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Microsoft's Forgotten Mistakes 700

seattlenerd writes "In light of all of the hype about how much cash Microsoft is sitting on, it's good to be reminded that they do fail. A lot. This piece in Seattle Weekly points out some of the many failures -- from ActiMates Barney to Microsoft at Work to pending disasters in smartphones and interactive TV (despite recent PR-worthy announcements). But like most litter, the failures are swept under the rug in the hopes people don't remember that many 'new' Microsoft ideas are recycled from its own history." Of course, like any big company, Microsoft is not a monolith.
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Microsoft's Forgotten Mistakes

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  • by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:22PM (#6553809) Journal
    You forgot to mention Windows.
    • Re:MS Failures... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mdvolm ( 68424 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:27PM (#6553850) Homepage
      That was one heck of a (multi-billion dollar) failure; and in their favor!

      My failures have never amounted to much...
    • by reynaert ( 264437 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @06:51PM (#6554461)
      I'm surprised nobody mentioned Microsoft OS/2.
  • by savaget ( 26702 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:23PM (#6553815)
    Don't forget Microsoft Bob!
    • by jpmkm ( 160526 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:24PM (#6553830) Homepage
      I'm pretty sure they didn't.
    • by TedCheshireAcad ( 311748 ) <{ted} {at} {}> on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:27PM (#6553855) Homepage
      MS Bob was a bad idea not only programmatically, but also conceptually. A 'virtual office'? It defeated the idea of computing as an office aide, and more of an office replacement.

      Truly an example of why coding to the lowest common denominator of users can be a bad idea.
      • I disagree. At the concept level, its a good idea. unfortunatly it was implemented poorly and continue to be rolled out even thought the engineer new better.

        You can thank the now Mrs. Gates.

    • The highlight of Macworld Boston for me was the excellent anti-MS Bob t-shirts. [] The back of the shirt featured a Marathon "Bob" (human assistant) grabbing MS Bob by his collar and holding a gun to his face. In bloody letters the caption read, "My Bob is bigger than your Bob." Priceless.

    • Microsoft Bob Day (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @07:12PM (#6554591)
      It's nice to know I'm not the only one with embarrassing stuff sitting in the Google Groups archive []...

      REDMOND, WASHINGTON, U.S.A., 1995 MAR 31 (NB) -- Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) Chairman Bill gates has named this "Microsoft Bob Day." Bob is the nerdy looking guy with the black plastic-frame glasses who, according to Microsoft "gives new meaning" to the computer term "user friendly"
      Today is Microsoft Bob Day because it is the first day the user interface software of that name will be available in retail outlets. Microsoft hopes every IBM-compatible user in the country will welcome Microsoft Bob into their home and/or office. Bob features animated personal guides that navigate users through Bob's eight applications.
      Microsoft may see Bob as a "simpler" user interface, but retailers see it as a sales tool, with several mass market retailers featuring Bob promotions. Sears stores are offering consumers the opportunity to meet Bob via exclusive "technology makeovers." Through April 30, 1995, the national chain is offering a personal consultation to help assess your level of computer knowledge and experience. The consultation is designed to show that with Microsoft Bob's help just about anyone can be a "techno-whiz."
      CompUSA is so enamored with Microsoft Bob it will offer two days -- April 29 and 30 -- of Bob demos and promotions in all its retail outlets. "Bob allows us to talk to an even broader mix of customers," said Larry Mondry, CompUSA executive vice president of merchandising.
      The underlying philosophy of Microsoft Bob may be "simplicity of use," but it won't run on a simple PC. As a minimum you need Windows 3.1 or higher, a 486 or higher microprocessor, eight megabytes (MB) of memory, 30MB of available hard disk space, a Super VGA 256-color monitor, and a mouse of comparable pointing device. That eliminates many of the PCs in homes and small offices that have 4MB of memory, unless the owner is willing to upgrade. If you want Bob to send your electronic-mail or pay your bills online you will also need a modem. Microsoft also calls a sound card and speakers "recommended options."
      Microsoft is banking heavily on Bob's ease of use. As a result there is no manual with the software. Each user can choose one of the animated helpers Bob provides, which include a dog, a cat, "Scuz" the teenager, a parrot, and a "friendly dragon."
      Microsoft Bob's opening screen is a red front door with a brass door knocker and your personal animated helper to suggest, through pointing and text messages, where you should go. Interestingly, while the guy with the friendly smile and the heavy glasses is the namesake of the program, he doesn't actually appear in the software.
      The eight functions Bob brings to your home or office are a letter writer, calendar, checkbook/financial management program, household manager for managing household information, address book, e-mail, a quiz game called GeoSafari, and a financial guide that provides financial information and tips. The various programs are integrated so you can write a letter and pull in the appropriate address from the address book, then send the letter electronically via e-mail.
      Bob may be a gamble for Microsoft. The company hopes users will accept the cartoonish look-and-feel of the program intended to make computing easier, but it remains to be seen if experienced computer users will be attracted to the program.
      When Bill Gates introduced Microsoft Bob in January at the Consumer Electronics Show he pointed out that Bob is for both new users and users who have a computer but don't make use of it because it requires too much in the way of learning skills and pouring through manuals. "Using Bob, people will learn faster and easier and even learn more about application features they would not otherwise become familiar with," said Gates.
      Bob uses a relatively new user interface technique, called a
  • Abe Lincoln... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Superfreaker ( 581067 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:25PM (#6553834) Homepage Journal
    ...failed at just about everything before becoming president.
    You can't innovate without failure (opens door for innovation comment trolls). The article discusses technologies that they DID help pioneer, not just the ones they usurped.

    • Re:Abe Lincoln... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TrippTDF ( 513419 )
      ...failed at just about everything before becoming president.
      You can't innovate without failure (opens door for innovation comment trolls). The article discusses technologies that they DID help pioneer, not just the ones they usurped.

      There are a lot of Venture Capitalists that won't even think to give you money unless you've got a failure or two behind you.

      -and let's not forget the term "Trial and Error" even if you are not intending to use it, there is an element of it in any venture.
    • by burgburgburg ( 574866 ) <> on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:57PM (#6554124)
      [spoiler alert]

      Young Mr. Lincoln [] saved those Clay boys and proved that it was John Palmer Cass that did the stabbing.

      If that wasn't an innovative use of the Farmer's Almanac to prove it couldn't have been moon bright, I don't know what is!

    • There was a Nike commercial that ran a little while ago with Michael Jordan saying:

      "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

      I have no more love for MS and what they do and how they do it than anyone else here, but no one ever accomplishes very much without repeated failures along the way.
  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:25PM (#6553841)
    ...well, not when you've got guaranteed income from locking millions of customers into your cash cows. Gotta spend money on something or investors will get all uppity and start demanding dividends and whatnot.

    But seriously, everybody knows experimentation and failure cannot be avoided. Most businesses just don't have the luxury of failing with no penalty.

  • Flashbacks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by isam_b ( 635273 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:28PM (#6553869) Homepage
    It is really interting to read about Microsoft Flops.. Although I had been using Linux as a main OS for 6 years, I have to say that there are a number of failiars that the Open Source (Free software, what ever) community faced in the past years as well.. what counts is how did they get over it, and pass it. Microsoft (Although I generally disagree with thier policies) had been successful in letting things go behind them, and move forward, while I still hear people in the OSS talk about Coral Linux and other failed OSS based projects.. Move on
  • Right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PincheGab ( 640283 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:29PM (#6553879)
    And as soon as you go into business for yourself, you will learn that failure is an integral and unavoidable part of success. If you think that big companies get absolutely everything right, you are very very wrong.

    Now, why would failures "be swept under the rug"? Failures are abandoned projects, never-finished products, non-sellers, etc... They are simply left behind, not hidden.

    There's a famous cliche that says "If you never fail, you are not taking enough risks." As a business person and someone who has failed several times before getting it right, I can tell you the saying is true. If you dislike failure, then go into business.

    In other words, what the hell is your point?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:30PM (#6553890)
    Of course, like any big company, Microsoft is not a monolith.....

    Yes, but they do have a heart of stone.

    Looks Like Troll Microsoft Day.
  • This flamebait, nah. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by binaryDigit ( 557647 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:32PM (#6553903)
    The nerve of Microsoft to want people to not think about their failures and only focus on success'. After all, so many other companies have been perfect in all their products. And who wants innovation anyway (yeah, I know, M$ doesn't really "innovate" anyway). Better to stay tried and true and realize that it's better to limp along with mediocrity than to go out on a limb and fail.

    Actually, I think the topic is intersting, as in genuinly interesting to see the things that they've tried and failed at. Those things they tried and failed and tried and failed and eventually succeeded (with Windows being the most obvious example). And obviously some attempts were quite humerous, but to turn this into a "gee see how much M$ really sucks" is just lame and shows how much some /.'ers need to go out and get a life and gain some perspective.
  • by leeet ( 543121 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:32PM (#6553906) Homepage
    Windows wouldn't be windows if MS would've stayed with IBM and OS/2.
  • Nice flamebait! (Score:5, Informative)

    by MisterFancypants ( 615129 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:34PM (#6553918)
    According to CIOs and studies such as the one the Peopleware book is based on the *majority* of started software projects fail. Why should we expect Microsoft to buck the norm here?

    in the hopes people don't remember that many 'new' Microsoft ideas are recycled from its own history."

    Microsoft's try-try-again philosophy and focused determination are why it is at the top of the heap of software companies and why they are sitting on the 45 billion in cash now.

    This being Slashdot, people will say that the reason Microsoft is so big is because of its monopoly position, but that is a (rather silly) chicken and egg argument. They'd have no monopoly if they weren't big to begin with -- they certainly weren't a government granted monopoly like AT&T once was.

    • Re:Nice flamebait! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by runenfool ( 503 )
      To some extent you could say they were an IBM granted monopoly.

      Sure IBM just got them in a great position to start with - but you have to admit that without them being granted DOS its pretty likely they would have gone nowhere. They certainly couldn't have used DOS to get Windows, then Windows to get Office, web browsers, and anything else they are strong in.
    • Rhetoric (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tony ( 765 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @06:29PM (#6554334) Journal
      They'd have no monopoly if they weren't big to begin with -- they certainly weren't a government granted monopoly like AT&T once was.

      No, they were an IBM-granted monopoly.

      The "chicken-and-egg" problem isn't a problem, because they got to be a monopoly by exploiting the hobbyist nature of the beginning of the personal computer revolution. Microsoft was there from the beginning; and from the beginning, they used other people's code (BASIC for the Altair, for example, which was ported from available sources; the only thing neat and original about that is the way in which it was ported, and Paul Allen was the one doing the heavy lifting).

      Before the IBM PC (and their Charley Chaplin ads), the Apple ][ was making inroads into corporate culture, though mostly through the back door. Apple did not have much legitimacy in the corporate culture of the time. So, IBM decided (on a lark, essentially) to create a hobbyist computer of their own, only geared toward corporate culture.

      Mr. Gates' mother was on the (Red Cross?) board of directors with one of the top execs of IBM. This connection was Microsoft's major break. As IBM did not take this project too seriously, they met with Bill Gates and Paul Allen, who sold them a CP/M-like operating system they had "developed" for the 8086. (In fact, they had done no such thing.)

      Once they sold IBM on the idea, they scampered back to Seattle and purchased outright the proto-DOS from a small Seattle company. Selling price: $10k. The Seattle company knew nothing about the IBM deal. Mr. Gates screwed this company, instead of dealing fairly with them (which would have involved giving him or his company a small stake in all sales of DOS).

      (At this point, a bunch of you are screaming, "But they made the deal! It was all fair!" To which I reply, no fucking way was it fair. It was exploitation, and preyed on ignorance, which is about as moral as taking sexual advantage of a mentally handicapped person. Businesses can make money without fucking over people at every possible opportunity.)

      So, with IBM's legitimacy, and Microsoft's ownership of of MS-DOS and a deal to ship this DOS with every PC, Microsoft began its PC life with the monopoly on desktop operating systems.

      When the first clones came out, Compaq should have also cloned the OS; ironically, though they weren't willing to pay royalties on the IBM BIOS, they were willing to pay for the OS.

      Those in control of Microsoft have made very cunning deals. But, yes, they *did* start off in a monopoly position of a very small market, and grew as the market grew.

      But, *completely* off-topic, let me pose this question: if Microsoft has proven it will not play fairly with other businesses (that Seattle company wasn't even a competitor at the time, but a potential partner), why should we expect them to play fairly with their customers if they don't have to?

      Microsoft's try-try-again philosophy and focused determination are why it is at the top of the heap of software companies and why they are sitting on the 45 billion in cash now.

      Hardly. Their willingness to fuck over anyone and everyone in pursuit of market dominance is the reason they are at the top of the software heap.

      • Re:Rhetoric (Score:4, Insightful)

        by aziraphale ( 96251 ) on Tuesday July 29, 2003 @07:12AM (#6557728)
        You know, I've heard this story before - many, many times. Not about Microsoft. And when it's about other companies, it's often not couched in such negative terms.

        Here's one variant of it:

        This guy was a small-time businessman, he'd dropped out of college to start a company with a few mates, and they were working on stuff they enjoyed. The product they were working on was pretty niche, and nobody really thought it would go anywhere, but they believed in it. An opportunity came along to work with a big player, and they signed up to the deal - not really knowing how to fulfil their end of the bargain, but knowing they could find some way to do it - that's just how small companies operate. In the end, they bought some obsolete equipment from some other company that couldn't really find a way to make money out of it, and then when the product took off, they ended up millionnaires...

        It's all in how you tell it, isn't it?

        It's easy to say 'Bill knew he had a multi-billion dollar business licensing DOS to IBM, and he cut out the poor saps he bought DOS from', but of course, hindsight's a wonderful thing; MS thought PCs might be big, but there was no guarantee (and until the clones came along, remember, MS was always at risk of IBM bringing out a new platform, or changing the deal). He took a business risk - licensing the software from a small business in Seattle who weren't willing or able to make a similar deal themselves. They charged what they thought it was worth. That they were proven to have grossly undercharged is their mistake - they didn't see its potential as a PC OS, or predict the PC market exploding the way it did - nobody could have. _Not_even_Bill_Gates_ knew it would work out.

        My point is, somebody makes a ten grand investment and ends up in a strong position to take over what is going to be one of the biggest markets in the world - well done him. There's no point moaning about it - just learn from it, and realise that it means everybody else needs to try harder...
  • by Henry V .009 ( 518000 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:34PM (#6553921) Journal
    The first time I ever got to the Easter Egg in Excel:

    "My God, it's full of stars."

    And I am sure that Windows 2025 will periodically lock me out of my house and try to kill me with my robotic lawn mower.
    • And I am sure that Windows 2025 will periodically lock me out of my house and try to kill me with my robotic lawn mower.

      god don't be so cynical. Win 2025 will do none of those things. It might however replay objects when something is changed giving you that strange feeling of Deja Vu, and there's always the posibilty that'll it'l send men in SNAZZY black suits after you if you start asking questions like "What is real?". But these aren't things you should worry about. Nothing to see here. Move along...

      • i strongly disagree. the matrix REQUIRES the ability to have a massive number of concurrent users and to effectively constrain administrator rights away from the majority of them. It clearly isnt windows.
  • Core Business (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rf0 ( 159958 ) <> on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:34PM (#6553925) Homepage
    Like all business they made mistakes when tyring something new. However on their core business they have provided a wide spread, realtivly easy to use concurrent platform with Office + Windows. If you look at all OSS office sweets etc they all at least try to read/write M$ Office as it is a standard. Not saying its a good one but its a standard

    Bob in Marketing can send Maggie in Accounts a spreadsheet and be able to read it. Thats gotta count for something

    • ummm... no (Score:5, Interesting)

      by boarder ( 41071 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:48PM (#6554049) Homepage
      Sure Maggie can read that spreadsheet... assuming she has the same or newer version of Excel... and that she has all the (virus friendly) macros turned on... and that she has the Toolpack Addins installed.

      I used to do support for a large number of purely office users (business office managers, secretaries, etc). I was always fielding questions as to why they couldn't open one person's document or why another person couldn't open theirs. This was at a large public university, so funds weren't just growing on trees; therefore we couldn't just upgrade everytime MS did. Also, with every upgrade there are some tool/method/appearance changes; this means that Maggie has to relearn how to do her special tasks (not all of them, but some).

      It just felt to me that with every Office upgrade, MS tried to do something dramatically different (as opposed to just fixing bugs or giving speed increases). And when you have a large number of users set in their ways (working nicely and efficiently), changing them on a regular basis is not a good idea.
  • by telstar ( 236404 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:35PM (#6553928)
    It's not the Seattle Weekly's job to point out Microsoft's failures ... that's a job for Slashdot!
  • by mblase ( 200735 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:35PM (#6553931)
    Regardless of how much money MS may lose on the hardware, the XBox is an unqualified success in the videogame market. Last I checked, it was still outselling Nintendo's GameCube.

    Watching Microsoft explore new technology markets is like watching King Kong battling airplanes atop the Empire State Building. To win, the airplanes need to be lucky with every shot. King Kong only needs to be lucky once.
    • by Col. Klink (retired) ( 11632 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @06:01PM (#6554149)
      If "units shipped" is the only measure of success, then the CueCat was also an unqualified success.
    • Check again. According to MS, the Xbox had sold 9.4M on the 30:th of June. On the 30:th of March Nintendo had sold 9.55M Gamecubes.

      So, even with a LOT of Xboxes only being sold since they can be modchipped (Gamecubes cannot) and run pirated games aswell as functioning as media-servers or emulator-hosts - AND is being subsidized by Microsoft (latest figures I've seen place that around $100 per unit) - it still fails to sell as good as the Gamecube.

      The Gamecube, being good at ... games. It's not hacked. It
  • What's the point? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by defunc ( 238921 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:37PM (#6553944)
    What's the point of the original poster? Do ./ readers find Microsoft such a despicable entity that they need to post such articles to remind people that they also fail? May be it was meant as a joke, but still, very poor taste.

    For those who hate them so much (they're a business, they are supposed to make money), don't you think one minute any other company in their shoes would have acted differently, including the envious Sun and over zealous Oracle.

    The Gates foundation is today the biggest charitable contributer, funded by the founder himself. Sure, it's a tax relief for him, but he didn't have to do it to help researchers in financial terms in finding vaccin to the most common diseases affecting the 3rd world in the first place. Thats $10 bill available for worthy causes.

    Instead, it's hotter nerdy news to point out the failures of Microsoft as a company. Since when did we become so negative about the good things that's happening in this world?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:37PM (#6553946)
    Microsoft made a huge deal on Hail Storm when they announced it a couple of years ago. Then they very quietly declared it "dead" this Spring.
  • by brooks_talley ( 86840 ) <brooks&frnk,com> on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:38PM (#6553950) Journal
    You mean Microsoft may actually be working to skew news coverage and public opinion towards the things they've been successful at? And away from technical and marketing blunders?

    What an outrage! I'm going to write to my representatives right now and demand a new law that forces companies to educate consumers about both their strengths and weaknesses, and that requires them to spend an equal amount on publicizing past failures as they do on promoting new initiatives.

    I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you. What a failure of the market! What an unconscionable series of dirty tricks from Microsoft! How dare they! Hey, does anyone know what the school assembly is about today?

  • by Aldurn ( 187315 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:38PM (#6553954)
    I do actually have a copy of the Microsoft Wine Guide sitting on my desk.

    I did a double-take when I saw it at the library.

    (It's not on Microsoft's site anymore, but the first Google hit was a review [] of it).
  • by Jonny Ringo ( 444580 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:38PM (#6553956)
    Here is a recent interesting guerrillanews article [].

    "Let me let you in on a little secret about Bill and Melinda Gates so-called ?Foundation.? Gate?s demi-trillionaire status is based on a nasty little monopoly-protecting trade treaty called ?TRIPS? ? the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights rules of the World Trade Organization. TRIPS gives Gates a hammerlock on computer operating systems worldwide, legally granting him a monopoly that the Robber Barons of yore could only dream of. But TRIPS, the rule which helps Gates rule, also bars African governments from buying AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis medicine at cheap market prices. "
  • by YllabianBitPipe ( 647462 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:38PM (#6553957)

    And I mean that literally. When Windows first came out it was a piece of crap. But they have so much money that they can afford for a technology to do terribly for years until a market is built up, the technology gets better (like to version 3), and all the competitors burn through cash and fall by the wayside.

    We laugh at stuff like Tablet PC, Microsoft Reader, XBox or WebTV, but look at some of the "sucesses" of Microsoft and you can realize they had several years of an early period where they sucked, too. Namely, Windows, Pocket PC, Internet Explorer. Just a few years ago, it was thought a foregone conclusion Netscape and Palm owned the market and Microsoft lost.

  • by bakkajin ( 226147 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:39PM (#6553965)
    When I was working at a software store we got one of the Barney's in. We used to cover up the eyes of Barney for a few mintues at a time just to hear the complaints that he would start saying.

    Where did you go?

    I can't see you.

    I'm scared of the dark.

    Let's play another game!

    Cheap laughs at Barney's expense. We never did sell the thing though.
  • by tds67 ( 670584 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:41PM (#6553976)
    Let us not forget the iLoo [], Microsoft's crappiest idea yet.
  • by linuxislandsucks ( 461335 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:41PM (#6553988) Homepage Journal
    what about Mrs Bob?

    oh wait she went on to make min-Bobs with Bill Gates..

  • by tarquin_fim_bim ( 649994 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:48PM (#6554042)
    "Yet Microsoft has trouble whenever it tries to grow outside of this core competency"

    Is competency really the correct word to use here?
  • by gorbachev ( 512743 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:49PM (#6554052) Homepage
    I'm betting the XBox and the various side projects associated with it (XBox Live! and the whole home entertainment center strategy) will be Microsoft's highest profile failure in a year or two.

    When Sony publishes their next generation video game console and starts putting some serious effort into their home entertainment center strategy, it's going to be game over for M$. I have absolutely no doubts about that.

    XBox sales, both hw and sw, are lagging way behind projections, as are XBox Live! subscriptions. M$ is losing an arm and a leg on XBox and the losses are growing, not going down quarter to quarter. Some analysts are estimating losses on XBox to reach $1.7B by the end of 2003.

    They can not sustain this for that much longer, even if they are swimming on money.

    And I'm speaking as an owner of an XBox system (I know, I should be ashamed for buying M$).
    • bollocks. xbox live has smashed projections and MS has the highest game-attach rate of any modern console.

      Xbox is not a failure. KOTOR has been selling like hot cakes since its release last week. MS has come into an industry dominated by sony and already displaced nintendo in the US for the #2 spot. MS has the #1 online system for consoles after less than a year.

      Sony is slowly recalling their previous PS3 hype and backpedalling on all their statements about PS3. Thats the penalty for cranking out hype way ahead of itme ot try and buy time to make something real. It worked to kill the dreamcast, but it wont work with xbox.

      (see also: PS3 WONT have the Cell chip in it)

      Xbox will probably not beat PS2 for this generation, but i do expect it to reach parity. PS3 vs XBox2 is a level playing field, IMO.
    • Getting involved in a land war in Asia
    • Going in against a Sicilian, when death is on the line
  • by TekPolitik ( 147802 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @05:57PM (#6554123) Journal
    .NET - IT departments are starting to realise what .NET is all about and fleeing in droves. A year ago you'd get them asking if you'd be supporting .NET and hoping the answer was "yes", now they're asking about .NET and hoping the answer is "no".
  • MSX? Xenix? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by meehawl ( 73285 ) <meehawl.spam@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Monday July 28, 2003 @06:00PM (#6554143) Homepage Journal
    Oh how quickly they forget. MSX []? Windows 1.0 []? MS Xenix []? The not-so-compatible 1980s MS-DOS Compatibles []? The list goes on and on...
  • by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @06:05PM (#6554175) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft completely missed the boat on the low-cost Intel server bandwagon. After 10 years of Windows NT technology (yeah, it's built into W2K and XP too), Microsoft has failed to gain even an appreciable share in the Intel server market.

    Microsoft has been saying for years that Windows NT/2000/XP is an alternative to UNIX, and later Linux, but their attempt to penetrate the UNIX market has been an abject failure. I think Microsoft is slowly starting to realize that catchy phrases like "Enterprise Class Computing" and "Mission Critical" don't fool the UNIX crowd.

    Granted, I'm not trying to troll, but it seems to me that UNIX and mainframe folks have a much different expectation of reliability and uptime than Microsoft, and Microsoft has been slow in realizing this. At this point, the reliability of WinXP is inconsequential; Microsoft has been so successful on the desktop that they will be forever known as a desktop vendor. When people think of Microsoft, they think of butterflies and games and multimedia - not exactly the images one wants to associate with their "mission critical server" vendor. This, combined with their hostile attitude toward UNIX and the open source philosophy practically gaurantees that Microsoft will never be accepted as anything more than a toy by the UNIX crowd.

    • Just think about where Microsoft has gone in the past 10 years (Windows 3.11 for workgroups to Windows 2003 server) -- and in another 10 or so, where could it be? When MS released WinCE to compete with Palm, people laughed it off. When MS released IE, people laughed at it as an inferior browser to Netscape ... Microsoft Word? haha.. everyone had Wordperfect. Never under estimate MS. Plain and simple. If MS needs to build Windows on a *nix core in order to have the entire enterprise running on the MS platf
    • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @07:53PM (#6554876) Journal
      Are you kidding?

      Microsoft owns well over 50% of this market and they are still growing! They ate SCO for breakfest and badly damaged Novell.

      Yes Linux is here but most studies show it replacing Risc Unix boxes. This trend is continuing. Linux and MS are both gaining and Unix is losing.

      I suppose one could make an argument that Unix is still around and it was pronounced dead by the pro -MS press at ziff davis but it just is not as flexible as Unix.

      Windows2k an Windows2k3 is about as stable and bugfree as unix. Don't pretend it isn't. It really is if you ask any professional administrator. NT4 was a different story. Windows2k3 from the benchmarks I have seen show it can really scale better then w2k on 32-way boxes. Windows is catching up.

      In this new age of cost cutting FreeBSD and Linux may start replacing NT in the future. Proprietary apps written in .net and vb will further increase the demand for Windows. Remember the phb's like uniform platforms and standards. If Windows can run in a given environment then it will be chosen.

      Odd since NT was the unix killer because of its price and it could run on intel hardware. It turns out Linux beat them at its own game and has the pluss of flexibilty that Unix brings.

  • by corgicorgi ( 692903 ) <[corgi_fun] [at] []> on Monday July 28, 2003 @06:07PM (#6554190) Homepage
    Whoever that wrote this probably don't know much about managing a business. In any business, you have to take risks. The difference between a sucessful business and one that is not, is being able to calculate your risks by recognizing its cost and profit. MS's "failure" maybe more apparent because the dollar amount they invest on pushing out a product is more than a small company's entire budget. But that's just scaling. Any company will find some of its investment a hit, and some are miss. You can list all the battles MS has lost in, but I think in the end MS has won the war (ie. it is successful in overall).

    The fact that MS has the infrastructure to invest in so many areas of the market and the backing to take some losts is a sign of a successful company.
  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @06:08PM (#6554194)
    I disaprove of MSFT business practices as much as anybody. But I am in awe of msft's financial success.

    Can anybody name as very successful company that has never made any big mistakes?
  • by gatekeep ( 122108 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @06:16PM (#6554243)
    Lots of people have said this already, but failure is a part of life. Being able to pick up the pieces and persist is what seperates the great and/or successful from the mediocre. Read up sometime about Milton Hershey [] Prior to founding Hershey, the candy company, he went bankrupt at least once, and started several other failed companies. The part that made him successful was his persistence and drive to succeed. After his many failures, he eventually had success and established one of the largest corporations the world has seen.
  • by cmacb ( 547347 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @06:28PM (#6554321) Homepage Journal
    "Microsoft ultimately might become a prisoner of the industry it helped create. Much like IBM, the earlier leader in computing that Microsoft trumped in the 1980s, Microsoft's fate might be as tied to personal computers as IBM's was tied to mainframes."

    Good article up to the last paragraph. Microsoft should strive to be much more like IBM, but it has waited far to long to start. IBM has a huge patent portfolio which they have been a lot more judicious in enforcing than SCO for example. They are also better diversified into the "service" sector. Microsoft has a consulting division, but they are only geared toward helping to sell Microsoft solutions, they quickly show themselves to be nothing more than technical sales reps.

    Microsoft has put it's name on mice and keyboards. Very clever, but they don't make anything. Behind IBM's outsourced hardware is a still viable manufacturing and fabrication operation (again, more fundamental research going on here). You might think of IBM as Microsoft, Dell, and Intel all rolled into one. Each of these companies can succeed or fail based on one or two key product lines. IBM became a true corporation a long time ago. Dell and Microsoft are still the product of individuals, with all the strengths and weaknesses of that approach.

  • Monopoly (Score:5, Informative)

    by Camel Pilot ( 78781 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @06:46PM (#6554436) Homepage Journal
    And it takes a monopoly to be able to survive such stunning blunders like missing the emergence of something as powerful as the internet.

    Without MS monopolistic cash income stream they would have suffered serious blows screwing up like they have. That is why I wish that part of the settlement MS would have been prevented them from buying technology but force them to "innovate" from scratch and compete.

  • by jmoriarty ( 179788 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @06:49PM (#6554451)
    ...went through several revisions. First was the Pink Screen Of Pain, then the Tangerine Screen Of Torture. It wasn't until several million dollars had been poured into Windows development that the Blue Screen Of Death finally became the norm.
  • by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @07:05PM (#6554551)
    Most of these botched Microsoft projects were efforts to extend the PC as an entertainment device.

    Well, the PC isn't an entertainment device, and trying to make it one is as sensible as trying to turn your TV into a computer just because there are chips inside.

    If Microsoft wants to make toys, they should buy a toy company. Otherwise, they should stick to real software.

    And, so should Linux.

  • by mwillems ( 266506 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @07:07PM (#6554559) Homepage
    No M$ lover me, but surely mistakes are exactly what makes business successful?

    For every business idea that takes off, there are always a few that don't. Reading the future is very hard - almost impossible. MS has billions and billions in the bank, meaning it can afford to try and fail - so that it has a steady range of successes. Surely that is a good thing, if you are MS?

    Seems to me we should all want to have enough cash to be able to try this "scattershot and some can't fail to stick" approach to business.


  • This is news? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lseltzer ( 311306 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @07:11PM (#6554584)
    This was one of the great sloppy lines of logic on which the trial was built. You might have noticed that Internet Explorer versions 1, 2, and basically 3 were failures, even though they too were bundled with Windows. THis was because they sucked. Microsoft products succeed when they do what customers want.
  • by Drathos ( 1092 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @08:11PM (#6555023)
    I remember the first (and last) time I saw MS Bob. It was running on a computer at CompUSA. Really annoying.. I asked the nearest sales guy what he thought of if. "Damned annoying. We can't get it to stop."

    I uninstalled it.. He thanked me..
  • by MegaHamsterX ( 635632 ) on Monday July 28, 2003 @09:26PM (#6555576)
    I hope a few people at Microsoft will glance at this, but more than likely they won't, or will and can't change a thing.

    I completely dislike windows. I don't consider it worthy of much more than solitare, however, I like Microsoft applications, they are well put together, have great functionality and work well. Wine wouldn't be where it's at now if this wan't true. MicroSoft's strength is solid applications.

    If Microsoft were to ditch their operating system completely on the desktop and spec a GNU/Linux or FreeBSD OS to be assembled by system integrators it would be a leap forward, no one cares about the operating system, it's the applications. The OS only comes into play when it repeatedly crashes, when explorer crashes, when odd programs cause the whole OS to freak out, or buggy drivers lead you to the BSOD.

    XP is buggy as hell, I can push an XP system in the wrong way and get it to crash quickly, in some cases faster than Win2K.

    Microsoft should port their apps to some sort of VM instruction set and make a VM for each operating system out there. We all know windows would run it faster, I really don't care, I need reliablity. Give me both and Redmond will get my cash, and my client's cash as well.

    Until then OpenOffice gets better every release, X gets better every release and Gnome and KDE are both headed in the right direction, there may soon be no need for MicroSoft at all if this continues.

    Their downfall will be Billy G's arrogance.
  • by DavidBrown ( 177261 ) on Tuesday July 29, 2003 @12:04AM (#6556388) Journal
    The reason why Microsoft is still around is that the company is still taking risks. So what if there are a bunch of failed products in the Microsoft catalog? It's evidence of something that many people don't like to admit: Microsoft is innovative. Some of the innovations don't work, but many its efforts succeed and, at least to date, more than make up for its failures.

  • Interesting Quote (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Quila ( 201335 ) on Tuesday July 29, 2003 @05:36AM (#6557513)
    "They've done a really brilliant job in leveraging their strengths in the desktop operating system and applications and tying it to the server," says Davis.

    Um, isn't that exactly why they were under investigation in the EU?

Were there fewer fools, knaves would starve. - Anonymous