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Microsoft Reorganization 160

Kelly McNeill writes "I wouldn't have believed it if I didnt see it for myself.... but it seems that today, Microsoft beat the DOJ to the punch by splitting themselves up! " My favorite bit:''This new structure is part of the reinvention of Microsoft,'' from Ballmer.
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Microsoft Reorganization

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    If the Open Source model suggests that software is changing from a product based to a service based industry, this would be the direction to go. However, this is pure poison to the MS product leveraged monopoly model. If you think the MS development staff was stressed before by demands of marketoids, what do you think will happen to them when four different marketoid masters start demanding incompatable and mutually-exclusive features in the same OS core. (Of course, that is basically what they have been doing for the past few years, but without the burden of four distinct, organized power bases.)

    God help the MS programmers ....
  • Still the same monopoly ...


    These layers already existed.
    (And are normal within most big companies)

    To make a split that would ensure competition is easy:
    1. OS
    2. Applications

  • by Anonymous Coward
    AAARRRGGGHHH!!!! Why do we need 50+ replies telling us that this is not a breakup, just a reorg? Please guys and gals, before you bitch about mis-information and repeat information, please read the thread to see if your comments have already been expressed by others.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Microsoft is reorganizing so that the DOJ case cannot easily carve them up by product.

    I'm amazed that few people seem to consider this as a motivation.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Here is a twist no one has brought up yet. With this division, Microsoft divides itself up into 6 distinct divisions. They are:

    1) Business and Enterprise division
    2) Consumer Windows division
    3) Business productivity group
    4) Developer group
    5) Consumer and commerce group
    6) Home and Retail Products division

    Presumably, Windows 95/98 fall into #2, and Windows NT/2K falls into #1. Office may fall into either #6 or #3.

    But, anyway. With these lines, Microsoft may have finally figured out that they are going to get tagged as a monopoly. Maybe what they could be thinking is that, "Ok, we're busted, but how about we limit the damage?" How do they do that - they settle for being branded a monopoly in the desktop arena - Consumer Windows - only. As a settlement, they agree to spin off the Consumer Windows division into a seperate company that is only chartered with making Consumer versions of Windows.

    But, what they won't say, is that in a couple years, Windows NT/2K will compete directly with that newly spun off company. As in, I expect they are trying to limit damage and pull a fast one by spinning off stuff which is already slated for pasture. Hopefully, the DOJ doesn't buy it...
  • Microsoft is simply re-organizing their structure, it is not a split up of Microsoft. This isn't anything like what happened to the Bell telephone companies, so will not affect their monopoly status.

    Even though, I'm sure they would like the average person to believe this is a split up of their company, hopefully nobody begins to beleive that nonsense....

  • The real question is, would having the DOJ split them up make any difference at all?

    I mean, tell me now, is there really going to be any difference between Microsoft The Corporation and Microsoft The Conglomerate?

    The only way to truly cripple MS would be to open source them, or just disband them. Of course, even if Open Sourcing (TM) them was a good idea (I have no idea if it would really be good in the first place), that still doesn't mean the DOJ would have any idea how to go about it. Hell, no one has ever had an Open Source company that big, I'm sure *no one* really knows how to go about it.

    Maybe the only good solution is to bomb Redmond. :)
  • by your figures they are up $4! Come on, if any stock dropped that amount the stock exchange would be crashing.

    Note that nearly 2/3 of the rise in the NASAQ is fueled by MS, Intel, Dell, Cisco (and a couple of others). Heard this last Friday driving home - so if MS fell to such an extent their would be real panic selling.

    I hope your post was in jest.
  • Anyone think this "break-up" of Microsoft will lead to perhaps Office 2000 and IE 5 for Linux/FreeBSD? If your answer is no then this reorganisation means ZIP. It really seems that the only way Office and IE (and other MS products) will get ported to anything other than Windows is if the DOJ breaks them up. Too bad for them.

    On the other hand I really don't desire those products running on Linux anyway. StarOffice (bloated but functional...and free), WP8, and KOffice all have more than adaquate functionality.
  • Posted by Mike@ABC:

    Can't help you with story submissions. Gotta ask Taco about that one.

    As for the Open Source thing, I know squat. As far as anybody knows, Microsoft is unwilling to let people see and play with their source code. But the state attorneys general and others have made noises about it, so I figured it would be fun to ask Gates himself. I wanted to follow-up with more general Open Source/Linux questions, but as I said...I got cut off.
  • Posted by lmalave:

    C'mon folks, it's pretty basic - Microsoft is reorganizing themselves by "customer" as opposed to by "products" in order to make it more difficult to break up Microsoft into Baby Bills!!. I'm surprised more people haven't caught on to this transparent motive, even in a forum like Slashdot.
  • by gavinhall ( 33 ) on Monday March 29, 1999 @02:34PM (#1957261)
    Posted by Mike@ABC:

    A word on reorgs. They're divvying themselves up along product lines, rather than the convoluted way the company was structured before. The profits still go to the same place, the same people are still in charge They're just hoping that by doing things this way, they'll be a little more nimble in the market place.

    FYI...I was on the conference call. Asked Gates if he would be willing to adopt a different licensing standard for Windows, perhaps even an Open Source standard. I got about 15 seconds of uncomfortable silence, followed by: "I don't think it's appropriate to talk about any aspects of this settlement discussion right now." Got cut off before I could follow up.

    Take it for what it's worth. No idea what to make of that. Anyone care to engage in rampant speculation?

  • The problem with this reorg is that all the monopolistic aspects of MS are still existent and able to flourish. Simply because there are consumer oriented groups now does not mean that the apps group will not utilize proprietary OS calls to make their office suite unbeatable to competition.

    The DoJ's plan would split MS up so that each 'group' functions as a separate company and licenses the technology from the other. These same licenses would be available to their competitors.

    MS would licenses the same Win32 codebase to develop Office that Corel would license to develop WP Office. No hidden .dll calls, no OS integration advantages. An even playing field where the best PRODUCT wins, not the best CONNECTED product team.

    (This is for you Rob! On topic, not flamebait, and hopefully not moderated down! *grin*)
  • This story has appeared at least three times
    here on /. over the past month or two. Microsoft
    is simply reorganizing it's internal departments
    -- no big deal.

    A rose by any other name is still a shark
    infested corporate behemoth Orwellian nuisance.
  • Having worked in a largish corporate environment, reorgs like this don't surprise me aytall. When I worked for a rather prominent aerospace corp, it seemed like vp's were coming out of the damn walls every other week. Mostly driven by internal politics, boredom, and a vague uneasiness that appears in large corps that if stuff like this isn't done on a regular basis, then "We're not moving forward!" starts getting whispered in the executive crappers.
  • It would be just like running WINE on *BSD, or any UNIX: the Windows apps don't work or crash, and the underlying OS (and hopefully X too) doesn't care.

    It'd be just like UNIX is now, with more apps and less productivity. Like Windows, but with less bluescreens and rebooting. And still better than NT.
  • Maybe Bill is afraid that Windows source will be released under a freer license, but I don't see what he has to worry about.

    I'm sure that source is so ugly after years of unseen development kludges to meet deadlines and have backwards compatibility to DOS and the 8086, and also use features of the 386 to both get around these limitations and simulate them...
    well, that's ugly already, to say nothing of their closed widgets and silly delays and animations, shoddy networking, etc, etc.

    Maybe it would make porting Windows Apps to UNIX easier, maybe we could create a (probably less-free) version of WINE with that source code, and just run the apps on UNIX, but I wouldn't want to build an OS with that code.

    Replace the Windows networking with SAMBA, replace the 'display server' with X (that would be hard) and get the manufacturers to make X drivers, (maybe easier if they're getting a better Windows) add window managers/toolkits) that replace the Windows widget set, (themeable look and feel across all apps) replace the scheduler, etc., etc. After a while you might have a decent operating system, but I'd rather improve the other ones we have currently.
  • They did a really bad job of porting it, I've tried IE4 and IE5beta under Solaris. I will admit that since I'm not root on those boxes, I haven't applied all the kernel patches they see as necessary, but I don't think a *browser* should require kernel patches when nothing else does.

    Basically I don't know what Mainwin was smoking when they built those libraries. IE is slower and bigger than Netscape ever was under UNIX, and IE 3.0 for Win 3.1 flies on my Linux box. I'd like to compare IE 4.0 for Solaris and IE 4.0 emulated under WINE on Solaris x86. Heck, IE is faster under SoftWindows 4.0 on SPARC Solaris than it is "natively" on SPARC.
  • Just incase you still don't get it, MS isn't breaking up. They're just reorganizing, which in simple terms means they're shuffling a few papers, moving a couple desks around, handing out new titles, and passing out a few more million dollar bonuses. This is nothing more than a public showing in an attempt to trick the public. It's still business as usual up in Redmond.
  • by mholve ( 1101 )
    And so um, this changes WHAT exactly? That's right, nothing. Yawn.
  • Good time to buy though. ;>
  • Interesting that for the last three years of the DOJ trial, 90% of the world economy has continued to depend on Microsoft just as it always has. Interesting how the renamed divisions and three years of hot air in Washington aren't causing massive uninstallations of Windows around the world. So far the price of an operating system is still $250, not exactly a closeout now that those divisions have different names.
  • But in organizing along these bogus lines, they just hope to make it harder for the DOJ to do a REAL restructuring along the lines of consumer (Win9X), commercial (NT) office packages and internet packages. The only real thing they separated is the MSN group, the Edsel of MicroSoft...
  • This is news that matters to this nerd. I have to work with Micros~1 products and licensing on a regular basis, and I'm often frustrated both by their shady practices and their shoddy goods. Of course, I can't speak for Rob, but I support Linux over Microsoft because:

    1. It is more productive for my tasks on my hardware
    2. It is more easily customizable, and doesn't change my customizations on a whim
    3. It crashes much less than Windows (which contributes to #1)
    4. It's diverse, yet better organized, and let's face it, fun!

    I see myself more as a convenience zealot rather than a Linux zealot. Of course, you're free to think what you want...

  • The only user-friendly bug-free product that Microsoft makes is its stock.

    That's not true. They make nice mice. (Although not enough buttons.)


  • The way I read the announcements that I've seen, this simply creates business unit to focus on specific customer groups. The products seem to span units. In addition, app and OS code still cohabitate.

    For instance, which group owns NTW? I how about NTS? What about SQL Server? Exchange? Bet their's overlap. I'm not saying there *shouldn't* be, but they seem to be implying that this is some fundamental change to their way of doing business. It isn't.

    I fail to see the significance of all this , except for the fact that it makes great business sence from M$ POV. For the record, I don't believe that the govt. should be sticking their nose in much of this whole mess. Let 'em live or die by their own merrits. If they suck bad enough, and we rock on, we'll 'win', for a given definition of 'win'. Granted, we'll need to fight the PR machine every step of the way. So be it.
    "First they ignore you.
    Then they laugh at you.
    Then they fight you.

  • Is this simply so you can tell IT that they don't have to standardize on NT since you can run all the apps you need on linux?

    From what I've seen IE tends to go into CPU suck mode on Solaris...

  • Microsoft goes through a major reorg almost every year. Am I the only one who doesn't think this is particularly news-worthy? After all, it won't change the way they operate with regards to leveraging products from one division to help another.

    Now if they were to, say, announce a Linux version of IE or Office, or otherwise show that the reorg has affected their "Windows Über Alles" strategy in the slightest, then I'd pay attention. Until then, whatever.

  • the division of M$ happens every once with adjustments that occur as a result of management reacting. This is to be expected. Remember the M$ turn-around wrt the web in '95?

    Check out the url here from my local rag, (the age, ml )

    ... The lawyers may also ask that Microsoft make the Windows source code available to its competitors, a move the report states would render Microsoft "impotent"...

    which outlines the selloff of M$ windows code or worst case M$ open source.... (I know this has been on /. before, but theres a lot of bull going around that needs to be seen to be beleived.) Re-organisation of M$ simply re-focuses the company wrt the market. sell-offs or re-organisations wont stop the monopoly..anyone remember ibm?

  • Umm... the stockprice changed due to a split. Essentially, each $180 share from Friday is now two shared worth $92 each or $184 total.
  • Why would the MS Office group want to write Office for Linux? They have programmers down the hall who are intimately aware of Windows's kernel, the number of users who run Windows is exponentially higher than those who run Linux, and would any real Linux user pay money for software? I run Linux. I like Linux. I like free software. I like Office too, but let's be realistic, there's no reason why it will be or should be ported to Linux, or redesigned for Linux. Just my two cents... :)
  • I'm with you. In the meetings with DOJ last week and the week before, I'm sure something along the lines of "Split yourselves up, or we'll do it for you." was said. MS, being the back-stabbing-savvy company that it is, has done it "Their Way". I'm sure we'll hear later that when forced to divide, they'll try it along these lines that are drawn.
  • maybe B.G. said to himself: "let's split ourselves as we want it before somebody elste split us as we do not want it"
  • Of course I do. It'll make 'em WORSE, but it'll change 'em...! (Notice that Allchin has all windows development!)
  • Until these divisions become separate companies, with separate stock, it's the same old Microsoft.


  • Obviously it's only a re-org, but we are not the
    target audience for these 'big announcements'.

    The target audience is the shareholders. The people who desperately want everything to be OK at microsoft so that they can keep collecting nice dividend checks. These are the people who will read this, assume the problem is solved and that the DOJ will be happy now, and not sell off all of their stock. And of course its 'big news' because Microsoft is paying top dollar for it to be published as big news.

    However, I don't think the DOJ will fall for it. They're going to be after blood. MS was way to disrespectful in the courtroom to not get a full out beating.

    Personally, I think splitting them into smaller companies where all deals and intercompany communication is publicly posted is a good idea for the community and the shareholder. All of the mini-MS companies will continue to grow and be profitable so nobody gets too screwed, but the ability to form collusions will be decreased. That's the only solution I've heard so far that I would have real faith in.

  • "Senior vice president Jim Allchin will oversee both the business enterprise division and the consumer Windows division."

    Seems to me they are trying to avoid the inevitable. If I were presiding over a breakup, the first thing I would seperate would be all apps (Office, Internet Explorer, IIS, Developers Studio, etc...) from the Operating system (file Explorer, Control Panel, all object handling stuff, drivers, basic networking code, etc...) Microsofts new companies should be forced to communicate only public api's and info. Any exclusive info shared between the baby Bill's should be treated as an attempt to usurp the judge's ruling.

    What they are doing is moving ineffectual components under different names. New sub companies like MSN(failing miserably), Devlopers group(some tolken power lost to seperation there),and the games, input devices and reference products division(Extra junk compared to the rest, kinda like seperating the floor mopper department and calling it a major revamp), and what the heck is the business productivity group(are they assigned to personally kiss Bill's butt?)

    I can't be sure, no one who does not work high up in Microsoft can, but this seems like another PR stunt. I'd also be interested to see what would happen if Bill was convicted of some kind of criminal charge and forced to sell some percentage of the stock that left him.... say under fourty percent. It would reveal a great deal about the compatance of current stockholders. (snicker) ;)

  • Can't remember who said it, but they were trustworthy. Anyway, I read that MS does have a team of programmers working on porting Office to Linux. Watch out... here they come!

    (did I hit submit before?... hmmm...)
  • You do know what a stock split is, and you are just being sarcastic... right?
  • I hope they aren't thinking that this will make a difference. If it does - if it influences the DOJ in any way - I will be sick.

    the article, btw, does not hint that this is micros~1 strategy, but it is obvious that SteveB~1 is shooting for that.

  • I think they are permuting the company to make it harder to do a "baby bells" split on them, or less harmful if it hapens along existing boundaries.
  • by Pondo ( 5965 )
    If you did all of these things (SAMBA, X, themes,
    etc.) wouldn't you just have *NIX again? In that
    case, yes, you would have a decent OS.

    Someone said "those who don't learn from UNIX are
    doomed to re-invent it, badly." Or something to
    that effect.
    1. We have seen this on /. at least twice already.
    2. It is shuffling around veeps, not splitting up Micros~1.

    No idea why on earth the "news" page thought this was big news. And no idea why Rob posted this again, either. With all due respect, CmdrTaco, don't you or your trained mammals check stories first? Especially stories that sound too good to be true?

  • All they've done is shuffled people between projects, appointed some new token VPs. Likely the most noticable effect will be a delay in Windows 2000 since now all the programmers that WERE doing bug fixing on it are now in the department designing "Office Bob 2000."

    Will this mean that any of the "groups" won't have privileged access to code, etc? No. They're still MS, and that won't change.
  • This may provide an easy cutting line for the DOJ. If MS does get broken up, these new dividing lines would make the actual split very convenient for all involved. I wonder if this could have been intentional...
  • SO isn't that bad. It doesn't crash on me as
    often as it does on your system. On the other
    hand it does crash when I try to open a file
    without extension. It is not cabable to load
    it as text for some weird reason.

    Unless they fix moronic bugs like this Word
    Perfect is going to bury them.

    As for Office on winblows, ever heard of the
    blue screen of death? virus?
  • This story has showed once a month for several months.

    As far as I can tell, they will still be one company, they are not splitting up, AT&T style, into different companies.

    The move may be designed to make it look as though MS is fixing its anti-trust problems, but I hope that the DOJ and the courts will not be confused
  • There is a devilish bug system, as anyone who has had the misfortune of doing extensive work with the Win32 API can tell you. Undocumented calls are numerous. There have been quite a few times when I dumped a list of called functions from a DLL, found one with a promising name, and then failed to find any documentation for it. For example, when dealing with kernel mode device drivers & the registry, there are a few f(x)'s missing from MSDN.
  • You are not paranoid, IMO. Micros~1 can not
    survive without the advantage of the OS. What
    they are doing is eliminating a OS division and
    spreading the OS technology throughout the new
    divisions. That way a split up gives all Micros~1
    applications the likelyhood to survive ALL

    The DOJ had better not fall for this and they
    had better not pull a 1994 'type' of agreement.

  • I think the only way to stop evil at it's root is to held any software company accountable for it's work. Let's say, when you buy a car, if you die in a crash due to faulty equipment, than car company will have to pay.

    How many of us ever read a software license? One of the main points in it NOT whether sourse is open or not, the main point is that NO GUARANTEES GIVEN! Simply, the makes of product disclaims everything. We pay hefty sums to the MS and alike for products without any quality guarantee.

    I think DOJ and legislators in particular should make it illegal to sell software without guarantees. So, we will have situation where makes of poor software will not be able to exploit monopolistic status, they will have to pay $$$ for each and every bug, crash etc.

    One may object: the software fundamentally is so complicated, that one can't guarantee anything. Well, I would only point out to few well known examples of solid software such as Linux, where proof-of-consept has been demosntrated, and if some software company can't back it's own work than get the hell out of this business.

    This approach is perfectly inline with the principles of freedom and entrepreneurship.

    Comments are welcome.

    AtW, []
  • *sigh* Read the article. It's a reorganization, not a breakup. This has been talked about for at least a month. It's still one big friendly Microsoft.
  • If the DOJ wins (or at the very least settles with favorable terms to them) as seems likely and hence forces the split of Microsoft, then this new layout will most likely be how the Baby Bills will work out (oy! Baby Bills!). Microsoft is just restructuring themselves on their terms rather than the DOJ's terms. I'd be scared to let the DOJ carve up Microsoft (witness the AT&T fiasco - stupid, stupid, stupid clueless government). It seems like a smart business move...

    I think the biggest thing about Microsoft is that they have grown too big too quickly. They have been trying to be everyone's everything (three letters: IBM around the 1960s). This is a crucial mistake. Microsoft needs to refocus the company (either by their own volition or by the DOJs prodding). If Microsoft kept trying to beat everyone to smitherines instead of developing excellent products (as they are capable of doing), eventually some company is going to outwit them and bring them to their knees (again see IBM vs. Microsoft circa mid-1980s).

    Hate to say it, but if the Office group is split from the OS group, what is to prevent them from developing Office for Linux (as has been speculated)?? Nothing - as a new company whose sole purpose is Office would have no allegience to Windows. They would be forced to choose the best operating system. Innovation is key (damn I'm sounding like Bill Gates here - nooooo). Is the best OS Linux? Maybe it is, but that is something that the marketplace must and will decide...

    Office on Linux would probably be a good thing - the majority of the known computer-literate world currently uses Office and those of us who want to work with colleagues who use Office need true Office compatibility. SO sucks - crashes more often than Windows. WP can't do everything (not including font issues out the wazoo). What's left? Applix? Come on... Gobe on BeOS is close, but it can't read Office files (yet).

    If it isn't Office, what will be the killer app for Linux on the client side?

    My $.02, Justin
  • Meet the new boss.
    Same as the old boss.

    We won't be fooled again.
  • Is it just me or have we seen this same story on Slashdot before? It seems to me that this was posted just a few weeks ago . . . oh yeah! By CmdrTaco on 3/12 (back then it was just 4 divisions -- my, how times have changed). Despite the many knee-jerk reactions that this (and every) Microsoft story produces trupmeting the incipient end of the Windows Age, this isn't new news -- Ballmer was basically assigned the job of restructuring Microsoft almost a year ago, and he announced a working plan then which was essentially the blueprint for the new structure.

    This isn't even a marketing ploy, as some have suggested, nor is it a desperate attempt to appease the DoJ or shareholders. It is, actually, a sign that Microsoft is actually aware that, as as many serious market analysts and Anonymous Cowards have stated, they are becoming more hidebound and reactive, and that the pace of software innovation has slowed.

    The old corporate structure was implemented when MS was riding high on the newly released Windows 95, NT 4.0, and Office 95 (there has been one small restructuring since then, but the basic framework remained intact). Technological innovation in Redmond was proceding apace (most Slashdotters might not like that principle or quality of that innovation, but no one can deny that it was profitable!). The company organized itself to be very market centered, to encourage adoption of their products versus WfW, Macintosh, Netware, Lotus, and (to a smaller extent) Unix. The mantra was "standardize on 32-bit Windows software! Everything is better and it works together!" Legions of MCSEs and MCSDs were dispatched to make this come true, little dollar signs dangling in front of their faces like carrots. And, for a while, it was basically true -- running Office on 95 with an NT server was better, or at least cooler, than running Word Perfect and 1-2-3 on DOS/WfW with Netware 3.12.

    Since then, however, innovation from MS has slowed to a halt. The last major product to be released was IE 4.0. Office 97 had some impressive improvements versus 95, but Office 2000 will be bascially the same as the last release with some internet features and customizable toolbars. Windows 98 is indistinguishable from 95 with IE. And NT 5, which was supposed to be done A WHOLE YEAR AGO is so deep in the design stage that people are still debating which kernel the consumer version will be using! Meanwhile Novell is going gangbusters with NDS, Corel and Lotus are gaining market share versus Office, and there's that "little free operating system that could" making major inroads, annoyingly even in the once-pure NT offices.

    This reorganization is a maneuver to help kick-start productivity and bring Win32 to the next level. An increasing number of users and managers (and Slashdot posters) have begun to write-off products from Redmond as hopelessly mired in their own success -- concluding that Microsoft has coded itself into a corner and will not be able make the leap of perfomance and stablilty that enterprise systems of the future will require without breaking everything that they have done in the past. That may be true, in which case this truely does mark the beginning of the end for Bill and Co. But don't count the richest software company in the world out just yet; they cetainly have the capital, and this move proves that they have the will, to make every attempt to maintain their hegemony.
  • This is a particularly interesting parallel because this division most likely was the beginning of the real decline and fall for GM.

    Since they centralized design and assembly instead of having it in the car lines, they managed to homogenize their line, resulting in the dullest cars on the planet short of the Trabant.

    Bad move. Admittedly, it did make the corporation more efficient, in building cars nobody wanted to buy.


  • Looks like the flaming might actually start to simmer down now. Amen!
  • I feel, as someone else on /. has said before, that MS is preparing for the worst. If it were to get broken up (I think it will), these divisions will act as natural breaking points. So instead of just letting the DOJ cut anywhere, MS is saying "please cut along the dotted lines"

  • In my experience, when Microsoft ports a product to a non-Windows OS, the result is a complex, windows-esque monstrosity. If they'd deliver the functionality of a good MS app (stipulating the existence of one) without forcing the windows look and feel down the user's throats, they'd be doing the computing world a favor.

    But they won't.
  • Micro$oft has not broken up. I would expect by changing their internal organization they have made it look like they have beat the DOJ to the punch. I would guess this is just a ploy to make it look like MS is taking actions to make themselves a kinder gentler company. Niether is true.

    Companies reorganize all the time. I have worked for two seperate companies that have reorged. The difference with Micro$oft is that they have made a big deal about it.

    If nothing else, MS might be organizing themself in such a matter to make a breakup harder to do.

    I don't think the DOJ will blink at this activity, but the media probably will eat it up.
  • If you haven't read it then you should. As humorous as it is, sometimes it is dead-on accurate. I wish I had it here at work so that I could quote it directly, but to summarize:

    To be an effictive manager you should move your department or reorganize every four or five months. This will simulate activity without actually doing anything that might later be considered a failure. In fact, it will be impossible to be considered a success and according to Dogbert, success is bad too.

    When a manager succeeds then their name will be fresh in their boss's mind. This is dangerous because when it comes time to downsize the managers name will be the first one their boss thinks of.

    I think they are following the handbook to the letter...

  • This isn't going to change anything. Microsoft will still be able to use their monopolies to hold and gain market share in other markets. While they might be reshuffling the deck, the fact of the matter is that Bill Gates is still the dealer. Nothing meaningful is going to change unless equity interests are split up along with that.

    Only when the director of the applications portion of the company is furthering share holder interests by maximizing THEIR market share will we benefit. Right now that is not so. It would not benefit MS to make a full blown Office 2000 on alternative operating systems. Doing so would do long term damage to the Microsoft monopoly. It would sacrifice long term health, in pursuit of short term benefits. It would marginalize MS operating systems relative to the competition. Making MS operating systems more replaceable, thus hurting their bottom line. Linux and Macintosh would grow faster.

  • Has anyone taken a look at Micros~1 stock price today? It seems they took a severe backlash, from trading as high as $180 last Friday to $92 today.
    Is this the beginning of their ultimate downfall?
  • I'm aware of the differences between a 'breakup' and a 'reorganization', but I have a question.

    Though the press has been invariably calling it an anti-trust suit, I think 'anti-monopoly' fits the situation better. Microsoft isn't a trust (group of companies working closely together to (most commonly) drive prices up and prevent an open market), its a single company (corporation, whatever). However, if they DO break up (willingly or by force), it seems to me they would fail to learn (judging from their current track record) and we'd just be hearing about anti-trust suits instead of anti-monopoly suits 6 months to a year from now. I could be wrong, but it seems they'd work together as much as possible even if they were diced into seperate companies... I'd hate to see a world where PC's aren't sold unless they are bundled with MS#1 Windows 2000 (tm), MS#5 Internet Explorer (tm), MS#3 Office (tm) and MS#2 Visual Studio 2000 (tm).
  • In the early 1970's (if I recall correctly) General Motors was also facing anti-trust pressure from the gonvernment. It was proposed that the various car divisions (such as Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, etc.) be split off into separate companies. GM's response to this was to reorganize away from separate car divisions into divisions that designed cars, divisions that built cars, etc. This made the company much harder to divide up. Since the DOJ must be the most pressing "threat" to the Microsoft at this time, I'm sure that this is an important goal of the plan.

    My computer. My way. Linux
    Howard Roark, Architect
  • If we look at the DoJ case against the Microsoft Corp, we realize it's against Microsoft Corp. If this is truly a re-org where they seperate into different companies, that still act as one large company, is the DoJ going to file antitrust suits against all 5?
    This is news worthy, and I still fail to understand why you people insist on saying otherwise.
    It's news. It's a software company. Nerds make software. It's news for nerds.
    Can't be much simpler than that. I was personally interested at this, probably a lot of other people were too, and I think that this was the whole reason why Rob is setting up the filtering systems. Turn off M$ stories if you don't like it.
  • Not true, look at the breakup of AT&T in the 80's, the little subunits instantly tried to start to kill each other....would have been even more interesting if most of them actually competed with each other, as they do now...
  • If you go to Microsoft download page you can get IE for Solaris.

    Not that you would want it. But if Microsoft wanted to could they not just port the solaris IE to Linux and other unix's.

    Ps I have not used IE for solaris so i do not know how bad or good it is.

    Joshua Curtis
    Lancaster Co. Linux Users Group
  • This isn't a split up... A split up would be the company no longer having committee meetings between the 5 divisions and not being allowed to share source with each other. Any DOJ member who believes that MS is actually doing something good here is foolish in my mind. This is nothing more than a way for MS to try to get the heat off their backs, and at that, a poor attempt. Come on, gates... you can do better than that... we all know what a weasel you are!
  • As commented upon above, this does bear relevance to the antitrust trial. M$ used to be organized by product divisions. Product divisions can be rationally spun off into new companies. M$ is now organized into arbitrary cross-application divisions. Now, for example, the Office group can't be broken off, because the Office group doesn't exist at a high level. So, as braman posted in "Why it's a big deal", M$ is doing an end-run around the DOJ.
  • Really!! If Microsoft thinks that reorganizing will make them a better company, they are in the wrong crop field. This will not help them become the good guys. I think that they just like more attention from everybody.

    All those law problems that they have a putting them in bad light in the public's eyes. I think this is a trick to make the public look at Microsoft from a different angle.

    Still, I don't think that this will help them in any way!!

  • Does anybody actually beleive this will change the way M$ does business?

    I don't.
  • "Ballmer also announced the formation of a 14-member team led by Gates and himself that will meet monthly to discuss the company's goals, replacing a smaller executive committee."
    SB: I'd like to cal this meeting to order. Let's begin.
    BG: Our number one goal at this point in time is world domination. Another Time cover, too.
    SB: Great, see you all next month.

    Seriously, isn't this old news? I could swear I read a story about this a couple weeks ago, and, at that time, I felt that I had read a similar story a week or two earlier.
    At least this reorg will make it easier for the DOC to split 'em up!

    --Andrew Grossman
  • Minor nitpick:

    Microsoft, like most high tech companies, does not pay a dividend to shareholders. Modern investors generally prefer that extra cash be used in stock buy-backs, so as to have a similar effect on the total value, only taxed as capital gains, not income. (Intel pays a tiny token dividend for the sake of "income" mutual funds that only invest in stocks with dividends.)

    Disclosure: I own stock in Microsoft, though I recently wiped my DOS partition off of my primary computer. The only user-friendly bug-free product that Microsoft makes is its stock.
  • Organizations reorganize all the time. It's just a matter of selecting what portions of the company each VP is in charge of. Sometimes it involves consolidations and layoffs (though probably not in this case).

    However, with the pending anti-trust case, this reorganization is viewed in a different light, and with good reason. The impression that many people have is that Microsoft is defining a logical partitioning of the company in preparation for a court-ordered breakup. The idea is that if the court orders such a move, it would likely try to split the company along pre-existing boundaries within the company. Microsoft just changed those boundaries.

    So unless the court decides that two aspects of a single Microsoft division must be split up, any split will probably be done along the lines that Microsoft has just laid out.
  • I didn't follow exactly the translation between various products and divisions. Where would each of the following go:
    Windows 98
    Internet Explorer
    Windows NT
    Hardware (keyboards, mice, speakers, etc.)

    I would think that Win98 and Internet Explorer would be the same division, since they are the same product. :) I guess that shoots down my idea that the court might break up the company along the lines Microsoft has just drawn.
  • A lot of comments here seem to be jumping the gun on where DOJ might go if they win the suit. (Which certainly looks likely given Microsoft's pathetic witnesses.)
    When I last checked, the DOJ had given no hints as to what they wanted to do to reduce Microsoft's ability to employ anti-competitive practises. Many commentators have suggested it is unlikely that Microsoft would be broken up into smaller divisions. This would do little to damage their OS monopoly, although it might reduce their ability to bundle IE with everything. It's nevertheless a little extreme given the scope of the case, which pertains only to the browser welding issue.
    Similar suits have usually resulted in MS being ordered to cease doing whatever is causing offense. (For instance, Sun's Java suit)
    While extreme action cannot be ruled out, we're dreaming if we think that Microsoft will be split up.
  • As they approached DOS 2.0, MS also had a program called MultiPlan. Real POS, so Lotus 1-2-3 was hammering it in the market. To combat this, MS put bombs in 2.0 that would prevent 1-2-3 from running.

    In Windows 2.11 (or was it 3.0? hmm...), if Win detected the presence of DR-DOS, it would refuse to run. And stories of undocumented API calls in Win are rampant.

    And remember: You type `win' because you win with Windows!


  • Howard Roark? I find it odd that someone who apparently believes he is Objectivist would take the name and use a quote from Ms. Rand without attributing it.

    Unless, of course, your real name is Howard Roark; in that case, I've made half an ass of myself. The unattributed quote still bothers me.


  • Here's what Infoworld [] has to say on the matter:

    "To say you're suddenly reorganizing around customer-focused units is one thing, but if you look behind the curtain it's still Jim Allchin over Windows 2000 and Windows 98," said Dwight Davis, a Kirkland, Wash.-based analyst at Summit Strategies. "It's not quite that dramatic reorg in my mind. There's some realignment, but there's still really the same product groups."

    Never forget that MS got where they are today because they are MASTERS of marketing and PR. At least most of the time they are masters.
    Michael Dillon - E-mail:

  • Just because they've "split up" doesn't mean they don't talk to one another and still make everything so goddamn proprietary. it doesn't change a thing, it's still the same as before, i simply think a ban on windows would solve the problem :), i only wish it could become a reality, in the meantime, MacOS X and Linux have to do
  • When does the thought of the m$ split make me think of Ministry of Truth, Ministry of Peace, Ministry of Love, etc...?
  • You're thinking with too much of a product orientation. There is no reason why two divisions can't sell the exact same products. Chances are, there will be a central organization called "Development Resources" or something similar that will provide software to any one or more of the six divisions you listed above. There will also probably be a central support organization. The coding organization will be a cost center while the six marketing branches will be profit centers.

    All this does is allow Microsoft to better tailor their marketing mix to different market segments.
  • It's a reorganization along five arbitrary boundaries, it's been on slashdot 2-3 times already. Sigh. It really dosen't change things, folks :) - Chad, pondering what Windows 98 would be like if it was built on top of *BSD instead of DOS... :)
  • i hope that those nanosofts are not gonna grow even bigger than microsoft is today - like tha baby-bells grew bigger than at&t was before the trial.

    those nanosofts will not be independent corporations - they will work together.

    but now no anti-cartell-trial can stop em.
  • They aren't splitting into five different companies, which is what the DOJ wants, they are in five new _divisions_. They still control 95% of computer user's lives.

    It _will_ make it easier for them to split into five companies if that's what happens. "Oh look, we're already in five divisions... just make them companies! how conveniant!"
  • ``Software is going to play a far broader role in our lives than we can even imagine today,'' he said. ``When we took stock of our ability to meet these future opportunities, it became clear that we were organized to meet today's needs but not those of the next decade.''

    Yup, the Melissa virus shows how ready they are to meet today's needs :-)
  • This isn't a split of Microsoft. Microsoft remains the monolithic, monopolistic power it's always been -- it just has different internal groups now.

    This might be important news to Microsoft stockholders, but it's hardly radar-worthy for the larger computing community.
  • It seems to me that M$ is splitting into 4 support divisions, and one development division. That bears no relevance to the whole anti-trust thing, except so M$ can say, "Hey, we already restructured once, don't make us do it again." Yet another M$ delay tactic, unless I'm reading it wrong.
  • This still doesn't prevent the corrupted weaselish hidden bug system they use to prevent competitors s/w from running correctly.

    But I'm well into my m$ phaseout anyway, so the bowel movements in Redmond have a lessening impact on me on a daily basis.

    You too can phase out windoze with SAMBA []
  • by braman ( 22386 ) <> on Monday March 29, 1999 @03:23PM (#1957343) Homepage
    Microsoft is creating fake end-user divisions to prevent the government from dividing it up along it's software divisions. This way, there is no internal dividing line along the lines that I and many others would like to see them go to the block with. Now there is no OS division or Office division or Internet division. All these basic software areas are spread among several "home" "small office" "corporate" and "back office" type divisions. Just the way they said that IE was part of windows, they will now claim that windows, office, etc. are *all* integral to each division.

    This is not Microsoft dividing itself up, but it is beating the DOJ to the punch. This is a very smart way to fight a hacking up of the company.
  • I tried IE4 for HP-UX last year. It used a proprietary widget set that looked almost like the Windows GUI. It created a .microsoft directory in my home directory, containing a registry, of all things. Basically, they did the bare minimum to get it running under Unix. It didn't behave like I'd expect a Unix browser to behave.

    To add insult to injury, it was one of the slowest pieces of software I've ever had the misfortune to use. It was like swimming in thick treacle.

  • the biggest problem with this re-organization plan and for that matter pretty much all of the "splitting" plans is that the split companies aren't really competing against each other. isn't that the whole point?

    so, now there's an office group. what's to stop bill gates (or any other high exec) from telling to office group to only produce versions for windows? it's not as if the office group has any new incentive to try and come out with the best product that they didn't have already.

    anti-trust is all about creating competition. re-organization does nothing to create competition. let's hope the DOJ realizes this.
  • by chamont ( 25273 )
    Don't make me laugh, M$. Is this supposed to make the "Chineese Wall" even stronger now? This is probably what MS offered as their "deal" to the Justice Dept., and was refused. Microsoft will never change unless forced (and even then, the fine print of the deal should be heavily scrutinized).
  • It sounds to me like a ploy to appease the shareholders and/or the DOJ (You don't need to break us up, we're already separate divisions now. We had this planned all along...). If they don't change their method of operation as a business, it's worthless. If the different 'divisions' still share and program to undocumented APIs, and cross bundle apps, I can't see there will have been much (any?) improvement.
  • Exactly, what major organization *doesn't* sluff its execs around every 12-18 months? ( i know Mine does)

    Now, if they had announced they were splitting into different companies, *that* would be news.
  • The average age of the heads of the new divisions is 41, pretty impressive for the most valuable company in the world.
  • I suppose it depends on your perspective.

    Does anybody really think this re-org will satisfy the DOJ? I feel justified in saying, of course it won't, and it shouldn't.

    More rhetorical questions: Does anybody think Microsoft is giving up the biggest ace card with the re-org, that is, the Microsoft monopoly? Once again, nope.

    5 news divisions or one big Microsloth, either way, Gates and the boys are still going to have all the internal communication between OS and application development, as well as all their restrictive licensing clout.

    We will probably see more overtures by Microsoft before the DOJ case comes back to court, all designed to allow Microsoft to say "Look! We don't need gov't intervention. We're a friendly, responsible corporation! Gosh darn it, you gotta love us!".

    The fact is, as another reader pointed out, no company, especially Microsoft, is going to voluntarily give up their competitive advantages, whatever they may be. It's going to take legal intervention to put an end to the illegal monopolist practices of MS.

    The re-org IS no news, and it's actually good as long as people realize it as the manipulative "vapourware" that it is.
  • If the financial reports contain divisional breakdowns it will be interesting. The divisions are closely linked to particular products so there may be an answer to the great Windows margin question. Questions might also be asked about the pofitability of msn for example.
  • by mhm23x3 ( 30474 ) on Monday March 29, 1999 @02:19PM (#1957355) Homepage
    Just a top-level reorg. Same Evil Empire. Same One Company controlling Windows, the Browser, and all of the most popular apps. This changes nothing.
  • Luckly for me, I was able to read the second article, posted at 3:27 @ [] for the latest article.

The end of labor is to gain leisure.