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Microsoft

Ballmer: 'We'll catch Google' 694

An anonymous reader writes "Steve Ballmer was all about honesty when briefing partners in Sydney yesterday. Microsoft CEO's confessed the software giant's .Net strategy has come to a standstill, says he's accepted SQL Server's shortcomings and vowed to keep fighting search giant Google."
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Ballmer: 'We'll catch Google'

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  • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatman@nospam.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:44AM (#12941786) Homepage Journal
    "Take for instance the Siebel database. Now I've never used that interface. But I'd love to go to it and say 'who is the account manager for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia?'," Ballmer told the partners.

    I can say one thing for sure. He's DEFINITELY never used the Siebel interface! ;-)

    This article honestly sounds like Ballmer was getting a bit beat up by Microsoft's partners and shareholders. They've basically gotten him to admit that .NET is .NOT, Microsoft can't even search its own desktop (Quote: "It's important for people who search a corporate network,"), and that SQL Server development has ground to a halt (ceding victory to Oracle). He then goes on to make a set of pathetic promises ("In the next six months, we'll catch Google in terms of relevancy," and, 'This may be addressed in the next release [of SQL Server] in 18 months, Ballmer said, but conceded he "really didn't know",' and, "Government has really been pushing for stronger interoperability. We can't support open source, but we can support interoperability,") and say that Microsoft will never give up the fight.

    I'm sorry, but Ballmer has effectively admitted that Microsoft is now irrelevent. He's trying to grip at pavement by muttering about interop and standards compliance. This is an amazingly similar situation to the introduction of Netscape Navigator. Microsoft almost missed the boat then, but managed to throw enough resources, money, and outright theft behind capturing the browser market. Microsoft's best attempts today only come out as a pathetic whimper. No super-search engine, no desktop search, nothing. If Ballmer was smart, he'd get his boys to activate the existing Databasse File System [blogspot.com] in NTFS, then use it to push Google and Apple away from the Desktop. Once solid in that area, they should tie it into their online search engine, thus using their desktop monopoly against their competitors.

    On the bright side, I am quite glad that Microsoft isn't that good anymore. At the very least, they have to watch where they step with the justice department looking over their shoulders. :-)
    • by C. Mattix ( 32747 ) <cmattix AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:50AM (#12941846) Homepage
      No. He isn't admitting that MS is irrelevent. He is admiting that MS is losing in places, hence has competition, hence is not a monopoly. MS NEEDS to look like they are losing a bit, because when they were winning everything (in the eyes of many people) they were getting attacked.

      Saying things like that are a calculated gamble, words like that can send stock prices down, so there has to be a reason for it. "Honesty" aside, it is business.
      • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatman@nospam.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @12:00PM (#12941937) Homepage Journal
        Saying things like that are a calculated gamble, words like that can send stock prices down, so there has to be a reason for it. "Honesty" aside, it is business.

        If that's true, then the gamble requires that Microsoft have something up their sleeve to help them have a "fighting comeback" in the marketplace. The problem is that Microsoft has never been very good about keeping their mouth shut about future developments. Which means that the only thing in their pipeline right now is Longhorn. Now just about every feature that could actually let Microsoft compete is getting stripped out of Longhorn, thus leaving them with nothing more than a few whiz-bang features.

        Ballmer may really believe that Longhorn is going to take the world by storm, but my gut feeling is that Microsoft is doomed to irrelevency. Longhorn will be more of the same, with no acknowlegement of the paradigm shifts Apple is pushing onto the desktop and Google is pushing into Internet apps. The result will be that Microsoft will begin losing their desktop dominance to Apple and their Internet dominance to Google/FireFox, which will leave Microsoft in the position of having to become a cross-platform application provider, again.

        Personally, I think that's a good thing. ;-)
        • by C. Mattix ( 32747 ) <cmattix AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @12:08PM (#12942024) Homepage
          MS is to big to become "irrelevent." Many people said the same thing about IBM, and they haven't. Their role in the industry has changed, people no longer call PC's (IBM compatible), but they are still here and large. That is what I see eventually happening with Microsoft. There are way to many smart people working for them to go away. I'll be curious to see how the Intel/Apple thing goes. That could change things, but at this stage in the game I see MS sticking around for quite a long time.
          • by Moofie ( 22272 ) <lee.ringofsaturn@com> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @12:17PM (#12942106) Homepage
            Think "non-dominant" instead of "irrelevant". And if they're not dominant, they can be irrelevant TO ME. Sure, MS isn't going away, but I'll be very glad when they're not driving the market anymore.

            I'm going to go play with Google Earth some more.
          • " MS is to big to become "irrelevent."... ...at this stage in the game I see MS sticking around for quite a long time."

            Sure, Novell was still around when they decided to go the Linux route. I wouldn't have called them "relevant" at that point though - at least not in the way one thinks of MS today. BTW, my employer still uses Groupwise and some other Novell stuff. It takes a long time for something to go away completely, but that's doesn't mean it's still "relevant". SCO is still around too :-) For me per

          • Many people said the same thing about IBM, and they haven't.
            Seriously?
            If IBM dropped of the face of the planet, would it..
            A) Cause an economic downturn as people can't get their work done without IBMs support.
            B) Stop the development of many major project that are anticipating IBMs next move, and trying to be ready to meet the world with complimentary products.
            C) Leave a lot of IBM employees out of work.

            I'm voting for C!
            • by S.O.B. ( 136083 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @01:38PM (#12942763)
              I think you're confusing relevance with visibility. IBM may not be a visible as they once were but they are relevant. There are a lot of things IBM does and services they offer that companies depend on for their day to day survival.

              For example, IBM is one of the largest IT outsourcers and if they fell off the face of the planet there are a lot of companies that would have little or no IT area to speak of. Try getting a bank balance when the mainframe your account data sits on no longer exists. That's what I call relevant.

        • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @01:34PM (#12942731) Homepage Journal
          Ballmer may really believe that Longhorn is going to take the world by storm, but my gut feeling is that Microsoft is doomed to irrelevency

          The way it was doomed to irrelevancy becuse the Internet was going to become the platform?

          Longhorn will be more of the same, with no acknowlegement of the paradigm shifts Apple is pushing onto the desktop and Google is pushing into Internet apps

          Microsoft is a weird schizo kind of company. In its core business, it destroy all rivals because it is not tech driven -- it's driven by pragmatism. Competitors waste time money and effort trying to steal Microsoft's cash cow, but the barn is so well managed that they can only look at it from the outside, actually from a trailer park in the next county, where their perpetual motion driven milking machines are doomed to decay into rust.

          On the other hand, Microsoft has plenty of Rube Goldberg plans of its own, for things like music subscription services and the like, that are totally tech driven and completely people unsaavy. And they have money to spend on these things. It's like they've corralled all those dangerous geek impulses in a safe area well removed from the barn. It's dreadfully inefficent to spend your time on these things, but sustained compound growth covers a multitude of sins.

          That's all in the past though. The thing though that may doom them is coping with maturity. The change they need is not technological, it's cultural. There is no prospect of tech adoption driven growth like they had in the 80s and 90s, where customers needed desktop systems literally by the truckload, and MS could provide software which while never particularly good, was good enough and the cheapest way to equip entire corporate divisions at a time.

          (1) It is precisely becuase MS was NOT innovative that customers turned to them. Peple had a big transformation to manage, didn't want anything fancy or expensive to get in the way, and tolerated all kinds of technical, aesthetic and cultural deficiencies along the way. In this situation, it was the rate of technological adoption that mattered more than anything else. Finesse was not required or particularly appreciated.

          (2)That problem is obsolete, so MS's corporate culture is obsolete. Notice Google's motto. Bad boys with attitude aren't wanted or admired by MS's customer base.

          (3) A tech oriented make-over of MS based on innovation is a fantasy. An infantile fantasy: the kind that you're supposed to grow out of. They have a great business now, they just need to update it for the needs of 2005 instead of the needs of 1985.

          (4) To do this, they need to become their customer's best friend, not the devil you know. People now have more time to be skeptical and demanding than they used to.

          (5) Ambition is fine in a top dog manager, but it can't go naked. Gates's testy, irritable drive for world domination does not fit the bill, nor does Ballmer's outsized, sweaty antics. Somebody a bit more suave would be nice. Appointing a European might be a good move, not because Europeans are smarter than us, but because it would signal a new, outward looking perspective.

          You can see good things and bad things about Ballmer's attitude here. You can't say they're not self-critical. The question is -- are they asking the right questions?

        • What is it with slashdot and Apple? Apple's marketshare might rise a little but there is no way Microsoft will "lose their desktop dominance to Apple"
          • How big does Apple's desktop share have to be before commercial software
            developers finally decide that they can't ignore that portion of the market?

            Once that point has been reached, Microsoft's dominance will disappear. This
            isn't to say that they won't still have the majority of desktops, but they
            will no longer control the desktop as they have in the past.

            Just my opinion.
      • He is admiting that MS is losing in places, hence has competition, hence is not a monopoly.

        The conclusion doesn't follow from the previous statements. You can hold a monopoly in A while at the same time be losing to competitors in B and C.

        You still have the monopoly in A.
    • Or, maybe it's "follow the market". But the market isn't going in a single direction now, it's buggering off all over the place.

      It seems to me that the best things in life start with philosophies and then stick to them.

      • by Richie1984 ( 841487 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:59AM (#12941932)
        Microsoft's problem is that they're fighting battles on too many fronts. Instead of doing one area extrememy well, such as search or OS or an iPod competitor, they're fighting a multitude of companies on their own soil.

        Microsoft may have the financial resources to throw at these battle fronts, but without public support and without the better product, they have no long term hope
        • Exactly right. It's a whole new world out there. Microsoft can't afford to be the only word in computing anymore. They can't control the whole desktop and internet it's impossible. If they keep trying to they are going to find themselves in a whole world of hope. They may have the financial resorces to try right now but they will in the end fail and make a whole lot of shareholders really unhappy.

          What Microsoft really needs right now is to spin off some of these products into seperate companies and pick so
    • by Dukael_Mikakis ( 686324 ) <andrewfoerster@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:54AM (#12941894)
      Not quite irrelevant.

      Perhaps not right now on the forefront, but if there's any company that can quickly push themselves into relevancy it would be Google and then Microsoft. Even Oracle with all of their megalomaniacal acquisitions can't quite push themselves into the application software market.

      I'm not an MS fan by any measure but keep in mind they still dominate the OS market and even if our user environment can eventually be run by web apps, we'll still need an OS to get there. (Though many workplaces don't bother to upgrade their Windows versions with new releases)

      While here Ballmer doesn't seem to be convincing anybody of MS's relevance, I wouldn't underestimate MS. They've shown that they can be moderately relevant in many markets if they throw enough cash at their project (and cash they do have). The X-Box, for example.
    • Prediction:

      Five years from now, after Apple and Google have taken their shots, the open-source people have copied whichever they decide to copy and Microsoft has wheeled out their metadata/search combo -- we'll be exactly where we are now. Users who know how to use directories will continue to do so; everyone else will be dumping everything into the default documents location and unable to find anything.

      Desktop search is the voice recognition of the new century. It will sort of work, but never well enough

      • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatman@nospam.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @12:09PM (#12942027) Homepage Journal
        Desktop search is the voice recognition of the new century. It will sort of work, but never well enough to make it worth relying upon.

        A nice prediction, except for one problem: Apple users are already using Desktop Search. It's here now, it works, and it's much loved by users. Same thing with Google Web Apps. GMail, GMaps, and Google Search are all here today, all much loved by users, and all wiping the deck with competitors.

        Voice Rec was one of those things that we always saw coming, but never saw the reality of. (Although it has gotten into niche applications like voice dialing.) The threats to Microsoft, OTOH, are already banging at the gates (ha ha) and are threatening Microsoft's bottom line. Unless Apple's and Google's growth were to abruptly stop tomorrow, even conservative projections don't look good for Microsoft.
      • by interiot ( 50685 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @12:10PM (#12942036) Homepage
        Desktop search is the voice recognition of the new century. It will sort of work, but never well enough to make it worth relying upon.
        What's the primary way that the core information on the internet is accessed right now? Is it via neatly organizing things into directories (eg. Yahoo, DMOZ)? Or is it by brute-force search (eg. Google)?

        That's right, there is no organization. Same philosophy as GMail... don't organize it, search it instead.

        Yeah, an omniscient organizer, or a full-fledged semantic web, would both be better than raw search. But for now, we have search, and people have had many years to become familiar with it. Google isn't a newfangled doodad.

        • Right and Wrong... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rmdyer ( 267137 )
          Except of course that you are both right and wrong. If I store it then I organize it. There is no way for me to know how you stored your information, unless you tell me. Most people who are smart, organize their information in a way that makes sense to them. People who don't organize their information need a desktop search tool. We all need to search the net because we have absolutely no idea of how it is organized. I will very rarely ever need to search for my own information. It actually seems coun
      • Nice try, budding futurist pundit.

        I use it heavily now! I got jealous of my friends with OS X Tiger and installed Microsoft's Desktop Search, which currently blows Google's offering out of the water. It's basically the only good way I've ever seen to look through my huge MP3 collection.

        And so you don't think I'm some MS flunkie, I can't wait to see Google come at MS Desktop Search with the upgrade equivalent of a devastating counter-punch.

        "Desktop Searching", like AJAX is something that has lon

      • Desktop search is the voice recognition of the new century. It will sort of work, but never well enough to make it worth relying upon.

        Hmm, I have relied upon it about a dozen times so far today. So you may want to revise your estimate of "never" to a month or so ago. I keep everything on my machine organized into a pretty intricate directory tree that is great for finding things but it is not perfect. First it is easier to add multiple meta-tags than it is to create multiple shortcuts and directories

    • Any news about cairo?
    • by Kineticabstract ( 814395 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @01:00PM (#12942483)
      Heh.

      According to Google, Peter Ulm is the Microsoft account manager for Commonwealth Bank.

      http://www.google.com/search?biw=1272&hl=en&q=micr osoft+who+is+the+account+manager+for+the+Commonwea lth+Bank+of+Australia&btnG=Google+Search/ [google.com]

      Google knows all. Who needs a M$ solution?

    • by cshark ( 673578 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @01:51PM (#12942879)
      IF Ballmer was smart, he would see a lot of things:

      1. That it's never a good idea to be incredibly aggressive, and then back off. It just feeds the monkey boy persona everyone thinks of when they think Ballmer. I would say Ballmer himself, and Microsoft as a whole have some pretty serious PR issues. A good start: stop being such an ass. Calmly answer inquiries and questions the way any other professional CEO would.

      2. By paying close attention to your competition, you are giving them the home team advantage. You're bringing the fight to their home. When it comes to things like Search, Microsoft has never done well, and they are by contrast... an upstart. Instead, focus on your product for a change. You want to talk about innovation? Freaking innovate for a change. Everyone's open to something better. If you can produce the best product possible, people will come. Ms has a lot of strengths. Usability tends to be one of them. Why not exploit that?

      3. What a Siebel database is.

      4. Google does not need to be caught. This is a market that Microsoft has already dismissed as "non innovative" and boring. Even in his comments, he said that no innovation ever happens in search. Have you used Google Earth Mr. Ballmer? My god man. If you believe there's no innovation to be had, then why even bother? It's like saying, "Yeah, I know my product is going to suck, but this other guy over there sucks even more but thinks he doesn't."

      As far as giving up the fight... well, this is a fight they gave up long ago when yahoo won the first round of Search Engine wars. Ms's search engine was never a priority until Google showed that you can make money without annoying people. Yet Ms still don't seem to get that aspect of it. And it shows, the Microsoft MSN search engine is loud annoying, and produces crap search results ala Lycos, circa 1996.

      To this day they haven't even been able to come close to what Google is doing, and they know it. Given their performance in this sector, there's no reason they should even be involved in it in the first place. They need to cut their losses and focus on real money makers like Xbox Royalties, Enterprise Apps, Databases, Smart Phones, and Mice.

      5. Interoperability? What exactly does interoperability mean if you can't support Open Source? What IS supported? Also, if Microsoft can't support Open Source, then why have they released Open Source applications for Windows XP, Server03, and .Net? It seems the only logical conclusion that can be derived from Ballmer's statements is that Interoperability doesn't actually mean anything, and that it's his way of getting people to just shut up.

      6. The real threat to Microsoft isn't Linux, it's KDE and GNOME. If Ballmer was smart, he would understand this, and that the OS itself is far less relevant to the consumer than the desktop environment which the consumer considers to be the OS. A move to BSD or Linux like Apple did would cement that and make them virtually unstoppable in this market for many years to come. Yet, they don't seem worried about any of that. That's what gets me.
  • by bigwavejas ( 678602 ) * on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:45AM (#12941789) Journal
    Folks..

    It's not gonna work. Why you ask???

    Because he failed to fire off this attack at Google with the passion and ferociousness ROAR!!! (Look Ma I'm a Lion) of some of his past over-the-top WWF wrestler/ MS superhero assaults like Windows 1.0 release http://www.dataflo.net/~mpurintun/videos/microsoft _Ceo.wmv [dataflo.net] or (Get on your feet) http://www.danzfamily.com/videos/videos05/dancemon keyboy.mpeg [danzfamily.com] I suggest he get back on track with some hardcore dancing and screaming, maybe a body suplex or two where he's GUARANTEED success!! ...or a brain explosion. (We can only pray for the latter.)

  • by badmammajamma ( 171260 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:45AM (#12941792)
    ROFLMAO

    Damn that's good comedy. It's like a Ford Taurus saying it's gonna catch a Ferrari.
    • by ProfaneBaby ( 821276 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:49AM (#12941825)
      Well, if you're slipping into irrelevancy as your OS gets delayed and your dev platforms get ignored because of your (previously mentioned) OS delays, what do you do?

      Do you stand around and say "We screwed up, please ignore us forever" or "We're coming back to the top! Really, we promise".

      He owes it to his shareholders to at least pretend like they're fixing the problems, when really the biggest problem is that they can't seem to release relevant software on schedule with the desired features. Perhaps the biggest problem for MS is that the new competition has spread their talent far too thin, that they're working on too many projects at once, can't finish any of them, and are suffering tremendously because of it.

      It's unfortunate, indeed, that some of the BEST ideas to come out of Redmond still haven't seen the light of day.
      • The biggest problem is that they can't seem to release relevant software on schedule with the desired features.

        This is the biggest difference between Microsoft and Google. Google doesn't announce it's developments years in advance. Thus, there's no rush, no pressure, and you can never be behind schedule. They also can't break any promises since there weren't any made to begin with.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:54AM (#12941891)
      It's like a Ford Taurus saying it's gonna catch a Ferrari.

      More like an overstuffed mobile home being towed down the road by a huge smoke-belching tow-truck, with a broken axle and a beat up Yugo hitched to its rear, 15 suitcases on the roof, 6 bicycles barely hanging on a rack, leaking oil, screen door flapping in the breeze, read-faced driver shaking his fist at the Ferrari that cruised by in a nano-second and yelling "I'm gonna catch ya as soon as I git this thing fixed! You jes wait!"

    • No it's not. it's like Tonka-Trucks parent company saying "we're gonna catch ferrari". Sure there's lots of money in the Ferrari market, but not if you DON"T MAKE SPORTS CARS to begin with!

      Microsoft - makes SOFTWARE
      Google - ORGANIZES and SEARCHES the worlds INFORMATION

      Why are they trying to "catch-up" to someone they shouldn't even be competeing with?

    • by asoap ( 740625 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @12:46PM (#12942352)
      Ford caught ferrari years ago, back in the day when Enzo Ferrari was still alive. His whole entire engineering department quit on him because they were tired of his wife stickiing her nose where it didn't belong.

      Becuase of this he was then willing to sell his company. One of the interested buyers was Ford. They had a meeting with Ferrari, with all the paperwork ready for him to sign. He looked it over, turned to his friend and said "Let's go get lunch" and never came back. This pissed off the guys at Ford and they vowed to beat Ferrari at his own game. That is when they introduced the original GT40 [jereinsteonzin.nl] which cames 1st, 2nd and 3rd (I believe) at LeMans.

      And thus, that is how Ford kicked Ferrari's ass. Although, I don't know how difficult that was considering that Ferrari's engineering team left him. Regardless though, it was still a massive accomplishment for Ford.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr@ma[ ]om ['c.c' in gap]> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:45AM (#12941793) Journal
    If there was ever a clear-cut example of someone in over his head, it's Ballmer. If he hadn't been BG's college buddy, he'd be running a Denny's restaurant somewhere.

    -jcr

    • Hey only in America can you go from me BG's office manager to the CEO...

      And his rise to power is more an example of the Dilbert Principle http://www.aquecorp.com/vincent/humor/dilbert.prin ciple.html [aquecorp.com] than anything else.
    • Re:Peter Principle. (Score:3, Informative)

      by gowen ( 141411 )
      That's not really the Peter Principle, though, is it? He hasn't been promoted from his position of competence, because he has never held a position in which he was demonstrably competent.

      It's more a case of the "promoting your mates over those better qualified is rarely a good thing" principle.
    • by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <spydermann@slashdot.gmail@com> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @12:03PM (#12941972) Homepage Journal
      If there was ever a clear-cut example of someone in over his head, it's Ballmer. If he hadn't been BG's college buddy, he'd be running a Denny's restaurant somewhere.

      NO! Ballmer already proved himself as a WONDERFUL telemarketer! We shouldn't dismiss that possibility! :)
    • by FunWithHeadlines ( 644929 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @12:05PM (#12941991) Homepage
      Ballmer as a waiter at Denny's:

      "Grand Slam Breakfast! Grand Slam Breakfast! Grand Slam Breakfast! Grand Slam Breakfast!!"

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Hey! I run a Denny's restaurant you insensitive clod!
    • by Strudelkugel ( 594414 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @12:22PM (#12942158)

      Your post was modded funny, but I think you point out a serious fact: Ballmer just isn't up to the job of being Microsoft CEO. That doesn't mean he isn't a smart individual, or very capable in some ways.

      Think about Apple, Oracle, maybe even Linux development as managed by Torvalds - What would happen to any of these organizations/efforts without the people who were central to their creation and success? (We know what happened to Apple.) Getting back to the corporate example, as big as these organizations are, one person at the top can make a huge difference, for good or bad. Look what happened to DEC, Wang Labs, IBM, AT&T when the chief exec went pear-shaped.

      It's also quite possible to go from bad or mediocre to good - Note Yahoo! before Terry Semel, GE before Jack Welch, Chrysler before Iaccoca. Of course /. is focused on technology, so the tendency is to believe the success or failure of a company is almost completely dependent on the quality of its product technology. I think it is much more dependent on the leadership of the company (like anything else, sports teams, politics, military, etc.) /.-ers post about the various OSS personalities, but discuss Microsoft and Apple almost exclusively in terms of their tech. Gates is a brilliant guy, Jobs is a brilliant guy. Ballmer was never the right choice as Microsoft CEO IMHO, but I don't know who is. I don't know who could replace Jobs, either. I'm sure there are people who would be great CEOs of both companies. I'm guessing Ballmer is on his way out. The big question - What will Microsoft do when it does have the right CEO?

  • by Mz6 ( 741941 ) * on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:45AM (#12941794) Journal
    Dog: I'll catch my tail
  • Good luck with that. They have to first overcome the problem that people like Google and don't like MS.
  • problem (Score:3, Funny)

    by seoYak ( 883591 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:45AM (#12941798)
    Admitting you have a problem is the first step to solving it.
    • Re:problem (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Golias ( 176380 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:53AM (#12941880)
      This has always been Balmer's M.O. He's played this game a hundred times.

      "Aw, shucks... There's no point in denying that the horse crap we shoved out the door last year stunk to high heaven. What a big screw up! But look out, because this year we are going to really dazzle you with some great products!"

      He's spent his whole career acknowleging that MS has made poor software "in the past" while promising the moon and the stars Real Soon Now.

      He's gotta be giddy with laughter over the fact that it still works after all these years.
      • Re:problem (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tshak ( 173364 )
        This post is moderatd as "insightful", but it's really a troll. Microsoft has made huge advances in the last 5-10 years. Win2k and Win2k3 are solid servers. Sql Server 7.0 and 2K are solid database servers. IIS6 is not only the fastest web application server on the market, it has also been able to avoid the security nightmares of its earlier versions. Outlook, Microsoft's biggest source of desktop security holes, is now rock solid in its latest version. .NET (please don't regurgitate that "java clone" rheto
        • Re:problem (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Golias ( 176380 )
          Nothing you just said contradicts anything I said. I said nothing to specifically bash MS-SQL, IIS, or .NET, so I don't know where the fuck you are getting all this.

          My point remains the same.

          Pull up a Lexus/Nexis on his comments around the launch of .NET and things will sound very familiar...

          Better still, go get your hands on the original broadcast of Cringely's PBS special, "Triumph of the Nerds" and you get to see a clip of Steve Balmer in his pre-CEO days making essentially the same "in the immediate
  • by yagu ( 721525 ) <yayagu&gmail,com> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:47AM (#12941811) Journal

    Ballmer (from the article):"We can't support open source, but we can support interoperability," he said. (what does that mean?... I can't count the number of times I've not been able to lace up some Microsoft technology to some other technology... on the other hand, symmetrically I can't count the number of times I have easily been able to lace up some OSS to other technology.... (I know that doesn't qualify for tautology..., but it illustrates a point))

    Ballmer (from the article, re lack of SQLServer spatial storage capabilities):This may be addressed in the next release [of SQL Server] in 18 months, Ballmer said, but conceded he "really didn't know"

    Ballmer (from the article, re MapPoint lack of expansion into Southeast Asia): "I didn't know we weren't doing well there," he said. "I'll address that with the team vigorously."

    So, for all Ballmer doesn't know in this discussion with partners, how much weight will (Ballmer, from the article): "In the next six months, we'll catch Google in terms of relevancy," hold?

    Sounds like Microsoft is seeing Google much as they saw Netscape in the past... a threat that is important and trumps all other goings-on on campus. I'm not sure based on what I've seen so far Microsoft can exceed Google's technology, let alone even catch up with it. Writing smart search technology, evolving it quickly, and improving on it is a much more daunting challenge than cobbling a browser together quickly.

  • by Creosote ( 33182 ) * on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:48AM (#12941819) Homepage
    "In the next six months, we'll catch Google in terms of relevancy". --Steve Balmer, 27 June 2005

    "The U.S. military is 'sure' it will catch Osama bin Laden this year, perhaps within months, a spokesman declared Thursday". --Associated Press story [military.com], 30 January 2004

  • News Flash! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Kierthos ( 225954 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:49AM (#12941832) Homepage
    Ballmer admits strategy to "catch" Google consists of writing the word Google on a baseball, throwing it up into the air and catching it. When faced with the possibility of missing, or a complete lack of physical coordination, Ballmer advised that in the event of such limited cases, a patch would be available to correct the problem.

    Kierthos
  • by taskforce ( 866056 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:50AM (#12941840) Homepage
    Hotmail over gMail - MS's handy adverts popup right infront of you, so you don't have to scroll to the bottom of the page. MS has always been at the forefront of UI design.

    MSN Search over Google Search - WE PUT IT IN TV ADVERTS

    Microsoft's Maps service over Google Maps - It never gives wrong directions. (Becasue it doesn't exist.)

  • by grahamsz ( 150076 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:51AM (#12941851) Homepage Journal
    I always imagined they were pretty well controlled to stop people asking difficult questions.

    Kudos to the journalists for getting that number of "don't knows" from someone who is used to being in the line of fire.

    I suppose in some ways it's refreshingly honest, but people in his position are almost expected to BS their way through difficult questions.
    • Read the article.

      This wasn't a press conference, and the questions weren't from journalists.

      The questions were from Microsoft's partners (ie, VAR's, stockholders, people who have large investments in MS products)

      They aren't paid to ask questions, they're paid to implement solutions. They want to make sure that their chosen partner is doing their fair share.

      Its a two way street -- the MS execs get real feedback from real customers who aren't afraid to call the shots the way they see them. The partners
  • by caluml ( 551744 ) <slashdot@spamgoe ... g ['.ca' in gap]> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:52AM (#12941864) Homepage
    If Google pushed Jabber, let's say, and a Google-branded OS based on Linux, Microsoft would wither rapidly
    • by Mr Pippin ( 659094 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @12:12PM (#12942060)
      Hardly. It would take more than that to successfully dethrone MS from the Desktop. The following items (not all included, but important, none the less)

      Unified Application Architecture
      Application Interoperability
      Legacy Application Support (Win32)
      Desktop Office Software Solution
      3rd Party Hardware Support
      Game Publisher Support
      Seamless platform transition ability for business users

      All of these need to be at or above existing accepted Desktop standards before you can reasonably hope to unseat Microsoft.
  • by WebHostingGuy ( 825421 ) * on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:52AM (#12941866) Homepage Journal
    See, we're not the best in everything. In fact our major products are behind. Therefore, we don't have a monopoly on anything. Please leave our lawyers alone...

    While this does have a hint of truth it also works very well for them.
  • Saturation point. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by suman28 ( 558822 ) <suman28@@@hotmail...com> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:52AM (#12941872)
    No innovation and Microsofties leaving to work for google is a sure sign that 'catching up' is going to get harder and harder as days go by.
    Besides, they have grown too big for their own good.
    It may be a good thing that the company didn't get split into two. This way, at least we have to fight only one 800-pound gorilla, rather than two cunning 'little' monsters.
  • by team99parody ( 880782 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:53AM (#12941877) Homepage
    A couple weeks ago you had Microsoft execs say that
    • In a few years Windows will be competitive with Linux for clusters
    • Longhorn will be "supercocmpetitive" with apache.
    • One day windows will have a scripting language (msh/monad) as powerful as /bin/sh.
    Is it the case thah people can see through the fud, so they're concentrating on reality? Wow.
  • my prediction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by justforaday ( 560408 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:53AM (#12941885)
    They may be able to make up some lost ground with Google, but I'm not so sure they'll be able to catch up. It took them a while to destroy Netscape (who has now reared it's ugly head again as Firefox). That was a single target - a single app that did a single thing. Google is more of a hydra that just keeps on growing new heads all over the place...
  • by nurhussein ( 864532 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:55AM (#12941896) Homepage
    Microsoft has SQL server, yet it's not a database company so it can't quite beat Oracle. Microsoft has MSN search, yet it's not a search company so it can't quite beat Google. Microsoft has .NET, and maybe that *is* their turf, creating software infrastructure, but now Ballmer says they it's a standstill. It may be one of the richest companies in the world, but jack of all trades is still the master of none. There was a time when they could push an inferior product because it was priced cheaper than the specialised stuff and it was "good enough", but that's changing too since now OSS is the cheapest software provider, and even if some of it doesn't have as much features as M$'s offerings (such as Openoffice vs. MS Office), it can be free/dirt cheap and still be "good enough".

    So yes, M$ isn't going away, but it's not going to rule with absolute power either, and they're unhappy about the latter. Well, tough shit :)
  • by suitepotato ( 863945 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:58AM (#12941930)
    First, Google, despite being the beloved of the geek crowd is Windows-centric again and again. I have working nVidia drivers on FC3, why can't I get an app to surf 3D satellite maps and such? Why is Keyhole for Windows? Is Google going to do ANYTHING with Linux? I don't see them as such darlings, but then I don't have an irrational FUD-based hatred of Microsoft so I am not seizing on them as a battering ram against Redmond.

    Second, Portal Kombat is finished. The audience left before there could be a truly gory fatality and left Netscape, Lycos, etc. to figure it out (to the extent that it ever did actually sink in) for themselves that they (the public) didn't care. Why does Microsoft care who searches the web through which engine?

    Third, why are people so interested in searching their own desktops? Hello? Anyone remember AltaVista and their search software? Whoopie. I get to have someone else write code so I can waste processor cycles searching my machine for files I should have been smart enough to organize in the first place. Want to help me? Write an app that catalogs every CD as soon as I insert it and then stores the results in a database and make it part of the OS package.

    If anything, this is more like Peterbilt saying they're going to catch up with Ferrari. Different markets altogether really. I don't need anyone to search my desktop, Google doesn't write any sort of OS, and Microsoft has never been the search king in my experience. So it's like, who cares?
    • First, Google, despite being the beloved of the geek crowd is Windows-centric again and again. I have working nVidia drivers on FC3, why can't I get an app to surf 3D satellite maps and such? Why is Keyhole for Windows? Is Google going to do ANYTHING with Linux? I don't see them as such darlings, but then I don't have an irrational FUD-based hatred of Microsoft so I am not seizing on them as a battering ram against Redmond.

      You know, Apple isn't doing much for *Li*nux either, but they're beloved too.

  • Google's best bet... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HerculesMO ( 693085 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @12:04PM (#12941982)
    Just invest the oodles of money it has into helping developers create true cross-platform applications -- and supporting them. Games, productivity apps, graphic apps, video editing apps... it can all be done under Linux. In the meanwhile, Google writes APIs to get Linux to work better than ever, liscenses that out to the multiple distros for a nominal fee...

    Microsoft won't have a chance against that. You are combining the brilliance of Google's marketing position and cash position, by helping Google force the hand of "windows only" developers to start writing applications that work in Linux, Windows, and MacOS. Granted the up front monetary gain is going to be minimal -- but when Google has an OS that is not as stifling as Windows is, they will find it a lot easier to distribute and develop applications like Google Earth or whatever... and make a profit off of everything.

    I'm not against Google making money... I'm against a closed platform like Windows. Microsoft is a great software company (regardless of what naysayers state), but their vision is one aimed at monopoly. So long as Google can keep up with their "Do no evil" motto... I will support and root for them.
  • On The Ropes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ridgelift ( 228977 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @12:06PM (#12942000)
    Later, a typically-enthusiastic Ballmer addressed approximately 500 partner attendees, who grilled the CEO on all things Microsoft.

    ...Ballmer admitted the platform "had stalled in the last 12 months"...

    ..."We can't support open source, but we can support interoperability,"...

    ...may be addressed in the next release [of SQL Server] in 18 months, Ballmer said, but conceded he "really didn't know"...

    ...when a participant asked why MapPoint had not expanded to South East Asia so such services could be built, Ballmer was stumped...

    ..."I didn't know we weren't doing well there,"...

    ..."In the next six months, we'll catch Google in terms of relevancy,"...

    ...I've never used that interface...

    "Give up the fight? No, never," he said.
    This is not the Microsoft I know. I remember when Office XP was released, staff was saying things like "this is not a revolutionary version, but rather an evolution in software". They quickly recanted and began preaching "REVOLUTIONARY! REVOLUTIONARY!" again. Microsoft doesn't have great software, is not innovative, and is not liked in the industry the way Google is. What they ARE good at is sales and marketing.
    It may sound like Microsoft is conceding in areas, but you watch. Ballmer will come back flailing and ranting "REVOLUTION!" within the next couple of weeks.
  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @12:10PM (#12942038) Journal
    How many switched to MSN Search when they introduced their "Google Killer" some months ago?

    And now they're trying to compete with Google Earth with their Virtual Earth. The only problem is that Google has released their software, but Microsoft hasn't. So now people will grow accustomed to their free software and for people to switch, Microsoft probably have to be vastly better for people to change their habits. I can see a similar chain of events unfold as with the Google web search -- vastly superior than what Microsoft can offer, so they try to catch up, when what they need to is to innovate, which they've never been too great about.

    "In the next six months, we'll catch Google in terms of relevancy," he said.

    LOL. I'll believe it when I see it. I wonder how great MSN Search will be by the end of 2005. Six months and counting, Ballmer.
  • by cryptor3 ( 572787 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @12:16PM (#12942104) Journal
    *Shakes fist in air*

    *Twirls mustache*

    "...if it's the last thing I do!"
  • by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @12:41PM (#12942316) Homepage Journal
    MS won't catch up with Google for the same reason Open Source won't catch up with MS on the desktop.

    Point and Click users want what their friends and family want. They want to share pics, audio/video files, text files, powerpoint presentations, etc., etc. And on the desktop MS has won the race to place first in the consumers' mind in that regard.

    When you buy tissue do you think tissue or do you think Kleenex? You might buy some generic brand buy you think Kleenex. Until interoperability becomes commonplace buyers will think Windows on the desktop because that's what their event horizon presents them with.

    Remember the joke in Pulp Fiction... the baby tomato out for a walk with it's parent tomatoes dallies behind, angering the papa tomato, who stomps the baby tomato and yells: "Ketchup"... when you think ketchup you think Heinz, when consumers think Personal Computing they think Windows. I doubt that the majority even know what an OS is, as it all comes bundled.

    While I'm on a rant, I think MS has chased the dream of the PC as a multimedia server, but I don't think they saw the dual core, multiprocessor model coming to the mass consumer market and their licensing strategy will have to morph to fit the market, as what is the PC becomes an appliance destined for the home basement as a server while laptops become ubiquitous.

    Perhaps the most ironic POV prevalent in Open Source is that users are lusers and marketers are hypocritical scum, yet there are marketing people who would happily undertake to promote Open Source products, for the simple reason of undertaking the challenge, but when their kind is treated as piriah it's unlikely too many will be forth coming.

  • MS Has Lost Focus (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ehaggis ( 879721 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @12:54PM (#12942426) Homepage Journal

    Ballmar's statements and (lack of) answers are symptomatic of a company who is fighting on too many fronts. The core of their business is the desktop / desktop suite, which they do well.

    The backend, services and innovation are another story. MS is competing against companies that have their own (non-MS)set of rules. Google develops innovation, MySQL promotes enterprise use, apache values simplicity and security, Linux embraces stability, etc...

    MS finds itself in genres where they do not write the rules and is in a quandry.

    Do not write MS off though. It only takes a moment of clarity and focus for them to get back on track.

  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @01:00PM (#12942481) Homepage Journal
    Some lessons for Microsoft to learn
    1. You can not win them all.
    Why is Microsoft going after Google at all? Is Microsoft loosing money? To beat Google it might just take more money than Microsoft will ever make back.
    2. .NET needs to fully support Mac OS/X and Linux! .Net is failing because you only have a CLR for Windows. Yes Mono is nice enough but Java is still the best solution for having one program that will run anywhere. Why not use native code if you are going to run only on Windows. Oh and you pissed off the Visual Basic developers. Visual Basic .NET is too different and a pain for them to port to. Or so I hear I have never learned VB. Blah blah java sucks... go away.
    3. Focus, focus, focus....
    It is hard to take Microsoft seriously about getting Longhorn out and or making Windows more secure when you are buying up accounting software, fighting with Apple about who as the most open music system, and saying your going after Google.
    4. Stop sounding like a stupid spoiled brat..
    I mean Open source is a commie plot... Get real please. You are sounding like the tin hat people.

    5. Learn from your own past.
    Open source is here to stay. Fight it at your own peril. Think of all the companies that stuck with CP/M when you came out with MS-DOS. Think about the companies that stuck with dos when you came out with Windows 3.1... What you have done to others can also be done to you.
  • by NerveGas ( 168686 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @01:26PM (#12942663)

    Ballmer and the rest of the MS folks have been at this game for many years. Every so often, they say something to the effect of "You know, we realize that things are pretty bad, and we're going to change that." But in the end, they never do.

    It's just a ploy to make the disgruntled Microsoft users believe that there's a ray of hope, so that they don't abandon ship.

    Years ago in the "Windows NT 5.0 Rapid Deployment Conference" (Before it was even going to be called Windows 2000), Jim Allchin stood up and told us all how horrible NT4 was, and effectively that they had "seen the light". 2000 had many of the same problems that he admitted to NT 4 having on that platform. They didn't fix them, they just tried to make us all feel better. And they've done it over and over since then, nothing's changed.

    steve
  • by 192939495969798999 ( 58312 ) <info.devinmoore@com> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @02:00PM (#12942942) Homepage Journal
    The only way Microsoft has ever really "competed" was to simply buy the competitor. Maybe he's alluding to plans to purchase a controlling share in Google! MSGoogle -- I hope they don't mess with the culture.
  • Less talk, more walk (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jalefkowit ( 101585 ) <jason.jasonlefkowitz@net> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @02:19PM (#12943078) Homepage

    Ballmer and MSN should take a page from Yahoo, who have been busy actually competing with Google rather than just talking about competing with Google.

    Lately I've found that Yahoo's search engine is better at putting the 'canonical' result for a search in the number 1 position than Google is. Google's results frequently put blog postings, etc. higher than the page those postings are talking about. Yahoo does not seem to have this problem.

    Yahoo has been rolling out several innovative [yahoo.com] search [yahoo.com] services [yahoo.com] lately.

    Yahoo has actively developing and improving APIs [yahoo.net] for a range of their services. Google's API has not changed since its rollout in 2002.

    Yahoo is integrating with Firefox [yahoo.com]. Google is not, as far as anyone outside the company can tell.

    All of these things have caused a 180 degree turnaround in my perception of Yahoo of late. They have quietly become real contenders again in search and related services -- and without all the "we're gonna kill Google! Just watch us!" noise we keep getting every month from MS. I might take Ballmer & co. more seriously if they followed Yahoo's lead and started delivering rather than just making promises.

  • by Adult film producer ( 866485 ) <van@i2pmail.org> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @02:23PM (#12943115)
    Had to see how well it worked (compared to google..) So I tried an image search and entered the query "anal linux".. MSN returns zero results [msn.com] :(

    Google on the other hand was nice enough to provide me with quite a number of images, including many girls that apparently use linux. [google.com]

    Google wins hands-down yet again.
  • by payndz ( 589033 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @02:38PM (#12943320)
    'Google' is already entrenched in the culture enough to have become a verb.

    'MS Search', despite the fact that it even *contains* a verb already... not gonna happen. Ever.

  • by Master of Transhuman ( 597628 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @03:02PM (#12943610) Homepage

    "We're a bunch of crooked monopolists."

    "Our software sucks rocks."

    "Linux TCO is infinitely less than ours."

    "Windows was never intended to be 'intuitive' - just stupid."

    "Access corrupts its databases if you breath on it."

    "Word is too complicated for anyone to use."

    "Group Policy doesn't work and nobody can figure out how to make it work."

    "Longhorn is a corporate disaster."

    "We pay Rob Enderle, Laura DiDio, Maureen O'Gara and Daniel Lyons to be assholes."

    "The Gates Foundation is a stock laundering scheme."

    "Bill is an asshole."

    "I'm an asshole."

    "All of this is off the record."
  • No problem at all (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SomeOtherGuy ( 179082 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @05:20PM (#12945245) Journal
    It is pretty clear based on current attitudes and past practices that Microsoft will soon be giving their .NET strategy and "product line" the ole' heave ho soon enough.

    Much like animals in the wild, if a framework or strategy is weak and non self sustaining they do not mind feeding it to the wolves. In this case there is not much $$$ benefit for them to keep a sick horse with a broken leg alive much longer.

    Goodbye .NET it was nice not getting (having) to know ya.

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