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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 Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:46PM (#23645633)
    Ummm... actually Gates made MS a decent company, it wasn't until he let the chair-thrower Steve Ballmer take over the company that MS started to become really "evil". Now before they were just a software company that made crappy software, now we have MS as a software company that produces crappy software with DRM/Trusted Computing and just about everything else to make your computer become MS's and the government's computer (with a bit of it devoted to the *AA).
  • by Divebus ( 860563 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:50PM (#23645665)
    It's ironic but the natural choice for these massive data centers is to use free software - their own. And they're bewildered why everyone else wants to use free software. Hmmph.
  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:52PM (#23645681)
    Wow, the moderators must be really off today, I try for a +5 funny and end up with a -1 troll mod, whats next? A +5 insightful for this post?
  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:59PM (#23645753) Journal
    Wow... that's some serious America-bashing mojo you've got going there. ;)

    In all seriousness though - I think Bill got all he can get out of MSFT... the company is far from dead, but it ain't exactly the powerhouse it once was, when OEMs and most software devs trembled at the sound of the phrase: "Microsoft has announced that..."

    The best time to leave is when your baby is still (in)famous, and strong enough to almost do whatever it pleases. Besides, once the public at large realizes that MSFT is indeed sliding downhill, they'll more easily blame Ballmer for it than they would even think to blame Bill, which leaves Bill's legacy intact.

    From here on out, any further news will be tacked onto Ballmer's reputation, both inside and outside the tech community (even though most of us in the tech community already know who to blame/praise --depending on your viewpoint).


  • Innovation ProTip (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrbah ( 844007 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:01PM (#23645775)
    This can only reinforce my belief that the people at Microsoft have no ideas and no vision (whether they lost them or never had them to begin with, I'll leave to you) whatsoever. It almost makes me feel sorry for them to see them try so very hard to innovate. But ultimately they're just like the Chinese knock-off game console manufacturers, they see new products that are commercial successes and emulate them in every way but the one that counts. I liked Windows 2000, and I like Windows XP. Microsoft should stick to what they do best, not try to create the "next big thing".
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:16PM (#23645931) Homepage Journal
    Its not about technical innovation anymore, its about them following the money trail as the world changes.

    Most everything today is incremental improvements, rarely does true innovation come along now. Where is the Woz when you need him?

    And, just to clarify, i wont be leasing my processing power thank you very much.

  • Devil's advocate (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:27PM (#23646007) Homepage Journal
    No, no, no!

    If you're going to play devil's advocate than you have to play up Microsoft's strengths. Say what you will about Office, but it dominates for reasons aside of lock-in.

    And what about Surface []? I'd like to see the folks at apple come up with something as cool as that. There is a *nix variant, but it's not nearly as cool. And no, the puny widdle scween on the iPhone dosen't count! Sure, the cost of a Surface unit would be prohibitive to average Joe User but people may re-respect Microsoft if they get to play with a Surface coffee-table at their local Starbucks.

    Disclaimer: I'm OS agnostic as long as all o' them are contribute to the idea pool.
  • by Serpentegena ( 991730 ) <(serpentegena) (at) (> on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:29PM (#23646023) Journal
    I think the main point of failure was on the creative side of things. How do you knowingly continue to claim individuality after you've become a trend-follower instead of a trend-setter?? Even the managed services thing comes about a year after IBM already deployed a similar solution.

    So far, Microsoft put the "sucks" in "success".
    (Oh wow! Best.sig.ev4r.)
  • Re:Flamebait? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:58PM (#23646251)

    The point is that this is not flamebait. It counts as truthful comment.
    Hence the reason it was modded flamebait.
  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:03PM (#23646293)
    A: Only 8270.
  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:11PM (#23646355) Journal

    Step 4 - Wrap up everything DOS/Win32 into a virtual machine and move forward with a clean slate while still supporting the gargantuan DOS/Win32 legacy code out there
    That would be a fatal mistake. Well, the win32 part - 16 bit DOS apps don't run at all on 64-bit Windows. Win32 is simple and it works, and hasn't changed much in over a decade. It's the stable API you can really code against. It's not object oriented, but it's just not that hard to wrap it.

    Win32 is often confused with the steaming pile of MS APIs on top of it: MFC, COM, etc. Those indeed need to be exiled to a virtualization layer. .NET is the attempt to introduce a new layer to replace MFC, COM, etc. The problem is, it isn't a useful replacement for win32, and you really need to be able to code against win32 from time to time (and of course .NET is built on top of win32, it's not technically a replacement for it).
  • by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <drsmithy@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:22PM (#23646415)

    Indeed, IIRC they even had an internal slogan -- "it's not done til Lotus won't run", or something like that.

    Which - even ignoring the utter lack of even the slightest actual evidence of this ever being true - would have sounded even dumber when it first surfaced back in the mid-80s than it does today. What sane OS vendor would lock out 90% of its potential customers by not running their primary application ?

  • by ASCIIMan ( 47627 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:30PM (#23646463)
    Kids these days...

    And to stay on topic - Microsoft plays catch up in a lot of areas, but from what I hear their research divisions still put out some pretty neat stuff, some of which actually making it into their future products. Unfortunately (for the really neat stuff) most of their products are still encumbered by these giant backwards-compatibility or easy marketability things, or at the very least the illusion of them. These are also coincidently a large part of why so many people and companies still buy and use their products - compatibility with the status quo plus incremental upgrades.

    Their developer tools tend to be less encumbered by this don't-disturb-the-status-quo thing, which is why they tend to rock - but these have another downside - then you generally end up tied to Microsoft platforms, which allows them to preserve keep selling their software and your software to continue to run in backwards-compatible mode on everyone's desktop without as much as being recompiled for a decade or so. Funny, huh?
  • by clang_jangle ( 975789 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:57PM (#23646643) Journal

    What sane OS vendor would lock out 90% of its potential customers by not running their primary application ?

    Sane? If the decision makers at MS were sane, chairs wouldn't get thrown, the ISO would not have tampered with, and there wouldn't be millions (or is it billions now?) of dollars worth of fines on them.
  • by zerocool^ ( 112121 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:01PM (#23646667) Homepage Journal

    the company is far from dead, but it ain't exactly the powerhouse it once was, when OEMs and most software devs trembled at the sound of the phrase: "Microsoft has announced that..."

    Pffft. Get over yourself, pl0x.

    At peak, Microsoft held $64,000,000,000 in LIQUID CASH ASSETS. Think about that. (source) []

    At the time of that article, they hold $28,900,000,000 in cash reserves. In terms of gross domestic product, that puts Microsoft's cash reserves 80th (out of 180 sovereign nations) when compared worldwide to yearly GDP. (wikipedia). And it's only dropped to that level because Microsoft, after it won all the antitrust battles, instituted a stock buy-back.

    If Microsoft were to never, ever sell another product or acquire a business or accept a licensing fee, and simply put that money into a money market account at a bank pulling 8% interest, they would make 2,300,000,000 yearly. Wikipedia lists Microsoft as having 79,000 employees. Just with the interest they could make without any strategic investing, they could pay each employee at the company $30,000 a year. For nothing. Before the stock buyback, that number was around $70,000.

    Think about that. The interest on their LIQUID CASH could pay EIGHTY THOUSAND EMPLOYEES over SEVENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR.

    That's how "not in trouble" Microsoft is. Microsoft is still a powerhouse, and they're quite unconcerned that you think they aren't. Microsoft is not in danger.

  • by _KiTA_ ( 241027 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:13PM (#23646763) Homepage

    Indeed, IIRC they even had an internal slogan -- "it's not done til Lotus won't run", or something like that.

    Which - even ignoring the utter lack of even the slightest actual evidence of this ever being true - would have sounded even dumber when it first surfaced back in the mid-80s than it does today. What sane OS vendor would lock out 90% of its potential customers by not running their primary application ?

    A: An OS Vendor who's also trying to sell a competing software to said 90% of their potential customers.

  • by pdusen ( 1146399 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:36PM (#23646915) Journal
    Nobody said anything about Microsoft going bankrupt. The fact is that they are slowly losing their stranglehold on the personal desktop market. Whether or not they can survive financially is irrelevant.
  • by Unnngh! ( 731758 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:42PM (#23646967)
    Very true. Plus, their company-wide sales are still very strong. They are so large and wealthy, with such a huge install base, that they will likely never go away.
  • by ikkonoishi ( 674762 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:43PM (#23646975) Journal
    I bet the software won't be listed as free on the invoices they make to send to the IRS.
  • by TheDarkener ( 198348 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:55PM (#23647063) Homepage
    I think Bill Gates is a brilliant man. Seriously, Slashbotters, listen:

    Bill Gates, when he first started MS, had passion for software and coding. I *wish* I could program the stuff him and his buddies did way back then. I *wish* I had the left hemisphere brain activity he did. But you can only GET that activity if the passion to do it drives you.

    For that, I applaud Bill Gates, as he is like many of us - he's passionate about technology.

    Business is a completely different arena, and we all know that big business eventually corrupts - that isn't most directly Bill's fault - he's just a bad business man, in that sense.

    I use Linux every day. I absolutely HATE Windows (and most other Microsoft) products. I hate them with a passion. I avidly try to get as many people using Linux as I can - my grandma, my wife's friends, you name it. That doesn't mean Bill Gates wasn't revolutionary and awesome because his drive was to create software. If it were all him coding Windows, 100%, you'd have to admit it'd probably be a lot better than it is today. Too many chefs in the kitchen just burns things when the ultimate goal is profit.

    I dunno, I just thought I'd throw that into a whole ocean full of flames toward someone that probably respects OSS programmers a lot more than he'd be able to admit before July 1st.
  • by Skim123 ( 3322 ) <mitchell AT 4guysfromrolla DOT com> on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:56PM (#23647071) Homepage

    Please read this article: DOS Ain't Done Till Lotus Won't Run []. It does a good job of debunking this myth. So does common sense. Why would Microsoft make an OS where a product used by the lion's share of users won't run anymore?

    In fact, until the Vista release, Microsoft has had an insane commitment toward backwards compatibility. Read some of the horror stories from Raymond Chen's blog []. You'll hear about how the core Windows 95 code was modified so that a bug in SimCity could be side-stepped. You'll read about how Excel developers purposefully added buggy behavior to Excel so that it would make the same mistakes as Lotus 1-2-3!

    Granted, today Microsoft appears to be less in tune with this mantra of backwards compatibility. Joel Spolsky has a passionate diatribe on this matter: How Microsoft Lost the API War []. Personally, I think that Microsoft is going to be just fine long term. They make great developer products, have a huge install base, tons of cash in the bank, and some very smart people at key positions in the company.

  • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @11:01PM (#23647095)
    Mou misunderstand. MS is definitely solvent. That's not the point. MS is definitely not quite the powerhouse it once was in terms of sheer market influence. Perception has definitely turned against MS and all the money in the world won't change that. Remember that IBM is still a huge, very successful company and still very much "Big Blue." But no one would argue they control the PC (or general computer) market like they once did. MS does still have a monopoly in the area of OEM desktop OS's and Office suites, but that hold on the market is weakening. This doesn't mean that MS will go bankrupt by any stretch of the imagination.
  • by dido ( 9125 ) <> on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @11:01PM (#23647099)

    The fact that Microsoft is wealthier than my country is not in question. They have a shitload of money, but they no longer wield the kind of influence and strike the kind of fear into the hearts of competitors as they once were able. Paul Graham put it very well in this article [].

    Microsoft cast a shadow over the software world for almost 20 years starting in the late 80s. I can remember when it was IBM before them. I mostly ignored this shadow. I never used Microsoft software, so it only affected me indirectly--for example, in the spam I got from botnets. And because I wasn't paying attention, I didn't notice when the shadow disappeared.

    But it's gone now. I can sense that. No one is even afraid of Microsoft anymore. They still make a lot of money--so does IBM, for that matter. But they're not dangerous.

    Microsoft will likely persist for a long, long time indeed, but people at the leading edge of software development need no longer be afraid of what they might or might not do. They have, in a sense, ceased to matter for those engaged in software development, a lot like the way IBM and SAP are too. Sure, they've got lots of money, and they aren't really going to stop making more, but there's no way in hell that they're going to use that massive war chest that dwarfs the funds available to some third world countries to bring themselves back into serious relevancy. Their very size makes that impossible. Their shareholders would never allow the immense risk doing that would entail.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @12:36AM (#23647627)
    Buy yourself a basic interpreter, and then resell it.

    He never was as much of a coder as a shrewd businessman.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @01:43AM (#23647957)
    That's not really true. Their first de facto monopoly is in the OS market with Windows. When Windows first came to the market, it was more of a GUI for DOS and they managed to screw DR-DOS []. And with the de facto monopoly in the OS market, MS illegally leveraged their monopoly [] to gain another monopoly, this time in the browser market. In the meantime, they also tied functionalities of their Office apps to Windows and practically gained a huge marketshare. With this position of Office, they tried to bully Apple to "knife the baby" [], i.e. kill QuickTime.

    All in all, judging from their behaviors to abuse their monopolies to gain more monopolies, you can't honestly said that MS avoids monopoly and that they like to compete. Competing means having better products, service, prices. Not FUD, stealing, screwing partners, blackmails etc.
  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @02:07AM (#23648049) Homepage Journal

    Bill Gates, when he first started MS, had passion for software and coding.
    And you take that knowledge from what source?

    One of Bill's very first public appearance was his "open letter" where he showed a great passion for money and business, and very little for software and coding.

    I *wish* I could program the stuff him and his buddies did way back then.
    Your probably can, if you are studying computer science. Even back then, it wasn't rocket science. A lot of people wrote similar stuff. But most of them didn't have the connections, rich parents, or greed to turn it into a successful business.

    You've got this guy absolutely backwards.

    someone that probably respects OSS programmers a lot more than he'd be able to admit before July 1st.
    He's considered them thieves for at least 20 years. I see no indication of him changing his mind. If you have, name your source.
  • by TheBAFH ( 68624 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:44AM (#23648453) Homepage

    I think Bill Gates is a brilliant man.
    I agree. That's why it is even more sad how he ended up...
  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:50AM (#23648767)
    Bill Gates is fundamentally coupled to Microsoft. He at least tolerated its current and past strategy. Saying he is not responsible for what MS does is naive. And if he gives a different impression when you meet him in private, that just makes hom either a good actor or deluded. Incidentially, I hear that some historic mass-murderers gave the impression of being pretty nice people.

    Bill Gates did not put low cost PC's into the hands of the masses. IBM did that and it would have done it without Microsoft. Without MS they would incidentially have offered a better product as the competition was technologically superiour (yes, I have used both).

    The main thing Bill did was to create, aquire and push mediocte technology on everybopdy and to ignore the state of the art, thereby slowing innovation sgnificantly. My beef is not with MS marketing. These people are scum almost anywhere. My beef is with the appalinbgly low quality of the MS ''OSes'' and ''productivity software'' and the inordinate amount of time beging wasted, when alternative approaches, that work better, are available. If you want easy, look to Apple. If you want powerful and cheap, look to Linux. If you want reliable, look to both. If you want slow, unreliable, expensive, unintuitive, complex to operate, full of stupid design decision in the presence of better alternatives, look to MS productes and Bill Gates was involved with these bad design decisions. With regard to technology, Bill Gates is, at best, a mediocre engineer with a hugely inflate ego, that is unaware of his true skill level. He will not be missed and his era has lasted far to long.
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:10AM (#23648865)
    It's fairly simple to scale Linux to 200,000 machines. It can boot and run from the network. No local storage and crucially NO LOCAL STATE required. You can boot a ramdisk over the LAN and run from that if you want. What this means is you only need a few people to run thousands of machines. It's a log increase. That is, Linux isn't your big problem when running 200,000 machines. Your big problem is space, racking, networking, AC, power etc.

    On the other hand, Windows pretty much has to be installed onto a hard disk. This means there are thousands of configuration settings, hundreds of libraries of specific versions which all have to be kept synchronized on tens or hundreds of thousands of hard disks. This is a fucking nightmare once you get past a few dozens of machines never mind 200,000. There is at least a linear increase in admin effort with increasing numbers of machines, and with that increase goes cost. Active Directory and Ghost are pretty much de rigueur but don't really fix the problem. Notice that Ghost isn't even an MS product, but a bandaid to fix something the OS can't do (Yes, I'm aware of the MS deployment add ons).

    The problem is location of state; on 200,000 hard disks or 1 boot server. Simple maths. Basically, Windows will have to be redesigned so that it can boot and run over the LAN or from a ramdisk or whatever. That's the point when it really becomes "Enterprise ready" rather than being a pretender.
  • by Call Me Black Cloud ( 616282 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:37AM (#23649249)
    Without Microsoft Windows would there be Linux? Without Microsoft Office would there be Open Office? I'd say MS has been driving innovation - when the bar is set high the competitors have to aim as high or higher.
  • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @07:03AM (#23649409)
    i hate to point this out but linux is almost as old as windows. and definitely older than any form of windows that was semi usable.

    Open Office was star office, which was based off an older product, but in the end the spreadsheet was based off of lotus 123 older than both.

    MSFT doesn't innovate, they let other people come up with good ideas and then implement it themselves poorly. or as the saying goes MSFT reinventing unix poorly for 25 years. While there are time when MSFT has been ahead in some departments. the infamous database filesystem(now winFS) was started because of the database filesystem BeFS way back in the mid 90's.
  • Re:Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by His Shadow ( 689816 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:22AM (#23651909) Homepage Journal
    If it's your contention that Microsoft doesn't have legions of raving loon fanboys (we call them Mouse Clicking Solutions Experts) that are completely ignorant of the damage Microsoft has done to personal computing, you are fooling yourself. If another of your contention is that there are many people on Slashdot who are not emotionally involved in their machines or technology in general, you are delusional.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN