and doing nothing.

    look at intel, they also dominate the CPU market, but they introduced hyperthreading to the mass market, now they are trying to make wireless lan a standard. in comparison, the latest major two innovations microsoft made (kinda) was ripping off mac os's user interface in windows95, and using the NT kernel on desktop computer (yaay, a stable os, what a great breakthrough)

    atleast we get to read another interview with bill gates, and again he leaves the impression that he is simply a geek living his dream.
    ah well, let's hope that in his view of the future some good news comes from microsoft, for a change, and they start using all that money and influence for something useful, instead using it to control the computer market, as we saw today as microsoft didn't bring out the opteron version of windows.

  • by argoff ( 142580 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:27PM (#5371618)

    IMHO, this just highlites whats really going on in the US economey now days. Companies with big revenue streams like MS (and even RIAA members) are in effect forbidden from investing in the next generation technology with the highest growth rates like Linux (and p2p) because they cut into this revenue. Magnify this by millions of other companies and industries and you have a real economic problem - that will not be solved nicely. With trillions at stake, don't be supprised if all hell breaks loose.
  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:32PM (#5371653)
    I love this bit:

    The company is trying to adopt a more paternal role. It's using its vast resources to help the ailing PC industry in new ways.

    So, Microsoft's press pack for lazy journalists says that MS is now a mature grown-up company. Lazy journalist writes that MS has changed for the better.

    Argh. And don't you just hate MS doublespeak!:

    "[..]we need to be even more committed to charging in and helping out and building products in areas where we don't compete today ... because that's what's really in the best interest of the customers," Ballmer said.

    Steve. Please. Drop the bullshit. You need to move into other markets to maintain your current revenue growth. It is not because "that's what's really in the best interest of the customers".

    Do you think Microsofties say these things to themselves so many times that they end up believing them? It's kind of like a bizarre cult. I chatted to some friends of friends the other day who work at Microsoft. I was ruminating on the facts surronding OSS. They just flipped. They couldn't believe that I could be so stupid as to think that OSS was ever going to get anywhere. MS calls OSS people "zealots", but believe me, you wouldn't believe how fanatical and brain-washed some Microsofties are.

    Rant over and out.
    • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @02:03PM (#5371944)
      MS calls OSS people "zealots", but believe me, you wouldn't believe how fanatical and brain-washed some Microsofties are.

      Oh, absolutely agreed. Check this blog entry out from a Microsoft employee [netcrucible.com].

      Apparently, Microsoft isn't anti-open-source now, and the FSF has a nefarious hidden agenda that somehow in over a decade and a half of consistantly sticking to its principles has yet to be revealed.

      Of course, the author fails to enlighten us as to what this "agenda" might be.

      Obviously you can't simply airbrush all MS employees together. Some of them are really into Linux. Many simply don't care, or don't see how it's relevant. A few are just curious (MS veep to me, "so, what apps do you guys use then?").

      Then a few (probably the ones with heavy investments in MS stock) flip out over it. I think Bill Gates falls into the middle category - he simply doesn't care.

      I mean does anybody else get the impression that Bill is pretty well insulated from what's going on in the company? I've read something like 3 interviews with him in the last few weeks, and none of them talk about anything other than his latest cool toys. He's practically never questioned hard about Linux for instance (although sometimes ballmer gets it), he just talks about how great the Tablet PC is, or how fab enormous computerised watches are.

      I can't say I blame him. After all he's been through, with a passion for technology and practically unlimited funding I'd be very tempted to draw away from the business and simply focus on playing with cool stuff. But he's basically a figurehead these days, nothing more. An icon of what Microsoft once was.

  • Zeitgeist? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Snork Asaurus ( 595692 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:34PM (#5371680) Journal
    Linux being one of the major drivers for this decade

    Just for the hell of it, the other day I typed 'Windows' into Google. I got (about) 57,600,000 results.

    Then I typed 'Linux'. I got (about) 53,700,000 results.

    Now, one could write a whole book on how unscientific those statistics are, but it was still interesting to see a (damned near) 1:1 ratio. I had anticipated something more like 5:1

    • by glwtta ( 532858 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @02:17PM (#5372083) Homepage
      Right, of course it's conceivable that the word 'Windows' is used to describe something other than Microsoft's Windows, like let's say, windows. Whereas for Linux, you just pretty much get linux... oh, and this thing [uri.edu] (and I doubt it generates a lot of the hits)
    • Re:Zeitgeist? (Score:3, Interesting)

      Just for the hell of it, the other day I typed 'Windows' into Google. I got (about) 57,600,000 results.

      Then I typed 'Linux'. I got (about) 53,700,000 results.

      Now, one could write a whole book on how unscientific those statistics are, but it was still interesting to see a (damned near) 1:1 ratio.


      It's closer to 1:1 than you think. The query "windows -microsoft -nt -xp -98 -2000" gives almost exclusively links to the kind of windows that people have in their walls, and there are 4,730,000 of those, more than making up the difference you saw.

      This may be unscientific for a variety of reasons, but reproducibility is not one of them
    • Linux has owned the net for ages.

      Try googling for Wine [google.com].

      It always makes me giggle when I think of all these prim middle aged ladies sitting on the interweb to look for the latest vintage, only to come across "A free implementation of Windows on UNIX". I can see the "WTF?" thought bubbles appearing now ;)

  • by wfrp01 ( 82831 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:44PM (#5371775) Journal
    Gates talks excitedly about putting together software he thinks may change the world.

    Microsoft's greatest contribution to the computing landscape is not software. There is nothing particularly innovative or inspired about anything they have ever written. I'm not saying it's bad software, just that there's very little that they have done that wasn't preceded by other less successful counterparts.

    Microsoft's great contribution is their business method. Ensure customer loyalty by ensnaring them with de-facto proprietary standards. They aren't the only ones playing this game, but they are far and away the best at it.

    Microsoft's business model, not their software (or their service, for that matter), is responsible for their success. Those who believe shareholder value at any cost is the ultimate objective can be very happy. On the other hand, those who believe customer loyalty should be earned, rather than enforced by patents, copyrights, licensing and killing off the competition are mortified.

    I don't know anyone who is delighted to use Microsoft products. I know a lot of people who feel they have no choice. Given the option to use a truly viable alternative, they would. I don't myself see such an alternative available today. However, I do think the writing is on the wall. And when the tide turns, it will be like a dam bursting.
  • Except... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:48PM (#5371809) Homepage Journal

    It will be common sense that if you go to a meeting that's recorded digitally ... you can go back and get that information."

    Um, excuse me Bill, but isn't this what Palladium and Trusted Computing(TM) are supposed to eliminate? You can no longer go back and get that information unless your DRM module allows you to. Which means that basically the author, your employer, or Microsoft, can lock you out of your own data.

    Something just occurred to me regarding DRM. Once Microsoft has succeeded in entrenching DRM in the PC marketplace, what is to keep them from charging their customers royalties for every Office document they view? The technology is there - Microsoft Office could encrypt your documents, and refuse to read them after a specified period of time, unless you bought an upgrade. I can see it now - it would be sold as "Legacy Support Services - with a simple upgrade, you'll be able to view documents created 2 or more years ago!..."

    With the advent of MSDOS, people began paying for what they used to get for free. How long will it be before people expect to send Microsoft money every time they view documents created with Microsoft software? How long will it be before Microsoft charges developers royalties for every copy of a program that runs on Windows? Think it can't happen? Think Palladium and Trusted Computing.

  • by EggMan2000 ( 308859 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:50PM (#5371829) Homepage Journal
    I for one certainly do not feel that MS is at middle age. Their products are still making huge profits. Windows and Office especially are very profitable. Even their hardware is making money for the company. Bill on the other hand.. is middle-aged.

    Furthermore I expect to see great things for him after he retires. He is a bright guy and is doing great things with his fortune for the betterment of human kind. The Gates foundation [gatesfoundation.org] is almost ten years old, and has given away so much money to find cures for diseases, and poverty. To those that take issue with Gates Foundation giving PCs with Windows to third World Countries, would you expect him to give Macs?

    My prediction: In fifty years junior high school kids will be learning about the Gate's vaccine for Malaria. (named after the benefactor for the research)
    • by lunenburg ( 37393 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @02:30PM (#5372218) Homepage
      My prediction: In fifty years junior high school kids will be learning about the Gate's vaccine for Malaria. (named after the benefactor for the research)

      After, of course, those schoolkids plunk down $25 for a 15-minute limited copy of the Gates Vaccine MS-PDF (tied to their computer at school - if they want to read it at home, it's $50 for the "extra license") on their Trusted Computing Tablet PC (c)
  • by Kefaa ( 76147 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:53PM (#5371863)
    I believe this is a good indication of split from how Bill Gates sees the world and how the rest of the world sees itself. The problem is a touch of reality. One where the business is not technology but the use of technology for business. An area that MS seems to fail at way too often, given their scope. Instead, their success tends to be from the hard work of developers outside of the products themselves.

    From the article:
    "...It will be common sense that you can correspond with your doctor and ask him questions electronically. It will be common sense that if you go to a meeting that's recorded digitally ... you can go back and get that information."
    It is not common sense. My doctor does not correspond electronically for two reasons. He is busy and he gains no revenue from it. Doctor's do not sit in their office waiting for someone to show up.(Try to see your doctor the same day you call). As for recording digitally that again is economically available today, but it fails to meet a wide business need. Instead, I call up Jane and ask "Was that two foobars or three you wanted?" I don't go to the archives and pull the video. Perhaps it is just his lawyers talking, in which case the video will expire in 30 days and be self destructive.

    as for

    If it works as planned, an airline would be able to update a passenger's on-line calendar if a flight were delayed, while notifying the passenger of the change with an e-mail and a phone message. One goal is to create a standard format so that data could be read by whatever device the passenger uses.
    Again, a solution looking for a problem. Since a flight is not legally "late" until it does not push off, do you really expect an airline to send you an email in the morning?

    As for a standard message format, they could have that today. They selected to remain proprietary, no one is holding a gun to their head. Let's see support for a universal open document standard and we would all be happy.(Well, except MS.)

    "In addition to creating new software to entice people to buy more powerful computers, Microsoft is designing new types of computers, encouraging PC makers to build them."
    Yes, the do this and not for the business' that is using it. Who wanted to go to an OS who's base requirements were four or five times the previous release? Hardware makers. Do I like having a 2.0ghz chip and a gig of memory for compiles? You bet. Does business appreciate needing to update an entire administration pool to run W2k and XP? Not even a little.

    and finally, the "lost leader" thrown in to later claim "everyone knew it was coming:"
    One key feature is expected to be a new file-storage system for better organizing things stored on a Windows-based PC. It could finally make it easy for people to search and find all sorts of files -- contacts, printers, documents, programs, photos -- with a single search tool.
    Sadly, almost no one in the mainstream recognizes this for what it is. A shutout of other devices, services and software. I predict this is going to be a 100% legally encased product that will prevent or impede anything from interacting that is not MS. Anyone (i.e. SAMBA) trying to engineer a solution can look to DCMA for guidence. Nothing more complicated than that.

  • by Swaffs ( 470184 ) <swaff&fudo,org> on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:57PM (#5371892) Homepage
    When his conversation occasionally strays from technology these days, Bill Gates sounds like any middle-age working dad.

    The 47-year-old Microsoft chairman has a good idea about when he'll be retiring, he enjoys driving his daughter to school, and he has a home-improvement project he wants to get to one of these days.

    But first he has a few things to get done at the office, such as build Microsoft's software platform for the next era of computing and reinvigorate the sluggish computer industry along the way.

    With the enthusiasm of a science student working on a killer project, Gates talks excitedly about putting together software he thinks may change the world."

    Four paragraphs and not a mention of what the article has to do with. This is why most Slashdot readers don't read the articles. What a waste of time.

  • by buzban ( 227721 ) <buz@NospAM.buzban.net> on Monday February 24, 2003 @01:57PM (#5371897) Homepage
    old news for some, i'm sure, but this snippet is interesting:
    a new version of Windows code-named Longhorn. One key feature is expected to be a new file-storage system for better organizing things stored on a Windows-based PC. It could finally make it easy for people to search and find all sorts of files -- contacts, printers, documents, programs, photos -- with a single search tool.

    wonder if it's anything like non-HFS systems, like this [slashdot.org]?
  • ARROGANCE! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @02:10PM (#5372007) Homepage Journal
    "I'm not an economist, but I think sometime in the next five years you'll see that turn around," he said. "And I think the advances we're making this year and next year will be part of the reason that will turn around ... the extra productivity and efficiency that Web services and the new form factors, simpler forms of communication will bring will help drive that productivity."

    I can't believe it. Ok, well, actually I can. How much sheer arrogance does it take for Gates to claim that the economy will recover when, and only when, Microsoft "innovations" make it possible?

    This is the kind of thing that makes me want to just reach through the screen and choke the living sh*t out of Gates. He's a megalomaniac evil businessman posing as a lovable geek. And people buy it.
  • by Bendebecker ( 633126 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @02:21PM (#5372127) Journal
    Microsoft also wants to provide a consistent, predictable experience for people who use its software on various devices.
    I take it they mean it will crash once a day...
  • Middle Age huh... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Junta ( 36770 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @02:30PM (#5372219)
    Then I guess the XP look is like their getting a sports car? But I guess they reverted too far, the style looks more like Playskool...

    Seriously though, It in many ways seems that they may have reached a peak and are falling from it. The 2000 products I think were the pinnacle in the professional world. Even though XP has a 'professional' edition, businesses seem to not really care about it.

    Business people aren't excited about it if for no other reason than there being no 'XP Server'. While this has no technical merit, suits like to see consistancy, and feel that the best match for '2000 Servers' are '2000 Workstations', even if not always true. Plus, the new default look doesn't give an impression of 'professional', and the arrangement of the new start menu and desktop configuration can annoy them to no end. Yes all these things can be changed, but in first impressions, it really makes suits doubt the platform.

    For IT people, they see that XP added shiny round windows and.... ummm..... that's just about it. They know it is an incremental update with few non-cosmetic feature enhancements. They know that while it offers little to no practical benefit, it at the same time will forever be slightly less tested and proven than Windows 2000 with all their respective updates. Additionally, though pretty efficient, the new graphics have some impact on performance, and at times the impact can be drastic if your video card isn't perfect.

    Legal departments that bother to look at MS EULAs know to be scared more and more with every revision. MS is really trying to push their ground more and more, and they really haven't been giving back anything.

    XP was a great thing to home users, finally going to the 2000 core for that segment. I would say XP could be the peak for the home segment, but I know full well that the home segment will buy up pretty, shiny, useless improvements endlessly. I think MS knows that too and is moving more and more into that segment (XBox, Tablets, Media Center..)

    Windows 2000 offered a great deal of improvement over NT4 (mainly AD, but other stuff too). Windows XP offers next to nothing. Looking at the upcoming Windows 2003 release, there isn't that much to be excited about. Their revolutionary filesystem is the *only* feature I see that anyone cares much about, and I'm not sure how the market will ultimately view the feature.
  • by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @02:31PM (#5372234)
    There's been little difference between Windows and Linux and OS X, especially since XP was released. They're all variations on a theme. Linux is cleaner if you're writing command line applications, but it's just as messy as Windows if you're using KDE or Gnome or, good heavens, xlib.

    But things are changing on the Windows side. Microsoft is poised to deprecate the entire Win32 API in favor of .net. Once that is done, then the Win32 underpinnings can be changed, then removed, and then .net will be the OS. As much as I hate to say it, that will be a huge win in reducing the complexity of the system.
  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @04:45PM (#5373525)
    Why is it that the surviving computer companies are run by people born in the 1950s and 1960s- Apple, MicroSoft, Sun, etc.? People born in the 1970s and 1980s had fabulous opportunities during the venture capital golden age of the 1990s, but for the most part blew it. There are a few surviors like Yahoo, Google, Red Hat, but nothing as dynamic as the boomer companies. What is the reason? Business and social immaturity? TEchnological immaturity?
  • In MS own hometown The Seattle times doesn't use any MS products to host.. http://uptime.netcraft.com/up/graph/?host=seattlet imes.nwsource.com
  • by NullProg ( 70833 ) on Monday February 24, 2003 @10:04PM (#5376049) Homepage Journal
    Several posters have been complaining about Bill's lack of Windows response towards Linux. Here is your answer, but don't flame me, flame the proof or logic.

    It's not that Bill Gates doesn't care about linux, he just doesn't know how to compete with it. If you read his biography you will find he is one of the most competitive people alive. He loves to win, sometimes at any cost. It's just a challenge to him.

    Bill is confused about linux. He can't compete on price. He definitely cannot compete with the model (open source). Linux scales better than windows from small embedded computers up to the big iron. He can't use his past exclusive contracts with the computer makers to stop the linux distribution channel (like he did with OS/2, Dr DOS, GEOS, etc.). KDE/GNOME/OpenOffice will soon be a transparent replacement for Explorer and MS Office.

    I think we have already seen Bill's decision regarding linux (right or wrong). Lock the customer into using windows until Microsoft finds another revenue stream to replace it. Passport, .Net, DRM, and Office 11 are all designed to keep you within Windows.

    Your computer and the O/S may be a commodity, your data isn't. Your pictures, spreadsheets, logs, documents, Music, etc. needs to belong to Microsoft and they know this.

    Enjoy.

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