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Bill Gates's Last Speech 389

Ian Lamont writes "Bill Gates, in an address to the TechEd Developers conference, talked about Microsoft's plans for hosted services, and revealed that the company is planning data centers on 'a scale that we haven't thought of before' that will apparently enable the company to offer all of its server-based products over the Internet. The talk did not include details in terms of capacity or scale. This was Gates's final publicly scheduled speech as a full-time Microsoft employee, and he acknowledged that Microsoft's success is 'due to our relationship with developers.' On July 1, he will start spending most of his time at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation." After that date he will be devoting his "20% time" to Microsoft.
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Bill Gates's Last Speech

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  • by DaveM753 ( 844913 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:56PM (#23645721)

    it wasn't until he let the chair-thrower Steve Ballmer take over the company that MS started to become really "evil".

    I disagree. I noticed MS being evil with the introduction of Windows 95, when the then-standard Word Perfect oddly didn't seem to run properly under Windows. Shortly thereafter came MSN and the introduction of the free Internet Explorer and the beginnings of Netscape's death. That was several years before Ballmer entered the picture.

  • Flamebait? (Score:5, Informative)

    by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:28PM (#23646017) Journal
    Who modded that flamebait... and what are you smoking while you mod?

    This is exactly how MS built the company into it megalithic existence. Lets see if we can name some software/companies that they killed off?

    Digital Research, Word Perfect, Netscape, GEM, Paradox, oh screw it, we are all aware that the embrace and extend was MS speak for extinguish. There are products that never even made it to market thanks to MS (can you say tablet pc)

    The point is that this is not flamebait. It counts as truthful comment.
  • Re:Just wait... (Score:5, Informative)

    by aaarrrgggh ( 9205 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:38PM (#23646097)
    An outage in a data center over about 2.2MW is a major hassle to re-start. Over about 5MW can be a 48 hour effort. When you get into these 20+ MW facilities, it can easily take weeks to get everything back up and running.

    When a facility is properly compartmentalized, it isn't nearly as bad-- redundancies and fail-over mechanisms can continue to maintain most of the system operation, and hopefully extra load can be shifted to another site.

    The problem is that historically data centers don't have fires. (In contrast, telco switch facilities have them all the time.) Electrically when we get over about 10-20MW of UPS in a single structure data center, the complexity of systems and maintenance provisions greatly increases the risk of fire. From a raised floor perspective, when we get over 20kW per rack, we have seen a couple small fires (out of thousands-- don't get me wrong, it isn't a huge widespread problem). With these changes brought on by the "mega-centers," it takes a lot to improve (electrical) reliability for the site.

    So, in my book, it isn't the fact that you shouldn't be prepared for a data center to go down some times, it is that there is more concentration of facilities and they are being done at a larger scale which will impact the reliability in a major way. We advise most of our clients to keep under 6MW for a data center, and go for multiple facilities geographically isolated for the extra capacity. That approach isn't always commercially viable, but it is makes for a better long-term investment.
  • by miller60 ( 554835 ) * on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:48PM (#23646171) Homepage
    For those who couldn't sit through the 80-minute video [] (or don't have Silverlight), Gates said that in the future Microsoft's mega data centers will have many millions of servers" []. It currently has "hundreds of thousands" of servers, but expects to pack up to 300,000 into its new Chicago container farm. Gates also predicted that only a select number of companies (presumably including Microsoft and Google) will be able to compete on this scale.
  • by dmgxmichael ( 1219692 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:07PM (#23646319) Homepage
    When it's your own dog food it is free.
  • by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <> on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:18PM (#23646387)

    I disagree. I noticed MS being evil with the introduction of Windows 95, when the then-standard Word Perfect oddly didn't seem to run properly under Windows.

    Which wouldn't have had anything at all to do with the abominable implementations on Windows at all, right ?

    Not to mention, when 1995 rolled around, Word Perfect was well on its way out (and with good reason). The aforementioned almost incomprehensibly bad Windows implementations had sealed its fate. By the time the first semi-decent version of Wordperfect for Windows was released in mid-1997, the game was well and truly over.

    Shortly thereafter came MSN and the introduction of the free Internet Explorer and the beginnings of Netscape's death. That was several years before Ballmer entered the picture.

    Indeed. Providing a free web browser - just like every other major platform of the day did - was the very embodiment of "evil".

    Wordperfect and Navigator are textbook examples of bad products being displaced in the market by better ones (although the first few Wordperfect for Windows iterations were orders of magnitude worse than even Navigator 4.0).

  • by ShadowRangerRIT ( 1301549 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:03PM (#23646687)
    Former Microsoftie here. The core development groups don't pay for licenses; we are usually testing on machines that are re-imaged with a more recent build long before the "trial period" expires, and when long term use is needed, we have internal resources to request the necessary product keys; no paperwork, no "sale".

    Other groups within Microsoft do pay (e.g. the IT services division), not to inflate the license count, but to make those divisions operate on a level playing field with competing organizations outside of Microsoft.

  • by dhavleak ( 912889 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:08PM (#23646735)

    "DOS ain't done, til Lotus won't Run" was *well* known back in the 80's in my user group.
    I call BS.

    Everybody loves to trot out that phrase, but it's a complete myth. []. Let me quote the relevant part of that link:

    I first asked Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus, and his quote was "I've heard the stories over the years, but I don't have any specific recollection that there was a devious silent break of the kind you mentioned. I also have a bad memory." Kapor was kind enough to put me in touch with some old Lotus people he knew. And they all corroborated the story: "It's an interesting myth, and one I've heard about in general terms, although I've never heard the specific quote before. However, I have no recollection of any instance of its actually happening with 1-2-3 or with any other product I've worked on." And, "My memory of the early days (1984-85) is that we would get early betas of DOS to test with 1-2-3 and any errors that we found were 'bugs' in DOS and fixed by Microsoft.

  • by Super Jamie ( 779597 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:44PM (#23646993) Homepage
    For those who missed it, this is a quote attributed to Jamie Zawinski, one of the most notable Netscape/Mozilla developers who laid the foundations for our Firefox of today, and memorable for attending anti-trust court proceedings against Microsoft sporting a colored mohawk and wearing army boots - a true cyberpunk.

    Also, Jamie's version is "Linux is only free if your time has no value" ;)
  • by dgun ( 1056422 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @11:00PM (#23647093) Homepage

    success is 'due to our relationship with developers'.

    Sounds lovely. Of course, the 'relationship' could be that they bully, intimidate, and beat them with whips.

  • by glens ( 6413 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @12:20AM (#23647551)

    [MSFT] hold $28,900,000,000 in cash reserves... And it's only dropped to that level because Microsoft, after it won all the antitrust battles , instituted a stock buy-back.
    (emphasis mine)

    Which antitrust battles have they won ? They're still ongoing globally last I understood (not that I follow, or even care about them, really).

    Personally, I escaped Microsoft Hell in the 3.1 / i386/25 days (Slackware rules!), and don't even think about them apart from sheer hatred/disgust (which is renewed afresh each and every time I have to suffer through interaction with their crap for whatever reason).

    Once I went to Target and bought a box of Sony floppy disks. Just for kicks I was looking through them before re-low-level-formatting them for proper throughput and found that most of them (I think it was 6 of the 10, but don't hold me to that) had Roman numerals inscribed on them with what looked to be a Pentel 0.5mm pencil. Those disks contained the Windows 3.11 system installation package. I'd thought that MS might be interested in hearing that, so I dropped the dime and called their headquarters, thinking that at least they'd offer to send me a hat or T-shirt, something, anything (not that I'd wear it anyway). All I got was utter indifference, so after raw-copying them for posterity, I dutifully performed the appropriate low-level formatting and better used them for other purposes.

    Anyone want copies? I'm sure I can find them on some hold hard drive partition image somewhere...

    Anyway, and I realize I'm preaching to the [educated] choir here, but MS sucks; hard. Always have and always will. I welcome their demise with open arms.

    Goodbye, Bill. Remember: you can't take it with you. And what's more, anything you have in your possesion beyond what you came into this world with, on your way out, will probably work against you in whatever follows. I recommend an heart-felt apology and full rebate (plus damages) to anyone who's ever paid for any or your crap.
  • by ShadowRangerRIT ( 1301549 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @12:35AM (#23647621)
    First off, we never use CDs/DVDs to install (except presumably in the installer team which tests them). We use PXE boot (for dev machines), ASI (Automated Software Installer) for test automation, and occasionally run installs direct from network shares.

    Second, everything requires a key. PXE and ASI automatically retrieve a key from a central repository. Manual installs from network shares require you to retrieve a key from a key distribution webpage. Of course, for test purposes, we flash the machines rapidly enough that the key is never used for online activation (since we never hit the 30 day limit).

    As for the level playing field argument, even if you don't buy that Microsoft is trying to avoid anti-competitive practices (it is, but every once in a while it breaks down, and I was always embarrassed by it), from a legal and corporate organizational perspective there are a number of reasons to keep the divisions separate. The level playing field isn't entirely out of the goodness of their heart, it's also to ward off antitrust litigation, to name one example.

  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @12:41AM (#23647659)
    It's amazing how well they are papering over this-- they even say it is a slashdot thing when it was in fact said DURING Dos 3.0 period historically.

    Good discussion here. []

    As far as the Certification cheating API thing... a google link turns up this...

    Slashdot | RTF Vs. OOXML
    In fact, look up how it went down for Word95 and Windows 98. Word violated the api standards but was given the "approved" mark anyway. ... - 119k - Cached - Similar pages

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @01:39AM (#23647929)
    the numbers are inflated.

    8% money market is a bit optimistic, and certainly not risk free.

    the current risk free rate in the US is 4.63% on 30 years bonds.

    so that goes down to 17k a year per person... assuming there aren't any other costs...

    yes $29b is a lot of cash
    no it doesn't allow MS to just sit on its ass and pretend everything is fine
  • by KGIII ( 973947 ) <> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @02:30AM (#23648157) Journal
    Don't mistake Bill Gates for Steve Ballmer. Bill remained the vocal/public figure for a long time BUT remember that he was NOT the CEO, business leader, etc... Again, please, don't mistake Bill for Steve nor Microsoft (as it is today). Hate the company and their practices but, as for Bill, I honestly don't see much justification in hating him.
  • by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @02:52AM (#23648259) Journal

    Have you ever met him, listened to him speak in "private" or the likes?
    Not that it's relevant, but have you?

    Bill never really ran Microsoft, he was too much an idealist for business at that end.
    He did, however, put himself in a position where he could easily make decisions. In fact, he was CEO for awhile, right? That's essentially a position where your whole fucking job is making decisions. He's got, what, a hundred billion dollars for doing absolutely nothing?

    His "business strategy" that I mentioned earlier was putting low cost PCs into the hands of the masses so that he could offer a universal system.
    That may have been the goal, if you believe him. I certainly can't deny that the way in which Microsoft screwed IBM early on was of benefit to everyone, in terms of how cheap hardware is now.

    But that does not excuse what he, and Microsoft, have done before and since.

    From what I remember, Microsoft's very first product was Altair BASIC. [] The reason they got the contract with Altair was a classic (perhaps the first?) example of vaporware:

    Bill Gates called the creators of the new microcomputer, MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems), offering to demonstrate an implementation of the BASIC programming language for the system.[5] Gates had neither an interpreter nor an Altair system, yet in the eight weeks before the demo he and Allen developed the interpreter.
    Keep in mind, this was when Microsoft was Micro-Soft, a two-person company. Your argument that he "never really ran Microsoft" is not an excuse here -- he made the phone call, and he helped develop the software, with exactly one other person.

    It warms my "zealot" heart to know that Microsoft was, quite literally, founded on a lie.

    His DREAM was one of oneness. His ideal wasn't "open source" but one of "openly available to all who wanted to partake in the scene."
    For a small fee. He was certainly against sharing, and demonstrated very early on a complete lack of understanding of the free software community (this was before the term "open source") -- read "An open letter to hobbyists." []

    Oh, and... if his dream was of openness, why didn't the Bill&Melinda foundation donate to OLPC?

    Now, I will say this carefully and as nicely as I can...
    Reading down, that's not particularly nicely.

    And you still haven't said much of substance.
  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:01AM (#23648295) Journal
    Of course, the corollary is "Windows Server 2003 is only $3000 [0] if your time has no value".

    [0] or whatever license fee is required for the edition you have.
  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:33AM (#23648419)
    It's depressing to see this rubbish modded as insightful.

    You seem to have forgotten that Microsoft is a public company, with shareholders. They can't sit back and live on the interest from their cash stockpile.

    Here's something to think about - Microsoft's cash assets have decreased by more than half in four years. Apple's cash assets are increasing rapidly, and are now nearly equal to Microsoft's. Would you care to apply your logic to Apple?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:08AM (#23648859)

    Staggered spin-up is pretty much standard on servers with SCSI/SAS drive arrays. Likewise, staggered rack/cabinet power-on is a necessarily common feature of larger installations.

    The difficulty you run into when trying to restart a datacenter in the 5+ MW range is that at that scale you are pulling a significant percentage of the power on your local grid. Rapid (for surprisingly slow values of 'rapid') startup will overwhelm the power company's ability to balance the load, tripping safeties and forcing you to start all over again--hopefully without also causing a surge or cascade of failures that leaves your neighbors very, very unhappy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:24AM (#23649187)
    There's a lot of documentation (with the legal spat from Novell) about why WP for windows was shit.

    MS gave API documentation to WP for their windows client. This API wasn't used by MS Word for windows (at the time MS fanbois said there were no secret API's, but these people didn't appear when MS opened up a lot of secret API documentation. go figure) and the API's given to WP were discontinued when the product moved to RC, requiring WP rewrite WPfW when it was released (because MS didn't tell WP the API they used was broken).
  • by Call Me Black Cloud ( 616282 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:33AM (#23649231)
    A true cyberpunk? So "cyberpunk" must be a fashion statement if dressing like a clown to appear in Federal court is the definition.
  • by chrish ( 4714 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @09:26AM (#23650853) Homepage
    He owns a nightclub (the DNA Lounge); he was just showing up to court in his "office" clothes.
  • by Elbowgeek ( 633324 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:11AM (#23651699) Journal
    In the 1980's we had Unix (I had the pleasure of using an IBM RT PC with AIX [correct me if I'm wrong]), Vaxen on minicomputers, etc. And the Amiga's OS was bounds ahead of most other consumer OS's of it's day.

    So DOS was a pretty much a slightly tarted up CP/M with gross memory restrictions which begat the horrible dance of extended and expanded memory kluges. And lets not talk about TSRs.

    No, MS and IBM got lucky, partly because of IBM marketing their PC as an intelligent terminal for their big iron systems, which could be used for word processing and the odd spreadsheet without having to bug the high priests in the data processing temple for resources. Having an expandable hardware design helped a lot too.

    But neither the IBM hardware nor MS's DOS were in any way innovative or cutting edge; I'd argue that they held back the PC by flooding the market with their shitty MS-DOS product and, when they finally got round to creating a true multi-tasking OS, not adopting UNIX or a derivative as the basis of the new OS.

  • by jvkjvk ( 102057 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @12:26PM (#23654353)
    What got your panties in a twist? My guess it that you just don't like punk. And here I thought the majority on /. looked beyond outward appearances but calling him a clown seems to have got you mods so perhaps I was wrong.

    Breaking down his qualities as a cyberpunk:

    Cyber: "Netscape/Mozilla developers who laid the foundations for our Firefox of today..." obviously not into computers, so I can really see where you're going here...

    punk: Multicolored mohawk and combat boots, classic punk. On noes! Only if his attitude and outlook are also punk! Well, that is a bit hard to call but his fashion choices certainly lends credence to it, don't you think? And unless you've met him personally I'm going to have to say you're the clown.

    Perhaps you'd care to give an example of a "true cyberpunk" that happens to better fit the definition?

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?