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Microsoft's Unique Innovation 575

Anonymous Coward writes "The way John Carroll sees it, Microsoft doesn't get enough credit for all the technology it invents. The company's understanding of the marketplace, argues Carroll, has proved fertile ground for many of the inventions, however incremental, that Microsoft produces on a regular basis. That awareness is that all software markets, however "unrelated" they may seem, have linkages to each other. And it's an awareness that open source will have a hard time matching. Another reason many fail to appreciate Microsoft inventiveness, continues Carroll, is because most inventions are pieces of larger puzzles."
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Microsoft's Unique Innovation

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  • by RiscIt ( 95258 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:20PM (#13733724) Homepage Journal
    * checks calendar *

    Nope... it's not April 1st. Did I miss something?
    • *shouts through bullhorn* "Mr. Carroll, please step AWAY from the Kool Aid"
    • Did I miss something?

      *Browses Microsoft's product list*

      Hmmmm... nope.
    • by cursion ( 257184 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @05:00PM (#13734100) Homepage
      I know ... I've got mod points, but I can't find a way to mark the article flamebait...
    • Re:What the..... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @05:01PM (#13734115)
      I just finished reading a few entries in a blog about the new interface for Office 12, and I was really, really impressed at the level of thinking that's gone into the new interface and, more importantly, the level and amount of usability tests. There's some exciting stuff there, and I bet we'll be seeing that MiniBar concept in applications for years and years to come.

      (The blog is here if you're interested: [])

      I don't know how others feel, but my impression of Microsoft is that they're always *trying* to innovate, whether or not they happen to succeed.
      • Re:What the..... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by RWerp ( 798951 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @05:09PM (#13734207)
        Given the fact a *fucking lot* of Open Source applications are copying ideas from Windows, there must be some clever heads at Microsoft. But I still hate Equation Editor from the Office Suite ;-)
        • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Thursday October 06, 2005 @05:31PM (#13734435) Homepage Journal
          Given the fact a *fucking lot* of Open Source applications are copying ideas from Windows, there must be some clever heads at Microsoft.

          I know! Just like Apache copied IIS, Sendmail copied Exchange, BSD copied their old network utilities, and Mozilla copied IE. I tell you, it's amazing they ever let us have any of their new toys, since we're just going to steal them right out from under 'em.

          • Re:What the..... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by birge ( 866103 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @07:47PM (#13735579) Homepage
            Just because not all OS apps are copies of MS programs doesn't mean that most MS programs don't get copied by OS apps. I agree with the GP. Just look at GNOME. It's practically got a fucking start menu. And if tabbed browsing is an example of innovation in OSS, then I'd say the GP's point is nearly proven. Apache isn't innovative so much as a really nice job on an existing idea. (Though not stolen from MS, granted.)

            In the standard litany of why OSS is great (most of which I agree with) timely innovation is not often mentioned. And as an example I give you OS X. It beats the hell out of anything in the linux or freebsd camps, and it didn't take them very long. The underpinnings (openstep, freebsd) have always been there for the taking by anybody in the OSS community yet it took Apple to produce what I think (and many others do, too) is the first decent version of UNIX for the desktop.

            Anyway, it's funny that this kind of thing is even debated. There was a time before the brainwashing when it was considered patently obvious that you get better product when you pay people to build it. Thank god the OSS true believers haven't turned their attention to civil engineering. Hasn't anybody else noticed that the slope of progress on linux is far less than for Mac OS X, or even Windows? Even if Microsoft gets Longhorn out in 2008, it will still beat linux. And by that point Apple will be selling something that makes both look like a Speak 'n' Spell.

            • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Thursday October 06, 2005 @08:38PM (#13735875) Homepage Journal
              There was a time before the brainwashing when it was considered patently obvious that you get better product when you pay people to build it.

              I get paid quite a bit to write Free Software, as do a lot of my friends. The teenage hacker in his mom's basement is terribly '90s; you really need to update your cliches.

              Even if Microsoft gets Longhorn out in 2008, it will still beat linux.

              Yes, Longhorn '08 will probably be spiffy compared to Linux '05. I don't plan to be running Linux '05 then.

              • Re:What the..... (Score:3, Interesting)

                by kuzb ( 724081 )
                I sure hope not, since there isn't any operating system called Linux '05 now, and probably won't be later. Perhaps this is something you're inventing yourself?

                Jokes aside, Windows has *always* been ahead in terms of user experience. Sure, it's the target of viruses and mal/spyware. Sure, it's got a bad security model. Sure, it was produced by a company which could for most intents and purposes be considered evil. But at the end of the day, it's beating Linux out, and in 3 years, it will still be beatin
            • by kupci ( 642531 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @08:48PM (#13735912)
              Hasn't anybody else noticed that the slope of progress on linux is far less than for Mac OS X, or even Windows? Even if Microsoft gets Longhorn out in 2008, it will still beat linux. And by that point Apple will be selling something that makes both look like a Speak 'n' Spell.

              Slope of progress? Like, do you measure that in utils, or what? Lines of code? Eye-candy? How many OEMs include it? Or do you measure it in reliability, security, standards-adherence? The underpinnings (openstep, freebsd) have always been there for the taking by anybody in the OSS community yet it took Apple to produce what I think (and many others do, too) is the first decent version of UNIX for the desktop.

              Always there for the taking? Nice corporate attitude. Well, that sentence speaks for itself. Apple benefits from the hard work of the folks at Berkeley and KDE, then adds some polish, calls it innovation. 'cepting they wouldn't be where there are now had it not been for open-source. And by the way, if you search the Slash archive, you'll see Apple is not exactly a self-respecting member of the open source community. They see far, by sitting on the shoulders of giants. But don't contribute anything back, unless they get their hands slap. Read up on Safari's roots in KDE's KHTML.

              Even if Microsoft gets Longhorn out in 2008, it will still beat linux.

              NOW you're talking crack. What an inane statement first of all. Still beat linux in what way? Again, what are your criteria? Besides, the Linux development pace has forced Microsoft to entirely revamp their glacial development process to the 'Agile' process of the Linux crew. Read up on the article in WSJ recently about how sloooooow it took to get builds from Microsot.

              Just look at GNOME. It's practically got a [bleep] start menu.

              The start menu. Oh, thank you very very much Msf. What a wonderful contribution. But they stole the entire user interface for Windows, and Windows 95, from Macintosh, who stole it from Xerox PARC. Xerox Parc built the GUI interface. Msft contributes a button. Thanks.

              • Slope of progress? Like, do you measure that in utils, or what?

                I measure it in the amount of time it takes me to configure a new printer. Isn't that how everybody does it?

                NOW you're talking crack. What an inane statement first of all. Still beat linux in what way? Again, what are your criteria?

                It will be self evident when you use longhorn and then use linux, the same way its self evident when you use OS X and then use linux. (Or in most people's case, not use linux.) Remember, you're part of a brainwas

                • by stoborrobots ( 577882 ) on Friday October 07, 2005 @03:06AM (#13737564)
                  Try to remember a time when you didn't think it was logical to edit text files in buried /etc to fix things. I know, it's hard.

                  It's not hard - I remember such times easily. However, in those days, we complained about having to edit text files called "INI files" in C:\WINDOWS, and "CONFIG.SYS" in C:\. Eventually, that avenue was taken from us, and we had to resort to using a graphical tool to change settings in a binary data-store, which was called the "Registry", which contained the exact same entries as the old "INI files", but without the ability to edit them in DOS mode.

                  Just because they're not stored in /etc doesn't make them magically more easy to use...
                  • Well, two things. First, editing the registry is a hell of a lot easier, because it's a unified database, not a collection of odd files each with their own syntax. Second, I can't remember the last time I HAD to edit the registry. I had to muck with config files all the time in linux.
        • Re:What the..... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by eric76 ( 679787 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @05:35PM (#13734480)
          In some cases, the idea is clearly to make the software comfortable to people to make it easier for them to migrate to it.
        • bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

          by idlake ( 850372 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @07:21PM (#13735413)
          Open source developers don't usually copy Windows features because they think they are good, they copy them in order to make it easer for Windows users to switch. OpenOffice, for example, could be a much better office suite if it weren't constrained by the shitty Microsoft application it is trying to replace.

          And many of the features you may think of as open source copying from Windows weren't actually invented at Microsoft at all--a Microsoft product is simply the first time you happen to have seen them.
      • MiniBar? (Score:3, Funny)

        by turgid ( 580780 )

        Hotels have had them for years... so where's the innovation?

        Now, I know as well as the next pro-Windows shill that Open Sores copies everything Windows does, so give it a year or two and I'll have unlimited free beer, whisky, chocolate and peanuts.

        All they have to sort out is free hookers and I'll be sorted.

      • There's some exciting stuff there, and I bet we'll be seeing that MiniBar concept in applications for years and years to come.

        Don't tell me we'll have to pay each time we use an item...
    • by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @05:21PM (#13734333)

      This guy works for Microsoft, and had released an article with a rather defensive tone to it. I laughed the same way when I heard Mrs. Bush chastising the American public for picking on her husband.
  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ugayay>> on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:20PM (#13733727) Journal

    This guy is pretty amazing in his energy applied to convincing the world (and himself) Microsoft is an inventing kind of company. He even uses a bizarre example:

    It's akin to the argument that a Ford Escort preceded a Formula One racer, and therefore the engineers on that Formula One racer didn't really invent anything because all they are doing is making a car.

    Wow! I'm not sure in this universe what comparison is being made. But I infer he is saying Microsoft is getting accused of being non-innovative because they're making the Formula One racers. I'm not sure this is a metaphor I can accept for the stuff I've seen coming from Microsoft, unless a Formula One racer:

    • weighs about 6,000 to 7,000 lbs.
    • gets about .0001 miles per gallone
    • has a whole bunch of extra, unwieldly, unnecessary, undecipherable, and just plain weird instrumentation that never gets used
    • has none of the critical and necessary instrumentation available or if it is, it's under the seat.
    • has to have the tires upgraded every lap
    • shuts itself down if you: don't pay a fee, or if you seem to be doing something suspicious

    I would however cede their metaphor in these regards:

    • Almost noone knows how to maintain a Formula One racer properly
    • Formula One racers are outrageously expensive
    • they really do get crappy mileage
    • they really do go through tires
    • they break down a lot.

    There are also some specious arguments and claims:

    • Microsoft is the only one who "gets it" about how technology is an interrelated puzzle.
    • there should be a consistency across technology, from remote controls, to cell phones, to laptops, to desktops, ad nauseum (there shouldn't -- just what is the argument for this?
    • there is no comparable technology "out there" to Microsoft's COM model (just plain wrong).

    Regardless, it's kind of fun to see the periodic article pushing yet again to tell the world Microsoft is innovative. In Microsoft's case, it is actually possible saying so makes it so.

    • It's times like this where I wish there was a new mod category:
      Burn! (+1)
    • by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:28PM (#13733799) Homepage Journal
      It's an especially bad analogy because he has it completely backwards. What usually happens is the Formula 1 race engineers are the ones who invent new motor vehicle technologies. Then after many years those technologies are gradually adopted by "normal" cars. See the linear paddle shifting transmission as the prime example. See various braking, suspension and aerodynamic systems for the rest.
      • by LeonGeeste ( 917243 ) * on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:37PM (#13733897) Journal
        I agree with you, just as long as you don't start applying this to the "spin-offs" of the space program to ridicule people who oppose it. I mean, yeah, it's great all the advances of the space program, but what was the space program? It was basically a program where the government said:

        "Hey, all you entrepreneurs working on technologies to satisfy actual human desires: STOP. Give us money so we can show the Ruskies where it's it."

        Then later:

        "Hey, some of what we did can, coincidentally, satisfy human desires outside of getting to the moon. Hey consumers! Look at all the goodies we produced for you. Please TOTALLY IGNORE what the entrepreneurs, who were trying to directly satisfy your desires, rather than satisfying them by mere coincidence, accomplished. Just focus on what we did, not what could have happened."

        Then later, their court intellectuals say:

        "If you opposed the space program, you must oppose insulated lunchboxes. Luddite."
        • by ciroknight ( 601098 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @05:31PM (#13734443)
          So you're willing to admit that Race technology its put into cars, but unwilling to admit that Space (or for that matter, Wartime) technologies get put into everything.

          Apparently, you need to go back to the 40s. If you will remember, World War II was the advent of a lot of technologies. It's doubtful we'd have weather tracking RADAR systems if it wasn't for the advent of Brittish scientists playing with radio waves. It's likely we wouldn't have satellite communications if it weren't for the German's V2. And while you may argue that all of the things that got spun off from the different space agencies may have been invented anyways, it's likely they wouldn't have been advented nearly as quickly, and wouldn't have gotten any government money to do it.

          NASA has given back to the Americans plenty of things we all take for granted, but it seems there is a larger and larger group of Slashdot readers who are revisionist historians and want to forget that WWII is what caused the Cold War, and thus, what caused technologies to explode into what they've become today. America is the country we are today because of War, and because of the spoils that war has brought to us. Hell, it can be argued that its the reason that Innovation has slowed down so much here in America; we haven't had a real need to. Our government no longer feels the need to compete with any other world governments.

          Let's stop being ignorant and realize that Space technologies have been relatively safe (in comparison to every other industry, ever), that they've generated billions of dollars in jobs, technologies, and pathways for science. And no, I won't list them here (these are all things you should have learned in high school, and a simple google will catch you up to speed). There's simply too much that NASA and the US Military has been involved in coming together for us to simply turn our heads on militaristic and aerospace innovation.

          Oh, and if it weren't for NASA's supersonic experiments, cars probably wouldn't be as fast as they are now either; Carbon Fiber, high heat resistant materials, metal alloys, aerodynamic profiles, and more, came from strenous testing and retesting at the hands of engineers using technology adapted from NASA.

          You'd better bet if the government needed some awesome software to defeat cyberterrorists or something, there'd be a boom in the market ;).
        • OK; for one, the space race was for one purpose only: to create ICBM's. The dev costs were too high to get the US to fund it out straight, so they created a 'space race'. You'll note that the cancelation/reduction of the 'space race' happened pretty much when ICBM technology was available.

          But the thing is, that's the way technology has worked. The technology of war always trickles down to the populace, from the technology to create crossbows and trebuchets, to radar, electronics, robotics...all the result o
      • by robertjw ( 728654 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @05:21PM (#13734344) Homepage
        It's an especially bad analogy because he has it completely backwards.

        Actually it's wrong on both ends, not only does engineering in the automotive world generally work from racing down to the consumer level, Microsoft hasn't turned an Escort into a Formula 1 racer. A better comparison would be that Microsoft bought a Ford Escort, put a new coat of paint on it, raised the price, fired all the engineers that built it to start with and tried to convince everyone it was actualy a Formula 1 car.

        They do deserve a lot of credit.
    • SALES!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by millahtime ( 710421 )
      This is sales and marketing. You put a twist that is difficult for anyone who isn't technical in understanding (99% of people). This is what politicians do to get people behind something. You use a lack of understanding, make it sound good, and talk like you know what you are talking about and people buy it and believe you. Sales and marketing.
    • has none of the critical and necessary instrumentation available or if it is, it's under the seat.
      But, thats the display department Mr. Dent.
    • I agree. After reading the article, I still don't know what he actually thinks MS has done that is innovative? His article throws together a bunch of nebulous ideas, mixed with buzzwords and analogies to describe what he thinks MS is doing different and calls it innovation?

      Sheesh! If he can't give a straighforward example of MS innovation, perhaps there's a reason for that?
      • Good point. His CORBA/COM point was ridiculous. That microsoft standardized on something, but *all* open source projects did not is simply utterly ridiculous. That's not innovation. That's the benefit of being ruled by Bill. Bill says we are using Visual Basic across the board, it happens. Fine.

        Besides, KDE standarized on DCOP, GNOME on Bonobo (CORBA?), that blows away his argument that nothing like that exists in the open-source world. Microsoft's advantage is copying an existing standard (CORBA), and

    • by Undertaker43017 ( 586306 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:58PM (#13734090)
      "has to have the tires upgraded every lap"

      Guess you missed the US Grand Prix this year...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Not inventing them.
  • Hmm. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Limburgher ( 523006 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:21PM (#13733735) Homepage Journal
    The reason for that unstoppability is the lack of an awareness on anyone else's part of the value of an end to end solution where everything works together using the same technology

    Riiiight. I work in an almost all MS shop, and if everything suddenly started working seamlessly, I'd have a friggin' heart attack.

  • Haha (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sulli ( 195030 ) * on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:21PM (#13733738) Journal
    In the media realm, they have their DRM solution, their media formats (both video and audio), tools for generating that media, server and client software, management tools, etc., etc., etc. It's an integrated end to end solution that simply is not matched by anyone else. David Berlind talks about the "unstoppable Microsoft Media Juggernaut."

    ... which is getting its lunch eaten by Apple.

  • Hey Look... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thebdj ( 768618 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:22PM (#13733747) Journal
    Another AC with an e-mail address (really people, think a little). Oooh and another inflammatory story from zdnet blogs. Yo slashdot, just save us the trouble, stop accepting blogs as news. All you do is drive up ad revenue for these sites that often are filled with jibberish and anything that resembles news worthy material...
    • by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:51PM (#13734017)
      Hello, I am Zip Zorroski, CEO of Blogs, Inbloggerated. We are starting a new blogging service where bloggers can blog about anything at all (including blogs). We are also beginning several new ventures to spin off commercial blogs, called blogazines. These blogazines are like standard print but not, because they are blogs. This makes them cool (we prefer the term "bloggy"). Blogs are revolutionizing the planet by giving a new name to things that already existed 10 years ago when they were called "journals," "personal websites," and "weblogs." Now that they have an official name of blog, you can submit blog entries to major websites claiming to report news, and they will report them. Because they are blogs, and blogs are everywhere, and blogs are great.

      Please, go to and sign up for your own blog today, and begin blogging the exact same things you blogged about 10 years ago. Except now it's all bloggy. Sign up this month and you get a free "Blog it!" t-shirt (aka blog-shirt).

      Sincerest regards (and blogs!),
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      Blogs, Inbloggerated, CEO
      Co-founder of Blogging Consortium of Blogs
  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack ( 534373 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:23PM (#13733749)
    I don't remember having to reboot as much with other platforms ... I guess that's sort of an innovation
  • by ivanmarsh ( 634711 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:23PM (#13733754)
    I'm just curious.

    I know a very long list of technologies that MS claims to have invented... but buying a company that invented something and inventing something isn't the same thing.
    • by schon ( 31600 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:26PM (#13733787)
      Microsoft Bob.

      AKA "Clippy"
    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:35PM (#13733871) Journal
      I'd like to know what they've even put together "innovately". Various office programs working together predates MS-Office, Windows wasn't the first consumer operating system with Internet support, they weren't the first ones with a GUI or with a means for processes to communicate with each other. In every category of technological and ergonomic innovation I can think of, MS has come after the fact (and sometimes not even duplicated it terribly well). I suppose their marketing might be innovative, but considering the methods they used over the ways, I'd hardly call that a plus.

      Let's face it, Microsoft is a technology reseller. They take what already exists, or at most aid in the planning of some new standard, then turn around and screw with it just enough to assure that competitor products don't do as well as its own. That's not innovation, that's anti-competitive, monopolistic behavior deserving of punishment, not kudos.

  • by Master Of Ninja ( 521917 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:24PM (#13733770)
    This guy actually works for Microsoft [] as acknowledged by ZDNet themselves. You should take some of this with a pinch of salt then.
  • seriously ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SamSeaborn ( 724276 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:24PM (#13733773)
    Seriously, the *only* innovations from Microsoft were the mouse scroll-wheel and fast user-switching in XP Home.

    Both very fine pieces of technology innovation.

    Everything else -- I mean *everything* else -- was a copy of the successful work of a more deserving 1-in-a-thousand startup that suffered through all their hard times only to get stomped by the monopoly in the end.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:25PM (#13733778)
    A mature, rational discussion will follow.
  • Innovation? (Score:4, Informative)

    by rastin ( 727137 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:25PM (#13733784)
    Maybe I am a bit out of the loop but the lion's share of M$ revenue comes from Windows & Office. An operating system and a collection of applications, that are direct dirivitives of the same software you would likely buy over 10 years ago. Sure both are a bit more polished than the same version from a decade ago but I would not call that innovative. Nothing else springs to mind when thinking of what M$ is known for. They just buy or steal other people's ideas and rebrand them.
    • Re:Innovation? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fermion ( 181285 )
      MS has done some interesting things. Excel was a wonderful product. It really did redefine the catagory. It is true that Visiscalc, Lotus 123, Quattro, etc did do all those things, and I used all those poducts extensively, the graphical and three dimensional quality was a wonderful use of technology. Excel, like Visicalc, was largely responsible for Apples in the Office. The next big interesting thing was probably Powerpoint, another good use of then current technology. You are, however, almost correct
  • Inventors? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Daveznet ( 789744 )
    When was the last time Microsoft actually developed something on their own? Arent most of their products bought then developed on top of? ie: DOS - Windows, XBOX, Direct X, Hotmail. Microsoft is not a great software development/inventing company they are however a great marketing company.
    • Re:Inventors? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by praxis ( 19962 )
      Most inventors, though I'm even inclined to say all, use previous advancements upon which they build their inventions. You can't really say that the Hotmail today is the same as the one they bought many years ago. You can't say that Window's hasn't changed since the release of 1.0. Perhaps what you are looking for are wild earth shattering innovations that are felt around the world in every field of research. The might not have any of those, but nor does any other large software company I know of, and n
  • by rising_hope ( 900951 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:27PM (#13733792)
    But when compared to the rest of the industry, they stagnate. Certainly, they've made some valuable contributions, but when you consider their next closest competitor is less than half the size, they should be responsible for an overwhelming majority of invention and innovation in the market. But - they're not. Part of my problem with Microsoft is that it seems like since Windows 95, they've been constantly playing a game of catch up, rather than bringing unique products to the market. They certainly have a way of solving integration, and seemless interface design with other Microsoft products, which has made them successful. Microsoft might be the master of integration, but innovation leader? Most certainly not.
    • Part of my problem with Microsoft is that it seems like since Windows 95, they've been constantly playing a game of catch up, rather than bringing unique products to the market.

      s/Windows 95/around 1992/

      • 1992 was the year that OS/2 2.0 (the first 32-bit version) was released by IBM with its nifty ability to run both DOS and Windows software out of the box and a real drag-and-drop GUI that made the newly released Windows 3.1 desktop look fairly primitive.

        Unlike DOS GUIs like GEM, PC/GEOS, and others which preceded it, OS/2 was demonstrably better than Windows in almost every way you could think of except in three areas:

        * It required more RAM than Windows did (OS/2 was usable in 8MB while Windows was
  • And Microsoft's innovations always seem to hurt the consumer in the long run. Granted, they have made some significant contributions and ideas to the software industry, but MS seems more concerned about catering to the companies that demand to impose regulations on digital media (**AA, et al.) while most of the open-source and freeware community listens to their users and tries to help them all the more, instead of partially helping, and partially hating.

    I suppose I just prefer unconditional love, than a
  • by vigyanik ( 781631 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:27PM (#13733797)
    Anyone can sit and fantasize about what the motives of an XYZ company are in doing what they do. Much like critquing a work of literature: many times the author himself doesn't know why he wrote what he did and many times his intentions are much more basic than how others interpret them.
  • Yeahgoodluck.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:28PM (#13733801) Journal
    Granted, there are movements to make things consistent, such as the LAMP set of technologies for Linux, or the Linux Standard Base project.

    Given that there still isn't a consensus as to what the P in LAMP stands for, I don't know if I'd hold my breath on that happening. Not that I'm so optimistic about the LSB either, but at least they know what it stands for!

    Anyway, Microsoft -- the place where they excel is this: They make something that isn't very good. They make a version 2 that's better, but still not good. 3 isn't bad, and by 4 it's 90% there.

    Their competitors (Sun is a perfect example) can frequently make a better version 1, but then Microsoft is still there and competing with them, they get bored and go on to something else. The open-source projects have trouble doing the boring 30% that gets you up to 90%, and start adding translucent menus and XML feeds instead.

    Oh, and that's why I'm a Mac user, given the choice...

  • Can I just ask a question? Is there such a thing as a non-unique innovation? Is this story title a bit redundant?

  • MS shill. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:29PM (#13733824) Homepage Journal

    It's worth noting that John Carrol is a Microsoft employee, who also writes for ZDNet. The journalistic integrity here is absolutely zero.

    Now I don't blame him for his obvious slant. He's paid by Microsoft. Hell, he probably wants to think that his work, and the work of his co-workers is innovative. Who doesn't?

    Personally, the fact that ZDNet brought him aboard as a writer is where the real problem lies. I remember at one time how ZDNet used to try to defend themselves against accusations of being MS-shills; but now they seem to embrace it whole-heartedly.

    So, coming from this source -- can anybody be surprised by the conclusion? It's worth just what we've paid for it: absolutely nothing.


  • by Bastian ( 66383 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:30PM (#13733833)
    I can think of preceding examples for a couple of is examples of innovation, so all he's really convinced me of so far is that he didn't do his research before writing this article.

    Apparently, innovation isn't developing new technology. It's noticing new technology coming out of obscure companies and the academic community and then re-implementing it for Windows and backing it with 8,000 metric tons of advertising hype.
  • The real reason... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:31PM (#13733840) Homepage Journal
    is that most developers like getting paid for their work. :)

  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:32PM (#13733852)
    To actually have a reasonable conversation about this. I'll help, by clearing the deck of:

    1) 1,000 monkeys typing = Shakespeare, yadda yadda
    2) Broken clock right twice a day, blah blah
    3) Every other thing that's always said about buying innovation rather than... what, mining it? Every employee that works there is "bought" every week when they get paid, and sometimes they're bought in a group from somewhere else. Same as anyplace else with a lot of irons in the fire.

    But - surely people aren't going to pretend that Excel doesn't exist, or that Active Directory isn't actually pretty damn effective. And Visual Studio actually has its moments (me: old timey VB6 fan, but what do I know).

    If you actually work with MS's server products all day long, you'll find that there really is a sum of the parts that actually scratches quite a few itches. And don't forget their hardware... given my choice of a anything from Logitech, MS, or several others (especially for the money), for some uses I'd probably reach for the MS stuff more often. Strictly on touchy-feely-reliability merit, no brand loyalty whatsoever in that area. Unfortunately, they don't make the asbestos products I'll need for this comment.
  • John Carrol (Score:5, Informative)

    by theolein ( 316044 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:34PM (#13733861) Journal
    John Carrol is the guy who used to be an developer living in Geneva, Switzerland. Anyone who had the misfortune to follow the ZDNet talkback boards would never fail to see John jump to Microsoft's defence no matter what the topic was, be it the DOJ case (Jonh:Microsoft is being punished for innovating), Linux (John:Developing for Windows is far easier. Just look at how easy it is to make a COM object I can use anywhere) or Microsoft's business practices (John:Microsoft is innovating).

    Now, years later, after having trolled incessantly for Microsoft for years, he finally got a job with them and a blog at ZDNet where he, surprise, trolls for Microsoft.

    I actually do think that Microsoft does innovate in places (xmlhttpobject for example)but I don't think I'd listen to John Carrol when I wanted impartial advice on Microsoft or th IT market.
  • >but I consider the Tablet PC (a form factor that hadn't been tried before)

    I had a NCR 3125 in the 90's. It was tablet-shaped, it had crappy handwriting recognition, etc. om.html []

    Try again, M$!
  • just sad (Score:2, Funny)

    by sjofi ( 307114 )
    he actually knows that he can't claim microsoft being innovative unless he redefines the meaning of the word "innovative" in some bizzard way he can't even express proberly.
  • Microsoft doesn't get enough credit for all the technology it invents.

    This should read all the technology they steal or buy. Microsoft's stance has always been to "borrow" steal or buy any technology the produce as their own.
  • by ardor ( 673957 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:39PM (#13733917)
    MS does help innovation, although not in a sane way. Sure, there are lots of small companies with fresh, innovative ideas which get bought up by MS. Evil MS, no cookie? Wrong. How likely is it that those companies would have survived? For most: zero. So, in theory its a good thing that the 800-pound gorilla takes the innovative ideas and includes them in their products. In theory. In practice the new ideas often vanish in the patent portfolio, or they mutate to really ugly MS incarnations.
  • Sorry, but no. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Karma_fucker_sucker ( 898393 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:40PM (#13733920)
    ... Tablet PC (a form factor that hadn't been tried before),...

    You see, there was this company called "Go" a few years ago. Read about it here. []

    They were working on a Tablet PC before MS fucked them over - at least that's the way they tell it.

  • by popo ( 107611 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:47PM (#13733985) Homepage

    Apparently some of you have forgotten the Golden Rules of Slashdot.

    Here they are:

    Rule 1: If you're discussing a problem with Windows:

    Blame the monopolistic, capitalist monstrosity which is the root cause of this problem. If Microsoft weren't a bunch of money-grubbing, back-stabbing pigs your problem would never have occured.

    Rule 2: If you're discussing a problem with OSX:

    It isn't Apple's fault. Maybe its your fault. Or maybe its that third party software you're using. Most likely your problem is the result of incompatibilities with MS Office (see rule 1). Apple doesn't make mistakes. Apple loves you.

    Rule 3: If you're discussing a problem with Linux:

    Agree that there *is* a problem. Then state that the hardworking heroes of the opensource community are hard at work making this problem go away. The message has to be that "We're on it". Remember, one shining day in the future these problems won't plague our people any more. It doesn't matter that your system is losing data, we proudly wear the banner of responsibility in this matter, and we are slavishly addressing your problem.

    Any questions? ...apparently there was some confusion.


    judge a man by his wallet []

    • There, there, we understand. It's very hard to imagine the concept of different people having different opinions. UIDs in Slashdot do in fact look just like process IDs, and really, how do you KNOW that Slashdot isn't just one big automated process continually forking itself? I know when sitting at a computer it can feel like the whole Internet is just one big automated script, spewing out automated responses to everything.

      Take a deep breath, step away from the computer, and go for a walk outside. The big s
  • by mulcher ( 241014 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:50PM (#13734009)
    At the risk of being flamed... does linux innovate? does open source innovate?
    And I mean besides being open-source alone which is pretty innovative... It
    marginalizes existing industries and makes software cheaper + it provides jobs and opportunities without having to shell out $$$ for official certification programs.

    A lot of what we like is *NIX apps and utilities... linux is not entirely innovative in this way. Sun with Java? Is a JVM innovative? I can say that in
    academia there were previous VMs around.. Apple with Aqua? perhaps... but seriously... most people take what works and make it a little bit better and in many cases a little bit cheaper (or expensive by adding/increasing value). Apple
    did this with OS X. It makes *NIX more valuable. DirectX? Is that innovative or a complete smash up of OpenGL? Visual Studio? Visio? SQL Server? MSFT buys good tech... SQL Server may get slammed by many here, but for a small-medium business that needs advanced data analytics to query financial data and export it to XLS/PPT for the executives to make decisions I think it works pretty well and is way cheaper than the alternatives. Big companies use Big Iron and Oracle. MSFT has largely been medium user to end-user desktop based. That is because there is a lot of money in those areas. Follow the money and
    you will find MSFT.

    For businesses that don't need that, such as web2.0 companies there is little incentive to go with MSFT on the backend since it is pure cost than value. Plus you can tweak and extend your linux implementation freely. Linux is more customizable and that helps in many instances and it is cheap for building a server farm. But for data analytics, for integrating information, and providing information value for cheap MSFT is the way to go. They own the corporate information pipeline. That is where value is. Information is valuable. Making it easy to create, get, and use information. Open source hasn't done that yet, except in limited cases where programming gurus go off and start there own companies (Yahoo,Google) etc... and even then they scale to large company size and then will buy Oracle and other large-scale data analytics (or write there own). Google makes then NET valuable. Ebay makes garage sales valuable.

    I think open-source will continue to marginalize infastructure, but as long as MSFT keeps providing information value it will always have the lead. Here information value is provided by the solution and not necessarily the product.
    • " At the risk of being flamed... does linux innovate? does open source innovate?"

      Yes, of course it does. Here are just a few examples.

      Zope, Xen (paravirtualization), GFS, reiserfs, parrot, loadable stored proc languages in postgresql, user definable operators in postgresql, selinux, XML-RPC, XUL, SVG, APT/YUM, zeroinstall, git, are just a few which pop into my head right away.

      "QL Server may get slammed by many here, but for a small-medium business that needs advanced data analytics to query financial data
  • by HerculesMO ( 693085 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:54PM (#13734044)
    It ends when "I wonder if Open Source can do what Microsoft did."

    There alone, explains the author's lack of grasp on the subject. The Open Source movement is riddled with people that once upon a time, made Microsoft a great company. And I will give credit, even as taboo as it may be on Slashdot with the large followers of Microsoft *cough cough*.

    Microsoft's ability to innovate does not lie at the OS level, or the application level. It lies at a fundamentally different area, one that's not related to software in and of itself. Microsoft's brilliance is simple -- they made it possible for a business to conduct complete workflow thru their software, from beginning to end. Businesses will always mandate what the future of consumers will buy, and their decisions. If you work for a finance firm and they tell you "Okay Johnson, we are switching to Linux to save $2523432!".. do you think that Johnson is going to go home and buy another Windows PC for his home? He will need a Linux PC to mirror his work environment. Then he will have a friend who comes over and says "wow, what's that?", where Johnson will explain the benefits (as explained to him by his company) of Linux on his desktop, and will thus propogate the use of Linux on the desktop.

    Microsoft made Windows -- arguably a crap OS, arguably not. But with the combination of Exchange, Biztalk, Sharepoint, the Office Suite and Windows working in (relative) harmony under Active Directory well.. I'll argue it takes some vision to bring a company that far, and innovation to boot.

    But I wouldn't count out Linux as the author did... the people who made MS what it is are who are working in Open Source, working at Google, working at Yahoo, working at IBM. And they will tell us how innovative open source can be, or hell, not even Open Source... but MS alternatives :) Google seems to be doin a great job so far.
  • by freepudding ( 906321 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @04:55PM (#13734051)
    If they had just straight copied Apple's Trash, think of the landfill problems we'd be having right now. Reuse! Reduce! RECYCLE!!!!
  • big bang? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rnd() ( 118781 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @05:02PM (#13734121) Homepage
    A lot of people fail to understand what real innovation is. Sure every now and then there is an invention that abruptly changes the world. Some people consider the Segway scooter an example of such a thing. I do not.

    Microsoft has made a lot of very small innovations (often called "soft innovations"). Whether it's the ease of use of VB or the elegance of C# or the xml grammars used in the speech SDK. They are not huge, "big bang" style innovations, but they are not insignificant.

    Microsoft slowly advances the state of the art and we're all better off as a result. Sure it's not flasy like the industrial design of an iPod or the first space walk or the Polio vaccine, but added up they are a huge force of progress.
    • Re:big bang? (Score:3, Informative)

      by jonastullus ( 530101 )
      Microsoft has made a lot of very small innovations (often called "soft innovations"). Whether it's the ease of use of VB or the elegance of C# or the xml grammars used in the speech SDK

      i might even concede your point - microsoft has indeed made several small innovations that by themselves are not much to look at, but in their entirety can make up a totally new style of working and collaborating...

      but IMHO your examples suck!
      • "elegance of c#" is an insult to languages that might actually claim that attribute.
  • by rlp ( 11898 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @05:08PM (#13734200)
    Microsoft's innovation is the application of brilliant marketing tactics and envelope pushing legal tactics to the software industry. Microsoft is NOT a technology driven company, and woe the the technology driven software company that dares to go head-to-head with Microsoft. Their 'innovation' has been tremendously profitable to Microsoft, but if anything has hindered innovation in the software field.
  • by Qubit ( 100461 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @05:14PM (#13734268) Homepage Journal
    Here's a quote from his article:

    Translated, I'm saying that technology across software domains should be consistent. There should be a standard, however de facto, that works everywhere. Skills should be portable across those markets, ... Everything should just work together, and development across all devices should be relatively straightforward to someone with experience in any one of them.

    Standards? Works everwhere? Hey dude -- you're working for M-i-c-r-o-s-o-f-t... you know, the people who don't like standards, who won't use open standards (OpenDocument), tweak standards so they are not compliant (Kerberos), invent their own "standards" and not share them (MS-Word format), and then finally try to patent everything (FAT filesystem) so that other people (that would be us, the open source community) can't use it.

    Maybe you should read your own article and think about those things, eh? Maybe a lot of people at Microsoft should think about those things...
  • Their own fault (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @05:49PM (#13734612) Homepage Journal
    It's true. But so what? Microsoft doesn't get credit for the things they do right because of all the things they do wrong. Like shoddy products and monopolistic practices. Besides, their marketing is mostly about how fucking brilliant they are — and that practically guaranteed to make people discount their accomplishment.

    There's also the fact that they don't play well with other. People at Microsoft deserve a big share of the credit for inventing XSL — and it would be hard to overstate the importance of that. But, as they always do with any activity they can't control, Microsoft gradually withdrew from the XSL working group. So whenever you hear about XSLT or XSL:FO, it's in connection with somebody else.

  • by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @08:07PM (#13735691) Homepage
    for an article that's designed to be inflammatory? It could just be me, but it seems like posting pro MS articles on /. is like a white guy yelling "Up with the man!" in the middle of Harlem. I can almost hear half the /.ers thinking the nerdy equivelant of "Oh no he di'int."
  • The Registry(TM) (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theolein ( 316044 ) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @08:35PM (#13735855) Journal
    Microsoft certainly innovated that POS. If there was ever a piece of software so central to an operating system, yet so fragile, vastly overburdened and insecure with a tendency to break if you just look at it, then it's the Windows Registry. I don't know how often in all the years that I've used Windows just been dumbstruck at what a braindead idea it was to make the registry so central to the OS.

    The irony is that the Registry reflects Microsoft's company structure, i.e centralised, as compared to any OSS OS where there are hundreds of competing config files in different formats which ensure that the OS won't become unusable if one of them goes down. And that is probably why OSS is inherently stronger than Microsoft. No matter what Microsoft does, Linux is simply too broadly based to die. Microsoft will pay one idiot like John Carrol thousands per month to blog about how he loves Microsoft (he's been developing for 11 year and that's why he *knows* Microsoft is better than OSS or anything else, according to him. He doesn't realise that there are people who have been coding on other platforms for over 20 years and have the exact same opinion about their favourite OS for the same reason).

    Still, his zealotry paid off in that he got a well paid job to troll about Microsoft, even if he has become more defensive about it over the years, which makes me laugh, to be honest. The guy's like a little kid trying to win a fight by shouting the loudest.
    • Re:The Registry(TM) (Score:4, Informative)

      by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Friday October 07, 2005 @11:31AM (#13739869)
      If there was ever a piece of software so central to an operating system, yet so fragile, vastly overburdened and insecure with a tendency to break if you just look at it, then it's the Windows Registry.

      Dude, you're to young. The Window's Registry was preceded by the OS/2 Registry, which was equally hated and villified for years before Redmond picked up on the 'idea'.

      My biggest beef with Microsoft is that when they do claim to innovate, it turns out that what they've done is either steal someone elses bad idea, or reimplement a good idea poorly.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus