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Gates Embraces Web Service Interoperability 444

djh101010 writes "In a CNN article which looks more like something out of The Onion, Bill Gates expresses his interest in participating in interoperability with rival technologies, through common standards. Specifically mentioned are IBM's WebSphere, and Linux. 'We're being as inclusive as we can,' Gates said of Microsoft's role in the cross-platform project. 'This is a fabric for someone to do e-commerce that's independent of the operating systems that are out there.'
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Gates Embraces Web Service Interoperability

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  • XML (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Plix ( 204304 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:04AM (#6994641) Homepage
    We all know how Gates "embraced" XML for Office 11...
    • Re:XML (Score:4, Funny)

      by EnigmaticSource ( 649695 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:09AM (#6994699)
      Gates said the Redmond, Washington-based company's work toward Web services standards would be "royalty free." That remark led to questions from the audience, which wanted to make sure Gates hadn't misstated the deviation from the company's royalty-based software sales model. "I can't believe I said that," Gates joked.
    • Exactly (Score:5, Informative)

      by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:34AM (#6994996) Homepage Journal
      We all know how Gates "embraced" XML for Office 11...
      You mean how Microsoft shipped XML vocabularies compliant to the W3C XML 1.0 recommendation with schemas for the XML formats used by Word and Excel [], stylesheets to convert WordML to HTML [], and Office products like InfoPath that use over a dozen XML and Web standards in a compliant manner []. Yeah, it is really cool how Microsoft embraced the XML family of technologies.

      Disclaimer: I work on the XML team at Microsoft but not directly with Microsoft Office.
      • Re:Exactly (Score:4, Funny)

        by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:46AM (#6995104) Homepage
        Disclaimer: I work on the XML team at Microsoft but not directly with Microsoft Office.
        What? You are admitting that you work for Microsoft to /.? Wow. You have more balls then I would.
      • Re:Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Vaughn Anderson ( 581869 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @12:04PM (#6995318)
        Disclaimer: I work on the XML team at Microsoft but not directly with Microsoft Office.

        Because one developer says that MS is using XML standards correctly, does this mean that MS will actually keep it's formats open and backwards compatible?

        Keep in mind it's the MS developement team that have created the file format mess in the past that is so horrid that entire countries are moving away from your closed formats. I can't even send an word 2000 doc to my father in-law who has OfficeXP with out it getting screwed up.

        Even if what you say is 100% accurate, and MS delivers a compatible format that works with say, OpenOffice and Start Office, you have absoultely _NO_ gurantees that MS will not change the file format on the next upgrade and at that point turn the data to a completely proprietary form that is accessible only to the next upgrade of office.

        Very few people in their right minds will trust MS anymore, and for good reasons.

      • by penguin7of9 ( 697383 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @12:04PM (#6995323)
        Your "stylesheets to convert WordML to HTML" aren't particularly persuasive when they are distributed in .EXE format with no license information on the web page and with requirements of "Supported Operating Systems: Windows XP".

        If you want to convince people that Microsoft is becoming more open, you have a lot of work ahead of you learning how to distribute standards, sample implementations, and other documentation:
        • Put license information on the web page prominently. People should know what the license is before they download.
        • Distribute your content in a neutral, non-executable format. ZIP is OK. Gzipped tar is OK.
        • Pick a license for things like your style sheets and schemas so that people can actually use them to build interoperable products freely.

        Until you start distributing stuff so that people can actually download and use it without Microsoft products and without signing their life away, all that talk of embracing open standards is just meaningless fluff.
      • Re:Exactly (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rutledjw ( 447990 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @12:04PM (#6995326) Homepage
        I surpised believe you posted this.

        The whole POINT of XML is interoperability. So can this XML be used by someone else? Is it limited to Office?

        If the namespaces can't be reused by another applicaiton, then NO, it isn't "cool" what MS did. It's the classic MS crap. They may as well have forgone the entire process and left it in a binary format.

        "Proprietary" XML is marketing blather and not something that adds value to the end user...

      • Re:Exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

        by cbiltcliffe ( 186293 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @12:11PM (#6995391) Homepage Journal
        You mean how Microsoft shipped XML vocabularies compliant to the W3C XML 1.0 recommendation....

        And how the XML format is only supported with the most expensive version of Office. If someone's spending $800+ on an MS Office, you can be pretty sure they're not looking at alternatives, so you don't need to worry about losing them as a customer through support for XML. The Office Standard customers, who might want to spend $100 on StarOffice, rather than $300 on MS Office, you don't give XML formats to, because they might realize they only need one copy of MS Office, and the rest of their computers can use StarOffice or OpenOffice.

        One more thing, since you claim to work for Microsoft:
        Why is so damned hard to navigate, and why does the site search engine suck so much?
      • Re:Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @12:13PM (#6995413) Homepage
        Please name one vendor other than Microsoft that has announced that their product will be able to read and write Microsoft Word 11 documents.
    • by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:36AM (#6995012)
      How do "we" all know that, when it's not out in stores until Oct. 22? Are you an MSDN subscriber?

      Having said that, for those curious, here is a sample of XML generated by Word, just now created by me. I'm posting this using "Code" as the format so it is formatted correctly.

      Here is the original message (I gave it HTML tags so you can see the formatting I gave it in Word):

      This is a <b>test</b> of <font face="verdana" size="24"><b>XML</b></font>.

      Now , here is the resulting XML after saving that line:

      <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes"?>
      <?mso-application progid="Word.Document"?>
      <w:wordDocument xmlns:w=" 2003/wordml" xmlns:v="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" xmlns:w10="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word" xmlns:sl=" ry/2003/core" xmlns:aml=" ore" xmlns:wx=" /2003/auxHint" xmlns:o="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" xmlns:dt="uuid:C2F41010-65B3-11d1-A29F-00AA00C1488 2" w:macrosPresent="no" w:embeddedObjPresent="no" w:ocxPresent="no" xml:space="preserve"><o:DocumentProperties><o:Titl e>This is a test of XML</o:Title><o:Author>User</o:Author><o:LastAutho r>User</o:LastAuthor><o:Revision>1</o:Revision><o: TotalTime>1</o:TotalTime><o:Created>2003-09-18T15: 29:00Z</o:Created><o:LastSaved>2003-09-18T15:30:00 Z</o:LastSaved><o:Pages>1</o:Pages><o:Words>3</o:W ords><o:Characters>20</o:Characters><o:Company>Whi te Goat Studios</o:Company><o:Lines>1</o:Lines><o:Paragrap hs>1</o:Paragraphs><o:CharactersWithSpaces>22</o:C haractersWithSpaces><o:Version>11.5604</o:Version> </o:DocumentProperties><w:fonts><w:defaultFonts w:ascii="Times New Roman" w:fareast="Times New Roman" w:h-ansi="Times New Roman" w:cs="Times New Roman"/><w:font w:name="Verdana"><w:panose-1 w:val="020B0604030504040204"/><w:charset w:val="00"/><w:family w:val="Swiss"/><w:pitch w:val="variable"/><w:sig w:usb-0="20000287" w:usb-1="00000000" w:usb-2="00000000" w:usb-3="00000000" w:csb-0="0000019F" w:csb-1="00000000"/></w:font></w:fonts><w:styles>< w:versionOfBuiltInStylenames w:val="4"/><w:latentStyles w:defLockedState="off" w:latentStyleCount="156"/><w:style w:type="paragraph" w:default="on" w:styleId="Normal"><w:name w:val="Normal"/><w:rPr><wx:font wx:val="Times New Roman"/><w:sz w:val="24"/><w:sz-cs w:val="24"/><w:lang w:val="EN-US" w:fareast="EN-US" w:bidi="AR-SA"/></w:rPr></w:style><w:styl e w:type="character" w:default="on" w:styleId="DefaultParagraphFont"><w:name w:val="Default Paragraph Font"/><w:semiHidden/></w:style><w:sty le w:type="table" w:default="on" w:styleId="TableNormal"><w:name w:val="Normal Table"/><wx:uiName wx:val="Table Normal"/><w:semiHidden/><w:rPr><wx:fon t wx:val="Times New Roman"/></w:rPr><w:tblPr><w:tblI nd w:w="0" w:type="dxa"/><w:tblCellMar><w:top w:w="0" w:type="dxa"/><w:left w:w="108" w:type="dxa"/><w:bottom w:w="0" w:type="dxa"/><w:right w:w="108" w:type="dxa"/></w:tblCellMar></w:tblPr></w:style>< w:style w:type="list" w:default="on" w:styleId="NoList"><w:name w:val="No List"/><w:semiHidden/></w:style></w:styles><w:docP r
      • What is your point?

        Is your point that this XML file is too big?
        Not enough information in it?
        Hard to parse?

        Hey if you are just after the text then only look for <w:t> tags. I'm guessing that means Word Text.

        I see no problems here.
      • Who said WYSIWYG was easy?
      • Even assuming you're not joking, but assuming that you entered it correctly, what's <; w:versionOfBuiltInStylenames w:val="4"/> doing in there, or <; w:style w:type="list" w:default="on" w:styleId="NoList">? Is that Slashcode munging your text, or is that in the source? ";" isn't a valid name for an element.

        Also, I'm curious, but what happens when you toggle the value in <w:saveInvalidXML w:val="off"/>?

      • by SteveX ( 5640 ) * on Thursday September 18, 2003 @12:01PM (#6995286) Homepage
        OpenOffice actually outputs four different XML files in a zip file when you save a document.. here's what they look like for comparison (for a default document with just the word Hello in it):


        <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
        <!DOCTYPE office:document-content PUBLIC "-// OfficeDocument 1.0//EN" "office.dtd"><office:document-content xmlns:office="" xmlns:style="" xmlns:text="" xmlns:table="" xmlns:draw="" xmlns:fo="" xmlns:xlink="" xmlns:number=" " xmlns:svg="" xmlns:chart="" xmlns:dr3d="" xmlns:math="" xmlns:form="" xmlns:script="" office:class="text" office:version="1.0"><office:script/><office:font- decls><style:font-decl style:name="Tahoma1" fo:font-family="Tahoma"/><style:font-decl style:name="Arial Unicode MS" fo:font-family="&apos;Arial Unicode MS&apos;" style:font-pitch="variable"/><style:font-dec l style:name="Tahoma" fo:font-family="Tahoma" style:font-pitch="variable"/><style:font-dec l style:name="Times New Roman" fo:font-family="&apos;Times New Roman&apos;" style:font-family-generic="roman" style:font-pitch="variable"/></office:font-decls>< office:automatic-styles/><office:body><text:sequen ce-decls><text:sequence-decl text:display-outline-level="0" text:name="Illustration"/><text:sequence-dec l text:display-outline-level="0" text:name="Table"/><text:sequence-decl text:display-outline-level="0" text:name="Text"/><text:sequence-decl text:display-outline-level="0" text:name="Drawing"/></text:sequence-decls><text:p text:style-name="Standard">Hello.</text:p></office :body></office:document-content>


        < ?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
        <!DOCTYPE office:document-meta PUBLIC "-// OfficeDocument 1.0//EN" "office.dtd"><office:document-meta xmlns:office="" xmlns:xlink="" xmlns:dc="" xmlns:meta="" office:version="1.0"><office:meta><meta:generator> 1.1.0 (Win32)</meta:generator><!--645m18(Build:8687)-->< meta:creation-date>2003-09-18T11:55:07</meta:creat ion-date><dc:date>2003-09-18T11:56:33</dc:date><dc :language>en-US</dc:language><meta:editing-cycles> 3</meta:editing-cycles><meta:editing-duration>PT18 S</meta:editing-duration><meta:user-defin ed meta:name="Info 1"/><meta:user-defined meta:name="Info 2"/><meta:user-defined meta:name="Info 3"/><meta:user-defined meta:name="Info 4"/><meta:document-statistic meta:table-count="0" meta:image-count="0" meta:object-count="0" meta:page-count="1" meta:paragraph-count="1" meta:word-count="1" meta:character-count="6"/></office:meta></office:d ocument-meta>

        settings.xml I can't include because it has a UUEncoded section that Slashdot refuses..


        <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
        <!DOCTYPE office:document-styles PUBLIC "-// OfficeDocument 1.0//EN" "office.dtd"><office:document-styles xmlns:office="" xmlns:style="http://openoffi
        • by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @01:02PM (#6995897) Homepage
          At least OOo's XML is compressed in a zip file. Everything I've seen is that good sized documents are decently small in OOo. Compare the same document content in a Word file to an OOo file.

          I say this because I fear some may get the impression that OOo's document format is inefficient based on the parent post.
      • would that be like "Red Herring studios"
  • Or.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by adeyadey ( 678765 )
    ..When I finally own/crush Linux, I want to talk to it..
  • by merlin_jim ( 302773 ) <James.McCracken@ ... .com minus punct> on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:06AM (#6994661)
    I mean this seriously made me think of 99. Obligatory /. .com business plan?

    1. Create interoperable standards so users can migrate from one OS to another without rewriting code
    2. ????
    3. Profit!

    Except I have a strong suspicion that number 2 is:

    2. Erode competitions' standing in marketplace and watch customers gradually migrate to your software, because migration is no longer a hassle
    • "Erode competition's standing" could be OK or not OK. That really depends on what specific action is being done.
      • "Erode competition's standing" could be OK or not OK. That really depends on what specific action is being done.

        Yeah I'm not saying that Step 2 HAS to be evil. I'm just saying that if you're standing at Step 1, then Step 2 is a logical next step for a corporation whose primary goal is increasing shareholder value.
    • isn't that the business plan behind Java?
    • by *weasel ( 174362 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:22AM (#6994866)
      it's not standards to avoid code rewriting, it's interoperability standards for web services.
      basically a framework to sit atop SOAP, for common application standards (security,transaction control,etc).

      you'll still be OSvendor-locked when you write your web service code; but a web service consumer (website end developer) could choose a web service provider with OS-independence.

      this isn't as ground-shaking as it sounds.
      it's analogous to microsoft's embracing of HTML.

      it will be supported (as IE supports w3c html) - and then doubtlessly extended through proprietary means (simplistic analogy to the IE-specific 'marquee' tag), to benefit those who use MS (can only see 'marque' if you use IE). while the extensions won't be necessary to participate (you dont necessarily -need- to see 'marquee'), they're hoping for a critical mass of developers to use their extensions (lots of sites using ) to encourage users to switch over, further incentivizing developers to use their extensions. (enter: feedback loop + network effect)

      'marquee' being a simplistic and not very rich example for the analogy, i know - but you get the idea.
  • Bear Hug (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jad LaFields ( 607990 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:07AM (#6994672)
    And by "embrace", he means "bone-crushing bear hug".
    • embrace
      1. An act of holding close with the arms, usually as an expression of affection; a hug.
      2. An enclosure or encirclement: caught in the jungle's embrace.
      3. Eager acceptance: your embrace of Catholicism.
  • Yikes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TobySmurf ( 680591 )
    Isn't this like a bear "playing" with a couple of salmon in a river? Somehow I doubt that Goliath (Microsoft) really wants to play this point I welcome all conspiracy theory experts to bring forward explanations :-)
  • by weeboo0104 ( 644849 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:07AM (#6994680) Journal
    If you can't beat 'em, join em...
    ...then beat 'em.
  • by lokedhs ( 672255 )
    This isn't the first time seemingly good things has been announced which dissapointed later. I'll rejoice when I see some positive results.
  • "Embrace"
  • Microsoft FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by segment ( 695309 ) <sil@po[ ] ['lit' in gap]> on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:09AM (#6994703) Homepage Journal

    Gates said the Redmond, Washington-based company's work toward Web services standards would be "royalty free." That remark led to questions from the audience, which wanted to make sure Gates hadn't misstated the deviation from the company's royalty-based software sales model.

    Royalty free? Not if SCO can do something about that. What I found a bit odd, would be his comments on standards: "Standards are always a give-to-get bargain," he said. Standards are also done on behalf of everyone for everyone in order to make services work the right way. It's the only way to get products working with eatch other. So for one, he is not obligated to participate in any standards, but at the same time he is as if he doesn't, his products might not perform well under other vendors' products. So in essence whether he likes it or not, he is obligated if he wants to stay in the game and make money. As for the Netscape mention, personally I don't see Netscape as being around too long as a browser considering Netscape's parent AOL recently signed a deal with Microsoft. Just my two coppers...

  • by Ratphace ( 667701 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:10AM (#6994707)

    ..."Standards are always a give-to-get bargain," he said.

    In other words, they are giving so they can get something which in the end they can use to further lock out other applications and companies from being compatible.

    A famous quote comes to mind:

    "I fear the Greeks, even when they bring gifts." --Virgil

    Be curious to find out how they will try to spin this to their advantage while disadvantaging everyone else.
  • by freidog ( 706941 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:10AM (#6994710)
    CNN did note it was odd Gates kept snickering and chuckeling to himself while making the statements.
    and was heard to utter You think they bought it? as he left the interview.
  • soft.gates.ap/story.william.bill.gates.ap.jpg

    I wonder if dad can shot lightning out if his finger tips?
  • Best quote (Score:2, Insightful)

    by henriksh ( 683138 )
    Gates said the Redmond, Washington-based company's work toward Web services standards would be "royalty free." That remark led to questions from the audience, which wanted to make sure Gates hadn't misstated the deviation from the company's royalty-based software sales model. "I can't believe I said that," Gates joked.
  • by molarmass192 ( 608071 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:11AM (#6994727) Homepage Journal
    That article opens with a quip about Gates embracing Linux, Netscape and royalty-free software but the article only states that they'll help develop a royalty free "Web services standard". Wow, big deal. Where's all the "loving" the headline promises???
  • The usual tactic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FunWithHeadlines ( 644929 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:11AM (#6994730) Homepage
    Nothing new here. Every now and then Gates does something nice or friendly or inclusive. Maybe it's for humanitarian purposes such as through his foundation. Maybe it's motivated by a need for better PR. Maybe it's motivated by something else. Doesn't matter.

    The point is just because he said lots of fuzzy words today it doesn't mean he won't try to "cut off the oxygen supply" of those same groups tomorrow. Is he suddenly buddy-buddy with Linux? Nope, his company is still fighting it tooth and nail around the world, putting out FUD, doing whatever it takes to head it off at the pass.

    Good PR moments such as this do not negate the overall approach Gates will take. Do not be fooled, he's the same old monopolist.

    • Maybe it's for humanitarian purposes such as through his foundation. Maybe it's motivated by a need for better PR. Maybe it's motivated by something else.
      Maybe it was motivated by the three spirits that visited him in the night.
    • Indeed (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blunte ( 183182 )
      And when you're 2nd or 3rd place, it's wise to do as the leaders do.

      Then if/when you gain a stronger footing, you can open your Dirty Tactics (tm) book and begin the takeover.

      Then once you're #2 or #1, you start deviating from the standards, thus making it more difficult for the losers to interoperate.

      Stuff a couple more billion in the bank, donate a couple million with grand fanfare, and you're really showing who's boss :)
    • by DrXym ( 126579 )
      Words have to be backed up by deeds. At the risk of invoking Godwins law with this comparison, Adoplh Hitler said lots of nice conciliatory words about peace and how Germany wanted nothing but peace, secure borders and cordial relations and then proceeded to systematically break every one of his promises.

      I'm sure Bill Gates can be a dab hand at making fawning concilliatory noises too, but while he and his cohorts are doing their best to stifle open standards, open source with their every deed, it all ring

  • Well of course! (Score:2, Informative)

    Bill's doing this to get the skinny on the competing technologies...then he can invent something different about it, push it out the door in the next release, and it'll look, to the MS user, that MS is right, and all these other people are wrong. Remember Gates telling the ISO that he needed to change the work of 270 nations and make his codeset a little different? IE will show apostrophies....everything else shows question marks.

    Same stuff, different day.

  • Extenditus (Score:3, Funny)

    by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:13AM (#6994750) Journal
    A disease worse than aids... you can catch it just by having a carrier hug you.

    Bill had the first documented case of Extenditus, and being such a touchy-feely guy, he's embraced a lot of people since, spreading it far and wide.

    We recommend an immediate quarantine of Microsoft and all organizations that have engaged in "Group Hugs" with them.

  • Embrace, extend, close.
    Become the standard, close out the competition.
  • I have 3 words... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lxy ( 80823 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:14AM (#6994768) Journal
    Services for Unix

    Microsoft is most likely finding a gateway between their technology and everyone else's to create a migration path towards MS products. Once everyone has flocked over, the usual grab-you-by-the-balls policies apply. What I think they're missing is that the technology works the other way too. You can use this interoperability to get off the MS train. Look at Services for Unix... it created a path that goes both ways between *NIX and MS. MS probably designed it as a one-way tunnel, but in return we got a pathway to migrate off.

    Conspiracy theorize all you want to, but MS may have just handed linux the keys to the desktop.
  • by watzinaneihm ( 627119 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:16AM (#6994791) Journal
    IBM should have learned from OS/2 about partnering with Microsoft. Currently they are very pro Java , for example take a look at their developer website [].
    Since IBM does not have a decent web/app server they probably are trying to get a foot in the door for their .NET suite.
    I have so far understood their "embrace" part. But what I don't get is where does the "annihilate" part come in? By standardising the XML standards Java also benefits, right? So how does M$ plan to screw Java and IBM
  • Obvious marketing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shamashmuddamiq ( 588220 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:17AM (#6994804)

    OF COURSE he's going to say something like that.

    Because of what he says in this article, there are now pointy-haired managers out there that are saying to themselves, "Well, we were considering using Linux, but instead we'll buy Microsoft for now and we can still switch in the future if we want. Microsoft uses standards -- Bill would never lie to make a buck."

    Bill Gates doesn't want to make people think that Microsoft is the devil.

  • IRC style:
    BillG: I'm going to open up some standards for everybody so we can all benefit.
    bersl2: ...

    But seriously, did the Earth get swallowed by a black hole, and we reappeared in some alternate universe? Maybe here, things can make negative sense.

    Lastly, who is sticking their hand up Gates' ass and puppeting him, because that's not the Billy Boy we all know and love to hate.
  • With Windows 'communicating' with so many more technologies, there can be even more ways for viruses to infect Windows systems!

    I'm waiting for an XML document that exploits a buffer overflow in Windows somehow. Come on, you know it will happen someday!

  • by crazyphilman ( 609923 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:20AM (#6994837) Journal
    Bill Gates (to himself): "Hmm... Everyone hates me, and everyone is aligned against me, creating their own web services standards and ensuring that I won't completely capture the market. Let's see... This implies that they might take a significant part of the market, and if I'm not interoperable, I'll be essentially locked out. Ah, well, screw it."

    (calls up Ballmer)

    Bill Gates: "Hey, Steve -- do me a favor, would you? Round up some of our better R+D guys, and have them work up a system that lets us totally interoperate with all the other, competing web services systems out there, wouldja?"

    Ballmer: "WTF???"

    Bill Gates: "Why lock ourselves out of a big chunk of the market? We've got our section, now we can play with their section too."

    Ballmer: "Ok, I'm on it..."

    This is strictly hypothetical, but I bet it's pretty close.

  • by Rahga ( 13479 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:21AM (#6994843) Journal
    I mean, come on, think about it.... One of the big problems with every major dotcom in the last few years is the fact that none of them could escape the fact that they were one of a ton of small fish in a big pong. Just go to google and type in a search for "Operating System", Windows and Microsoft aren't even on the radar.

    If this stuff (what little there is) is true, this probably is just extends what Gates has known for a while, in spite of .NET.... Internet Explorer is nothing more than a tool for the vast majority of users, something to help them get to websites that they want to go and facilitate interactions there. Passport Wallets did not become a de facto internet must-have.... Too many people don't shop on the web, spammers have trained the vast majority of internet users not to instinctively trust anyone (even Verisign, a _trust_ company, betrayed the trust of people with other domain registars with sleazy marketing tactics).... I recon Microsoft sees strength in themselves only by trying to keep their software updated and operating as people expect it to operate, along with traditional software sales, because their services from Passport to Hotmail to MSN probably don't account for anything more than a pittance.

    Just my opinion.
  • So, you're going to be using an XML format for the next version of MSOffice, right? Right?

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:28AM (#6994927) Journal
    Microsoft is pouring money into my university (in exchange for a soul or two), and so we get to hear a few things about their plans. Like the fact that they have a *NIX version of ASP.NET under development (not the crippled version they released for FreeBSD). They realise that the server market is different from the desktop market, in that you get no buisness if you don't play nice with others.

    Do not make the mistake of thinking that this extends to the desktop though. They are quite happy for you to buy Visual Studio.NET, write ASP.NET web services and deploy on Linux, as long as the clients connecting to it are running Windows.

  • by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:31AM (#6994968) Homepage Journal

    This is a fabric for someone to do e-commerce that's independent of the operating systems that are out there.'

    Of course everyone recognizes this for sales droid talk, telling people What They Want to Hear.

    Nevertheless, it's significant that Bill Gates not only recognizes the sentiment of user's not liking to be locked into one product by virtue of using another, but that he is actually willing to give voice to it publicly.

    Especially when so much of Microsoft's corporate culture has been built upon leveraging, using products that either ubiquitous or well-designed (yes, I must admit that) to lock users into other products that are either poorly designed and/or expensive.

  • by Lodragandraoidh ( 639696 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:43AM (#6995081) Journal
    I know this redundant. But, I have to say it:

    Microsoft has said this before, and the results have always been bad for developers and consumers (for example the Java and XML debacle).

    I don't mind Microsoft using existing standards; I do violently oppose them guiding the course of standards, because they have been shown to be a bad steward for any public standard they get their hands on.

    I would be so bold as to argue that it is not out of hubris that they are as they are, as much as from greed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:53AM (#6995196)
    "Breaking Windows" by David Bank?

    The central premise in this book is Bill Gates' philosophy of product development. Although the author presents it as a pragmatic, thought-out business plan that evolved from Bill Gates' examination of the market, to me it always came across as a response to basic insecurities that exposed more of Bill's personality flaws than any understanding of the market.

    It goes like this: it doesn't matter how good the product is; it doesn't matter how well a product works; customers are fickle and will switch software at the drop of a hat. Therefore, the only way to keep customers is to 'lock them in', to leverage Office to increase Windows share and Windows to increase Office share by continually tying them together and forcing one to require the other. I am paraphrasing and working from memory, read the book.

    My points are:
    1. the basic business philosophy of Microsoft is so deeply rooted in the insecurities of it's founder and the founder is still in control
    2. the whole idea of "open" standards is completely contrary to the concepts of "lock-in" that has worked so well for Microsoft up to this point

    that this DOES sound like something from an alternate universe as one poster here has noted and that this has about as much chance of being even partially true as a snowball's chance in hell.
  • by LinuxParanoid ( 64467 ) * on Thursday September 18, 2003 @11:55AM (#6995225) Homepage Journal
    "We're being as inclusive as we can", Gates said...

    I.e. inclusive enough to give away 15% of the market to rivals and keep antitrust guys off our backs, but not inclusive enough to risk losing customers to any web services running on alternative OSes?

    --LinuxParanoid, who doesn't yet believe Gates's philanthroipc altruism extends to other software companies

    P.S. Note Gates's observation that "Standards are always a give-to-get bargain" and ask yourself "what does Gates think he is getting?" There are a variety of possible answers.
  • by bizcoach ( 640439 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @12:11PM (#6995396) Homepage
    In the past, the standards for the internet were decided through the community-based process of the Internet Engineering Task Force []. This process is based on "rough consensus" and there is no way that a few influential companies could pervert this process in order to use it to establish standards that they can afterwards use to effectively kill their competitors.

    Standards from Microsoft are dangerous, even when royalty-free licensing is offered so that they can be implemented in Free Software.

    Consider for example the ECMA standards 334 [] and 335 [] for the core parts of .NET - while Microsoft has promised royalty-free licensing for any and all patents that may be neccessary for implementing that standard, they are at the same time embracing and extending their own standard, and they have filed at least one patent application that seems to be designed to give them a monopoly on their extensions to the standard.

    In some situations it may work to simply refuse to go along with the standards attempts from MS. Unfortunately, MS has so much leverage that this won't always work. For example, with .NET just ignoring it IMO won't work, that's why we're working on creating a competing "standard set of libraries" for the stuff which goes beyond the stuff that is safe from patent-based attacks (the safe parts are what is specified in the ECMA specs, for which MS has promised royalty-free licensing, plus everything which is thin wrappers around stuff that is simply too old to be affected by .NET patents, such as for example System.Windows.Forms). The strategy of the DotGNU [] project is to re-use a good number of existing Free Software libs (written in C) and compile them for .NET - again since those libs are old, they're safe from being affected by any .NET patents.


    • by alext ( 29323 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @12:57PM (#6995835)
      The strategy of the DotGNU project is to re-use a good number of existing Free Software libs (written in C) and compile them for .NET - again since those libs are old, they're safe from being affected by any .NET patents.

      Even assuming this makes sense technically (see below), surely if you no longer care about portability between Dotnet and dotGNU, you've just lost the main justification for the dotGNU project?

      If I have developed a Dotnet app, but I can't compile it on dotGNU because it calls Windows Forms, or ASP.NET or ADO.NET... why on earth should I care that, if I could compile it, the generated bytecodes would be the same instruction set as found on Windows? By definition, there cannot be any value for me to have portability at the bytecode level if it is missing at the application level. And, if I do go as far as changing every non-core API call in my app, I'm hardly going to care much if the bytecode is different - I have to maintain and generate two versions anyway.

      Without portability, it seems positively perverse to seek to extend the influence of Microsoft technologies on Linux when there are already very well established equivalents (Java, Python, Parrot). Java-on-Linux investments alone must total something in the order of billions of dollars per year, judging by the number of large organizations doing rollouts of this type - I'd guess that currently Java is the single biggest factor pushing Linux into commercial organizations today.

      So precisely what value is dotGNU bringing to the table?

      Regarding the incorporation of old C libraries into DotGNU, it seems rather optimistic to assume they can just be wrapped or turned into managed code (ask MS about the effort invested in doing that for their code). Do these libs happen to support Dotnet style internationalization, multithreading, access control...? If not, you've got a huge chunk of work to do - and all to get you roughly where Python is already!
  • by KurdtX ( 207196 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @12:50PM (#6995775)
    (Before you mod me down, at least read half the comment)

    Gates has realized that Microsoft cannot hold the crown of the software world forever. It's great at competing against companies that it can buy out or undercut, but it can't do either of those to Linux. IBM lost their crown when it failed to realize the PC, and the software running on it, were the new champs of the computing business. Ironically, I think this is the first step in Microsoft converting from a software company to a services company. It's pretty hard to make money on software if some geeks are giving it away for free.

    The decade of windows is about to close, it became the best OS for the average (non-programmer) user when Win 95 was released, and before that Macintosh had their decade. Linux's decade hasn't started yet, but Windows only has a few years left, and Bill realizes that. If you look at the way the economy is turning, you can see that while the pure programming jobs may go overseas, services can't. Many companies are already using the "give the software away, charge for services" model of doing business (actually, the company I work for is selling the software, services, and a required maintainance contract - I'm feeling pretty safe), and are surviving just fine.

    Not that Microsoft hasn't turned every one of these initiatives in the past into either an "embrace-and-extend" or "embrace-and-block" (by being one of the founders and then never giving final approval to the standard) strategy. Maybe they'll go through with this one this time, but expect to see Microsoft make an about-face on software in the next ten years like they did with their position on the internet back in '97. It's just a matter of time.
  • by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @12:57PM (#6995844) Homepage
    Here is a great idea for a web service!

    Bill should just love it because it is based on 100% Microsoft technologies.

    I hope some kind soul will do this.

    Set up a Windows 2003 server running ASP.NET and also a copy of the new high end MS Office that writes XML documents. Write a web service (i.e. a front end to a remote function call) that...
    • accepts as a parameter, a Word document
    • opens it using the server's copy of new Office
    • scripts the server to save the document in MS-XML format
    • returns the XML as the remote function call result

    Now other office suites, such as, or any software package could simply make such a function call to such a server to convert documents into MS-XML as a prelude to further processing the MS-XML into

    Heck Sun could host such a service.

    Standard macros could be included in OOo which convert Word documents, via. this network based service, into OOo documents.
  • by GunFodder ( 208805 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @01:15PM (#6996013)
    Microsoft has never had a problem with open standards in markets that they don't control. Weren't they lobbying for an IM open standard a while ago? At the time AOL had the lion's share of the market. At this time no one controls the Web Services market, if there even is one.

    Right now Web Services is all about standards, since there isn't much in the way of implementations yet. MSFT and IBM seem to be at odds with the other major players; seems like every major new standard is being duplicated. Can't we all just get along?
  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @01:32PM (#6996170) Journal
    When Microsoft talks "standards" and "interoperability", it generally means...

    We'll take an existing standard, make it "better" (bloat, non-standard syntax, non-compliant), market the crap out of it, and then everyone else can adopt it so that your products work happily with ours.

    In other words... "make your program work with our software which was coded by pot-smoking-monkeys-on-typewriters (tm), and it will be interoperable."
  • by Wolfier ( 94144 ) on Thursday September 18, 2003 @02:46PM (#6996765)
    It is what MS always does.

    It promotes interoperability when its platforms are not the dominant players in a field.

    Remember how its efforts to get AIM opened? Now it's not asking it anymore since MSN is competitive enough.

    Now it's apparent - how much market share does Apache have now? How about mod_php? How about IIS? ASP? Is there any wonder MS is seeking interoperability?
  • by swdunlop ( 103066 ) < minus city> on Thursday September 18, 2003 @09:38PM (#7000216) Homepage
    I was looking for an April 1st dateline on this one..

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.