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Microsoft

Microsoft's Strategy Memos 465

jg21 writes "So Linux made it onto Steve Ballmer's radar screen at last? No mention last year, in his annual strategy memo, but this year there's sentence after sentence - summarized at LinuxWorld this morning - which means, I guess, that 50,000-plus more folks around the world now will be aware of open source...he sent it to everyone in the company! Interestingly, in his public-facing CEO memo, distributed the same day as the internal one, Ballmer in contrast mentions Linux just once. What is it that conjurers call this, ah yes - distraction strategy?"
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Microsoft's Strategy Memos

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:05PM (#9008052)
    I mean, seriously, who gives a f***? It's pretty obvious Microsoft is in the business of OS and office suites, and it's pretty obvious they analyze threats to their strategic lines all the time. Some companies have the whole competitive intelligence departments dedicated to that.

    For a company with 500+ employees, it makes a little difference whether you deploy Linux + OpenOffice + IBM Global Services or Windows + MSOffice + Ms Support. Pricewise the enterprise agreements are about the same. Yeah, in case you didn't know it, IBM is raking $40-55/hour in support costs for Linux deployments. They and HP received the largest benefit and earned over a billion dollars last year off Linux. While some Linux developers, I heard, had to get a second mortgage to put food on the table.

    This piece of news is worthless, it would be more exciting if Ballmer said they do not care about Linux.
    • Uhhh, to Microsoft it makes a BIG difference. Mindshare is everything. Marketshare is merely the side-effect. If you have mindshare, everything - money included - will follow. IBM having mindshare, Linux having mindshare - these are BAD NEWS to any Microsoft director.
    • by Hiro Antagonist ( 310179 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:16PM (#9008179) Journal
      For a company with 500+ employees, it makes a little difference whether you deploy Linux + OpenOffice + IBM Global Services or Windows + MSOffice + Ms Support. Pricewise the enterprise agreements are about the same. Yeah, in case you didn't know it, IBM is raking $40-55/hour in support costs for Linux deployments.

      No, it does make a difference; for what you pay Microsoft for the product licensing alone, you can purchase the 'product' (which is more-or-less free) and awesome support from IBM. We're talking come-to-your-business, customize-the-software, keep-you-running support, not 90-days-after-its-installed support that comes by default with a Microsoft solution. Sure, you can add MS support on top of things, but a shop with full MS kit and an MS support contract will cost an imperial shitload (that's 36 craploads) more than a comparible IBM solution.

      They and HP received the largest benefit and earned over a billion dollars last year off Linux.

      Why do you think I'm an IBM shareholder?

      While some Linux developers, I heard, had to get a second mortgage to put food on the table.

      First off, most Linux developers don't code to make money, at least not off of linux; hell, Linus Torvalds was, up until recently, an embedded systems engineer. Linux and its applications are, by and large, hobbies for the developers; but, on the flip side, can you show me a *major* open-source software project where the core development team is all desperately looking for work? Being able to put 'Lead developer, OpenOffice' on a resume is a great way to get a job.

      Second, IBM hires a lot of these people; one of the reasons they justify their support costs is that they can (a) offer custom code, and (b) give you, as a business, direct access to the developers if you need it. IBM making money off of Linux means *more* jobs for Linux coders, not less.

      This piece of news is worthless, it would be more exciting if Ballmer said they do not care about Linux.

      On that we agree.
      • . . .an MS support contract will cost an imperial shitload (that's 36 craploads) more than a comparible IBM solution.

        I am not familiar with your crap conversion methods. Is there a website where I can see the conversion? www.crapcse.se perhaps?

        • by Hentai ( 165906 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:12PM (#9008855) Homepage Journal
          From wherethesundontshine.net [wherethesundontshine.net]:

          First, if we take 'a shit' to be the amount of effort required for an average european male to evacuate his bowels, precisely 2.5 hours after eating 451 grams (one serving) of Kellog's shredded wheat (plus or minus 5% for generic store brands), then we have a rather precise handle on what the phrase "I don't give a shit" means. Now. We'll call this the "metric shit". Taking a sample of 217 average adult male rats, the volume of excrement produced, on average, equals one metric shit's worth every week and a half. Given the average rat's metabolism, we find that a rat's body undergoes complete cellular mitosis roughly every fourty five weeks. Thus, a rat's ass is not, in fact, the same ass it had 11 months ago, and the timespan of a rat's ass is roughly 10.4 months. Thus, through its lifespan, one rat's ass produces (45 / 1.5) = 30 shits. Thus, we now know exactly what is meant by "I could give a rat's ass". Extrapolating further, this same sample of 217 rats was used to determine exactly how many rat's asses are required before a flying fuck is achieved (details classified to protect the experimenters' privacy from the prying eyes of the SPCA). It was determined that one flying fuck is, in fact, achievable after only 3 rats are airborne, in optimal conditions. The actual number is closer to 3.27 So, one flying fuck is equal to 101 shits, with a margin of error of 5%. This moment of science brought to you by 217 dead rats and a whole fucking lot of rock cocaine.
    • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:17PM (#9008195)
      In other words, there is now a proven Linux market which pays $40 to $55 per hour.

      I think that's pretty good Linux news and simply proves what the developers have been claiming all along. There is money to be made in giving away software.

      KFG

      P.S. In case you havn't gotten the news many Linux developers can't get a first mortgage and live in their mother's basement.

      Here's the shocker though. Some of them have come to that "unfortunate situation" because they like the arrangement. They'd rather do that than work for HP or IBM. Peculiar, I know, but it's long been noted that creative genius types, no one really understands why, deprecate making money in order to better be able to persue their own creative muse.

      Funny, isn't it, that they can't see that money is the only goal of real value? Geniuses are a peculiar lot, and one often wonders, if they're so smart, why aren't they rich?
    • by painandgreed ( 692585 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:52PM (#9008608)

      For a company with 500+ employees, it makes a little difference whether you deploy Linux + OpenOffice + IBM Global Services or Windows + MSOffice + Ms Support. Pricewise the enterprise agreements are about the same.

      I don't think so, about the "little difference" anyway. I've worked for both larger and smaller companies as desktop, applications and server support for the last six years. I've never called for support from Mircosoft ever. Everything has always been handled in house. I have paid lots of licensing fees for servers, applications, and such. If we were to switch to Linux products, I would have to spend more time learning about and fixing Linux problems which is paid for by my salary but our overall costs would go down due to no need for licensing.

      Applications support is a little different as we do pay the (server) application company support but they handle the OS of the server it runs on also and thus are the only ones to pay and call MS. Thus, I expect these applications to start switching over to Linux in the next five to ten years as there will be no licensing fees but support from the OS vendor will be the same. Not to mention that their coders would then be able to inspect the OS code to look for problems with their applications rather than be depenant on MS.

  • Hold on Steve, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FreeLinux ( 555387 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:07PM (#9008075)
    IBM's endorsement of Linux has added credibility and an illusion of support and accountability, although the reality is there is no 'center of gravity,' or central body, investing in the health and growth of noncommercial software or innovating in critical areas like engineering, manageability, compatibility and security."

    I suspect that Novell, Red Hat and IBM have a strenuous argument against this bit of cheerleading.
    • Re:Hold on Steve, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:16PM (#9008183) Homepage Journal
      I actually partially agree with my fellow Steve here. There is no central body, or center of gravity, and that's a good thing . That's how linux got from wristwatches to outer space. Just because there is no central body investing in "engineering, manageability, compatibility and security" doesn't mean that linux has failed in any of those areas. In fact, it has certainly outshone MS.
    • Re:Hold on Steve, (Score:5, Interesting)

      by KrispyKringle ( 672903 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:18PM (#9008201)
      That's his point. Instead of a monolithic developer/support source, you've got Novell, RedHat, IBM, Sun...

      This can be a good thing, for sure. One company goes out of business, but the whole thing isn't ruined. But there are true downsides to Linux; everything has its flaws. The thing that impressed me about this is that there are really no ``bad'' quotes here. Ballmer says that Linux is just the next new thing, a potential flash-in-the-pan (which, personally, I think may be right, if we aren't lucky)--and that Microsoft must win by responsibly offering a better product and better customer care.

      Nothing to see here. Move along.

    • Re:Hold on Steve, (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wookyhoo ( 700289 )
      So he suggesting that Microsoft's investment in the "health and growth of noncommercial software" and their "innovating in critical areas like engineering, manageability, compatibility and security" was a very good thing.

      In what sick and twisted world is it bad that we don't have a single body innovating in those critical areas?

      As far as I can see, having multiple groups, whose interest isn't only in making money, or "maximising shareholder value" is a very very good thing for *everybody*. Bring on the
    • Re:Hold on Steve, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Spoing ( 152917 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:17PM (#9008901) Homepage
        1. IBM's endorsement of Linux has added credibility and an illusion of support and accountability, although the reality is there is no 'center of gravity,' or central body, investing in the health and growth of noncommercial software or innovating in critical areas like engineering, manageability, compatibility and security."

        I suspect that Novell, Red Hat and IBM have a strenuous argument against this bit of cheerleading.

      Well, I took that to mean 'unlike Microsoft -- a central body for Windows -- there is no one single place that you can go for Linux (with the exclusion of all other sources). The list of companies you mention support this assertion, though I actually like having multiple vendors. It keeps the others more honest.

      Microsoft leaders must be deeply frustrated with attacking Linux and OSS. It's like having a large private island and fighting the ocean around it;

      1. Pound on it all you like, there's always more water.
      2. The water for the most part doesn't pay attention.
      3. The water is busy erroding the coast line.

      The only tactics that they have left are to;

      1. Poison the water. (Statements like this are just one example of that attempt...IP focused lawsuits and fud are another. FUD is the stock and trade of MS in the past since it is so effective, so I doubt it will be dropped in the future.)
      2. Give up some mountains or hills and fill in part of the ocean. (Declare victory while loosing in the process; cut licence fees, spread money around, hype what they have. This has happened over the last year.)
      3. Allow the ocean to be an ocean, understand it, and live with what that means. (Has happend a little. This is like the "acceptance" stage of denial.)

      There's a lot of water, though, and all of is drinkable if not tasty.

  • Actually... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak@yaHORSEhoo.com minus herbivore> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:08PM (#9008082) Homepage Journal
    ...it conjures up more memories of the Halloween documents, where internally Microsoft is agitated about Linux whilst keeping the appearance of calm.
  • If someone booted his laptop with a Linux LiveCD and started the BSOD screen saver.
  • by quelrods ( 521005 ) * <quel@nospAM.quelrod.net> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:10PM (#9008094) Homepage
    Microsoft, just like other corporations, always provide information internally they don't want seen publically. There is no evil plot here, no more than any normal corporation. Though, if you read the memo it would appear he wants everyone there to laugh at linux and open source as a nonviable piece of junk. Well, Mr. ballmer, I too work for a corporation and our 8 production servers all run linux because windows isn't up the task.
    • Well, Mr. ballmer, I too work for a corporation and our 8 production servers all run linux because windows isn't up the task.


      Wow, 8 servers. Now if you could just get your 500 workstations to switch from windows to linux, ballmer just might listen to you.....

      • Well a good portion of the company is on Macs. In any case they've made it clear they wanted to break into the server market and have many campaigns to migrate from unix to windows. They've dug in for the long haul and any loss of market share, even for servers is going to be upsetting to them. Two of the four people on my team have linux workstations and I use freebsd.
      • The workload of the 8 Linux servers was previously handled by 500 Windows servers.
    • There is no evil plot here, no more than any normal corporation.

      Whoo boy, is that a loaded statement.

      Or maybe ol' Steve has realized to keep his damn mouth shut on these "all internal" memos because they have been publicly humiliated by them in the past. They know enough about PR to spread FUD in their "internal" memos now. Because they know they can't stop them from being leaked.

      FACT: Microsoft plays dirty, and has since day one. [theregister.co.uk]

      This is nothing new. This internal memo clearly shows that they c

  • Economics 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:10PM (#9008098) Homepage Journal
    First of all:
    which means, I guess, that 50,000-plus more folks around the world now will be aware of open source...he sent it to everyone in the company!

    You really think that 50,000+ people at MS had no inkling of this "linux" thing??

    Interestingly, in his public-facing CEO memo, distributed the same day as the internal one, Ballmer in contrast mentions Linux just once. What is it that conjurers call this, ah yes - distraction strategy?"

    Its called economics. He makes a memo to the public, its going to be about good stuff and non-aggressive. This isn't surprising for any company. You don't release public memos that state "Linux is our competition and this is how WE WILL CRUSH THEM!" No, they'll talk about the good things going about and such.

    Kneejerk and overreaction, but that happens anytime someone at MS sneezes, doesn't it?
    • But, they are only in the computer industry. I'm sure they had never heard of Linux. It's a big secret!
      Shhhhhhhh!

      Kneejerk and overreaction, but that happens anytime someone at MS sneezes, doesn't it?

      Sadly, yes.

  • by JoeBaldwin ( 727345 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:10PM (#9008101) Homepage Journal
    What sort of dance did Steve do this year?
  • by Gilesx ( 525831 ) * <sjw@d[ ]ls.com ['iep' in gap]> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:10PM (#9008102)
    "IBM's endorsement of Linux has added credibility and an illusion of support and accountability, although the reality is there is no 'center of gravity,' or central body, ......"

    I find this fascinating. Ever tried getting support on an OEM copy of Windows? You can't. You have to call your PC Manufacturer - you're essentially calling the body responsible for reselling the product rather than the body responsible for writing it. Isn't this exactly the same as IBM?
    • by Analogy Man ( 601298 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:54PM (#9008642)
      I read the quote...

      there is no 'center of gravity,'

      a bit differently.

      MS has a long history of killing off competition pulling from a bag of tricks...including buying the offending company.

      Linux presents a rather different challenge. There is not some new niche innovative upstart to go stomp on. It is a decentralized, generally non-corporate entity.

      My read is Steve is saying..."Until we leaders and strategists figure out how to defang this threat in the marketplace, get back to work and make sure our stuff works as well as it can." A solid leadership viewpoint really.

  • by spellraiser ( 764337 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:11PM (#9008105) Journal

    This Ballmer quote sticks out in particular, and pretty much sums it all up:

    Linux, Linux, Linux, Linux ...

    • At least he didn't stand up and chant:

      badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger...

    • Re:Favorite Quote (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blamanj ( 253811 )
      My favorite quote was this one: ...noncommercial software such as Linux and OpenOffice is seen as an interesting, 'good enough' or 'free' alternative.

      Ironic, because it has always been Microsoft's strategy to get a piece of software on the market early, that is, when it's just "good enough," and worry about bug fixes, features, and ease of use two or three releases down the line.

      Hoist by their own petard?
  • I'm not sure what people expect.

    A company sees a threat (and Microsoft seems to see threats hiding everywhere anyway), and says in internal memos that it needs to do something about it. They dismiss it in public.

    I'm no Microsoft fan, but how is that any different from any other company?
  • by gevmage ( 213603 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:11PM (#9008113) Homepage
    One of the great things about all of the Linux-based operating systems is that while they are viable competitors for M$, even if they don't eventually crush them, they're a reminder that there are alternatives.

    I think that one of the reasons that Windows XP is, quite frankly, vastly better than previous Windows incarnations is that Microsoft knew that someone was gunning for them. Remember--Bill Gates knows the power of the position of the underdog. He knows that young and hungry people can dominate the Big Guy. He did it himself.

    • I do agree with most of what you said; but the reason Gates, et. al. were able to "dominate the Big Guy" was by moving into an expanding area. Small cheap computers were a new frontier, rapidly expanding into new areas. None of the "Big Guys" understood the potential of the PC; IBM itself could have easily dominated the scene by creating their own OS for the hardware they produced. Had they recognized the potential for the PC, they wouldn't have given Mrs. Gates favorite boy a contract for the OS.

      Right
  • Sea Change? (Score:5, Funny)

    by tb3 ( 313150 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:12PM (#9008115) Homepage
    We will rise to this challenge, and we will compete in a fair and responsible manner that puts our customers first.
    Damn! And you thought when they refocused on the internet it was serious!
    This time they'll have to change everything about how they do business.
  • ...to know he has moved away from single word motivational speeches to developers....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:12PM (#9008121)
    Its obvious that Microsoft's definition of 'Open Source' is different then ours (the Linux community). He keeps referring to Linux as free as in beer and has no concept, according to the article, of the other aspects of Open Source.

    Why do we need to keep debating this issue on slashdot? People have proved over and over again that Linux is better for some things that this M$ bozo dosn't understand.

    Lets use our bandwith for something more productive.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Because no one cares about any other aspect. Even when you promote Linux to your grandma you probably insert a mentioning of it somewhere that it's "free".

      Windows-phobes constantly tell about locking in on an operating system, but you know what? If that were true, everyone would be locked in on Honeywell and DEC hardware/software, since they were dominant not so long ago. Both proprietary and closed-source.

      In fact, there's little value in "free as in speech" for someone in corp or even an individual. Five
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:13PM (#9008131) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft's Ballmer: "Linux Requires Our Concentrated Focus and Attention"

    Exactly. I'm glad they got the message at last. It's about time they ditched Windows and started working full time on Linux.

  • by DR SoB ( 749180 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:13PM (#9008132) Journal
    Linux should take a page from microsoft on this one. They keep repeating over and over, they want ease of use! Everyone in the Linux community has been repeating that very same message!

    Take from this article what you will, but be aware that if you try and provide many of the same services that microsoft is providing people won't have the arguement "but I need it to do this", and so, I must say, it should be fairly easy to set up a "central management Linux server" that can manage applications across a multitude of linux servers (That should be a key point in open-source!).

    Just my own views.. Now please proceed to start bashing microsoft again..
  • Killer Line (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RedShoeRider ( 658314 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:13PM (#9008139)
    "We will show that our approach offers better value, better security and better opportunity."

    Better security: This comes, what....2 weeks after their biggest montly rollout of security patches for every version of windows?!

    Better Value: Windows XP Full (home) edition: 264.99 at Staples.com. FreeBSD/Linux....0.00 Value? WTF?

    Better Opportunity: A better opportunity indeed! For them to make more money, of course.

    Someone ought to tell Balmer that the masses may be asses, but we're not quite as dumb as he thinks. That goes for him employees as well. 50 percent believe the lies; 50 percent know it's all bullshit.

    • "Better security: This comes, what....2 weeks after their biggest montly rollout of security patches for every version of windows?!"

      I know that Windows doesn't have a good history with security, but honestly I think lots of patches are a good thing because this means that for every patch that is one less way that my system can be compromised. If MS simply sat around and waited for working exploits in the wild, life could be very bad. However, having things patched now and in the future with SP 2, I thi
    • Better Value: Windows XP Full (home) edition: 264.99 at Staples.com. FreeBSD/Linux....0.00 Value? WTF?

      Value != Cost

      With Microsofts' profit margin on both Windows and Office being around 80%, the actual value of Windows is more like $53. When you compare how much software comes with a typical Linux distribution or *BSD, Linux and BSD should be valued at several times that amount. $200-$300 perhaps.

  • by Eagle5596 ( 575899 ) <slashUser.5596@org> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:13PM (#9008143)
    "There is always enthusiasm in our business for new concepts. So-called 'free software' is the latest new thing. We will rise to this challenge, and we will compete in a fair and responsible manner that puts our customers first. We will show that our approach offers better value, better security and better opportunity."

    Because we all know Microsoft is well known and praised for their record of competeing in fair and responsible manners. Not to mention offering better value, security and opportunity.

    There is a reason that they military considers XP "compromised the moment it leaves the box", and why high performance computing centers which need reliability and good cost/benefit rations never use Windows.
  • Still don't get it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:14PM (#9008154)

    When I read these kind of pronouncements from Bill and Steve, what strikes me is how much they still don't seem to "get it".

    They talk about "free software" as is it was equivalent to, say, shareware. What they don't seem to understand is that the cost of it has nothing to do with its success, nor is it the principal reason it is a threat to Microsoft.

    Personally I'm glad they don't get it. It means they are more likely to make strategic mistakes that could be their downfall.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Personally I'm glad they don't get it. It means they are more likely to make strategic mistakes that could be their downfall.

      I love seeing these "insightful" comments about how dumb Bill and Steve are.

      Gates is only the richest man in the world, with Steve, Paul and others not too far behind. They didn't get to be that way by accident. Microsoft didn't turn out to be a multi-billion dollar worldwide company because nobody "got it". Not thinking like you slashbots and free software zealots is probably o

      • by nathanh ( 1214 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @11:30PM (#9015580) Homepage

        Gates is only the richest man in the world, with Steve, Paul and others not too far behind. They didn't get to be that way by accident.

        I disagree. I think they entirely did get to be that way by accident. It's an Accidental Empire, in fact.

        Look at it this way. PCs came out in the 70s. They were hobbyist things, built by amateurs in their basements and garages. The big computing companies treated PCs with contempt. They didn't see the money to be made. So 2-person coops like Apple managed to make millions while nobody was noticing. Even when Apple made their first "big" PC - the Apple II - it was a small organisation but it still raked in billions.

        IBM notices that money is being made in PCs, so they want a piece of the action, but they're still not "getting it". They don't understand that PCs are more than a fad, or a thing for a home hobbyist. They think the real money is in the corporate world (and it is) but they think the corporate model will always be mainframes + dumb terminals. Where do PCs fit in? Maybe small businesses, but surely that's all.

        So the IBM PC is a neglected project. It gets limited time, limited budget, lesser designers, inferior managers, and so on. IBM didn't even put the effort into the IBM-PC they'd put into tape drives like the 3490. The PC was still a joke to them. They weren't serious about it.

        So because IBM's not all that serious they're looking around to license a third party PC OS. Something cheap, already written, because almost certainly it'll be discarded in a year's time, right? That's what happens with all the other PC OSs back then. PCs have a short life time. Back then a PC was like a console today; you used it for a year or two then you bought a completely new one with new software. And IBM doesn't have enough in-house experience to write anything as small and featureless as a PC OS. They identify the 800lb gorilla of the day, CP/M, and try to get a license for that. But due to NDAs and one spooked wife of a CEO, that falls through.

        Up until now we're running on facts, but now we're forced to speculate a bit. The manager of the IBM-PC project whinges to his boss that they can't license a PC OS from anybody. He probably even asks for money to fund an in-house project to write their own IBM-PC OS. The IBM CEO is on the same charity committee as Bill Gates mum (he is from a fairly wealthy family to begin with). The conversation probably drifts around to kids and Bill Gates mum mentions something about her son and his fledgling PC software company. Bingo. The IBM CEO asks to get in contact with Bill and this is where things get interesting.

        Bill sees an opportunity and although he doesn't have a PC OS he knows where to get one in a hurry. He tells IBM that he can deliver and IBM is desperate (they're behind schedule and they still haven't secured a third party OS). IBM still isn't treating this project very seriously though, so they don't try and secure ownership of the PC OS. They just license the OS from Microsoft. That's the mistake. That's the accident right there. That's where IBM turned Microsoft from a miniscule company (smaller than Apple) into the world's largest and richest software company.

        For some unfathomable reason the IBM-PC is wildly successful. Probably a mixture of reasons. It was the right time; PCs were rapidly being adopted by small to medium businesses. It was the right price; not too cheap so as to say "I'm a toy" but not too expensive so as to push customers towards Apple. It had IBM's name on it and all the excellent aspects of purchasing from IBM; worldwide support, plenty of addons, plenty of upgrade opportunities.

        Bill Gates was lucky enough to be in the right place, at the right time, and had the right product (sort of). He was also lucky enough that the IBM-PC exploded in popularity and that IBM didn't foresee that happening and that the contract with IBM allowed Bill to continue selling MS-DOS. MS-DOS became th

    • by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:33PM (#9008356) Homepage Journal
      I'm certain that they get it. The thing is, they have to trash-talk it in front of their customers, their employees, and also to themselves.

      It's the job of a salesperson. If they were being totally honest, they would say "yes, sometimes linux beats us. Here's scenarios where you should go with linux." But as company men, they have to be total cheerleaders. "MS Rocks! Linux Sucks! You company will go bankrupt and you will lose your wife and kids of you buy linux!" It's Orwellian and cult-like, but that's what the corporate world is like today.

    • Elephant (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tony ( 765 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:33PM (#9008360) Journal
      I think they *do* get it. I think that is the elephant in the living room, something of which they are constantly aware but never speak.

      Why would they talk about the one thing that is impossible to spin? The one important aspect of Free software that is dangerous to Microsoft is the one they cannot fight openly. They can't say, "We think Free software is worse than Microsoft's software because they base it on open standards, which inhibits innovation." The closest they can come is to declare open code dangerous to security.

      By equating Free software with shareware, they are simply describing Linux, *BSD, Apache, et al as hobby-level software designed to be traded by children, like Yu-Gi-Oh cards.

      I think they know exactly what they're up against. Gates and Ballmer may be all kinds of unsavory things, but they are not stupid. The first Halloween document proved years ago they understood the issues facing them.

      They just aren't going to ask all their employees how Microsoft can destroy openness and sharing. That would be a bad PR move, I figure.
    • Microsoft might know all too well why Free software is different than shareware. They may have a huge empire of finances and power, but that hasn't necessarily clouded their cognition so much that they can't comprehend why GNU-type freedom is truly valuable.

      BUT...
      It's in their best interests if those who listen to them (Microsoft employees, Microsoft salespeople, businesses that take Microsoft's word as gold) don't "get it". As long as they can make it sound equivilant to shareware, as long as they can d
  • by fostware ( 551290 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:15PM (#9008159) Homepage
    Seriously... Microsoft (and many big businesses) have a calm public face and a real internal "mission".

    The only time the two meet is if it suits the Suits.

    Rack up another halloween document, and lets worry about the more important task of getting Linux onto desktops and into homes.

  • Fear, uncertainty, doubt.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:19PM (#9008205)
    The open source people should take his analysis to heart and accept it as a valid viewpoint from a seasoned industry expert. Microsoft does have some talented minds, and we should use them.
    Sometimes our greatest critics are also our best sources of constructive criticism, if we would just be willing to listen. Not all of it is legit, but some might be.
  • From the microsoft.com memo:

    -----
    We are working with partners to make it possible for Microsoft customers to manage UNIX, Linux and Mac computers in conjunction with Systems Management Server 2003, and to manage hardware devices such as desktops and servers through solutions that update hardware-based software components using the same familiar interfaces that an administrator would use to update software applications.
    -----
    Look for MS sponsored Linux "remote administration tools" (aka trojans) and an effor
    • Actually, it looks like sound decision to have their 'systems management' app actually able to manage other systems. SMS 1, as I recall, had Mac and possibly OS/2 plugins.

  • by wookyhoo ( 700289 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:23PM (#9008257) Homepage
    "In this environment of lean budgets and concerns about Microsoft's attention to customers, noncommercial software such as Linux and OpenOffice is seen as an interesting, 'good enough' or 'free' alternative."

    Sorry Steve, but that's now quite how it is. Linux and OpenOffice are seen as Stable, Secure, *Better* alternatives.
    • Sorry Steve, but that's now quite how it is. Linux and OpenOffice are seen as Stable, Secure, *Better* alternatives.

      I am playing devils advocate here but why, in every press release of companies who migrate to Linux, do they only mention licencing costs?

      I have never seen a press release from a company who has said "we moved to linux on the desktop because its better", normally its "we moved to linux on the desktop because of concerns about the pricing of Microsoft licences".

      ps. Note to mods hovering o

    • by s4m7 ( 519684 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:56PM (#9009407) Homepage
      I work in a small to medium Windows-centric office environment. I wouldn't go so far as to say OpenOffice is *BETTER* as a blanket statement. In fact, Office 2k3 has some pretty darn amazing features. But it is interesting that any time one of my co-workers has a problem with a corrupt Excel document, that the mere act of opening it in OpenOffice Spreadsheet, and saving it without modification will not only suddenly make the file work again about 90% of the time, but usually cuts the file size in half to boot!
  • by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:25PM (#9008266) Homepage Journal
    "IBM's endorsement of Linux has added credibility and an illusion of support and accountability, although the reality is there is no 'center of gravity,' or central body, ......"

    Funny how MonkeyBoy even feels the need to spin some FUD internally.

    Why is it an "illusion" of support? You pay IBM for support, IBM provides you support. Where's the illusion?

    As for a center of gravity... I guess no one has told MonkeyBoy the good news about OSDL [osdl.org].
  • by Tin Foil Hat ( 705308 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:30PM (#9008323)
    I'd love to see a complete copy of the internal memo. Anybody?

  • by shuz ( 706678 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:30PM (#9008331) Homepage Journal
    I just recieved this memo from "Steve" is this the memo paragraph in question?

    We are working with partners to make it possible for Microsoft
    customers to manage UNIX, Linux and Mac computers in conjunction with Systems
    Management Server 2003, and to manage hardware devices such as desktops
    and servers through solutions that update hardware-based software
    components using the same familiar interfaces that an administrator would
    use to update software applications.

    *end of paragraph*

    This seems friendly enough to me. They plan to "work" with Linux. That is a new strategy!
    • by maximilln ( 654768 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:41PM (#9008450) Homepage Journal
      If you look at this long-term you'll see it as an absorption strategy.

      Today they integrate Linux support into their management software. Tomorrow they expand and patent the API. Next week there isn't a single IT manager that knows anything about Linux administration unless it's done with MS management tools. Next month MS starts to price the Linux management plugin at a higher and higher level to "support the cost of integrating with Open source developers". If it works they'll profit and network administrators will continue to favor using MS OS because of "bugs and inconsistencies between Linux distros and the MS Linux management plugin". If they're aggressive and companies balk at the increased price then they'll switch back to MS in order to secure administration tasks.

      Simple.
      • I am not quite sure how to respond to this? Personally I am fresh out of college and I am trying to find a job in Linux or Unix administration. Its hard because there are so many talented and qualified persons also looking. Because of this it is really hard for me to believe that A) Anyone in this position would use a MS config tool over a tried and true open source or traditional Unix tool. B) As any sys admin worth thier salt should be able to adapt and learn new strategies, it should be that if they were
  • by nuggz ( 69912 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:34PM (#9008365) Homepage
    This isn't really an internal memo as much as it's an ispirational message to 'rally the troops'.

    I think it is just a written statement to get the competative juices flowing. MS is a big well funded company with a lot of very smart people. If they get those people motivated they will be able to do some pretty amazing things.
  • Development (Score:4, Funny)

    by Vexware ( 720793 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:34PM (#9008371) Homepage

    In the event of needed enhancements or fixes, the Linux development community, no matter how well intentioned, simply cannot advance Linux the way we can - and must - innovate in Windows.
    Steve Ballmer does have a truly valid statement here, and does make a strong point besides. It is true that the Linux development community, no matter how well intentioned, simply cannot fix, advance and innovate Linux both as slowly and as hideously as Microsoft can.
  • the latest new thing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hak1du ( 761835 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:46PM (#9008517) Journal
    There is always enthusiasm in our business for new concepts. So-called 'free software' is the latest new thing.

    It's only been around since the 1960's.

    In the event of needed enhancements or fixes, the Linux development community, no matter how well intentioned, simply cannot advance Linux the way we can - and must - innovate in Windows.

    Microsoft's constant "advancements" are actually on reason I don't like Windows that much. UNIX did a pretty good job 30 years ago, and it still does.

  • by z_gringo ( 452163 ) <z_gringo@@@hotmail...com> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:53PM (#9008621)
    So Linux made it onto Steve Ballmer's radar screen at last?

    Linux has been on Microsofts radar screen for a long time now. Bill Gates has mentioned it several times, as have several other Microsoft Execs.

    Microsoft also has linux boxes in most of it's labs, and I know quite a few MS employees are are real fans of Linux.

    I guess, that 50,000-plus more folks around the world now will be aware of open source...he sent it to everyone in the company! Interestingly, in his public-facing CEO memo, distributed the same day as the internal one, Ballmer in contrast mentions Linux just once. What is it that conjurers call this, ah yes - distraction strategy?

    I'm sure that Ballmer is well aware that his "Internal" emails to all employees are always published. This was no surprise to him. He probably didn't mention it in his customer facing letter because he figured Linux didn't need to advertise it.

    I'd also be quite surprised if Microsoft isn't well on it's way to having Office and mabye some Backoffice products ready to run on Linux. They can still make plenty of money with their other products if/when Windows continues to lose ground to linux.

  • The Soviet Model (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:53PM (#9008625)
    "IBM's endorsement of Linux has added credibility and an illusion of support and accountability, although the reality is there is no 'center of gravity,' or central body, investing in the health and growth of noncommercial software or innovating in critical areas like engineering, manageability, compatibility and security."
    Oh yes, the famous Soviet model that seduced so many intellectuals for so long. Centralized leadership with a 'beloved leader,' a command economy, ideas controlled and dictated from the top, enormous resources expended to achieve a result that is bloated, inefficient and bureaucratic. A free and democratic system that respects and trusts individuals will beat the Soviet model every time.

    Perhaps history will repeat itself. Microsoft may self-destruct in an orgy of paranoia, internal purges, attacks on enemies (imagined and real), and the technological equivalent of show trials.

    --Mike Perry

    http://www.InklingBooks.com/inklingblog/

  • by Kurt Gray ( 935 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:59PM (#9008706) Homepage Journal
    Mircrosoft execs are obsessed with the fact that Linux is (mostly) free (as in beer) and they assume the spreading adoption of Linux is only for that reason. They have this picture in their head that small - medium size companies are just too cheap to buy Windows and that's what's causing the migrations to Linux. They find it hard to understand that in many situations it is the IT departments of many companies advocating Linux not because of price, but because Linux is just easier for most network admins to install, configure, manage, and maintain.

    The rule is "Faster, Cheaper, Better" always wins. Cheaper by itself is not the whole answer.
  • by scarolan ( 644274 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:11PM (#9008834) Homepage
    Linux has plenty of support. For example, if I run into a problem I can't solve, any one of the following options may be helpful:

    * If I bought a support package from a company like RedHat, I can call and get phone support, the same way you do with M$ products.
    * There are dozens if not hundreds of IRC channels where linux sysadmins hang out and are more than happy to answer questions.
    * Another easy trick is to use google to search for your error message. Chances are you'll find the mailing list archives of a LUG, where someone's already solved the exact problem you're experiencing.
    * Join your local Linux User Group. Or if your city doesn't have one you can join the one in the nearest major city.
    * Email the developers who wrote the software you're having trouble with. (try that with M$)
    * Check the 'bugzilla' section for the package or distro you're using. There may be a solution already available.
    * Troubleshoot the source code and fix it yourself.
    * Pay your local linux h4x0r to come over and fix the problem.

    Microsoft is still big, but they're definitely scared. Open Office is an excellent replacement for MS office, and works well for what 95% of the users need it for.
  • by saynte ( 659908 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:18PM (#9008908)
    And reading a volume of posts over the years, I do have a few questions:

    Will the childish attitude of about 50% of the posts on these subjects ever decrease?

    When is this "M$ is the bad guy RAA!!" paradigm going to vanish? It's certainly not useful to stereotype everything they do as bad, considering they're so successful (funny how often people utterly ignore that).

    Do we need a news story every time someone at MicroSoft says the word "Linux" ?? Look at the icon for the story no-less, more childish proddings at MS.

    Take a step back... breathe... don't be an a-hole... and realize that charging for software is not a sin... (and closed software has it's uses too)

    The point being, we need to get rid of this win/lose, us/them mentality. It's not helping anything. I believe many people have to take a step back, and try to be more humble, rational individuals.
    Start realizing that you can learn some valuable, positive lessons from Microsoft is one thing (such as what it takes to be successful on the desktop).
    Start realizing that Microsoft can be your best friend if they're given enough time. They have some of the most skilled software designers/engineers around, so they have HUGE HUGE potential. I believe a big problem they do have is they're a massive massive object, and they need time to gather the "inertia" to change. So why not help them instead of belittling them? Wouldn't you rather have a company the size of MS making good software for you (and swallow your pride if you have to actually trade money for goods and services).

    Likewise, I think the Linux community (just picking Linux to put a name on the alternatives) also has incredible potential, but that potential has to be directed somewhere useful, not utterly purile and pointless discussion about who is better, and blinding themselves to other viable options just because they're held by Microsoft (or some other big corp).

    • by Decaff ( 42676 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:25PM (#9009840)
      After decades of experience of Microsoft, I have come to the opinion that they deserve all they get.

      Microsoft IS the bad guy. They have frequently released very poor quality products, which have been fixed only by pressure of competition. They have manipulated markets and used financial might to stifle competition. They corrupt standards and 'embrace and extend' to kill off technologies they don't like. They are predatory and arrogant and seem to just not get that what is best for the consumer is NOT what is best for Microsoft.

    • Will the childish attitude of about 50% of the posts on these subjects ever decrease
      Probably not, and I agree that that is bad.

      When is this "M$ is the bad guy RAA!!" paradigm going to vanish? It's certainly not useful to stereotype everything they do as bad, considering they're so successful (funny how often people utterly ignore that).
      As soon as MS abandons the bulk of the bad business habits that have earned it the bad reputation that it has.

      I believe many people have to take a step back, and tr
    • Slashdot is, and has always been, an advocacy for Linux, with a playful (what you call childish) attitude. Slashdots covers other issues, but Linux advocacy is as it has always been, the center.

      What is ridiculous isn't /.'s attitude, but the attitude of those who whine about it. There is no lack of web-sites out there who pretends to be all serious and business, about any subject whatsoever. Also Linux. Go read those, instead of staying here complaining that /. isn't what it was never intended to be.

      A
  • by Decaff ( 42676 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:20PM (#9008935)
    While the noncommercial model may lead to many flavors of software...

    Oh come on Steve, you achieve that magnificently with Windows. Your huge range of different versions of Visual Basics and Basic languages for Office for example, requiring major code re-writes between versions of Access. While we wer migrating to VB6, you teased us with VB.Net along with the delights of yet another rewrite of code. The API changes between Windows 95 and ME, between NT 3.51 and 4.0 kept us highly amused and on our toes. The huge range of networking protocols you forced us through while the poor non-commercial people stuck with boring old reliable NFS. We played along with Windows for Workgroups and NETBIOS for years, then as we were getting used to Domains under NT you switched over to Active Directory. We though we knew what HTML was supposed to do until you showed us how you knew better with Internet Explorer. Now you want to change it all yet again with Longhorn.

    Now I know what you mean by 'innovation': repeatedly re-inventing the wheel and forcing us to pay for it.
  • Key Paragraph (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trolling4Dollars ( 627073 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:50PM (#9009321) Journal
    "While the noncommercial model may lead to many flavors of software, getting broad, consistent innovation requires coordination across many technology components. In the event of needed enhancements or fixes, the Linux development community, no matter how well intentioned, simply cannot advance Linux the way we can - and must - innovate in Windows."

    This is one area that open source and Linux need a little work in. We have a lot of really great coders, but we are lacking in the diversity of people who actually know various fields very well. A perfect example can be taken from the Windows world itself circa 1994. Back then, I was an audio engineer coming from the Macintosh world. I was beginning to look at the PC as a possible option. What I found after a lot of research was that there were many limitations within Windows 3.1 to multimedia and audio in particular. A few PC based friends of mine were making recommendations that I look at the Turtle beach products, Zefiro accoustics (for hardware), S.A.W. and the like. I wound up trying quite a few of them and settled on Cakewalk Pro Audio. It worked, as well as you could expect a Windows based audio/MIDI sequencer to work, at that time. These days, things on the Windows platform have improved tremendously. Sure, they aren't Macs and still don't work as well as Macs for professional audio, but they work about 98% as well.

    What happened? Microsoft was dragged kicking and screaming into accepting the fact that not everyone looks at a computer as a "business tool". For some of us, a computer is a creative tool, which is as far away from business as you can get. Artists are a pretty small market, but they can be a lucrative one. And that's what made Microsoft pay attention. They actually got creative types (real artists and musicians) together with engineers and made *some* of the needed changes to the OS to improve the multimedia subsystem. Again, the Mac is MUCH better at this than Windows, but the disparity isn't as big now.

    Unfortunately, in the Linux world, we still have mostly coders who like to play at being "artists" on the weekends. This is NOT a slam. I would qualify that I'm an artist who likes to play at being a "coder" during the week. What's needed are more people who can bridge the gap between the coders and the people who use the applications. This is something that most coders are loathe to accept. "Let the user dictate how the app works!? Nonsense!!" It ain't pretty, but there are some key areas of knowledge that coders just don't have the expertise in. And this applies to more fields than just art. How many coders truthfully say that they can understand and relate to the needs of their users in a very intimate way in the following fields/careers:
    1. Accounting
    2. Law (IANAL anyone?)
    3. Playwriter
    4. Journalist
    5. Librarian

    The point? A computer is no longer a "business tool", it's a "life tool" and needs to be viewed as such when applications and the OS are being designed. This is the point that Ballmer made in his own hamfisted way of "us vs. them". The reality is that the open source/free software community needs to include more than just coders in the development cycle.

    Is your project working on a multitrack audio editor? Then get some professional audio engineers to review your project and make suggestions. In exchange for their expertise, maybe you can offer to set up a system with your application. Are you starting to work on a new application to batch process graphics for print? Then open your project up to non-coders with professional print backgrounds who can tell you if your project is useful or not.

    This doesn't have to be the "free-for-all" nightmare that most coders envision. You can restrict what kind of non-coder gets to participate in the development cycle based on their experience in the field and how many useful contributions they have made after a period of time. You will also need to let more people like me into the development cycle.

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