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How Microsoft Has Changed Without Bill Gates 493

mightysquirrel writes "It's been a year since Bill Gates left Microsoft in his official capacity. At the time many speculated his departure would spark a significant shift in Redmond. But how much has really changed during Microsoft's first year without Gates?"
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How Microsoft Has Changed Without Bill Gates

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  • by Dishevel ( 1105119 ) * on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:04AM (#28635907)
    and before that the great inventions coming out of redmond were purchased.
  • by javacowboy ( 222023 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:11AM (#28635995)

    Under Gates, Microsoft grew to the empire that it is today. Gates strategic moves were critical to the success of the company:

    1) The DOS deal with IBM.
    2) The MS Office deal with Apple, and using that contract to gain GUI engineering knowledge from Apple.
    3) Porting MS Office to DOS and using it to sell WIndows (ex: buy Excel and get Windows for free)
    4) Outsmarting IBM in the OS/2 deal while continuing development of Windows/Promising Windows 95 vapourware to fend off OS/2 Warp, which was superior.
    5) Pricing Windows MS Office ridiculously cheaply, pushing out Word Perfect, Lotus 123, etc that were trying to come up with Windows 95 versions.
    6) Windows NT to push out Novell in the enterprise.
    7) MS Exchange which is still the back-end collaboration framework of choice
    8) The sneaky deal with Sun over licensing Java
    9) InternetExplorer + ISS + ASP to gain a foothold on the internet despite starting late

    Ballmer hasn't had nearly the same impact. So far MSN hasn't really gone anywhere, the high-end console wars are a draw with the Wii way on top at the low-end, Windows server hasn't unseated Linux, .NET has its niche but isn't unseating Java, Google is still dominating search, and Windows Mobile is losing ground.

  • by pauljlucas ( 529435 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:17AM (#28636093) Homepage Journal

    Bill founded what is now the largest software company in the world, and wether [sic] or not you agree with him, he has made a important contribution to the computing industry: Microsoft brought desktop computing to the home user.

    No, companies like Apple and Commodore did that since they actually manufactured cheap computers. VisiCalc (the first killer-app, and not from MS) ran on the Apple ][. MS-DOS was more-or-less a repacked CP/M that Bill was lucky enough to license to IBM. Windows stagnated for many years with the infamous Blue Screens of Death while *nix showed that you could have operating systems without crashes. Then it was Apple with the introduction of Mac OS X that forced MS to finally get off their asses and release Vista -- and we all know how that turned out.

    MS retarded the entire computer industry by about a decade. Apple doesn't get a free pass here either since Mac OS 1-9 was crash-prone too. But MS, being the 800 lb gorilla, could have done so much more with their resources to propel the industry forward.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:19AM (#28636123) Journal
    Pretty much anyone in the UK my age had their first computing experience with a BBC Model B or similar. Anyone a few years younger is likely to have first come across the 32-bit Acorn RiscOS machines like the A3000, which were popular in schools. When I was growing up, I was the only person I knew with an IBM-compatible at home, and that was only because my father ran a software company and I got it when they were upgrading. Everyone else had Ataris or Amigas. Perhaps the grandparent meant 'anyone under 18'.
  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:28AM (#28636267) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft brought desktop computing to the home user.

    No, it did not. If IBM had opted for a different OS than DOS you would have never heard of Microsoft.

    How many of us had our first computer experience with MS-DOS or Windows 3.1?

    I had a TS-1000, then a TRS-80. The IBM-PC was office-use only, as the damned things cost about five grand (and money was worth more then). There were many home computers before IBM's expensive dinasaur; the Commodore PET was out before 1980, the TS-1000 and many others were out before IBM decided to get into the PC business.

    If Bill gates had never been born we would still have PCs, and it's possible they might even follow standards.

    How about Grandma who wants to set up a webcam so she can chat with her grandchildren? She doesn't want to have to sit and hack kernels for hours. She wants Plug-and-Play, baby.

    Your ignorance is astounding.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:32AM (#28636387)

    You do know your Vic-20 used Commodore Basic which was based on 6502 Microsoft Basic right?

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:34AM (#28636419)

    What great invention has come out of Redmond, anyway? As far as I can see, their big invention was to hoover up whatever someone invented, brand it and market it.

  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:50AM (#28636709)

    What did Apple invent? i like my iphone but it's nothing that didn't exist in cell phones before it came out. some features have been around for a decade. the only thing the iphone did is take the features and put them in one unit rather than have them split across 10 different cell phones. Blackberries had app stores for years before the iphone came out, only difference you had to hunt around different stores for your app.

    OS X is just FreeBSD with a better GUI. I remember a few years ago Steve Jobs hyping the new spaces feature like it was the greatest thing ever when ^nix and Winders both had it for years under different names.

    and the Apple/Google fanboys seem to forget that Apple and Google both license ActiveSync from Microsoft for their online/cloud products. Steve dumped homegrown .Mac in favor of MS based MobileMe

  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:56AM (#28636803) Journal

    Bill Gates was a champion of MS Flight Simulator - a franchise that ran for decades. The last version FSX was complete ass and took 3 goes to get right....which culuminated in the sacking of the entire programming staff at Aces Studios (the guys that wrote the sim).

    FS2004 included a kiosk mode so any library or museum could demonstrate a flight simulation of an existing or historic plane. FSX killed that feature and tried to sell a monstrosity of a commerical system called ESP for big dollars to do the same. FSX also added activation and all it's headaches.

    Bill Gates was a nasty piece of work but under his leadership there was some good stuff done. Now there's nothing.

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:59AM (#28636867)
    MS though has finally realized that unless Windows 7 is a hit, Linux/OS X/Now ChromeOS is going to kill them in the OS market. Office has stagnated and has had a popular revolt going on because of the "ribbon" UI that a lot of people hate

    Amazon Best Sellers in Software [] Updated hourly.

    1 Win 7 Premium Upgrade
    2 Win 7 Professional Upgrade
    3 MS Office Home and Student 2007
    5 MS Office Home and Student 2008 - Mac
    12 Outlook 2007
    17 Street & Trips 2009
    18 Win 7 Ultimate Upgrade
    30 XP Home Full Version
    31 MS Office Standard 2007 Full Version
    35 Street & Trips with GPS 2009
    36 MS Office Small Business 2007 Upgrade
    38 XP Pro SP3 System Builders
    40 MS Office Small Business 2007 Full Version
    41 MS Office Pro 2007 Full Version
    45 MS Works 9.0
    50 Windows Live One Care
    56 Windows XP Pro SP2 Full Version
    79 MS Vista Premium Full Version
    95 XP Home SP2 Upgrade
    97 Vista Home Premium Upgrade
    98 Publisher 2007
    99 Access 2007

    At any given moment about 1 in 4 of the software bestsellers in software will be Microsoft products for the Windows market. Office 2007/8 has had an extraordinarily successful run.

    OS Platform Statistics For June []

    XP 67%
    Vista 18%
    Mac 6%
    Linux 4%
    W2003 2%
    Win 7 2%
    W2K 1%

    The OS stats are from a pro's development-oriented site that shows a 50% share for Firefox. It is not preposterous to imagine Win 7 overtaking Linux before its official launch in October.

  • by Idaho ( 12907 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:09AM (#28636997)

    Windows crashing constantly is yet another myth.

    For any version prior to Windows 2000, this is absolutely not a myth.

  • by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:10AM (#28637003) Homepage

    "Windows crashing constantly is yet another myth."

    Compare and contrast the number of digits in your SlashID with mine. I was actually there. I used all those machines I mention. I used and wrote TSR (Terminate and Stay Resident) programs for DOS (much like a DOS device driver). I've written Windows Device Drivers. I can say, and back with decades of emperical experience, that you are 100% incorrect. Crashing was a daily thing, and often happened multiple times a day on my machine and most others. The rest of your post shows that you are equally in need of knowledge and experience when you speak on this subject. Now would be a great time to start learning the truth, rather than teaching the myths.

  • by digitalhermit ( 113459 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:26AM (#28637279) Homepage


    Windows XP. There is simply no comparing XP to previous "home" versions of Windows in terms of quality.

    Looks like they stopped there. Vista is a piece of crap and the frustration experience is as bad as WindowsME. Sure, it's much better than WindowsME, but so are the alternatives. Sometimes it's not Vista's fault. For example, when I play Fallout3 the game will crash if anything pops up on the desktop. I can't save screenshots in Vista. On Vista64, I can't get VMWare Server to work properly. Just last month I finally got drivers for my printer after waiting months.

    But more often it is a Vista problem. My wireless network connection drops all the time because of some brain dead power management. Vista doesn't resume from hibernation properly. If I boot with my Sigmatel USB 3G card, 1/5 times it will bluescreen when it resumes. Sometimes the system will resume but the display never turns back on. If it was just one Vista system I'd suspect hardware, but this is happening on three machines.

    So yeah.. I went and pre-ordered Windows7 like a good monkey because Vista is so damn unusable. Maybe that's their business model. Offer crap then the new version seems so much better.

  • Re:No not really (Score:5, Informative)

    by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:34AM (#28637391)

    Every month or so someone writes up a post like yours on the imminent failure of MS, and it never happens.

    I dont see the 360 doing poorly, in fact, its cleaning the PS3s clock. Office 2007 isnt the failure you want it to be and as someone with an interest in UIs its a shame so many geeks are afraid of change. Imagine if Apple was still using OS9's UI today. Or if we were using Win3.11 UI in Vista. Ugh.

    Vista, for all its faults, sells and is in used by millions. SP1 Vista is comparable to XP, at least to me. The complaints Im seeing nowadays are of 3rd party software like Zone Alarm and Trend Micro breaking things.

    Conversely, we're seeing a lot of returns on linux netbooks because people simply dont understand what it means when a computer doesnt come with windows. We're seeing Firefox lag behind on splitting tabs into processes. We're seeing Chrome barely make a dent in the web. We're seeing stronger offerings from MS with Server 2008. etc etc. But we are also seeing more Linux in homes and embedded devices. We're seeing an acceptance of OSS in corporate that seems stronger than in the past.

    The point here is that you cant just look at all these markets and niches and come to one conclusion. In some places MS is doing well and in other places its doing poorly. Its still damn profitable and geeks should really understand that despite the hype, MS is still a 800lbs gorilla we need to be careful around. If anything, all this competition is forcing MS to up its game, which is good for everyone.

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:35AM (#28637401) Journal

    I wouldn't go that far. He did write MS-BASIC, which became probably for near a decade the most prevalent development platform in the PC world.

  • by mario_grgic ( 515333 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:39AM (#28637461)

    OS X is not free BSD with better GUI, not even close. And MobileMe is not based on ActiveSync in any way either. As part of MobileMe apple has licensed ActiveSync so that its devices could sync with Exchange server (because reverse engineering proprietary Microsoft protocols is not reliable or legal probably). You really need to research things a bit before posting.

  • by je ne sais quoi ( 987177 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:44AM (#28637537)

    I mean, if everyone else is insured where's the problem if I skip out.

    That assumes that all cars are created equal. If it were the mid-1980s and I owned a toyota or honda, you're saying I'd have to pay to insure the repairs of faulty parts on Fords and GMs, or even a Chevy "unsafe at any speed" Corvair: you choose to buy a car that is completely unsafe and unreliable, and you're forcing me to help subsidize the cost of repair and accidents caused by faulty design, even though I myself am a very conscientious auto buyer.

    One could make the argument that as long as unsafe cars are on the road, everyone must pay the extra price to insure themselves, but as far as I know, insurance companies do actually look at types of car when considering your insurance premium, and of course there's the "safe driver" discount, so I guess this effect is somewhat mitigated.

  • by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:54AM (#28637673) Journal

    The macs here in our prepress got a virus once, years ago. They get lots of customer provided files though.

    It's rare but possible.

  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @12:09PM (#28637861) Homepage Journal

    Has anyone else realized that since about the beginning of this decade, Microsoft has slowly begun a transition to competing on quality, rather than simply leveraging their monopoly and sitting on their laurels?


    Windows XP. There is simply no comparing XP to previous "home" versions of Windows in terms of quality. Yes, I know it's largely Windows 2000 with a new skin, but the important thing here is that they discontinued their crufty, broken, DOS-based line that didn't even have true multitasking and replaced it with something stable and mature (in comparison).

    Right. And they were largely done with that in mid-2000. Like you said, XP was just 2000 with some polish. Some better features, some worse (*cough*Control Panel*cough*) so I'd say they broke even overall. Then, they followed it up with Vista (eventually), which has some under the hood improvements but the UI blows. And requires tons of hardware for no reason.

    Visual Studio

    Doesn't matter. Most of the world doesn't write apps.

    Internet Explorer: 6 was simply a joke, the laughingstock of the web... IE7 was a big step in the right direction

    Again, the only people who disliked IE6 were certain kinds of web coders. IE7 might have had under-the-hood improvements but they REMOVED THE MENUS and otherwise dicked around with the UI for NO GOOD REASON. I literally don't know a single person who uses IE8. I don't represent the whole world but here's what I see: 1) corporate users who use whatever the company dictates. Usually WinXP/IE6. Many companies are moving to Firefox. 2) Power users who abandoned IE years ago. They fix their families' computers and they've moved everyone to FF as well. 3) Home users who don't know or care about what browser they're using BUT they also never run software updates so they've still got 6 or 7 too.

    Search: MSN search was useless abandonware; now they are really trying with Bing.

    And they were "really trying" with previous attempts, too. Bing has not yet taken over the world, and it has very little chance of doing so. The only people who ever have or ever will use Bing are IE users who don't know to go to Google. I've never met someone in person who intentionally did searches from the location bar in IE. If they type in "yahoo" and it takes them to a search results page with "" as the first match and they click on that, I wouldn't really use that as an example of Microsoft doing great work.

    User interface: Vista brought in a modern, powerful shell complete with modern, powerful command-line utilities.

    I don't get what you're saying here. When you say "shell" do you mean the Explorer? Vista's "shell" is no better than XP's overall--maybe a couple improvements, but just as many steps back. If you're referring to the CLI tools, again... no one outside of Slashdot gives a fuck.

    Windows 7 has made several improvements on the GUI side.

    And that's your supporting argument for "Look how much great work MS has done in the past decade"--"several improvements" to an OS that isn't out yet, nine-and-a-half years into the decade we're discussing?

    But in, say, 2000, who'd have thought Microsoft would have come so far?

    I'm sure I'm not the typical user, but for me, the best Windows box I ever had ran Windows 2000 and Office 97--smooth, stable, ran like a Swiss watch.

  • by denis-The-menace ( 471988 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @12:29PM (#28638093)

    RE: but some programmers still write their code in such a way to require administrator privileges for installation.

    I'll go one further:
    some programmers still write their code in such a way to require administrator privileges for running the program and it only works for the user account that installed it!

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.mac@com> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @12:31PM (#28638115) Journal

    Microsoft brought desktop computing to the home user.

    That's a major contender for the overstatement of the decade. Desktop computing came to the home user from Apple, Atari, Commodore, IBM, Texas Instruments, Tandy, HP, and many, many other vendors. Microsoft was the OS vendor left standing after the big shakeout, and they gained their current position by catching IBM's fumble. Crediting them with creating the market is a bit of a stretch.


  • by MikeBabcock ( 65886 ) <> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @01:34PM (#28639081) Homepage Journal

    ... there was the OS/2 debacle. IBM and MS were jointly building a great (for the time) OS, but MS bailed and then killed OS/2 with its promises of "Cairo". What they actually delivered was Windows 95, which was hugely better than WfW, but still fell far, far short of what OS/2 delivered, much less what Cairo promised. None of which held a candle to NeXTstep, of course.

    This shouldn't remind anyone of Vista, or the promises of Windows 7 or the database driven file-system that doesn't exist yet, or what .NET represents. Not at all :-).

    Along the way, MS stomped lots of innovative products from other companies. Consider DR-DOS, Quarterdesk, Stacker, etc.. There were dozens of small companies doing interesting things that MS squashed or bought, and then shelved their work.

    When people ask me why I dislike Microsoft, the above sums it up -- Microsoft took perfectly good innovations that were designed to work alongside their own products, and quashed them (often illegally or under false pretences). By the time the court system got around to proving this true (such in Caldera's case), it was way too late in this fast-moving industry.

  • by Whelkman ( 58482 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @01:39PM (#28639157)

    If IBM had opted for a different OS than DOS you would have never heard of Microsoft.

    I doubt that. Contrary to popular myth, which seems to think Paul Allen and Bill Gates were running business out of a garage and DOS was their first product, Microsoft was already a successful company with its BASIC and XENIX products. In addition to providing DOS to IBM, Microsoft hedged their bets and produced flavors for nearly everything. So, whichever hardware vendor won out, Microsoft fully intended to be the software provider for that platform. One could argue this wouldn't be the case, but Microsoft was one of the few strong software companies of the era. I'd even argue they were the only strong software company of the era, which is what enabled them to grow as large as they did as fast as they did.

  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @01:39PM (#28639163) Homepage Journal
    I wasn't arguing that we'd have been better off if NeXT had ruled the world. I was arguing that we'd have been better off if Microsoft hadn't dominated it, teaching everyone to expect crappy software.
  • by DittoBox ( 978894 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @02:44PM (#28640217) Homepage

    If you share large portions of your host drive with the virtual machine, and then you infect the virtual machine, and that infection just goes around maliciously fucking up all your files-including those in shares-then yes, a Windows virus/malware infection is going to make your system barf.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 09, 2009 @05:56PM (#28643013)

    Different of course, but ALL technologies Microsoft have used were created by someone else.

    Fixed that for you. Even at it's beginnings Microsoft was based upon stealing. Microsoft BASIC was developed at Harvard on computers owned by the U.S. Government. Misappropriation of government computer time for a commercial venture was a crime. Bill's dad the lawyer talked Harvard into letting Bill drop out rather than expelling him. Apparently his connections were also good enough to prevent federal charges from being pressed.

    Then there was MS-DOS, which was originally developed by Seattle Computer Products as SCP-DOS. Most of SCP-DOS was written by taking disassemblies of Digital Research's CP/M and running it through Intel's 8080 to 8086 translator. Microsoft bought this stolen code, and used it to undercut the price of CP/M-86. CP/M-86 wasn't an automated translation. Developers were actually paid to write it.

    The first two major products for Microsoft were the result of theft. That set the pattern for the rest of their products.

  • by chthon ( 580889 ) on Friday July 10, 2009 @06:51AM (#28647615) Homepage Journal

    I had enough problems in the first half of the 90's due to viruses from the sneakernet. The internet was never needed to propagate malware, it helped only to propagate it faster.

Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position. -- Christopher Marlowe