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Microsoft

New Microsoft Strategy 143

A New York Times story reports that Microsoft has unveiled a big shift in its internet strategy. "Software as a service," no "dogmatic commitment" to the Intel platform, and new hardware (a low-cost NC). Plus a revamped MSN, a portal for businesses, and free ham sandwiches for everyone (well, maybe next year). Other news reports are more skeptical, saying "Strategy-less" and "Nothing new."
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New Microsoft Strategy

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Oops. Forgot the...

    </program>

    No wonder the darn thing wouldn't compile.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    StarOffice, WordPerfect, ApplixWare, and some free office suites are competition to MS Office. StarOffice is free, and WordPerfect has a free trial for businesses, so it would be a good idea to check them out. Depending on what you need to do, they can work very well in a business environment.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Talking about revenue collapses, why do you think Ballmer decided to shake up the financial markets with his long-overdue confession that MS - and of course all other tech .com's as well - are seriously overvalued?

    We all know Microsoft's hiring and keeping of sharp (but not always intelligent) minds has historically been based on stock options and MSFT appreciation. It appears that this particular market-shaking comment was targeted at competitors, and esp. startups in need of fresh funding. Perhaps Ballmer & Co calculate that MSFT can bear the effects while most other companies might be harder hit by any tightening of purse strings.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    X Windows is flawed for the sort of terminal server MS wants to create. X is like network GDI. It's far too low level and not very bandwidth friendly. I believe MS wants to create one that is more adapted toward home use.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I hate to sound flamey, but that's one of the silliest things I've ever heard. You might as well say that your new strategy hopes XML will replace C++.

    I'm attributing this one to clueless journalism. XML is a data markup language, not a programming language.

    Furthermore, there are a lot of XML parsers written in Java. Java programmers have jumped on XML like Alan Cox on a kernel bug. Java loves XML.
  • Homer: Are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again?
    What about bacon?
    Lisa: No.
    Homer: Ham?
    Lisa: No!
    Homer: Pork chops?
    Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal!
    Homer: Heh heh heh... ooh... yeah... right, Lisa. A wonderful... magical
    animal.
  • I've seen signs of that...

    such as, the Trillian Project at http://www.linuxia64.com/ [linuxia64.com], Andy Grove's cameo at Linuxworld in San Jose, and Intel offering access ia64 boxes for people to promote porting software. How much more do you need?

    I think that the folks handling Alpha could learn from this in a big way. Intel is helping to get gcc up-to-snuff on their ia64 chips. ... Meanwhile ... Compaq releases a beta of the compiler formerly known as Digital Unix's cc as closed source. And only offers it in .rpm format.

  • On the other hand, WinCE will run as a Terminal Server client, so I'm sure that's a strong candidate OS for the network computer they have in mind, which is decidedly not an intel machine.

    If this catches on, I'd unload all my stocks in disk drives - on the other hand, maybe this would be good for the disk drive manufacturers, shift them away from the commodity items they are today, back to the profitable state they lost about two years ago when they were forced to compete for value among other components in the sub-$1k market. What I'm trying to say is, if the sub-$1k market goes diskless (WinCE-running NC), then that would cause a big shift in the disk drive market, which, on the surface would look bad, but in the long run would restore strength to the disk drive industry (drive up disk drive prices). Good for stockholders, probably not good for high-end consumers who want workstations with real OSes and disks.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • well, the auto industry has rather successfully adopted that model - who here has bought a new car in the last 5 years, where the salesperson didn't pitch leasing first?

    Anybody else notice that no matter how what the car's sticker price is, they always manage to end up making it a $350/mo. payment? That monthly bill keeps their revenue flowing in a nice, constant predictible stream. Of course, with software "rental", MS can cut out the middle-man of the finance company that car dealers have to deal with.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • Well, this story has been spammed out on all the newsfeeds since early this morning, and if you look at the stocks - particularly the internet stocks he was attacking, you can see that the market doesn't buy what he's saying.

    Yes Mr. Ballmer, you're a big, important guy, what you say goes, and sacrificing a few points off of MSFT to attack your newly aquired target(s) bought you lots of credibility.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • (SShh!!)

    Don't tell anyone, it might spoil the hype.. ;-P
  • And one that's geared to having 100 copies of Word running off of the server..

    Ahh, that'd sell more hardware.. No wonder Intel likes 'em.. ;-P
  • The problem with this otherwise insightful post is that you overlook the fact that MS is doing all of this bad stuff _already_. Without selling software-as-service.

    And under NO model do you own software -- it's always owned by the copyright owner, and licensed to you.

    I do share your concern, though, about the level of intrusion MS will carry out. I think it can be done without the intrusion, but they haven't hired me yet ;-).

    -Billy (sell out? Gladly. I grew my new beard just for that purpose after watching Matrix...)

    :-)
  • Yep, it was the same with me, four years ago. Pity the new Neons are so much uglier than the originals... :(

    Actually, that seems to be a trend with American cars in general: A wonderful original design that gets messed with and uglified year after year until the model replacement...
  • I don't think Linux is kicking M$ butt or that this is a way for M$ to get into alt OS. But does seem that they want you to pay for that software again and again and again and...you know what I mean. This could be an excellent source of income for M$ --"Hey you don't need to buy that software once - we'll sell it to you every month! For as long as you desire to connect to the internet! $50.00 a month for the rest of you life. Keep our Boss Mr. Gates in the money!"
  • Who cares what Bill sees as the future of computing. I have an x-terminal and I don't use it. I prefer to decide what I want to do. OK, I am in the UK and I have free internet access. Not everyone is as fortunate. Some people pay a lot for their conection in call charges and ISP costs. Those people would not dream of using on-line apps. Most people that I know, that are going the NC route, are doing it on a shoestring budget. i.e. they drag out all their old PC that can run a browser and put Jave apps on them to run very basic apps that only do the tasks that are required. The apps are written by MSc students and the whole set up costs very little. This is a good route for some people but I cannot see Bill's idea going far. Who cares anyway, worst possible scenario - Bill looses lots of money - will I cry ?
  • By the way, did you ever noticed that Microsoft's website organization is pathetic at best ?
  • No one knows for sure what Transmeta is doing. We've heard talk about a super-processor.

    Torvalds Allen Gates

    Allen co-founded Microsoft. Are Allen and Gates still friends? Allen employs one of Gates' competitors.

    Is there going to be a link between Transmeta and Microsoft?
  • Kinda like why I won't lease cars ever again. Sure I get a new car every 2-3 years but I also have to fork out money for eternity...

    "Microsoft is the epitome of innovation and product quality."

  • Sigh. Do you even know what a dumb terminal is?
  • I also seem to remember commercials from (1,2?) years ago touting Oracle's network computers [oracle.com] as the "next big thing." Showing some kid in the inner city "surfing the 'net" & whatnot. Of course, they haven't exactly caught on.

    Also, could someone enlighten me as to what exactly a network computer would require? I mean, I understand that they're essentially terminals with the actual programs residing on some remote server (now that's a new idea :), but wouldn't they require high bandwidth & high reliability? I mean, from the previous thred [slashdot.org] on cable vs. DSL, it seems like neither of those provides 100% reliable service. If your computer is totally dependent on some remote server, wouldn't you be SOL if your connection was down?

    -mike kania
  • XML does NOT compete with Java.

    MS wants to use XML stuff so that it can say that it uses "open standards"-based stuff in their products, so that it is just another thing to check off on yours, or your boss's checklist...

  • funny how we keep going on these cycles.

    So your Linux box has VMWare on it, with VNC or Citrix winframe running in it. A call to a windows binary gets passed to the VMWare vm, which interacts with the client via ICA or VNC's protocol.

    Wait...lessee...Netware as an application server. WP51 running on a netware box. Hmm...

    XWindows...

    WinFrame...

    Hmm... how many times do we have to go around this bush?

  • Maybe, maybe not. Maybe MS wants to buy the stocks of lots of competing companies, so if they say something that pushes market caps way down, then they can make a move this way. or BG and Paul Allen can buy back more MS stock, or MS says, "we're buying back 100 million shares of common stock at $35/share [after the value has dropped to $30]."

    or Bill and Steve [and their various funds, trusts, etc.] have lots of short options open right now and could use a big deflation...


    It was in the LA Times as well.
  • Paraphrased from Gates' q&a on the CD for "The Road Ahead" by Gates:

    We'll continue to obsolete the product.

    Need one say more? Certainly the details will change from year to year, but the fundamental principle is unchanged. Toward that he has been consistent. Look at M$Office. One might even consider that the reduced importance of the PC may be related to Intel's promiscuity with Red Hat. Nevertheless, M$ will do whatever it deems necessary to maintain a superlative bottom line:

    We'll continue to obsolete the product.

    Graham

  • Given the choice of:


    "Software as a service," no "dogmatic commitment" to the Intel platform, and new hardware (a low-cost NC).

    vs.

    "Software as a bunch of bits," a "somewhat dogmatic commitment" to the Intel platform, and the ability to run on old discarded hardware (a really, really low-cost NC).


    I'd choose the latter any day.
  • If all you do is email and web-browsing then your SOL if your connection is down anyway...
  • As a former VisualStudio and Turbo C++ addict I can tell you honestly that the traditional Unix development environment (the modern version) consisting of bash, vim/emacs, ctags, gdb, make, and gcc, is a very flexible, powerful, and efficient development environment.

    It is not as "intuitive", but is much more user-friendly (assuming the user is a progammer and not some newbie) without all the glitches and fuckups that go along with a overdone IDE like VS.

    It's not an IDE.. but it's a hell of a DE!

  • I KNOW! Linux is free and blah blah blah, but really. I work in a huge company, and the only plans that I've heard for possible Linux use are in Server applications (DNS, EMAIL, possibly intranet) and is most definetly not headed for desktops anytime soon.

    You're still thinking of the US as the center of the universe. Just consider how much the average guy earns in India and China and think which OS he'll be using when his wage allows him to start considering a computer (ok ok ... piracy of Windows might be a big option)

    Hmm... doesn't Microsoft's stock price depend on them continually growing revenue? hehe ... let's see the uptake rate in developing countries with suitable free OSes as alternatives...

  • Result? Look for the Free Software Foundation to get some major funding "slid under the door" until it starts to look like a P.A.C.

    Seeing that the govt. funds basic research, why doesn't it fund writers of Free Software? (heck, the idea is to better society in both senses, right?)

  • "Our aspirations are not unique in this area," Microsoft Vice President Brad Chase said Oh, did he now? (-: Who's chasing tail lights now, Billy boy?
  • I can't speak for the majority of NC products out there but Windows Terminal Server is basically a hack rewrite of NT to have more of a multi-user (i.e. unix-like) kernel. We use them where I work for customer service reps....and in that category they excel...the amount of downtime of the reps is significantly reduced because the software residing on the server with a HEAVILY locked down user profile, and there are no moving parts in the terminal on their desk. We use WYSE terminals, which are about the size of a typical 40 watt PC speaker...all it has is a keyboard/mouse connection, a video board, and a NIC. No RAM, no CPU, etc. They cost about $300. Very easy to support, even for the retards we have who call themselves desktop techs.

    The bandwidth used by each connection is pretty low...latency is barely noticeable over a 28.8 modem connection. (The connection does not have to be via "dumb" terminal...there are clients for Win9X, NT, and Linux..basically a spiffy windows telnet)

    All in all, there is nothing new about this technology...it gives Windows the functionality that X has had for years, but all rolled into one happy little M$-prepared, stupid-end-user-friendly package.


    Strip YOUR MOM to email me
  • Well, actually, what I see them doing is creating an even stronger permanent, regular revenue flow.
    If the "average" consumer pays $300 every two years for software (OS, plus basic applications), that's only $13/month! A NC hits the hardware costs, so that consumers can pay more for their software service!

    If it works, it will really work. Looking at history... it'll work.

    Compare it to where all this linux effort is going... the same old paradigms that have been employed for the desktop and server simply being extended. When they do something really new... that none of their competitors could pull of, how can they fail?


    Time will tell.
  • ...well, it works for viruses!

    :)
  • you mean other than "keep an eye out for other people's successful ideas and steal them"? Like, uh, BASIC, QDOS, WIMP, DTP, Inet, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc. We're still waiting for that innovation!

    Chuck
  • The article says MSN is "shifting its focus to online communications".

    What the #*%&(#% were they doing BEFORE?

  • XML is decidedly not a joke. But people who speak to the press with a straight face and imply that XML is a *competitor* to Java ("Several analysts said that Microsoft would use XML to compete with...Java...") demostrate only that they know little about Java, and nothing about XML.

    And I have to say that having "Microsoft Daily News" in the sidebar, even (or perhaps *especially*) with the "Advertisement" label above it, does nothing for the content's credibility.

  • Allen and Gates are very much still friends as far as I know. Allen recently remodelled the Cinerama theatre in downtown Seattle. Gates attended the opening. Bill has also been seen at Portland Trailblazers games in Seattle. (Allen owns the Trailblazers). There are other less formal things that we don't hear about of course
  • by Chokai ( 10224 )
    Microsoft described this idea several weeks ago at one of their developer conferences. I cannot remember which one but it's been out and about for 3 or 4 weeks now.

  • Yes, they got 40,000 idiots to subscribe to Slate - but that was sufficiently few idiots that the subscription plan has been abandoned.

    Obviously not enough idiots for MS. :-)

    As long as companies like Yahoo, Lycos and InfoSeek have portals of their own, I don't see a Microsoft portal getting any tremendous advantage unless it can offer truly compelling advantages over the others. At this point, I don't think it can.

    D


    D

    ----
  • The article says MSN is "shifting its focus to online communications".

    What the #*%&(#% were they doing BEFORE?


    Why, fighting for their right to innovate in the marketplace and anticipate and meet its customer's needs, of course. ;)

    Jay (=
  • The MS spin-monkeys stand up there and say nothing, and the reporters know they're saying nothing, and even lead with the fact that nothing was said.

    And yet, over 50% of the article that results is either repeating or paraphrasing the nothing that was said.

    What this tells me is that MS doesn't need to actually announce anything anymore, they just need to hold an announcement-like event every few weeks, and it will keep their moniker in print. Remember the WinDNA 'announcement'?

    Using Microsoft software is like having unprotected sex.

  • Isn't MSN free in the UK or something? Then why are they raising the price here?

    Most internet service is 'free' in the UK. UK customers get charged a per-minute fee for local calls. ISPs make a deal with the phone company, and get a 'kickback' for the extra billable minutes that the ISP is generating for the phone company. In other words, it's not really free... my typical internet use here in the states would cost me a couple hundred quid... pound's worth more than a buck, so call it, say US$300/month. Take of $100 for 'overhead' (absurd, but it makes the approximations neat) take $100 profit for the phone company and give $100 to the ISP, everybody has goes to a four-star resteraunt for dinner...
    As for why they're raising prices here, I haven't got a clue. Maybe they figure that they can? Stupid. It -will- hurt their marketshare, as long as everyone else stays at $19.95/month.
  • Two words -- "Corel NetWinder". Not exactally less than $1000, but close. If I remember it is a StrongARM 175MHz, 64MB RAM, and 4GB HDD in a little modem sized box. Incl. Ethernet, sound, SVGA video, and maybe modem. Saw these earlier this year running a Caldera Linux distro with KDE. Pretty snazzy.
  • What makes you think Redhat doesn't develop Redhat?! Besides, it's not like they don't also give it away.

    Microsoft's pricing scheme is a wonder of the modern world. The average price of a computer has basically halved in the past two years. Computers are a "complimentary good" to Windows. Also consider that the marginal cost of one more CD of Windows 98 is basically $0.50. Normally when a complimentary good goes down in price and you have the price of the original good go up. But in this case it means that people are acting cheaper. Their price elasticity with respect to computers (at least for the market as a whole), has gone down. This means MS should lower the price of Windows. But it's been at the same price or higher since Win95 came out way back when. It is official policy for things to be this way, but no one seems to know why. Perhaps they'd like to push the more expensive computers on people since they don't notice the price of Windowns then anyway.
  • Isn't MSN free in the UK or something? Then why are they raising the price here?

    Maybe it's to implement all that XML, "a set of
    rules, or a protocol, that enables Web browsers to exploit the same
    information stored in data bases for a variety of commercial transactions
    and information gathering". So I guess if Linux starts to use XML for it's configuration files, you'll only be able to run it through a browser, right? And XML competes with Java? They're not even remotely similar. Idiots.

    ~~~~~~~~~
  • I read this. I scanned it. I read it again. Each time I caught myself nodding off.

    Are these people really this boring? Do they really lack incentive (other than the allmighty dollar)?

    It seems to me that MS has just reached the apex of stagnant. It used to be I would at least raise my eyebrows at some of their ideas for stuff and go "hmmm". But this stuff is just plain boring!

    I think they need to hire Steve Jobs and let him ask the new hires "Are you still a virgin?"

    Linux folks, there ain't a thing to worry about if this is the best Bill and Co. can do.

    -------------------
    Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may be drafted...
  • And "Legos" are supposed to be "Lego bricks and toys (tm)".

    I still call 'em legos. I don't even always capitalize it.
  • When MS itself, believe that it will going to lose in the trial, people sell the stock is a normal action.
  • I heard a newsbite this morning where Ballmer said that "the entire tech industry, including Microsoft, is overvalued in the market". To me, that sounds like an oblique reference to possible lower-than-expected earnings coming up for MS in one of the next quarters. Is the 800-lb about to go on a diet?
    ---
  • I used to be a dev lead on the a MSN team. Yes I worked for the evil empire and since I have run very fast from anything looking like M$ jobs.
    [...]
    Will [MSN] be a success? Yes, anyone can be brainwashed, just look at all the people that use Office.

    Welcome to Salvation Brother! Can I get an "Amen"? :)
  • i think that for microsoft, xml is a tool against java. essentially, more and more ecommerce apps are written in java. since everyone has a java api, java becomes the standard for commerce...this is not good for billborg. xml is a way to stem the tide if everyone uses soap interfaces they'd like ti muc hbetter
  • In a few years, a Network computer may be the only way to connect to certain services. It might be your portal to television, music, and the telephone itself. Don't fool yourself that it necessarily will be an open system.

    Bullshit. Sorry, but I am not going to give up my freedom to have my own machine. The "only way to connect"?!? The only way this could happen is if some type of software/hardware/access consortium had enough clout to FORCE this on people. That's not gonna happen. Would you trust your programs to a telecom? to a cable provider? Both of these industries have horrible customer service reputations, why would you pay $20/month for something you can get for free? I mean really, why?
  • No one knows for sure what Transmeta is doing. We've heard talk about a super-processor.

    Transmeta is preparing to take advantage of the collapse of civilisation due to y2k are are preparing some nice looking stone knives and bearskins in a variety of translucent colours (and of course traditional beige) to keep all those geeks happy.

    dave

  • While reading the article I thought of one paragraph: Anticipating a world in which software will be sold as a service instead of a packaged good, the company said it would re-introduce MSN, shifting its focus to online communications, improved information searching and electronic commerce. I was thinking how several PC vendors on my area had "free" PCs with three year MSN voucher.

    I don't know if I should pity those people for getting locked in with MSN services which will likely face "upgrade fees" or if I should pity those people for not realising that it us happening to them.

  • Actually, if you want to do the job of MS Word, the best Open Source choice would probably be LaTeX. You don't hear too many people talk about LaTeX anymore these days, which is a shame. I guess Open Source word processors like AbiWord are probably stealing its thunder. LyX exists, but since LaTeX doesn't use XML, I guess it isn't as sexy.

    Is anybody out there still using LaTeX on a regular basis? How about LyX?
    ----
  • Ham from a cow? Would that be embrace, extend, scrap in the meat industry?
  • > "Our research shows that as many as 50 percent
    > of AOL members are extremely dissatisfied and
    > would switch to another provider with better and
    > more reliable service," he said.

    > I think it's more along the lines of "50% of AOL
    > realized that AOL sucks, they are no longer
    > newbies, and can do without the constant
    > handholding and advertising."

    or it could be just an old survey. my wife isn't a newbie, has free standard internet access through my job, and hated AOL 6 months ago. now she uses it all the time -- she claims since upgrading to AOL 4, it's a lot faster than it used to be, which was her main complaint.
  • Well, I for one have!

    Only about 3 weeks ago my GF and I bought a Neon - never once did the salesman try to steer us toward leasing a car - all in all, the sale went great, we were able to get our monthly payments below $250, and we even got the _color_ of the car we wanted!

    All in all, a much better experience than I had expected (first time buying a car)...
  • This is another example of computer industry giants crossing their once evangelized lines.

    What I mean by that is... companies that once denounced competitors for believing in theory 'A'.... and heralded theory 'B' as the best (aka their way.) Are now embracing theory 'A' along with theory 'B'

    Lets look at x86 companies vs.... well everyone else =], to be more specific lets say Apple. Intel has ALWAYS been pushing CISC as the way to go, ever since their 8086, this hasn't changed to any great extent until fairly recently. With each new generation of chips they bring in just a little more RISC processing onto the die. While Apple has always (afaik) pushed RISC... the G4 is a RISC chip.... BUT now with the intro of the G4... they have CISC instructions.... a little thing they like to call the Velocity Engine. Just a fancy name for Apple's ver of SSE or MMX type stuff.

    Now Microsoft is doing the same, when Sun and Oracle have been pushin' this "thin client" type deal forever, Microsoft embraces and says HEY ITS OUR IDEA... LOOK AT US.... WE'RE SPECIAL.

    The PR associated with these types of things are always ridiculous.... they claim we were here first, when they never were... and vice versa... I expect to see Sun or Oracle droppin' their thin client ideals soon ;)

    To err is human, to segfault is....
    -Ecc
  • LaTeX is really a typesetting language, not a word processor. It is still widely used for scientific papers because standard word processors have very poor support for equations. Equations need to be typed symbolically, with many macro definitions. A WYSIWYG system only sees equations as a collection of graphical elements. I use LaTeX all the time, even for overhead/slide shows. My ten-year old documents are still editable, and small.
  • No one knows for sure what Transmeta is doing. We've heard talk about a super-processor.

    They are making a translucent electric shaver for men and women in 4 fruity colors (no one likes orange). duh...
    --
  • Well, I've seen beer used a lot as an analogy for software, so let's consider this new orientation using that analogy:

    Beer as a product: you get what you buy: a beer. If it's not fresh, you can return it. You can't return a beer based on its quality, but you can demand to get what you expected.

    Beer as a service: you don't buy the beer, you buy a 'alcoholic beverage drinking experience'. Notice the subjectivity of that. So what if you don't get a buzz? Maybe it's your metabolism, man. What if it ain't what you asked for? Tough luck: they provide a beer drinking experience, and even if what you got isn't what you asked for, it's still what they sell.

    I think Microsoft Beer 1999 is probably difficult to sell as a product. Sometimes it comes without alcohol. Sometimes it spills itself right out of the glass. No wonder they're making it a service instead. Commiting to a service means they put people at your disposition to yell at, with or without solving anything.

    Erm. I think I'm reading too much into this. Hmm, beer...

    "There is no surer way to ruin a good discussion than to contaminate it with the facts."

  • I don't understand how you can say their
    dev tools are overpriced. Have you compared
    the price of Visual C++ to Sun's visual environment?

    I also that that one could argue that MS Office is so expensive because of the capabilities it offers. To my knowledge none of the other Office competitors allow the same extensibility and a simple, unified development language.

    Of course, that's not to say that you can't get the job done with vi/emacs and Perl and all the shell tools.
  • If Microsoft was giving away ham sandwiches, I might be convinced to start liking them as a company.
    I just wanted to hear their sales reps explaining to me how MS Ham was fully compatible with the upcoming Kosher 2.0 standard...

    --
  • Software as service isn't that bad an idea for MS. Somebody told me once that MS's number one competitor was old versions of its own products, which implies to me that in a sense we're already leasing MS software for $200/year, renewable at every other year.

    I think that an NC-style architecture would be a fantastic thing for MS for one other reason as well: bug fixes. As their apps and OSs increase exponentially in size, so do the number of bugs that are introduced. If they go and ship a million CDs with a genuine show-stopper bug on it, they're out God knows how much in money and reputation. With bigger and more complex products, the chances of those bugs remaining hidden throughout testing increase dramatically. Perhaps their Win2K beta testing is starting to bear this out.

    One might argue that in order to fix a CD-shipped product, all MS has to do is announce there's an "update" available via download at http://about-to-crash.microsoft.com, and make sure the fix appears on all new CDs. But when a bug in a highly modularized client-server application is found, the bug fix magically appears the next time the client loads that module. The absolute best part of this paradigm is that there is no need to publicize the bug at all. The NC e-mails the core dump (and keystroke history) back to MS support automagically; MS reads it, builds the patch and installs it on the server with nobody the wiser. Potentially, this could do more for MS's corporate image than releasing bug-free software in the first place. Not only do they not have to do spin anymore, they can start talking about how they're "proactive" and "responsive". Then the people love Microsoft, and they're no longer a monopoly, they're just popular.

    --

  • "Several analysts said that Microsoft would use XML to compete with Sun's Java language in many arenas on the Internet."

    Isn't that kind of like saying "several analysts said that Microsoft would use Office Documents to compete with the C programming language"?

  • by drwiii ( 434 )
    A network computing device from Microsoft? That's not good.

    If it catches on, or manages to somehow "obsolete" the Personal Computer, do you really think big bad Bill will let you run anything except Microsoft software on it?

    If this were any other company I'd have laughed it off.. *cough* Oracle *cough* Sun *cough*.. but Microsoft is one of the few companies with the resources to pull it off.

  • It sounds like they're going into the same space with their little boxes as Sony is with the PlayStation. The difference is that Sony has a massive presence in the consumer electronics industry and MS has none.

    Given Microsoft's past failures to expand their franchise, I don't think we have much to fear. In fact, it'll be interesting to see what happens if MS commits a few billion dollars to this effort and then sees their PC margins shrink in the face of competition from Apple and Linux. Massive spending + declining revenues = serious cash crunch.

    I've been waiting for the right time to buy 'puts' on Microsoft stock. I think it's finally here.

  • Not that there's anything wrong with a good ham sandwich, but if if I'm going to suffer through another microsoft product, I'm holding hout for the pastrami sandiwch. Course, fatty pastrami, and chewy unfiltered beer to wash it down. (And if it doesn't make me belch, it was too mild :)

    hawk, who didn't actually hate windows 95 untilhe had to spend a day using it last month.
  • check out the coverage from the trial. Economicsts who have studied the pricing have estimated that it *is* a monopoly price, or at least is substantially above the market price.

    However, note that there is a single monopoly profit ot be had--the market is for computers running office software, and the same monopoly profit can be extracted from dos, office, or a combination of the two, but the monopoly profit remains the same either way.
  • by jafac ( 1449 )
    I especially liked how he said (sic) that "Yahoo. . . is not customizable."

    He's a bit more outspoken than old Bill was, and a bit more WRONG.

    Besides, just looking at him, I see an orange jumpsuit. Ya think his prison numbers are going to be in hex? Little-endian or big-endian?

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • OK, whenever somebody makes a really cool product that might steal from MS's software revenue stream, what happens?

    MS announces a competing product . . . everybody waits to buy until they can compare the two "competing" products to see which one is better, then MS never has their product materialize.

    This sounds like MS is trying to keep corporate dollars from going to Sun Ray 1 terminals and nifty Sun Ultra Servers . . .

    Or am I way off base?
  • This "softare as service" is something I've been expecting ever since I read the Cathedral and the Bazaar. ESR explains the need for it even more clearly in The Magic Cauldron [tuxedo.org], although he doesn't state that it's useful for proprietary software.

    Read the essay, and note how software as service has the _potential_ to overcome the worst of the defects in the traditional software model.

    Of course, this doesn't allow proprietary SW to overpower free software, but it does remove its greatest instability. Probably the best part of this move is that the need for agressive growth in order to survive will quite likely be removed. MS will be able to stop attacking and still make good money.

    Now, I've analyzed this as a big shot in the arm for proprietary software. And so it is! But it's not bad for free software either, because as more people come to understand that software maintainance is the thing you're paying for, they'll come to understand that the code itself is a weapon in the hands of their enemy only when it's secret.

    I'm very optimistic about this, for both free software and proprietary software. And best of all, for programmers' salaries -- this model change may removed the much-bandied about salary drop that even RMS sees as inevitable because of free software.

    Software users of the world -- UNITE! You have nothing to lose but your chains.

    A discussion of the many ways in which MS can mess this beautiful thing up is, of course, beyond the scope of this editorial. ;-). I'm sure others will cover the problem.

    -Billy

  • No one will ever force you to buy one. PC's will not suddenly be banned when there finally is an alternative available.

    True, but if they're not profitable anymore than no one will make them.

    I wouldn't be at all surprised if the availability of an alternative even caused the prices to drop, which is always a good thing. If big bad Bill want's to sell a NC, but makes it impossible for non MS software to run on it, his NC will fail to compete with other NC's that do not pose such restrictions.

    Microsoft's track record (and Intel's for that matter) proves that people will often buy what is cheaper over what is better. Because M$ would be making the hardware and the only software that could run on it, it could sell the NC at rock-bottom prices that absolutely no one else is in any position to match (except possibly Apple, but they won't do it).

    It would make as little sense as making windows for microsoft apps only.

    I'm sure they're working on it. There's already the hidden API.
  • A network computing device from Microsoft? That's not good.
    No one will ever force you to buy one. PC's will not suddenly be banned when there finally is an alternative available. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the availability of an alternative even caused the prices to drop, which is always a good thing. If big bad Bill want's to sell a NC, but makes it impossible for non MS software to run on it, his NC will fail to compete with other NC's that do not pose such restrictions. It would make as little sense as making windows for microsoft apps only.
    Why should you care what a company you boycott sells to other people?
  • How about not a monthly fee, but a fee for each time you use a product? It would be absolutely brilliant for games, which I buy (I refuse to steal software, no matter how easy it is), play a lot for a few weeks, and then never again. Or a commercial spreadsheet or wordprocessor, which I only need a few times a month (emacs is a horrible editor to write lab reports in (-; and don't tell me I really should learn how to customize it. I really should learn how to speak Japanese too).


    If the revival of the dumb terminal catches on, thew OS that runs on it is not going to be windows 2000, so the playing field will be more level in that area. Perhaps some company will even make linux-client terminals?
  • If they make the box on something like a Dreamcast or PlayStation2, and you can "do" things via whatever ROM-based programs you have, then it's still "useful" if your netconnection isn't up.

    I think you miss the boat on MS & XML. The problem isn't that MS is using XML. It's that all MS is using XML for is to store ActiveX controls within MS XML documents. Great, but not if you're not using a MS XML document viewer (IE5 or Office2K), because you don't have an environment for the ActiveX control to run [amok] in.

  • Does that mean people will be 'renting' or 'leasing' software from Microsoft now? Granted, it's already happening in the corporate world, but will that move to the home and small-business markets, too? That seems like a strange move.

    What I don't understand is why people still charge for software when other people give away hardware for signing up with an ISP or what-have you.

    I would think that software is less likely than hardware to be considered a commodity. Insert standard line about the cost of replicating hardware versus the cost of copying software here. On the other hand, Microsoft doesn't sell much hardware, and their support doesn't seem worth the price to home users.

    Not that home users account for much revenue there, but the NY Times article did talk about MSN....

    --
    QDMerge [rmci.net] 0.21!
  • Microsoft may no longer have "a dogmatic commitment to the PC platform" but the PC platform has a dogmatic commitment to Microsoft. And that platform is going the way of all flesh.

    Intel ain't gonna make no more. They've got a whole bunch of new toys they want us to buy and if we're not paying a tithe to Redmond, it means we can afford to spend more on those toys. Intel wants to change partner and is dancing with a Penguin on its new 64 bit ballroom. Motorola's happy with that too.

    I suspect we'll see MS go the way DRI did when the Z80 and 8-bit machines got supplanted by the 8086, 68000 and the 16 bit machines...

    The war for 16 bits on the desktop was won by Intel and Microsoft Windows against Motorola and the Apple GUI based on their existing pre-eminence in the business market (No manager ever got fired for recommending IBM and then for saving some corporate bucks by recommending IBM compatible.)

    The 32-bit skirmishes are now coming to a close with Intel and MS hanging on but with Motorola and Apple still very much in fighting trim.

    But now that the x86 architecture is hitting the wall and the PPC chips are crawling up the evolutionary ladder with gigaflop machines with 128-bit wide AltiVec straight out of the Apple boxes. ... Expect a change ...

    Intel doesn't want to put a hundred more billion dollars in anybody else's pocket but their own. Neither does Motorola.

    Result? Look for the Free Software Foundation to get some major funding "slid under the door" until it starts to look like a P.A.C.

    (You heard the prognostication here first! :-)
  • The company called the new approach its "everyday Web" strategy and, in a complete turnabout, said it no longer had a dogmatic commitment to the PC platform.

    What? This is the same company that dropped the Alpha from its NT2k build. Hmm. No commitment to the Intel world. Baloney. What a load of crock. I guess we could interpret this as to mean something web-centric not PC-centric? Hasn't this been tried many times before (the laughable NC) and failed each time? Sorry. This is insane. When will these "bright" companies wisen up and figure out that we don't want these stupid NCs. In two words, they suck. No control is given to the user at all with these boxes. They have their places, but it is not on my desktop (no matter what Ellison thinks).

    About XML, I've worked with it before. It is servicable. But, the key idea behind XML is that everyone HAS to use it in order for it to succeed. I have sincere doubts about that. Microsoft's entering in to this arena makes it even more dubious that it will succeed on its own merits (or lack thereof).

    Justin
  • Wow, kudos to Mary Joe Foley for her well written response.

    And she's right. There's an interesting comparison that can be drawn between restructuring for perceived market value (MSN) versus doing it out of, well, desperation.. (SGI) SGI is making huge strides and sweeping changes to their company, their rebuild is an all-content, no BS move. MSN is more la-la land nonsense.

    To paraphrase someone from SGI recently, the market punishes lack of focus. MSN is nothing more than a continuation of M$'s strategy to get their BRAND in front of everyone. It doesn't really have to work or provide value to accomplish its goal. In other words, MSN, as a company, has no focus. So, they'll continue to be punished. I personally doubt that this matters much to M$, tho.:)

    --
    Blue
  • But the reason that MSFT has all the office revenue is because they own the platform on which it runs. So long as they hold on to their OS monopoly, they can introduce OS updates that kill off competitors products (Remember:"DOS isn't done until Lotus won't run"?).

    They don't guage the public by charging "monopoly prices" on the OS... they treat the OS as a "loss-leader" in order to sell their overpriced Office-Suites and Development Tools, not to mention NT Client Access licenses.

    Office, which is a business necessity, suffers from no reasonable competition, so it floats on HUGE profit margins. In areas where MS has competition, their products are priced substantially below the competition (SQL Server vs. Oracle 8i)///

    I KNOW! Linux is free and blah blah blah, but really. I work in a huge company, and the only plans that I've heard for possible Linux use are in Server applications (DNS, EMAIL, possibly intranet) and is most definetly not headed for desktops anytime soon.
  • That's hodgepodge. Redhat charges $50 for a product they spend NOTHING to develop. MSFT charges $50 to top-tier OEM's, and they've spent much more than the zero figure of redhat, even if it all goes to purchasing companies and licensing technologies they didn't develop.

    Apple charges $100 for an OS upgrade. NT is $250. Unixware, Solaris, and OpenServer are even more. BeOS, i think hovers in the $60 range.... The OS is priced low solely to give MSFT an advantage in the applicataion space.
  • Two problems with this story:

    • It's by John Markoff
    • There's a MS ad off to the right (at least when I read it)

    Not the most credible thing in the world, even coming from the NYT.

  • You're right about one thing: the place for NCs is not on your desktop. It's in your car, in your house, in your refrigerator, in your TV set, in your alarm system, in your pocket, in your eyeglasses, and eventually in your brain.

    Face it, baby: the death of box-sized $1000 computers is nearing, and before you know it, speaking about a computer as separate from the network will be an anachronism. No matter what you (or Larry) want.
  • You see, the commitment isn't "dogmatic", it's "pragmatic". It was just too darn hard to keep it limping along on the more modern architectures. Nothing dogmatic about it.

  • In case people don't know this, Windows (all versions included) is not M$'s primary source of revenue. That would be their Office suite, which accounts for 40% of that very large pie.
  • "Our research shows that as many as 50 percent of AOL members are extremely dissatisfied and would switch to another provider with better and more reliable service," he said.

    I think it's more along the lines of "50% of AOL realized that AOL sucks, they are no longer newbies, and can do without the constant handholding and advertising."

    Also I still think NC's are a bad idea. We already have mainframes on our desktop (at a a grand a pop), why go back to dumb terminals? Unless they can sell them for $100 (which, BTW, you can get a full computer for, with rebates) and have full servic^H^H^H^H^Hprograms for $20/month it will never fly.

    Does anyone else see bad decisions forced by a slight sense of panic? Market leaders don't have to innovate to stay ahead, they can lag and then buy. "Push" technology part two. The bandwidth isn't here for this stuff yet, and won't be for probably another generation. I (and my mom with my advice) will NOT buy a network computer.
  • Don't be too sure Apple wouldn't do it. Apple has been very interested in the network computer idea. The iMac, in fact, is thought to be a repackaged failed network computer design. It even identifies itself on the network when searching for a netboot server as "MacNC". Also, Oracle is very interested in network computers, and Elison(sp?) is not only on Apple's BoD, but is known to be good friends with Jobs. It isn't all that difficult to imagine a joint Apple/Oracle network computer project.

    So if MS does move into this market, there might well be competition. Not just from (possibly) Apple, but from set top boxes, things like the iToaster, and Sun's Java computers.

    --
  • Please take the following comments for what they are, speaking from the perspective of an independant developer.

    Unlike a large majority of the users here, I'm not totally against microsoft. For me, they've done quite a bit, made computing easy for the average user. This has created a huge market for independant developers, and MS has to some degree catered to developers (the documentation on MSDN is an amazing resource for any serious Win32 developer).

    Perhaps one of the primary reasons (aside from the market share) that I've continued to target the Win32 platform is microsoft's ability to negate the NC concept at every turn. Obviously they've done this for their own benefit, to protect their PC market, which is also the market that independant developers target.

    I can only wonder if MS realizes the implications of changing it's focus away from PCs. The only reason windows is where it is is due to software. An OS is nothing without software, and contrary to what MS believes, they cannot develop it all themselves.

    I really have to wonder if they're serious, because if they are, I envision a mass exodus of developers from the windows platform. I know I will be among the first, as I've already started analyzing alternate operating systems for server applications.

    All I really want is a real IDE for Linux/BSD.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 24, 1999 @09:08AM (#1662115)
    I recently attended a Microsoft seminar, and I was impressed, but not with the software, or the technology they offered. It was the same old warmed over crap they've been foisting on consumers for years.

    What really impressed me, though, is that even though it was not a part of the presentations, it seemed very obvious to me that Microsoft is obsessed with buying, partnering, or stealing the very source code of society, the cultural content known as "information".

    Make an encyclopedia with multimedia galore, but with articles that aren't worth a crap? Go buy content from someone else, customize it a bit, dolly it up with video and sound, and voila, Encarta 2000.

    Can't make maps worth a damn? Buy one of those companies. Your previous thesaurus was a waste of time? Pay for a new one! Got a rotten, poorly organized book of quotations? Buy another! News and information service isn't worth a damn? Hey, partner with a giant, well-respected network. Financial information not drawing any good reviews? To hell with it, copy what Q does and spend, spend, spend to enhance it! People love going in droves to ebay? Make a clone!

    Then, when you've done all this, embed web links into everything pointing back to where? Microsoft, of course!

    Maybe they'll drive enough traffic that they'll make a fortune on advertising, but frankly, from what I've seen, when this all comes together, they'll have people lining up at the gates to sign up for subscriptions for the content they're gathering. Think I'm wrong? They got 40,000 idiots to subscribe to Slate , for crying out loud!

    When they put this all together and get it running, software will be nothing more than a tool that you use to access your Microsoft Information (tm), and people will expect it to be free, without remembering the $29.95 they're paying ($44.95 for the Plus! edition, or $59.95 for the Deluxe Edition) for it every month.

    I don't know about the corporation as a whole, but at least one part of Microsoft has a strategy that is, for much as it is disturbing, quite compelling as well. Yet for all the potential genius in the scheme, I doubt they'll pull it off.

    Saurentine (don't have my password handy at the moment.)

  • by Thomas Charron ( 1485 ) <twaffle@gma i l .com> on Friday September 24, 1999 @08:23AM (#1662116) Homepage
    Their idea of a NC is funny to me.. 'Windows Terminals' as they called them, with 'Windows Terminal Server'. Brand new technology, they called it. Cheaper end computers, as they are simply stipped computers with Monitors and a keyboard..

    I'm feel like I've seen this before..

    Oh wait.. THAT'S X-Windows.. ;-P

    Wow, X-Windows is NEW? Who woulda known, I coulda sworn it's been around for YEARS.. ;-P
  • by Sabalon ( 1684 ) on Friday September 24, 1999 @08:30AM (#1662117)
    Well, I've played with an Oracle NC and it was terrible.

    However, MS has the software to get it done...and if they don't they could buy it.

    If MS really pushed a NC to the business world as a cheap thing to put on everyones desk, I wonder what that would do to back-end servers. Right now a Linux box can sit behind a windows network just fine because of things like Samba.

    But what happens when a MS NC is just a windows terminal...then that pretty much means the server behind it needs to be an NT server. And once one NT server gets in the door, many IS shops will just move everything to NT for the interoperability.

    Another way for MS to make sure people buy NT?
    Or am I just getting paranoid from too much /. :)
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Friday September 24, 1999 @08:08AM (#1662118)
    Sounds like Microsoft got a good kick in their complacency courtesy of Linux. The trial really shook things up in the industry.. and there's now evidence emerging that M$ is rapidly losing ground.

    This is a subtle move by Microsoft to move itself in a position to take advantage of the "alternative OS" marketplace should it's primary source of revenue collapse. They may sell bad software, but they're not stupid - they know the marketplace inside out. Am I suprised? No. But I'm still not going to buy "winux 2005".

    --

  • by chromatic ( 9471 ) on Friday September 24, 1999 @09:31AM (#1662119) Homepage

    The real value of information is the organization of that information.

    Yes, there are millions of websites out there. Yes, there are probably dozens of them with information relating to what I want to know at any given moment. Now how do I find them? (Substitute 'websites' with whatever you prefer.)

    THAT will be the killer application and the killer service to provide -- not generating new information nor providing access to it, but helping people find and use it.

    I think the OSS community had that in hand a long time ago. Would you rather sit on the phone for four hours to talk to a low-paid support technician who might be able to send a bug report to a Bug Report Engineer who might have met a programmer once on the line, or would you rather read the kernel-dev archives?

    If information is free, then the ability to find the information you want is invaluable.

    --
    QDMerge [rmci.net] 0.21!
  • by Flak ( 55755 ) on Friday September 24, 1999 @08:26AM (#1662120) Homepage
    I used to be a dev lead on the a MSN team. Yes I worked for the evil empire and since I have run very fast from anything looking like M$ jobs. But hey it looks real good on my resume. When I was there, signs hung in the all above machines with AOL accounts setup stating "Know Your Enemy" I did, we all did. Anything that was not Microsoft. Not just AOL but the whole world. The need of M$ to be the top of what they do is amazing. These are people that where the top of the class over-achievers all there life's. I know I am one too. It is very hard to have a few hundred of these type of people working together, egos clash, but you know what? EVERY PRODUCT WAS THE BEST THAT COULD BE DONE. JD Powers thought so, naming MSN the best ISP for service etc. I believe that the guys there will get their shit straight and deliver a good product. What the world does not know is MSN is part of M$ not M$. The idea of service is top concern on the minds of the brass within MSN. Now as I think back, would I do it again? Fuck no. Will I ever again, fuck no. Will MSN be a power on the net? Maybe. Will MSN innovate fast enough to match the rest of the worlds needs. I doubt it. Will this little box work? The public wants it. What does M$ and it's divisions/subsitararies do best? Give people what they THINK they want. Will it be a success? Yes, anyone can be brainwashed, just look at all the people that use Office.
  • by sterwill ( 972 ) on Friday September 24, 1999 @08:29AM (#1662121) Homepage
    If Microsoft was giving away ham sandwiches, I might be convinced to start liking them as a company. Of course, my shift in opinion rests on the assumption that the mayonnaise will not be rancid, the ham isn't really from a cow, and I won't be forced to upgrade to larger mustard packets half-way through my meal.

    Remember, you is what you am; a cow don't make ham.

    --
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Friday September 24, 1999 @06:43PM (#1662122)
    I thought "Me Too!" was a service mark of AOL. Micorsoft is probably going to find themselves in court again over this one....

    Seriously, this whole thing is funny as Hell. After all the bullturf about how innovative Micorsoft is and what a visionary Bill Gates is, a single announcement from Sun makes them stop on a dime and announce a new vision setting the company off in a direction 179 degrees away from where they've been headed since... since... since last time this happened. With all the visionaries, futurists, seers, shamans, astrologers, and hinge-with-butt-straps designers on board, why do they always let someone else announce The Next Big Thing (TM) first?

    The only thing that could make this richer would be for Sun to come out tomorrow and say "Just Kidding!"

  • by meersan ( 26609 ) on Friday September 24, 1999 @08:40AM (#1662123) Homepage
    Top 10 Surprises in Microsoft's New Internet Strategy

    10) Competitors now to be broiled in lemon butter before being swallowed whole
    9) Software will be offered as services, due Microsoft's stellar performance in the service department
    8) Windows refund requests to be considered by an additional layer of management before being rejected
    7) Brand-new innovative network computing device bears no resemblance whatsoever to Sun's network computing devices
    6) Windows2000 slogan announced -- Windows2000: Not Just the Kitchen Sink
    5) Bill Gates' charitable contributions not directly tied to Microsoft's PR engine
    4) Plan to increase worker productivity by allowing play of Civ:CTP during coffee breaks
    3) Plan to dock all workers playing Linux version of Civ:CTP during said coffee breaks
    2) Customers who sign up for 3 years of MSN to get free PC, rebate, small Carribean island
    1) There's a strategy!

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