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Microsoft in 2008 365

r.jimenezz writes "Over at Wired there's an entertaining article written by Gary Wolf. It purports to be a memo written by a 2008-Microsoft-employed Linus Torvalds to Bill, arguing against Steve Ballmer's desire to go back to the untenable OS monopoly proposition instead of the 'new order': Windows is now some sort of desktop environment on top of an open OS!"
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Microsoft in 2008

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  • and yet somehow totally unrealistic. I can't see Linus fitting in that kind of a work environment. Not that I know that much about Microsoft work environments.

    Also surely this isn't a first post?
    • by syukton ( 256348 ) * on Friday January 28, 2005 @06:42PM (#11509139)
      Since I have first-hand knowledge of Microsoft work environments as that's where I'm sitting right at this very moment, I'll enlighten you about the good parts, and the bad. (Disclaimer: I am not employed by Microsoft; however I am on a contract at their Redmond location, and for anybody keeping track: I'm on lunch right now. :p )

      First, there's the free drinks. Every building has at least one Kitchen. In my building, on my floor alone, there are 2. On floors 2 and 3 there are 2 more kitchens each, for a total of 6 in the building. In each kitchen is the type of floor-standing refrigerator you'd see at the grocery store or a 7-11, the kind they keep soft drinks in. Well, much like the grocery store or 7-11, just about every soft drink you could want is in there. Every "Coke" and "Pepsi" variant, Root Beer, Nestea, Dr. Pepper, different juices (cranberry, grapefruit, grape, apple, orange, V8), skim/2%/whole/chocolate milk, a variety of Talking Rain, and so forth. Not to mention the 12 flavors of Tea and a similarly diverse variety of coffee. Are you powered by mountain dew? Your batteries will never run low at Microsoft.

      Second, there's the hours. Want to come in at 10am? ok, come in at 10. Want to work the weekend? no prob, you've got 24 hour building access thanks to your security badge. When you get sick of sitting at your desk, you can walk down the hall to a fooseball or ping-pong table and take a breather. Or, if you're in a building with an atrium (like mine) you can go sit there and read for a while. They don't micro-manage you, they like assigning people tasks and then letting those people handle those tasks independently.

      So I'm a perl wizard (I have a beard and a hat too!) and I can do things with perl that is beyond the comprehension of most of the people I work with. Which is absolutely fine, really, because it takes me about an hour to accomplish something that would take 4 hours for them to do by hand. I tell them it'll take two hours and I've still got an extra hour to read slashdot.

      I've never once had somebody look over my shoulder, and I work in a cube farm. There's 40 cubes in this room, and they aren't even cubes so much as the partitioned desks you see in a call center. Nobody is walking up behind me to check in on me. I produce my deliverables and they show me their gratitude.

      Now, the downsides... Nothing works, and that's OK. Or rather, when something doesn't work the way it SHOULD work, people just shrug it off and accept it. The internal network can at some times be as slow as a 56k modem, and that's OK. (I'm not making this up, I speed-tested it) When the tools crash persistently day after day? That's OK. There's a standard of established mediocrity within the company's internal tools that probably serves to reinforce their release of crappy products. This is pretty much the only downside really, and I could see Linus doing his fair share to alleviate this problem at least in the division in which he would be working.

      A minor downside is the "independent work" thing I mentioned above. Sometimes tasks get subdivided to the point where you've got 4 people working on a one-man job and the only way to accomplish anything is to have all 4 of those people in the same room at the same time, which can be a daunting task to accomplish. But this is really quite trivial compared to the acceptance of mediocrity that seems to pervade the campus.
      • Mediocrity (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cperciva ( 102828 ) on Friday January 28, 2005 @06:50PM (#11509228) Homepage
        ... There's a standard of established mediocrity within [Microsoft's] internal tools that probably serves to reinforce their release of crappy products. This is pretty much the only downside really, and I could see Linus doing his fair share to alleviate this problem at least in the division in which he would be working.

        What makes you think that Linus would solve this problem? In all seriousness, look at the "stable" 2.6 kernel branch, and the attitude demonstrated by comments like "some kernels will be good, others will be bad... we'll find out which kernels are broken soon enough".

        I'm not saying that Linus himself believes in such mediocrity; but it's a bit unreasonable to expect that he would improve things at Microsoft when Linux, under his "benevolent dictatoriship" is plagued by exactly the same problems.
        • Re:Mediocrity (Score:3, Insightful)

          by frdmfghtr ( 603968 )
          What makes you think that Linus would solve this problem? In all seriousness, look at the "stable" 2.6 kernel branch, and the attitude demonstrated by comments like "some kernels will be good, others will be bad... we'll find out which kernels are broken soon enough".

          I'm not sure I see that as accepting mediocrity. I see it as more a "relaxed" approach.

          Microsoft has programmers to pay, shareholders to satisfy, and all sorts of other expenses that come with being a business and, despite being a near mono
      • You forgot to mention that there's no dress code. I've had plenty of friends who have worked there either party all night and have to show up at work in "club clothes" or get dressed so they could head straight out to a concert after work. Others tell me how people show up every day in everything from dirty slackwear to high goth attire.
      • Interestingly enough, when I worked at Dell, I felt the same about their internal tools. They were always poorly designed, and the "new" stuff would simply be a poorly designed, but prettier, application on top of the old poorly designed application.

        These were used by and far by the phone sales people, but since I consider myself a decent programmer (college job), I was always appalled that someone would write something like that and except credit for it.

      • by buzzini ( 177741 ) on Friday January 28, 2005 @11:55PM (#11511219)
        There are apparently many current/former Microsofties fuming at the parent post, but I guess everyone wants to post anonymously or not at all. I'm gone and have nothing to lose, so here goes.

        The parent post is a superficial and completely unrepresentative perspective of Microsoft. The author seemed to be pandering to Slashdot preconceptions more than anything. In reality, Microsoft is an amazing company full of ridiculously intelligent CS folks i.e. top students from top CS programs. Whereas at many companies I've been exposed to, there are a couple smart people here and there and everyone else is just sleepwalking, Microsoft is almost entirely composed of smartest-guy-in-the-room types.

        Some notes:

        * This guy is a contractor. Contractors are generally not very well-respected at Microsoft. The quality people are full-time almost without exception.
        * Almost no one at Microsoft works in a cubicle. Full-time employees have real offices with real doors that close so that you can concentrate.
        * There is no "acceptance of mediocrity" at Microsoft. In fact, it is entirely the opposite. There is a culture of self-criticism and self-castigation throughout the company, especially in divisions like Office.
        * The only times I observed the internal network to be "slow" was when the company was dogfooding an early release. If the network were really as slow as the author describes, people would not be able to get their work done.
        * What internal tools are you referring to? RAID (the bug-tracking system) is pretty great overall and all of the business process management stuff was the best I've seen at any company.

        I'll leave it at that.
        • One of our current graduate students worked at MS for approximately ten years and was heavily involved in the development of one of their well known products. He said there were many extremely smart people at MS. These people generally had huge egos and did not accept criticism well. The end result was products which did not work well because person A and person B did not write compatable code but it all was put into the final product. He liked MS as a place to work but for whatever reason decided to g
    • I can't see Linus fitting in that kind of a work environment.

      Oh, I dunno. I mean, personally, if billg were to offer me $1,000,000 per year (real money, not options ;-), and control over who I had working for me, I'd probably agree to lead a port of the Windows environment to linux.

      Of course, I'd watch my back, and be ready to jump ship on short notice. I'd be assuming that it was a PR ruse, to be scuttled at some time in the future. I'd be in it for the money, and on the off chance that I could pull
    • This Linus seems to take on some RMS personality traits!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    if you dont want to read, i'll summarize:

    Bill Gates: "'Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers!' I'm fucking sick and tired of it so i had to fire him and you were the best replacement i could find"
  • I think he's been hanging out with John Titor [johntitor.com] a bit too much lately. ;)
  • by Staplerh ( 806722 ) on Friday January 28, 2005 @06:09PM (#11508769) Homepage
    It's entertaining. I don't think I would mod the article 'Insightful' or 'Interesting', but I would mod it 'Funny'. A choice snippet (taken out of context no doubt, but still)

    You never made me alter my goal, which was world domination for Linux. I'll never forget your line: "Come on, Linus, infect the mothership." I still believe that was the best recruiting pitch ever uttered. We both took a lot of criticism from our partisans, but look what we've accomplished.

    Inflect the mothership? Just writing this makes me chuckle. Seems kind of creepy, and dare I say, 'borgish'. Oh well, I suppose getting co-opted by Mothership Microsoft had somehow warped the psuedo-Torvald's mind.
  • "Windows is now some sort of desktop environment [apple.com] on top of an open OS [apple.com]!"

    Wow, so in the future they'll keep copying Apple. That's big news.

    • Damn, dude, you stole my comment. Good on ya'.

    • Except that Apple's kernel was really poor in the Classic days. No pre-emptive multitasking, no protected memory. The Nu-Kernel had potential, but was still under development and the entire project was suffering from Duke Nukem Forever-style feature creep. OPENSTEP was a nice replacement for them, since it already came with a powerful GUI and could (relatively) easily be made Mac-like (after all, it was designed by some of the same people).

      In contrast, the Windows NT kernel is of a high standard, althou

  • And also, (Score:3, Funny)

    by Gannoc ( 210256 ) on Friday January 28, 2005 @06:18PM (#11508895)

    In that same memo, it describes how Microsoft will create a sticker that attaches to the outside of your case that uses nanotechnology to intensa-mobilize the electron particles in your motherchips to make your computer run 10-15% faster after several reboots.

  • by flabbergast ( 620919 ) on Friday January 28, 2005 @06:18PM (#11508897)
    Finally, if you think that the Sony-Disney-MS deal is important, you better quiet Steve down

    Danger Will Robinson, Danger!!! That's a scary idea, what would you call a company that is MS, Sony, and Disney? Disonysoft? Microney? AOL Time Warner?
  • by jimbolaya ( 526861 ) on Friday January 28, 2005 @06:18PM (#11508898) Homepage
    They finally ship Longhorn.
  • by ChipMonk ( 711367 ) on Friday January 28, 2005 @06:18PM (#11508907) Journal
    From TFA:

    You told me that if I ever hit a wall with Steve or his people, I should let you know.

    Somehow, the image of Linus Torvalds grabbing Steve Ballmer and swinging him like a bat at a brick wall, Neo-vs.-Smith style.... It's a good thing I didn't have any soda in my mouth when I read that.
  • by adeyadey ( 678765 ) on Friday January 28, 2005 @06:19PM (#11508921) Journal
    and all I got was this lousy tee-shirt!
  • Make a point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 28, 2005 @06:19PM (#11508926)
    form the article:

    [...]But Firefox taught people that you could replace pieces of the Windows desktop with open source software. That was a crack in the seamless facade.
  • Dear Bill (Score:2, Funny)

    by jwegy ( 775655 )
    Tell Steve that it is Gnu/Winx, not Winux. Thanks, Linus ;-P
  • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Friday January 28, 2005 @06:21PM (#11508944) Homepage Journal
    I mean, the old NT codebase has some interesting capabilities. What about building a Debian/NT on top of it?
    • Just as you think it could not get any weirder...
    • Don't laugh so loud, grasshopper.

      Check out debian-win32. It hasn't seem much action in years, but the concept isn't that new.
      Unfortunately, win32 differs so much from posix that emulating the needed parts, although possible (mostly), makes programs work at an unacceptable speed. Win32 doesn't even have fork().
      • by Foolhardy ( 664051 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (23htimsc)> on Friday January 28, 2005 @09:12PM (#11510291)
        That's why SFU [microsoft.com] isn't built on top of Win32, but the kernel's native API [sysinternals.com], which does fork() just fine. So does SFU; it uses the native API.
        The NT kernel was designed from the beginning to support different environments, including POSIX and Win32. Each environment subsystem consists of a server process that maintains common state specific to the environment, and a set of client libraries that translate the environment's API to the native API and calls to the server. Win32 is an environment subsystem and so is SFU.

        For some reason, cygwin (which debian-win32 uses) insists on using only Win32, so they have to resort to kludges to make certain things like fork() work.
        Now that SFU is free, I don't see why debian-win32 couldn't use that instead of cygwin.

        As it stands, Interop Systems [interopsystems.com] has the best collection of packages for SFU. Most of the essential stuff is there, but it's still a far cry from Debian's library.
  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Friday January 28, 2005 @06:21PM (#11508948)
    Like any corporation that has survived and thrived due to a monopoly, it will never change and will take a very long time to die. See AT&T for a useful analogue.
  • by timothy ( 36799 ) * on Friday January 28, 2005 @06:22PM (#11508952) Journal
    but something I've been thinking and asserting for a few years is that Microsoft, if they wanted to, could easily be the world's largest Open Source company.

    Now, with their cash, they could probably also quickly be the world's largest X company for nearly any X ;) However, as an entrenched company with experts in all levels of the software world (from marketing and PR to theoretical next-century noodling that one day will be genuine workable technology), this is a not-crazy idea.

    Microsoft has adopted to market changes before, and they will in the future. (And then, of course, one day they won't exist any more ... dust to dust).

    • I wrote a somewhat farcicle blurb once [livejournal.com] that theorized that (among other things) Microsoft would just buy its way into some other industry with its cash pile once the OS/Office market dried up.

      In my hypothetical future, Microsoft becomes a leading manufacturer of locomotives and aircraft engines, and is a major player in the finance industry. (kind of like GE)

    • Believable (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak.yahoo@com> on Friday January 28, 2005 @07:35PM (#11509553) Homepage Journal
      Microsoft and Intel have fallen out, much as Microsoft and IBM fell out over DOS and (later on) OS/2. I could easily see Microsoft putting in a takeover bid for AMD, thereby controlling both the hardware and the software.

      Alternatively, now that Oracle has bought Peoplesoft, Oracle is vulnerable. It hasn't the money left to resist an attack from Microsoft. With Microsoft wanting more of the server market, taking over companies dealing in high-end server software would be not only logical but consistant with Microsoft's tactics in the past.

      A third possibility would be for Microsoft to buy part of the Internet backbone, or one of the suppliers of it. Juniper is growing in popularity but isn't so big as to be able to resist a buyout. Cisco's not been doing too great, recently, and may be vulnerable. Lucent would be easy pickings and may even welcome such a move.

      Finally, Microsoft may opt for a "strategic partnership" with Boeing. Boeing is in the middle of a massive struggle with Airbus, and it's unlikely both can survive. If Boeing wants to win, it needs more money. Microsoft doubled its profits last quarter, even after allowing for the shareholder payout AND the record EU fine. Aircraft may soon have WIFI. If Microsoft can become the only vendor who can work with such WIFI points, they'd have absolute control of the business market.

      Finally, Microsoft could buy a hard drive vendor. If the OS came pre-installed on the hard drive to OEMs, then fewer OEMs would be willing to install rival Operating Systems....

  • Dear Wired,

    Isaac Asimov was the king of Science Fiction. Your attempt at the genre is pretty much just frightening and strange despite being somewhat comical.

    Please go back to your regularly scheduled programming.

    Slashdot Community.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday January 28, 2005 @06:26PM (#11509000) Homepage
    All jokes asside, the idea of ripping out the underlying stuff while keeping the Windows UI standards for look and feel would be fine with me.

    There are presently efforts to dump X11 in favor of a more hardware direct interface for graphics and such in order to provide more speed and flexibility. I don't know where those projects are now, but without a big backer of the idea, getting rid of X will never happen. As far as I can see, asside from some Microsoft-blessed system services, that's what I imagine WinX would be anyway. And to run proprietary code on top of a Linux kernel? I don't see any violations, legal or moral.

    with as much work and progress that has been made over the years with KDE and GNOME projects, it would be far kinder to the users if there were a strong and unified user interface from which to run their applications. It freaks people out to change and learn new things. KDE and GNOME folks have done a lot of work to get their projects into the lime light but frankly, a large player like Microsoft could easily swoop in and make it all irrelevant. This may not be the case in a year or two but it feels like it is the case right now.

    For the record, I'm very anti-microsoft. But it would be a mistake to fail to embrace them if they were to attempt something like WinX. (If they did, it'd probably be a BSD kernel though... worked for Apple didn't it?)
  • If this memo were real then there would be at least be a mention of the $2 trillion media extravaganza surrounding the press release which revealed that Duke Nukem was coming out before 2009.
  • From the office of: Jesus Christ
    Date: 10.31.2008
    To: Allah
    From: Big J
    Re: Will Mohammed kill Islam++?

  • In 2008 (Score:5, Funny)

    by fieldcomm ( 685891 ) <steven@chabot.utoronto@ca> on Friday January 28, 2005 @06:30PM (#11509034)
    We've built a Windows desktop and application framework around a Linux operating system, and both sides of this equation - open source and proprietary - are needed for our plan to continue to work.

    In other news, RMS announces the imminent release of HURD. "I can feel it, any day now, " says RMS.

    When asked about the new Winux, RMS suddenly issued blue smoke and sparks, muttering "Freedom, freedom, where is the freedom," before crashing to the floor.
  • Happy Halloween! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argent ( 18001 ) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Friday January 28, 2005 @06:35PM (#11509076) Homepage Journal
    Anyone else notice the date on the memo? :)
  • by DocStoner ( 236199 ) on Friday January 28, 2005 @06:37PM (#11509087)
    Hey Bill,

    Well, we did the best we could. Everyone thought we were crazy when we decided to join forces. For awhile there, we thought that we might actually have a chance at coming out on top by teaming up.

    We should have known that copying Apple again ( this time by turning to a 'nix based OS) wouldn't work. They had such a huge headstart on us and you can only copy your competitors so many times before consumers catch on to what you are doing.

    I've got to hand it to Steve Jobs and the guys at Apple. In the end, quality did beat out price.

  • Sounds familiar... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrPerfekt ( 414248 ) on Friday January 28, 2005 @06:37PM (#11509096) Homepage Journal
    This sounds an awful lot like Apple and OS X, complete with humor about pronounciation (OS X or OS TEN).

    As sad as I am to say it, Cringley already fielded this one sometime in 2002 or 2003 I believe. He had a slightly insane theory that a proprietary Windows interface on top of a Linux kernel would be the best of both worlds.

    I doubt it would ever happen but it would be definately interesting. Just think if Windows made the shift, there would no longer be ANY operating systems in active development that weren't based on UNIX in some way.

    Is that a far-fetch dream or a reality slowly taking shape?
    • BeOS (OpenBEOS changed names I think) would like to register a complaint, as would VMS, which while not actively courting new users, still is being worked on daily.
  • by netsavior ( 627338 ) on Friday January 28, 2005 @06:39PM (#11509117)
    I just lost 5 minutes of my life that my employer will never get back...
  • Back then, my revenge was to sneak up on Steve's Longtime friends and whisper in my best accent, "We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile." They hated that.

    For some reason I think that conflict between Steve and Linus would go down like this:

    Linus: "Steve, I just don't like your idea, honestly I think it -"
    Steve: "You... don't like... my idea? *closing in on Linus*"
    Linus: "Oh, come on... We are the Borg,

  • I higly doubt it! No so much Linus working at Microsoft, but more the 'the open source community is working for [Microsoft] now" thing.

    I highly doubt there would be many developpers that would want to "work for Microsoft" or have their code used in their products. Hell, they'd probably even create and release code under a license that specifically forbade MS - and only MS - from using any of the code in MS products

  • by JohnPerkins ( 243021 ) on Friday January 28, 2005 @07:12PM (#11509378) Homepage
    This is Bob!

    He took Enzyte, which gave him the courage to show his face on store shelves again.

    ...which brought him back into public view.

    ...which brought him sales beyond the 3-digit range.

    ...which brought him world-wide respect.

    ...which, by 2008, placed him on over 90% of desktops in the world.

    Coincidence? You decide! Try Enzyte today!
  • by doormat ( 63648 ) on Friday January 28, 2005 @07:17PM (#11509422) Homepage Journal
    It'd be nice to have the security of linux and the user-friendlyness and software library of windows in one package.

    But the words "snowballs chance in hell" come to mind.
  • Literally, when I read the article I thought - This literally sounds nothing like Linus.
  • This is what comes out of bad naming...

    The name of the OS is GNU/Linux. OK, so MS could put Linux, the kernel, under the MS Windows interface and Win32 API -- but what would this buy them? Besides the huge headache of making it work (Win32 is hugely more complex than Carbon, né the Macintosh Toolbox, ever was), they would either compromise Linux or slow MS Windows, as they would loose all types of dirty tricks that get them performance at the cost of stability.

    But this wouldn't be the worse. The

  • First, it is way too long.

    Second, it isn't nearly as witty as Linus is; it doesn't have any of the insults-that-make-you-feel-like-thanking-Linus-for -insulting-you that characterize his flames.

    Third and most vital, Linus doesn't give a damn about any of the crap the author's writing about. He doesn't care about taking over the world or marketing. He is only interested in technology.
  • ps. (Score:4, Funny)

    by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:03PM (#11509793) Homepage Journal

    Post Scriptum

    Bill, please, remember to feed Richard and let him out at least once a week! Last time I visited him in your dungeon, he had hardly enough strength to curse me for my betrayal. I know having him dead and all would make things much easier, you not getting bitten, me not being spit at, but for God's sake, RMS is the real father of the OS. I understand it's better like this, but it's sad to see him there. He IS a human being and deserves at least some respect, even if he doesn't behave like one. Keep your side of the contract and I'll keep bullshitting the EFF thugs that he keeps mailing me from central Australia on regular basis.
  • by canuck57 ( 662392 ) on Friday January 28, 2005 @08:15PM (#11509867)

    Microsoft Linux 2008

    Compatible with open source, stolen and borrowed code. We own it, and invented the Internet and Linux. Buy a copy now and Open MS-Office (closed source with virus hooks and back doors built in) available now for a full featued desktop.

    Even the EULA has improved, it is now twice as long, more complex and has been made into a 2 hour video.

    Can now be backed up with the included MS-cpio. For corparate customers, secure file copy and encrypted interactive terminal sessions do not cost extra and are included with the MS-SSH package. You can also distribute these files around the clock using the reliable MS-RSync package.

    For you personal protection there is MS-IPF firewall that protect not only what tries to get in, but also watches what goes out.

    Corporations can easily prevent users from loading spyware, P2P, virus and other malware.

    Comes with IE-Firefox, a new nify browser with less chance of being bothered by rude sites popups and viruses. We have customized it with new and improved annoyances.

    Comes with a new reliable job scheduler called MS-cron. Never have to worry about setting the time as it uses MS-ntp for reliable and ultra accurate time settings.

    For developers, MS-perl, MS-java, MS-C/C++, tcl, wish, php, MS-apache, MSksh, SHsh, MSawk, MSmysql MSprogress and MSsccs/rcs all await your pleasure and are included with the OS at no extra charge. Will save your company thousands

    You can run your own servers with the optional included package of MS-imap, MS-sendmail, MS-DNS, MS-apache, MS-php and others, all Writen to Micosoft standards. Our developers have made sure buffer overflows and back doors exist for the NSA for legal compliance. Source is not provided so it is maintenace free.

    The system can natively run open source. Although it is advised not to do so as it voids your warenty. See EULA line item 104786.

    Comes with a real VM so when the boss comes by you can swap desktops quickly and reliably.

    Get you MS-Linux for an introductory price of $999 *Which is less than Windows 2003 or 2005!

    You are no longer bound to expensive Intel P5 chips. Runs on the Dragon 2008, systems usually start at $180 for a 3GHz quad processor.

    Includes MS-OpenVPN to connect to work or your companys MS-Linux gateway. No extra charge. But will not work with Cisco.

    Includes a threaded news reader to coordinate the threads of messages in the shared folders. No more will you need to search for related messages from 3 months ago.

    But hurry, these prices will not last!

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain