Sunday, March 02, 2008

That Whistling Sound

Some weeks you just feel like Wile E. Coyote, beat up and dazed at the bottom of a canyon you just crash landed onto, wavering back and forth in the swirling dust while new knots grow out of your head and little concussion spirals spin above your black and blue eyes. And there's a shadow. A shadow that's growing bigger and bigger around you, and you wonder, where did that new Acme anvil get to, anyway, and what's that whistling sound?

Time to pop up the little umbrella.

That's what last week sort of felt like to me. Fines. Stock beat to hell and back. Incriminating emails showing up in the Vista incapable lawsuit. The Yahoo acquisition stumbling forward against the better judgment of the world. Friggin' bugs in the review tool that causes feedback to disappear in the HR IT bit-bucket (hello, we have this neato homegrown technology called Word which tends not to lose things). OOXML on the ropes. Live-ID sign-in offline. Crap.

Fine, just fine: Shortly after the Steve / Brad / Ray show of all the new documentation we're unleashing on the world, the EU found that wallet they'd been feeling for as they groped us and slapped Microsoft with another big huge fine.

Dolores Umbrid- err, Neelie Kroes on this: "Talk, as you know, is cheap; flouting the rules is expensive, so to say. We don't want talk and promises, we want compliance. If you flout the rules you will be caught, and it will cost you dear."

To which she added, her eyes blazing in Steve Ballmer's direction, "I drink your milkshake!" Quickly followed by an email to SteveB of a photo of her cat sitting on a wad of euros, captioned "I'm in ur profitz, stealin' ur cash."

Intel certainly should be worried, too, having had an EU raid on a European office recently. And Google shouldn't be too smug either: Microsoft Is The EU's ATM Machine - And Google Is Next - Seeking Alpha. If you're #1 in something and not entwined around the success of an European partner / partner ecosystem, your butt is next to be hoisted upside down and shook until a few billion pop out.

And while I'm not going to go all Hank Reardon here and get upset about documenting how our particular kind of industrial steel works, I am having negative tit-for-tat protectionist reactions. I'm human: my company is bleeding fines - fines we'll pay especially given the Yahoo in-play factor - and nary a word from the US government saying, "Hey, whoa, we'd like some of that cash to stay local here." And don't get me started about fairness. This is international economic political reality, which is about as far from fair as you can get, although all sides can certainly enshroud themselves in the mien fairness as they speak their piece.

My expectation is, just like Windows XP N, a lot of this will just go unused. I mean, I guess if I go to Hell one of the first punishments will be "Here's the Exchange protocol documentation. Please write a server that works against this protocol." Probably followed by something much, much worse, "Here's the Sharepoint protocol doc-" "No! Just gut me or do something with fire ants and a poker already!"

I can only hope that the cash goes to something useful at the end of the day. You know, something better than ill-advised acquisitions, SPSA pay-outs, and hiring lots and lots of more Microsofties to do less and less. Hmm. Perhaps I could warm up to these fines.

Who said what? And they're still employed? Ah, email discovery. What's the point in having an ass if it you can't do something that comes around and gets your squarely bit in said ass? Some of those email exchanges I already kind of expected, but the one about possible collusion with Intel to support their chipset? Double d'oh with an oy-vey on top.

Busted. This is where you reach for the wallet (if you can evade Ms. Kroes sticky fingers on an interception route) and just pay-up. In my opinion, we screwed up here, badly. God forbid if any of those friggin' Vista Capable stickers showed up in the EU...

Rewarding: so how was the Microsoft Technical Recognition Awards in La Quinta, CA this year? I still don't know why they need to go all the way the hell down to California for the technical semi-Partner achievement getaway. Oh, wait, getaway. And hey, didn't the Watson guys win last year, too? Sorry, but with everything going on and the stock down on the low end of $27, more weenies and less shrimp for the SPSA crowd would be mighty nice.

Silverlight lining: I can only hope that some good will and interesting results come out of Mix08 and our own Tech Fest. The last two Tech Fest have been really interesting for me. This one I don't have as high hopes for, having gone through the initial list, but that leaves the door for me to be pleasantly surprised.

Anyway, after this week, you've got to wonder: can it get any worse?

What's that whistling sound?


132 comments:

Anonymous said...

What about the positive news this week? On Feb 27th Steve Ballmer launched Windows Server 2008/Visual Studio 2008/SQL Server 2008. The latter available in the fall.

Didn't get much press but here's the link:
http://www.microsoft.com/heroeshappenhere/

paulsc@exmsft.com said...

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a great UI from Windows Mobile anytime soon. In 2003, years before I joined Microsoft as a developer on the Windows Client Performance Team, I ported an open source version of OpenGL to the MS Smartphone and wrote a 3D program launcher, which I called the Navicube, mapping the home screen and start menus onto a cube you could manipulate with the D-pad. You can launch any program you like, do some work and return to the Navicube just by pressing the Back button. Showing the UI actually working on the phone is still good for a free latte from hip kids at coffeehouses in downtown Seattle. It's cool and I get 35 frames per second from a software-rasterized OpenGL implementation (double this on XScale).

I demonstrated this to some senior folks at MED in late 2003, who thought it consisted of animated GIFs (they had no idea what OpenGL was). One of the more visionary marketing people bought it to use as a demo, but none of the real decision makers ever did anything with it.

Now, I'm sure somebody must be working on some cool stuff somewhere over there, but consumers certainly won't see it on the street until around 2010. Meanwhile, the iPhone SDK comes out this week and Apple will be on the third or fourth version of their device by the time MS has anything cool out there.

Working at Microsoft was one of the best experiences of my life, and there are lots of superb developers there, but the lack of visionary thinking and willingness to take risks, particularly in user interface development, is manifest.

Anonymous said...

Right, and then there was the royal screw up of leap day. Yes, I know it hasn't shipped, but...

Besides, I'm counting down my final days. It was a fun ride, but between the Vista Capable stuff, bringing Yahoo! on board (instead of fixing the management problems that have led some of the smartest people in the world not to be able to catch up), and a myriad of other things, I'm glad to be hitting the door. I really thought I could help bring change, I thought I could make a difference, and I realized as I should have that the only difference I'll make is bring at home more with my family.

And to further the email/Yahoo comment - if some of our top people felt helpless to be able to stop the Vista Capable stickers, how effective can our engineers be at trying to push for change to get us on top? Until we break that, I can't imagine bringing Yahoo! on board will help (unless we do decided to spin them off, or stay hands off of them).

I will miss reading the blog - something tells me that once I'm gone I won't be staying in tune that often.

Anonymous said...

Mini,

You forgot about all the Leap Year Bugs announced on Friday and Saturday: SQL, Exchange...

I work in the field, so my understanding of the build process is considerably less than many of the folks in Redmond. But, even if I had zero knowledge of it, it seems that dates would be handled by some DLL. Does the DLL need to go through that much change in every version so as to even risk these bugs resurfacing? Or is someone just protecting their job?

Microsoft is starting to remind me of the old Soviet Union.

--Your job is to make 100 lbs of screws today.

--Hmmm, making 10,000 screws is tedius. Maybe I will just make ten 10lb screws.

--Looks like you've met your quota; you can go home now.

Anonymous said...

Mini Said: "To which she added, her eyes blazing in Steve Ballmer's direction, "I drink your milkshake!" Quickly followed by an email to SteveB of a photo of her cat sitting on a wad of euros, captioned "I'm in ur profitz, stealin' ur cash."

C'mon Mini. Gimme a break. Your mind is rationalizing Microsoft behavior over the last 25 years as if it was some kind of Charlie Brown and that mean ole' Lucy just pulled the football away from the kick. As if Microsoft did not deserve any of it.

You deleted my last comment on this thread so as to not point out the truth. Microsoft is in denial, serious withdrawal of some serious corporate anti-customer behavior. AS I SAID in the post you deleted, I am looking forward to a new administration that will finally do to Microsoft what should have been done during the DOJ suit. A Standard Oil style monopoly breakup. Maybe I'm rationalizing too, but seriously, you need a reality injection and if dropping the anvil is what it takes, well, . . .

Anonymous said...

other good news:

https://downloads.channel8.msdn.com/

and Win7 builds are looking incredible!

Anonymous said...

I also think Server 08 & VS 08 are great stuff (LINQ especially). It makes me wonder why the groups who are quiet and do good work don't seem to get the credit that groups who promise too much and underdeliver seem to get. Did anyone ever use Avalon or Indigo?

Oh yeah, I agree with the person who said the EU mess and all of the Vista experience is all because of Jim Allchin. (I wa sin his building but left COSD last year but was on 2000, XP, Server 03, XP SP2, and Vista to the bitter end.)

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, things will get even more interesting in terms of burning cash.

There are rumours surfacing that say that Microsoft is planning a build out of massive data centers around the world. According to one rumor 12 million sq foot data center space is planned!.

I wonder how much that would cost?
I am pretty sure the fine paid would have been beter used towards that goal. But then their is plenty more where that came from.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, except that a few hours before that announcement, the EU folks rained on the parade by announcing the humongous fine -- drowning out the celebrations from the SteveB show in LA.

It would be poetic justice to find out that the EU somehow colluded with MSFT competitors while planning the timing of that fine - particularly if that were somehow illegal.

Anonymous said...

Whining for help from the same source that found you guilty of anti-trust violations - that's the US government, in case you don't remember - is a bit of a stretch, don't you think?

I notice that you didn't quote Neelie on the fact that this is the first time in fifty years that a company has been fined for non-compliance with a decision? Other companies are smarter than that...

Anonymous said...

On the Vista (in)capable debacle. I have purchased a few months ago a low end Acer laptop which came with Vista installed on it.

It was enough to turn the laptop on to see that it could not run Vista. It pained just to start up. I couldn't watch a sample video without the machine getting to its knees, and the video playback wasn't smooth at all. Anything (like opening a folder or Internet Explorer) felt excruciatingly slow on that thing.

My wife and I wondered what the hell was wrong with whoever decided to put Vista on that thing. It lasted for like a week, then we reformatted the hard drive. I bet there's a good number of people for whom that happened.

I am not going to waste my time trying to file a lawsuit for this. But I feel completely cheated. I paid for a Vista license which I can not use. The $100 (probably way less because the laptop itself was $500...) or so I could get for this is not worth my time. But nonetheless, I have been sold something that is obviously unusable. Whose fault is that? Acer? Microsoft? Mine?

I am considering this to be my fault: I should never have agreed to buy Vista, especially on a low end machine.

I have Vista Ultimate on one of my desktops, which is a high end machine (8GB RAM, Quad Core). Performance is OK there, but I am in for quite a few other surprises:
- the "Ultimate Extras" thing turned out to be a scam (nothing of interest published in 14 months now since release)
- I still get a BSOD every 2 weeeks or so (it got better since last November, I used to see them much more frequently). I don't remember the last time I got a BSOD with XP
- still no Vista drivers for my Microsoft fingerprint reader
- I still find the UI ugly and less functional than XP, I thought I would get over that after getting used to it

Anyhow, there's an OS that has been around for more than a year now, is still extremely buggy and driver poor. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

I am not holding my breath for windows 7. My wife has switched to the Mac. I'm still on Windows and will probably be on it for quite a while, but not happy about it.

I really wish Microsoft would get its act together and make the next version of Windows decent. Decent would be great, I'll settle for that. Nothing fancy, just make it stable and operational once again. With Vista, it looks like all the focus went on the bells and whistles, which ironically was outdone by Beryl on Linux (I can't really switch to linux, I wish I could, the videos I see of Beryl make me really say "wow", while Vista really doesn't).

Anonymous said...

That whistling sound is Ballmer and friends whistling past the graveyard. Someday when Microsoft's history is being written, these guys will finally be recognized as one of the worst managements in corporate America. If these guys were running a company without Microsoft's monopoly cash cows, they'd have been out of business a long time ago and no one would remember their names.

Stevo said...

I found johnkalk's emails quite enlightening...I have known him when he was our OEM contact into MS and quite like the guy...he was left trying to solve the problem and break the news to HP that Intel had stuffed them and the consumer.

I do think that is bad as it ruins consumer trust in MS (and Intel). At least HP comes out ok...there was no smoking comment in the email like 'we agreed to add 10% more black to the consolas font and spit the extra ink revenue 50-50".

As for EU, I dont think it was pure greed. Look at what they've done for cross-EU cellphone roaming charges. It's more the commissioners want MS and google (and historically IBM) to do what they are told, and cant bear the fact that for a US company, obeying the EU governments is optional.

Anonymous said...

What's all about OOXML on the ropes, then?

Anonymous said...

"On Feb 27th Steve Ballmer Launched Windows Server 2008/Visual Studio 2008/SQL Server 2008"?

The word "launch" is used rather loosely by us these days. SQL Server 2008 is not ready - and will not be for a few months and yet we go ahead and "launch" it - this one is a joke.

From the official data platform blog:

"Microsoft is excited to deliver a feature complete CTP during the Heroes Happen Here launch wave and a release candidate (RC) in Q2 calendar year 2008, with final Release to manufacturing (RTM) of SQL Server 2008 expected in Q3"

Mike Landers said...

Sorry, but this isn't US vs the EU - I have the distinct impression that the EU stepped in precisely because the US Government didn't do the right thing. The EU would generally acquiese in such matters but it isn't really in the business of doing deals unless a deal has already been done elsewhere. Microsoft got fined, and haven't paid up. The EU has a habit of hitting people like that very hard indeed. Microsoft really has to understand that it is not dealing with the US business or government culture - if some bright spark in Seattle thinks they'll get that fine reduced, then they are in for a heck of a shock.

You really can't afford to annoy the people in charge of a continent of 250 million people and getting bigger. Microsoft kept yanking at the lions tail and eventually it turned round and had a snap back. Also, there are strong Open Source movements in various countries gaining ground and part of their arsenal is The Big Bad Microsoft From the Big Bad United States against Little Linux From Local Norweige.

Having said that, I do agree that there will be a bit of protectionism involved. But no more than if the tables were turned and if any company is going to be protected by its Government, I very, very much doubt it will be Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the email retention policy enforcement? These emails should never have seen the light of day now!

Anonymous said...

"Other companies are smarter than that..."

In fairness, other companies weren't being forced to divulge the intimate details of their technology while appealing the initial decision - a bell that couldn't easily be unrung later had the appeal been successful.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what percentage of the "100 million Vista licenses" moved in the first year were placed on machines with sub par chipsets or drivers ?

I wonder how many are still installed on same ?

Anonymous said...

To date, this is your best post. You could always quit your day job and work for The Daily Show . . .

Anonymous said...

>"Having said that, I do agree that there will be a bit of protectionism involved."

The DOJ slap on the wrist to Microsoft earlier in this decade was for all practical purposes protectionism by the Bush Administration from a disgraced DOJ head told to make it so.

The bottom line is that Microsoft divisions would be rolling in profits and doing quite well thank you very much if the company had broken itself up, sold off its monopolistic divisions, made them stand on their own.

Now what is likely to happen in lieu of that failure is a demand by international governments to open source all the formats that have destroyed a healthy competitive software industry for more than twenty years now.

Anonymous said...

News flash for Stevo: For a US company doing business in the EU, obeying the EU governments is not optional.

You think you can just ignore their decisions? You want the EU to seize Microsoft's EU bank accounts? You want to see the heads of Microsoft Europe in jail? They can do it. They have both the right and the power.

Wake up. If you're playing in the EU, you're playing by their rules.

MSS

Anonymous said...

Personal opionion, mini: I think you should stay away from commmenting on ongoing litigation. Otherwise, carry on with voicing what most people won't/can't. :)

Anonymous said...

For all the EU fanbois out there, a couple of data points and some advice.

1.) The EU is absolutely engaged in rampant protectionism and is currently addicted to the $1 billion a year income stream they extort out of Microsoft. Of couse Airbus' behavior by contrast is lilly white pure - riiiiggght...

2.) Any poor bastards involved in EU related documentation efforts know how much of a rat-f*ck the exercise is. If the EU really wanted to accomplish some kind of interoperability it would have been a good idea to have someone other than the technically-declined monkies over in Brussels come up with the plan.

3.) Neelie Kroes was caught on tape making a Freudian slip that it was her intent to reduce Microsoft's market share to less than 50% in Europe. Tell me that sentiment doesn't smack of flagrant protectionism.

4.) If you peel back the covers of what the EU has attempted to extort from Microsoft (oops I mean legally demanded as is their sovereign right....) they basically want us to turn the keys of the kingdom(s) over to Samba, mySQL, OpenLDAP, OpenSSL, etc... Of course the EU technocrats will claim this is all in the name of "interoperability", but their drivel boils down to expropriating our technical work to a bunch of open source goons working in the EU. Why do you think Office is next in the target sights? Gotta prop up OpenOffice now as well..

5.) And my partheon shot - for all of you that love the EU so much, do the rest of us a favor. Turn in your American passport, move to the EU, and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out. Send us a postcard on how the tax rates over there work out for 'ya.

Anonymous said...

Normally I find myself agreeing with almost everything you say (and I'm watching from within MSFT); but I think you're a little hard on Neelie Kroes. She is not some rabid Euro-socialist crashing down on US Captialism. In fact she is an experienced businesswomen, herself, and sits on the Boards of Nedlloyd shipping, Lucent technology and several other multinational companies; as well she is (or at least, was) the chairperson of the Nyenrode Business School. The thing about removing WMP was plain silly, yes - but if the EU fines Microsoft, it is because we did not play by the rules. There's no deception or trickery involved. We screwed up, and we get fined. I speak as a MSFT shareholder and employee of (well over) 10 years.

Anonymous said...

Silverlight is going to get some kind of bump this summer thanks to that NBC Olympics deal but overall I'm still not seeing it getting traction among developers who aren't already using Microsoft tools. MS's Expression tools are pathetic compared to what else is out there and I don't know a single person in the UI design industry who is currently using any of them, not even for places that are doing only Windows development.

5.) And my partheon shot - for all of you that love the EU so much, do the rest of us a favor. Turn in your American passport, move to the EU, and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out. Send us a postcard on how the tax rates over there work out for 'ya.

We can't, thanks to stupid protectionist hiring laws on both sides of the Atlantic. I'm still looking at Hong Kong. Low taxes and socialized healthcare.

Anonymous said...

What's sad is, where does OpenOffice get all its ideas? That's right. Once the EU is done castrating Microsoft, we can look forward to a good long period in which zero innovation happens in office suites.

In the meantime I'll love my copy of Office 2007 extra hard, and softies you should be proud that you brought this baby to market.

Anonymous said...

Vista Capable debacle:

Do we need anymore proof that Microsoft is (and probably always has been) a marketing company - NOT an Engineering company. When the most Senior Engineer (alchin) is left out of the loop on a important executive engineering decision and then just caves (saying "I trust you..."). The Marketing guys are trying to cover their collective a** to the COO. And the CEO is so ignorant about the whole mess to suggest Jon Shirley use Windows Update to get a new hardware driver? Heck even Shirley knew to try the manufacturer websites for the new driver. Who wears the pants in this family?

"I LOVE this company!, Yeah..."

Righto Steve.

And the stock price keeps the stock holders coming back for more of your ignorant love.

Shachar Shemesh said...

To Anonymous: Wow. So how DOES the kool aid taste?

Anonymous said:
1.) ... couse Airbus' behavior by contrast is lilly white pure - riiiiggght...

As far as I know, Airbus is not a monopoly. I may be wrong here, and I certainly don't know a thing about the behavior you attribute to them. Some anti-competitive acts are illegal for a non-monopolist to do too, but the bar is so much higher for monopolies, that enforcing those rules against non-monopolies is only done in extreme cases. If Airbus is not a monopoly, it can legally do things that Microsoft are not allowed, by law, to do. Of course, if they are not a monopoly, it would be a horrible business decision to do them. That is precisely what anti-trust law is intended to protect against.

Anonymous also said:
3.) Neelie Kroes was caught on tape ... (saying) it was her intent to reduce Microsoft's market share to less than 50% in Europe. Tell me that sentiment doesn't smack of flagrant protectionism.

It doesn't smack of flagrant protectionism. At least not necessarily. It smacks of trying to free her from the need for future enforcement of anti-competitive rules. If MS's share is below 50%, no one in his right mind can call it a monopoly, and it can do whatever @#*!$ it wishes. On some level, it works in MS's interest as well. Of course, current MS prefers to be a monopoly, bend the rules and get smacked, which works only in MS's favor (not customers, not competitors). This alone is reason enough to make it hurtful for MS to continue doing it.

Of course, your statement smacks of trying to discredit a person because you don't have anything good to say against the actual decision they made. Same allegation (though better phrasing) to Mini here.

4.) ... they basically want us to turn the keys of the kingdom(s) over to Samba, mySQL, OpenLDAP, OpenSSL, etc...

To use your own words, if we peel the covers from your argument, you are essentially saying that the specifics of how to interact with your programs are all that is keeping the open source alternatives from being superior. In other words, you are saying that MS is selling inferior products, and then preventing the customers from switching by a combination of obfuscated wire protocols and desktop monopoly.

If that is not the case, what is the harm of allowing competitors to compete on even grounds? If that is the case, is that so bad (for the market, not for MS) to force MS to allow the market to choose better solutions, open source or otherwise?

Shachar
Full disclosure - I am an open source activist. If you attack me based on that premise (as opposed to attacking the points I raise based on their own merit), then you are essentially saying "Open source advocates are not allowed to be right".

Anonymous said...

Did you happen to looks up the names of the people listed in the e-mails in the GAL?

Half were "v-"s from partners like Dell and HP. Glad to see them listed as "Microsoft Executives"!

Anonymous said...

To use your own words, if we peel the covers from your argument, you are essentially saying that the specifics of how to interact with your programs are all that is keeping the open source alternatives from being superior. In other words, you are saying that MS is selling inferior products, and then preventing the customers from switching by a combination of obfuscated wire protocols and desktop monopoly.

First off, let me say that I am not a big fan of MS, its vision or its practices. Also I am not the original poster.

Having said that, the above is one of the worst arguments I have heard. If I were to take your argument one step further, I think what you are suggesting in essence is to get rid of all patents - software, hardware etc. I think what you are saying is that if someone innovates, they should open up the technology so that others can compete because they should stand behind the quality of their product (even if competitors are offering the products for free). Hmmm... does not seem to make much business sense to me whatsoever.

MS may or may not have inferior technology behind the curtains. However, I think it should be within their rights to protect their IP as they see fit.

Anonymous said...

And to further the email/Yahoo comment - if some of our top people felt helpless to be able to stop the Vista Capable stickers, how effective can our engineers be at trying to push for change to get us on top?

That is an excellent observation! And I always thought the Stalinist culture only extended to us little people at the bottom. No - now we see that in truth, it is f**k'd up all the way to the top! This makes it easier to answer all those recruiters trying to lure me back.

At least I can drop the assumption I made years ago that the senior management must all be morons. Just the one most senior manager fits that bill for creating and continuing a culture like this.

Anonymous said...

When the most Senior Engineer (alchin) is left out of the loop on a important executive engineering decision and then just caves (saying "I trust you...")...

Actually, Allchin left himself out of the loop. Will Poole worked for Allchin, and if Jim had given a rat's ass about actually managing his organization, he'd have been in the loop on this decision. Plus, this wasn't a Marketing eff-up, it was a biz-dev or "cross-group collaboration" eff-up. Poole was focused on happy-shiny relations with Intel, not on customer marketing. I'm not a huge Marketing fan, but this is a case where a little Marketing would've done a lot of good.

The real problem is that Microsoft has been encouraging engineers to ignore management responsibilities (even if they are managers) and bury themselves in shovelling bits around. But someone has to do the management stuff, and so it ends up being non-technical, or semi-technical people.

The result is a bunch of poorly coordinated and half-finished technolgoies krazy-glued together into a mishmash of a product. Until Microsoft realizes it needs to reward technical management instead of just IC technical contributions, it will continue to suffer this sort of problem.

Anonymous said...

What's sad is, where does OpenOffice get all its ideas? That's right. Once the EU is done castrating Microsoft, we can look forward to a good long period in which zero innovation happens in office suites.

Really couldn't be more wrong. The formal similarities between Office and OpenOffice derive from compatibility issues. The MS document formats must be handled identically; this forces the applications to use the same metaphors and layout as MS Office.

But that doesn't mean anybody likes the metaphors and layout of MS Office. It's an approach to word processing; merely one of many. In my opinion the Adobe approach (InDesign serving InCopy documents; FrameMaker) is vastly better.

The reality is the opposite of what you said: MS Office is the millstone holding back the art of office suite software. Freed from the tiresome worldwide business necessity of handling ubiquitous Microsoft-formatted documents, productivity software has nowhere to go but up.

Anonymous said...

European companies are not immune from punishment when hands are caught in cookie jars. Witness ongoing criminal investigations into corruption at Volkswagen (largest car manufacturer), British Aerospace (over corruption around Saudi defence contracts) and not so long ago EADS (one of the big shareholders in Airbus). The EU action isn't *just* about protectionism.

It is apparent that many commenters, obviously all bright folks, are sadly a bit ignorant of the bigger picture.

We're getting spanked because we got caught once, spanked, said we'd play nice...then didn't and got caught again.

Governments are funny. When you give them the finger enough times they just might get a little peaved and slap you up-side the head. Looks like the Commission has decided to do just that.

A really good manager at Microsoft UK once told me the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again the same way and thinking each time the outcome would be different. On that basis I propose our senior management is insane.

Now that I've left Microsoft it strikes me that many commenters here are stuck in exactly that loop.

Geez...I'm an ex-softie and I still say "we." I wonder how long it will take to get that out of my system...

Anonymous said...

Kaspersky said SP1 difficulties may have a negative effect on people's opinion of Vista, and that the negative effect may impact Vista sales.

"They probably made a mistake--the same mistake they made in 1991," said Kaspersky. "In 1991, they released MS-DOS version 4.0, and it was not so light as version 3.0--it took up more resources, which meant less memory for user apps. (When) Microsoft released version 5.0, it was as light as 3.0 and fixed the problem."


Interesting comment. Maybe I'll wait until Windows 7 and just skip Vista altogether.

Lazlo said...

Once the EU is done castrating Microsoft, we can look forward to a good long period in which zero innovation happens in office suites.

Given that "innovation" in this context usually means "changes made so we can obsolete the previous version and sell lots of upgrades", I happily join the folks who are looking forward to that good long period.

Office suites are tools. People don't care about whether or not their tools are "innovative", they care about whether or not their tools actually help them do their job.

Anonymous said...

4.) If you peel back the covers of what the EU has attempted to extort from Microsoft (oops I mean legally demanded as is their sovereign right....) they basically want us to turn the keys of the kingdom(s) over to Samba, mySQL, OpenLDAP, OpenSSL, etc...

Including (Open)LDAP and (Open)SSL in your list there may betray more than you really wanted to. LDAP and TLS (IETF successor to SSL) are both published standards. Either (1) Microsoft's implementation of same conforms to the published standards, or (2) Microsoft's implementation of those standards deviates from the specifications in important ways, hindering interoperability.

If the former, we wouldn't even be having this conversation, because nobody would particularly care what Microsoft's code looks like. So, let's say the latter pertains. Putting it nicely, you've improved on the standards. (Work with me here, folks...)

Now, because of your dominant, near-monopolistic position on the desktops of the world (that's not open source zealotry, that's U.S. court findings), the rest of the world is forced to care when Microsoft breaks ... sorry, improves, a standard protocol. We all have to live with you, like it or not.

If providing documentation to do that is such a burden, then maybe you need to review your own internal documentation systems. It shouldn't be that hard.

5.) And my partheon shot - for all of you that love the EU so much, do the rest of us a favor. Turn in your American passport, move to the EU, and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out. Send us a postcard on how the tax rates over there work out for 'ya.

I think you mean parting shot. Unless you mean "Parthenon" ... in which case, don't do it. The Greeks are mad enough at us already without shooting at their antiquities.

To the rest of the world: Folks, we're not all ignorant louts. Honest!

Anonymous said...

they basically want us to turn the keys of the kingdom(s) over to Samba, mySQL, OpenLDAP, OpenSSL ... boils down to expropriating our technical work to a bunch of open source goons working in the EU.

Let's see.
Samba - developed in Australia.
MySQL - owned by Sun.
OpenLDAP - University of Michigan.
OpenSSL - Mostly UK & DE developers.

One from four. And as far as I'm aware OpenSSL has nothing to do with Microsoft's current EU problems - they just provide implementations of published crypto standards.

So... what was your point again?

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'll wait until Windows 7 and just skip Vista altogether.

Its not as if Windows 7 is a rewrite. It is built on top of the existing Vista codebase...

Anonymous said...

People don't care about whether or not their tools are "innovative", they care about whether or not their tools actually help them do their job.

Just about any acceptable tool contains significant innovation. Would you be happy using a text editor that is the equivalent of Notepad.exe?

Anonymous said...

I can see the "I Love Neelie Kroes" crowd is out in force. Maybe I should start up an ecommerce store selling pro and con Neelie Kroes T-shirts. We could keep a running tally on the front page....

The problem with the protocols listed isn't that the physical on-the-wire formats are anything special. Because they are standards the EU uses that to bootstrap their attacks against Microsoft into a claim that Microsoft has to document implementation details of servers that process those protocols.

Active Directory uses LDAP? Well then document the entire frickin' product! Because obviously the fact that AD processes LDAP requests suddenly gives the EU open-source cheerleading section the right to expropriate from us the inner workings of our directory servers. It couldn't possibly be the case that a plain-Jane LDAP server implementation is basically worthless because of all the authorization policy, integration with a gazillion ACL'able resources, administrative interfaces, etc... that has to be layered on top of it to make it useful? Right? But if we can get big bad evil Microsoft to document every aspect of their "LDAP server" then somehow the world of interoperability will be full of milk and cookies. Sure.....

And by the way - I actually meant "parthian". So shoot me for not spell-checking my blog post. Oh wait - don't do that - have Neelie Kroes sue my ass instead.

Anonymous said...

If providing documentation to do that is such a burden, then maybe you need to review your own internal documentation systems. It shouldn't be that hard.

The funniest thing about the document issue is the assumption that we have good internal documentation and just need to make it public. Are you kidding? We don't have good internal documentation, that's another reason why our software is so bad.

Anonymous said...

If I may intrude for a moment, I believe the gentleman was referring to a Parthian shot.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled discussion of Europe's kleptocratic ways.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Will Poole, looking at his org ("Unlimited Potential Group?"), still inside PSD, I was intrigued because as a 10-year employee working on both the MSN and Windows sides I recognized absolutely nobody, which is rare when I look at an org chart. Nobody who has done notable work I've heard about, and nobody who has even asked questions on common internal discussion aliases. A decent percentage of the IC's seem to be in India.

What do they do exactly?

Anonymous said...

But that doesn't mean anybody likes the metaphors and layout of MS Office. It's an approach to word processing; merely one of many. In my opinion the Adobe approach (InDesign serving InCopy documents; FrameMaker) is vastly better.

Get back to me when you've actually used Office 2007 (pro-tip: Office is not a word processor). Also, lol at the suggestion that basic documents need to be done in InDesign or Framemaker. You're a graphic designer, aren't you? I knew one who was always bitching about Word because she kept trying to use it as a professional page layout tool, which it's not. Horses for courses, broheim.

Shachar Shemesh said...

In answer to Anonymous.

Also I am not the original poster.
I can tell that by the way your answer was to the point....

If I were to take your argument one step further ... get rid of all patents - software, hardware etc.

You (actually, I in your eyes) wouldn't be the first to suggest that patents do more harm than good. I don't go that far, but I certainly think the quality of patents granted today causes far more harm than good, at least in the software field. At a guesstimate, less than 1% of the patents granted today in the software field actually achieve the intended target for patents - causing companies to publish their innovation in return for a limited time monopoly. The rest of the 99% are either attempts to monopolize pieces of information that are either public domain, or would have been independently developed once anyone half capable were to look at the problem. Both those cases should not have been patentable under patent law, but pass the patent office anyhow.

MS may or may not have inferior technology behind the curtains. However, I think it should be within their rights to protect their IP as they see fit.

That's where you're wrong (in my opinion, but the law agrees with me and disagrees with you).

To understand why, lets take two companies. Both has two products that communicate over the net. Company A has a monopoly on the client side of the product. Company B has no monopoly on either sides. For the sake of this argument, let's assume both companies have inferior technology on the server side to what (incompatible) alternatives offer.

Let's start with company A. Since they have a monopoly on the client side, it doesn't really matter whether their server side is inferior or not. Their client side monopoly forces customers to use their server, whatever the technical merits and/or price is. That's what monopoly means - lack of choice. 'A' has no incentive to invest too much in making their server suck less, as no one can budge in on their market if they just obfuscate their protocols enough.

Now let's have a look at company B. They can try to go the company A way, and keep the protocols obfuscated and unpublished. There is one thing keeping them from doing it. As customers have a choice (no monopoly), they will choose a server that has superior technology.

Company B is left with two options. The hard one is to try and make their server suck less. This is certainly a good way to go, but it requires time and effort, and they usually cannot afford to have the market wait.

Their easier and more immediate option is to publish the protocols (or use open standards to begin with). This will encourage the industry to write competing servers for their protocol. They may lose the server income, but they will gain on their client side income. This will also provide them with time (and a head start) to improve on their server side.

In a nutshell, this is what anti-trust laws are about. A monopoly can profitably behave in a way that a company inside a competitive market cannot afford to. When that happens, everybody lose except the monopoly - a market failure. Anti-trust law is meant to make the monopoly behave where it would have but for the lack of the competitive force.

This is why it doesn't matter that the protocols are Microsoft's intellectual property. If they abused the protocols to stop competition, they have to, at the very least, allow competition to resume by negating the abuse.

This is not even mentioning that companies and individuals not called Microsoft actually have to pay when they do something wrong. This is not the case here. The EU did not fine MS for halting competition by distorting published standards. It only punished it for failing to comply. In that respect, and even though the people wearing MS glasses here will not agree, MS did get off lightly here.

Shachar

Anonymous said...

Get back to me when you've actually used Office 2007 (pro-tip: Office is not a word processor). Also, lol at the suggestion that basic documents need to be done in InDesign or Framemaker. You're a graphic designer, aren't you? I knew one who was always bitching about Word because she kept trying to use it as a professional page layout tool, which it's not. Horses for courses, broheim.

Well, if Office isn't a word processor, and it isn't a page layout tool, then what the hell is it?

Anonymous said...

With all this EU talk about the 1.3 BN I have a question. What, exactly, did we do or not do to merit this fine? I've read reports but all they say is that we didn't do something required by the EU. What was that?

Anonymous said...

[S]he kept trying to use [Word] as a professional page layout tool, which it's not

OP. That's not what I'm talking about. I've published several books written in word and my preference for inDesign etc. is based on document nesting and indexing and on the relationships between styles and outline layers, not because of "graphic design."

OTOH, oF course you're right and I'm using "Word" and "Office" interchangeably; that's a mistake. I don't know enough about the rest of Office to comment intelligently so I should confine my remarks to "Microsoft Word."

MSFTextrememakeover said...

"Of course, your statement smacks of trying to discredit a person because you don't have anything good to say against the actual decision they made."

When the head enforcement official states a goal of reducing a particular company's market share to 50%, I really don't see how anyone can rationalize that away. Similarly, when they take it upon themselves to commission a study and endorse Open Source, that again is difficult to reconcile with someone who is meant to be neutral. Anti-trust laws exists to ensure a level playing and to prevent abuse by a dominant player, not to ensure that there are no dominant players.

Anonymous said...

What do they do exactly?

UPG works mostly on emerging market products - Windows Starter, FlexGo, technical parts of Microsoft Student Innovation Suite, small form factor (eee, Classmate, etc), Steady State, etc.

Anonymous said...

Get back to me when you've actually used Office 2007 (pro-tip: Office is not a word processor). Also, lol at the suggestion that basic documents need to be done in InDesign or Framemaker. You're a graphic designer, aren't you? I knew one who was always bitching about Word because she kept trying to use it as a professional page layout tool, which it's not. Horses for courses, broheim.

Actually this is a good example of why monopolies suck.

With the introduction of the Mac, word processors became the poor man's DTP software. It was actually pretty revolutionary. For the following ~10 years, a bunch of companies competed with each other mainly by adding more and more DTP features to their relatively cheap word processors.

All of this improvement stopped when the competition dried up though. Compared to what was going on before, Word 2008 is more or less the same as Word 97. And now young people such as yourself seem to think that Word is the One True Word Processor and always has been and always will be the same. Sad.

Anonymous said...

What is with all this incredulity and defensive ignorance? I pray to the discerning eye of Minimsft that this not be CRFed or garbaged for exceeding the reality quota.

Fine then:
The EU is not "stealing" money, get a grip! Microsoft is in the EU market and therefore is beholden to all that comes with it.
When we look at the reasons for the fines, we have some fairly compelling evidence - especially when we don't stray from an honest understanding of the situation. Microsoft is getting hit by almost half a billion Euro in fines because it does not want to unbundle a media player from Windows. No matter how you spin it, Microsoft has enjoyed a monopoly for a long time and it does abuse it. The solution here is a rather effortless and simple task considering who we're dealing with.
This is just like the case made regarding Internet Explorer, a situation in itself tactically deferred and cleverly avoided. (Because we all know that a little high visibility appeasement like "Set Program Access and Defaults" hardly mitigated the real issue at hand.) The claim that IE is "integral" to Windows is based only on the deliberate architecting of every single extended function of explorer to depend on it...
The right thing to do here would be to start learning how to play well with others and find new ways to make yourselves valuable.

Next up, "vistagate":
When you take a company that is so hard pressed for new ways to make profit, Vista is exactly what you will get. It was some hackeneyed attempt to take everything good about WindowsNT and ruin it by making it either slower or more expensive. Even then still, Vistas features are a far cry from equivalents offered not ONLY by competitors (free and otherwise), but by its own predecessor! Ouch!
Know this: The two laptops I have obtained in the past year both came with Vista. One was more prepared for it than the other, but never the less, both were reduced to thrashing heaps fraught with CPU cycle cancer, but both now run Ubuntu. That means not only will nobody pirate Vista, most go out of their way to get rid of it! Ouch. And now? People have every right to be upset with a company that colluded to ensure that their bloated operating system sells at all costs.

More on Vista:
I've been saying this since day one, but I'm glad more people are finally giving in to realizing it.
Being told that Aero uses 3D and other dynamic methods of rendering is my only clue the windowing system is in fact rendered using 3D acceleration. I would never have guessed in using the OS, all I have to show for enabling Glass+Aero is a slower computer and slow response (2GHz Core2 Duo, 2GB RAM, 7600GS - my computer does not suck THAT MUCH, thank you!).
When I look at the 3D options offered in Linux, I'm blown away. THAT'S rendering. What Microsoft offers in Vista is a static and underdeveloped collection of some minor effects to say "Me too, me too!"
Again, an appeasement - I'm sensing a theme!

SP1 is already turning out some hard criticsms...Whatever Microsoft will try to do to "fix" Vista it will only ever be lipstick on a pig. Some good public image for Microsoft might be to actually admit mistakes before the product is off the shelves for once.

Silverlight, SMB and other ideas:
I think what is reassuring in the coming months and years (or quarters if you've forgotten how to count time like the unwashed) is that the technologies offered by Microsoft are going to be sidestepped more often. Free and open source software will continue to develop at its current pace. For the stuff that Microsoft makes that is still going to be needed for a bit, it will be reverse engineered. No, it is not proprietary to exchange information, so don't even think about filing a patent for "doing stuff" and defending all your income sources with it.
So cheer up, eventually Microsoft software and solutions will have reached a point of being so bloated, misguided and overengineered that nobody will want them.

You can't call me down for a lack of proof, we're already there with Vista!

Anonymous said...

...but their drivel boils down to expropriating our technical work to a bunch of open source goons working in the EU.

You are correct! As a EU goon myself i know we thank Richard Stallman and the FSF in Massachusetts (where in EU is that? Germany, Italy? I keep forgetting) every day.

Unfortunatly we haven't been smart enough to develop our own OS or office software here, so if we manage to get rid of MSFT we still have to choose an OS from the U.S, like from Apple, SUN, Novell, Red Hat (You know, some of the d**kheads which sued your ass here in EU)

But hey, if it makes you feel any better, you can consider the $1.7B as payment for us poor EU goons that beta tested your unfinnished operatingsystem over the last year.

Life isn't fair, is it? Ask Be Inc.

Anonymous said...

Could anyone point me to a link to Neelie's comment about forcing MS down to a 50% market share?

Anonymous said...

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.”

(c) Steve Jobs.

Could we please throw out SB and put SJ in charge?

Anonymous said...

Well, if Office isn't a word processor, and it isn't a page layout tool, then what the hell is it?

Ummm...Office isn't a word processor; Word is.

And Word isn't a "page layout tool." It's a word processor.

Crystal clear now?

Anonymous said...

By the way, I haven't seen any references to the documentation that is being discussed here:
http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc203350.aspx

And forums to comment on said documentation:
http://forums.microsoft.com/MSDN/default.aspx?ForumGroupID=573&SiteID=1

What I haven't figured out yet is why everybody is talking about API's ... This documentation set is purely wire behavior. Nothing about API's.

Anonymous said...

All of this improvement stopped when the competition dried up though. Compared to what was going on before, Word 2008 is more or less the same as Word 97.

What the heck is Word 2008?

Word 2007 sure isn't anything like Word 97, so that can't be what you mean.

Anonymous said...

Compared to what was going on before, Word 2008 is more or less the same as Word 97. And now young people such as yourself seem to think that Word is the One True Word Processor and always has been and always will be the same. Sad.

Yup, "Word 2008" pretty much indicates a poster that hasn't used a PC since, oh 1997 or so. This is a blog frequented by people who actually do (some of them) use and even create Microsoft apps. Who you trying to kid, buddy?

Anonymous said...

Come on guys - the world is not all PC. Word 2008 is part of the Mac version of Office.

Anonymous said...

My god you people are idiots: "MS should play by EU rules, its their turf so you have to respect it".

Let's replace "EU" with "China". And let's say the "rules" in China are: MS must hand over all the names of users visiting the 'Gay In Beijing Live Spaces Group'... According to the "MS should play by the rules group", this would be A-OK, wouldn't it.

Get a freaking pulse. Government oversight == BAD, no matter where it happens, US, EU or China. Let the market decide.

And the open source folks are plain annoying. The EU DID NOT have the same landscape as the US. You cannnot equivocate what happened in the US to other countries. I would argue EU is a place where there was a level playing field and yet the alternative solutions did not penetrate the market. There are many factors for success--open source has no sales force or rigid customer building staff, should MS be faulted for having put in some effort to sell their software?

The bottom line is: governments should focus on taxing Haliburton and the other real killers of the world, instead of the free market economy. Open source guys should grow up and put some effort in building a system that competes fairly in the market place--if you can't don't go whine about it and complain to the Dean.

Anonymous said...

Another SJ related quote:

"Democracies don't make great products. You need a competent tyrant."

(c) Jean-Louis Gasse

The key word in the quote above is "competent". Not some sales dude. This company started dying when BG threw in the towel in late 90's. This is not to say that BG never fucked up (Internet anyone?), but at least he could made sense of the technology involved.

Anonymous said...

What the heck is Word 2008?

Word 2007 sure isn't anything like Word 97, so that can't be what you mean.


Great, in all your autistic glory you're able to jump all over a version number but otherwise offer no deeper insight to the discussion.

Word 2007 has a giant shiny toolbar and a new equation editor, but what else does it bring to the table? What new kinds of things does it let me create? What does it do better? And I don't mean automatically correcting a minor typo or replacing 2 UI clicks with 1, I mean things like fitting text to a curve, or automatically generating an index for a book, or intelligently eliminating whitespace runs. You know, things an average person might expect to be added to a word processor after 10 years of development, instead of a new arrangement of toolbar buttons.

Anonymous said...

Pointer to an article on Neelie Kroes comments: http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUKL1720058720070917?rpc=44

I was actually shocked by this naked bias here. Officials in her capacity should at least maintain a semblence of neutrality, but she basically is saying that if your company is too dominant, the commission will be inclined to take it down a peg or two.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear the trolls and ignorant comments are out in force on this one! As mini says: "don't take the bait, mate!"

Anonymous said...

>Yup, "Word 2008" pretty much indicates a poster that hasn't used a PC since, oh 1997 or so.

I'm not the original poster, but I'll byte. Go ahead, here's your chance to tell the world about all the changes made to Word 2008 since Word 2007 that make it worth buying:

List ten positive benefits for the user since the 1997 version, then list ten benefits for the corporate manager to manage his people, so we can understand exactly what Microsoft is all about.

If I have to use a Microsoft Product, then it's Office 97. You can keep the rest unless I see something I really need in there. I'm waiting.

Anonymous said...

Uh, Word 2008 is actually the latest version of Word for Macintosh. It hit store shelves earlier this year. The folks in MacBU get no respect.

Anonymous said...

To the two previous posters who don't know what Word 2008 is: it is the current version of Microsoft Word for the Mac. Yes, MS does continue to build software for platforms other than Windows.

American Patriot said...

>Could anyone point me to a link to Neelie's comment about forcing MS down to a 50% market share?

I don't know where she may have said that, but if she did, it sure sounds reasonable to me. Heck, it might even get all the super anti-softie hordes off your backs.

Anonymous said...

Yup, "Word 2008" pretty much indicates a poster that hasn't used a PC since, oh 1997 or so. This is a blog frequented by people who actually do (some of them) use and even create Microsoft apps. Who you trying to kid, buddy?

Hint: "Microsoft app" != "PC"
http://www.microsoft.com/mac/products/word2008/

Anonymous said...

Mini,

That whistling sound is apparently the little engine that could...

"In online, yeah, it's Google, Google, Google and we're in the game. We're just the little engine that could."

Yep... that's Ballmer. Another interesting quote:

"So it may be my last breath at Microsoft, but we're going to be there, working away, building share,"

http://news.moneycentral.msn.com/provider/providerarticle.aspx?feed=OBR&date=20080306&id=8297443

Anonymous said...

Well this is odd, because I do use Word 2008 . . . on my Mac.

Anonymous said...

http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206902319

Sounds like Apple is starting getting a leg up on MS in the space MS has played for years and failed. The jury is still out on this one but I think they will get the job done and become a big player the enterprise space.

Can't say I feel bad for MIW folks. Like Donald Trump says, it is good to see bad people fail.

Anonymous said...

Looks like WinMo is on its way out now that we've licenses ActiveSync to Apple. A year from now they'll OWN the enterprise. Watch the Apple presentation on their site.

Anonymous said...

Word 2008 is the current version for the Macintosh, actually. The years are often out of sync with the Windows edition.

Anonymous said...

(SteveB related instead of MS related, feel free to CRF it...)

So Steve partners up with 3 other big wallet guys and they can only come up with $150M towards Key Arena? Balmer likely lost more than $300M when he opened his mouth about buying Yahoo! He could pony up the full money for Key Arena w/o to much of an issue. And I'd hate to have been near Bill when he got the word that he'd have been #1 on the Forbes list if it hadn't been for the nosedive the stock took after the Y! fiasco. 13-years as #1 wouldn't be something that some folks would be happy about (they'd rather be 12 or 14 years, not 13).

On the plus side, if Steve does get a BB team, maybe he'll keep his mouth shut about MS and use his words to trash the BB team instead.

Anonymous said...

I love it when people are condescending and blatantly wrong.

As it turns out, Microsoft makes a product called Mac Office (http://www.macoffice2008.com/). Decent product; makes quite a bit of money.

One part of Mac Office 2008 is Word 2008.

I presume that's what the earlier poster was referring to, especially since they talked about the Mac a few sentences above that reference.

Sigh.

Anonymous said...

To the guy who is using Office 97 but wanted someone to list some benefits of 2007 - I'll "byte" back.

I'm an IT admin for a legal firm and we recently upgraded our user's machines. From our point of view, the benefits are pretty good. Main ones are below:
- IRM, document encryption and digital signatures
- document inspection to remove tracking comments etc
- workflow
- open xml file format - reduced size documents
- live preview and smartart - see formatting before applying it
- manage settings using GPO
- ability to recover damaged documents

the last 3 have taken a ton of calls off our helpdesk stack in particular. Big thumbs up from me.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Mini, O/T but...

The bottom line is: governments should focus on taxing Haliburton and the other real killers of the world, instead of the free market economy.

This has got to be one of the dumbest, most self-contradictory things I have read in a while. One might paraphrase it as "Free market where I like it. Government interference for companies I don't like."

Do a little research before uncritically spouting MoveOn.org's latest shrill rants.

Then consider:
- do you blame a company that signs a contract for profit when the grantor of said contract did not follow required procedure? Or do you blame the grantor?
- are you consistent enough in your rage to also vote against legislators who join in the midnight earmarking frenzy?
- is Halliburton ("real killers of the world"... please, are you in high school?) worse than the Chinese government? The Sudanese? The North Korean? Than people who send pregnant women to be suicide bombers while they themselves hide in caves? Isn't your rage a little conveniently, oh-so-fat-and-protectedly misdirected? Have you ever even been outside the U.S.?
- unlike the preceding, Halliburton is a publicly traded company, based in a jurisdiction with civilized law, subject to shareholders' approval of its strategy and results - and BTW part of the free market economy. If you dislike how they run the company, buy stock and make change, or influence other stockholders to. At least, if you want to have any credibility when donning the free marketeer mantle.

Anonymous said...

>someone to list some benefits of 2007 - I'll "byte" back.

Hey thanks for the info. Finally a person with real information that has value. Any more out there with additional advantages to using word 07-08 vs word 97?

The list did not have anything in it I personally need, but I am not a corporate or legal user. Re the data recovery issue, I assume MS has done something different that makes that possible, but there is a backup feature in '97 and you can usually recover a damaged file by pulling out the text in the temp files.

What is live preview/smart art? How does that help you?

C'mon softies, here is your chance to tout how great your product is and a chance to prove your product is not a commodity deserving of releasing the source code to the open market. So far I count 7 out of a requested ten, which is very very soft on the criticism since that would make less than one improvement to word per year. Sad but true. I'm still waiting.

Mike Landers said...

Let us see those Neelie Kroes comments, shall we?

"A market level of much less than 95 percent would be a way of measuring success, [...] You can't draw a line and say exactly 50 (percent) is correct, but a significant drop in market share is what we would like to see"

And from the spokesman

"Once illegal abuse has been removed and competitors are free to compete on the merits, the logical consequence of that would be to expect Microsoft's market share to fall," spokesman Jonathan Todd said.

I don't know about you, but that seems a fairly reasonable statement about any company that has a monopoly.

Dear Mr Anonymous has managed to twist that into

3.) Neelie Kroes was caught on tape making a Freudian slip that it was her intent to reduce Microsoft's market share to less than 50% in Europe.

To use a colourful statement that is regularly heard here in the UK - "You're talking bollocks, mate."

Anonymous said...

If I have to use a Microsoft Product, then it's Office 97. You can keep the rest unless I see something I really need in there. I'm waiting.

Raging nerd alert. This is all bound for the CRF for sure because it's getting so bitchy. Yes, if you ask with a straight face if there have been any improvements in Word between 1997 and 2007 you will be laughed at by anyone who has as much as demoed the program. Why don't you go ahead and find some torrent crack and look at it rather than demand (in your stamping-feet-mad nerd voice) that people convince you that Word 2007 (or, for the testy Mac nerds here, 2008) is all that.

I use it and frankly don't care all that much what some raging ABMer thinks about it, Word (and Excel and Outlook) have gotten huge makeovers in Office 2007 and if you refuse to use it and refuse to believe what anyone who has used it says then just go ahead and redirect all your whining to /dev/null where it belongs. Sheesh.

Demanding people you sneer at impress you with a Word 2007 feature list is just so Usenet (in fact I think Usenet is still around, you might want to check).

Anonymous said...

unlike the preceding, Halliburton is a publicly traded company, based in a jurisdiction with civilized law, subject to shareholders' approval of its strategy and results - and BTW part of the free market economy. If you dislike how they run the company, buy stock and make change, or influence other stockholders to. At least, if you want to have any credibility when donning the free marketeer mantle.

Ever seen the movie Corporation? I hardly think Halliburton or any other corporate conglomerate is, by virtue of being an American corporation, innocent.

BTW, anyone who uses "shrill" in an argument automatically loses 10 points. Shrill just means that you don't like what they have to say. It doesn't say anything about the credibility or lack there of of the opposition. If you start there, the rest of your "argument" sounds weak.

Anonymous said...

>I use it and frankly don't care all that much what some raging ABMer thinks about it. . . Demanding people you sneer at impress you with a Word 2007 feature list is just so Usenet"

Sad but true I suppose. I didn't realize usenet was still around. Haven't used it since MSN was an ISP . . . what is it ten years ago?

Anyway, I'm not sneering. I'm just drinking your milkshake--the one given to me for free because you have failed to innovate.

My issue is that Microsoft is so freaked out about how little can be added to Office and Windows in their current commodity state, it seems that you are holding on to a cash cow that long ago started to rot with rigor mortise setting in.

It also seems that if Microsoft were to just let go, play leader in the process of sparking a revolution in innovative office and windows related products designed to encourage others to make money with you, you might suddenly find yourselves playing the role of wise elder instead of the psycho-schizo possessive dysfunctional corporate entity that most normal people see you as.

Anonymous said...

What is live preview/smart art? How does that help you?

C'mon softies, here is your chance to tout how great your product is...


Can you just not be bothered to check out any of the free trials, articles up the whazoo about new features, promotional info on MSFT's own sites? Do you want us to copy and paste it here? You still won't understand how cool some (most?) of the features are if you don't try it yourself so it's kind of a waste of time.

Plus I have other things to do than to pull together material that is already easily available on the Web. Are ya just lazy or...?

Anonymous said...

Let's face it - the Vista Capable debacle calls for blood in the parking lot - specifically blood that is a positive DNA match for Will Poole. He needs to be publicly fired for his stupid, short-sighted actions.

On the plus (?) side, this will help with AMD's suit against Intel. Go competition. Rah.

Anonymous said...

Getting back to Mini's post, anyone followed Mix08? Was there a Silverlight announcement? Everything I've read is about IE8.

Anonymous said...

this is the legal firm IT guy again:

http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/msoffice/?p=149 for an independent redact of office features.

in terms of smartart etc - you really need to download an eval copy and play with the product to fully appreciate how good those aspects are. It's not that the features are hard to explain, it's just that seeing it is much better than reading about it. For the v97 user, you'll be very pleasantly surprised

Anonymous said...

Hey Will Poole ... I got a commodore 64 that is Vista Capable. Do you wanna buy it? I'll cut you a good deal!

Anonymous said...

>For the v97 user, you'll be very pleasantly surprised.

Ok, it took a customer talking to a customer to solve the problem of tens. Ten features in Office -07-08 from -97. The Tech Republic article is great as it has Ten for Office then ten for each application. My read on it is the same as my read a few years ago when I loaded the 30 day trial, i.e., Microsoft is focused on the idiot manager who couldn't tie his shoelaces unless some software app did it for him. I guess that is where the money is.

The only feature worth anything to me is the PDF writing capability of PowerPoint, and I did not see the same for Word, but I assume its there. But then I might as well buy Acrobat if that is all I need. All the rest is more pablum, like the slickness of Vista not having any value added But I am sure most of you appreciate the slicker useability.

As a comparitive, I have been using SolidWorks (a parametric 3d engineering modeling software company) since 1998, and have found that company has put out about four to ten running updates per year with a brand new release each year, topped off at an annual conference to which attendees go to soak in the greatness of all the new features. Each year for ten years straight the number of improvements/additions has numbered in the hundreds each year, and the number of third party apps has exploded as well. Everybody is making money: SolidWorks, the customers who use it and the third party suppliers. All of this is due to the survival instinct. SolidWorks has some very serious competition and to be the best it takes a commitment and hard work. And it is not because it costs what it does, because the annual volume of licenses is under seven figures.

On the other hand, Microsoft, whether it be Office or Windows has been slow to improve the products, relatively few new apps that make sense have come along; there is no flaming cult customer base except maybe the million dollar a year partners in house, and the company has been hammered by lawsuits and government interdiction, but the real losses are to the customers who have had to pay through the nose for very little value added.

You can disagree with me, but the truth is if you were living in a truly competitive environment, you would be doing great things or nothing at all. That is the difference.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I don't see how Vista capable is worse than, say, HD Ready.

HD ready meant you couldn't actually see any HD content unless you bought extra hardware.

Vista capable at least means you could run vista, you just need extra hardware for some extra eyecandy (which, sorry, isn't that important).

Anonymous said...

Will has already been downsized twice since this happened. He used to have Steven's and BillV's jobs combined. Then he was downsized to Market-Expansion Group (anti-piracy, hardware innovation and emerging markets) and finally to Unlimited Potential (just emerging markets). I doubt he'll be punished further.

Anonymous said...

Someone said:
Anonymous said...
Speaking of Will Poole, looking at his org ("Unlimited Potential Group?"), still inside PSD, I was intrigued because as a 10-year employee working on both the MSN and Windows sides I recognized absolutely nobody, which is rare when I look at an org chart. Nobody who has done notable work I've heard about, and nobody who has even asked questions on common internal discussion aliases. A decent percentage of the IC's seem to be in India.

What do they do exactly?


It's funny you say that - they seem to be the embodiment of this:

http://archive.computerhistory.org/resources/text/DEC/dec.bell.no_output_division_C-I_TF;productivity_review.1982.102630376.pdf

Anonymous said...

Hey Mini, how about that ass Eliot Spitzer getting fried this week for his involvement in a prostitution ring? Spitzer was one of the greedy attention seeking politicians who while NY attorney general ran MSFT through the bullshit antitrust mud. Now, while "evil" BillG is giving away all his money to try to cure AIDS and hunger, and MSFT is stuck paying off Neelie Kroes, Spitzer wants to structure shady cash transactions and get himself a little strange. MSFT may have problems, but it will always win.

Anonymous said...

Just curious, Mr Gates still owns Microsoft doesnt he? If so, why doesnt he just say fuck Europe we are not selling them anymore software - it will hurt financially for a while but when they coming a beggin......

Anonymous said...

"I mean things like fitting text to a curve, or automatically generating an index for a book, or intelligently eliminating whitespace runs. You know, things an average person might expect to be added to a word processor after 10 years of development, instead of a new arrangement of toolbar buttons."

WHAT is stopping a genius (like yourself) from building an open source product that does these things and then ruling the world?

you are part of why many regard the OSS community as beyond rational discussion. ANY failure to innovate or gain adoption on the part of OSS is the result of "MSFT monopoly". ANY success is gloated over in the most obnoxious way possible.

stop the petty arguing and just admit that you're an ideologue attempting to fight a war of misguided social transformation using technology. you're dreaming of a socialist utopia and you think "it starts here". to further this cause you need a boogeyman upon which you can hyperbolically lay all of the worlds ills and failings.

msft bashers want it both ways. they want to play the 'evil monopoly must be stopped' card AND the 'dying inept has-been should be laughed at' card. you people are like the bush bashers. an evil genius and an incompetent boob at the same time.

that proves that you're deranged. there is NOTHING stopping an open source project from changing the world. Linux has done quite well and there is >>>> NOTHING <<<< impressive about it >>>> AT ALL <<<<. yet another *NIX descendant isnt exciting. at least Apple grafted Darwin onto BSD!

so this nonsense about the "msft monopoly" is more crap from clueless legislators being manipulated by competitors lobbyists, power mad EU officials with an infinite appetite for cash, and neo-socialists who are so elitist and arrogant they feel comfortable dicatating change to the world and deciding what "we" need and want.

the fact that msft was ever found a monopoly at all is evidence of nothing more than steve and bills total incompetance as corporate fat cats. they should have bought their way out of it since it was a ridiculous assertion.

In the short years since msft suddenly became a "monopoly" the entire paradigm has shifted, the legacy business model has been rendered irrelevant, apple has resurged, google has conquered the world, and linux has siezed a huge server share.

msft was NEVER a monopoly. the fact that it was found one is a legal reality and drives the actions that follow. and thats all well and good if you're debating the "fairness" or more appropriately, legality, of fines, but lets not pretend for one minute that there was a REAL monopoly that had REAL impact on much of anything.

The SAMBA team wants to be able to build active directory domain controllers and sell them. meanwhile, active directory released into a market MASSIVELY dominated by netware 4 and all of it is derivative of x.500 and, earlier, StreetTalk. active directory did well not because of monopoly, but because it actually was EASIER and worked pretty well.

now that the lunatics can hide behind the monopoly card, they would have you believe that SAMBA (and this is just ONE example) has some divine right to be competitive IN MICROSOFTS WORLD because MSFT was arbitrarily found to be a monopoly. the reality is their goal is for MSFT to not exist. Ask ANY of them and they wont even pretend to deny it.

Anonymous said...

"You can disagree with me, but the truth is if you were living in a truly competitive environment, you would be doing great things or nothing at all. That is the difference."

You think you're smart and convincing, but you're not. You just sound like a pompous and stubborn ass who will argue and argue ad nauseum rather than cede ANY point on ANYTHING ... EVER...

Why not just post on /.? EVERYONE agrees with you enthusiastically there.

You're making the point that Office 2007 is useless. I talk to finance experts every day who LOVE Excel 2007. Your version of "innovation" and "useful" is designed BY YOU to exclude MSFT *no matter what* because you are COMPLETELY decided on the matter.

That means you're just a little bit insane. Realize that about yourself, move on, and again, go to /. where you'll be cozier.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft will always win?

Also amongst most famous last words: Hey, I wonder what this'll do...?

Anonymous said...

Just curious, Mr Gates still owns Microsoft doesnt he? If so, why doesnt he just say fuck Europe we are not selling them anymore software - it will hurt financially for a while but when they coming a beggin......

Because

1. MSFT derives significant revenue from foreign sales.

2. That would effectively be ceding all of MSFT's market share in Europe. If Ms. Kroes wants us to lose market share, do you want to give it to her or make her work for it?

3. You think MSFT's been on the punitive end of the stick thus far? Try pissing in their pudding and see what punitive is really about.

4. The shareholders will kick MSFT's ass for doing something so stupid.

Anonymous said...

Ok, it took a customer talking to a customer to solve the problem of tens.

Get lost. If you can only come up with 10 improvements to Office just from 2003 to 2007 after using a demo for a month then you just might be mentally retarded. Computer software is obviously too complicated for you to understand (oh if only Microsoft were as dynamic as SolidWorks--who they?).

Also the guy who brought up Netware was spot on, if I recall Microsoft reverse engineered the Netware stack in order to provide its own built-in client, which worked better than Netware's endlessly buggy, resource-hogging Windows clients.

Anonymous said...

If so, why doesnt he just say fuck Europe we are not selling them anymore software - it will hurt financially for a while but when they coming a beggin......

In that case i hope you don't own any stock in MSFT. I don't think the shareholders would like your idea that much. Do you know how much software MSFT sells in the EU?

And what if, god forbid, they realise that they really doing fine without MSFT software?

I don't think even Ballmer would be that stup... ehum... irrational.

Anonymous said...

>> Will has already been downsized twice since this happened. I doubt he'll be punished further.

Unfortunately, the emerging markets are where MSFT is losing because Will doesnt know how to execute. He has the group tied up in huge decision making processes - it takes years of approvals to try an experiment and years to fail an experiment that has gone way wrong. Other companies run circles around MSFT in the emerging markets. Will's group has lots of engineers travelling over the world and the only thing they accomplish are partnerships and press releases. They need 12 people for that - not multiple partner level people and VPs.
Will's job should be in India or China - not in Redmond. Fire him and put someone hungry in the role.

Anonymous said...

I move for a vote of no confidence in chancellor Ballmorum!

the Mad Blogger said...

>You just sound like a pompous and stubborn ass who will argue and argue ad nauseum rather than cede ANY point on ANYTHING ... EVER...

I have to correct you on that. I will argue with any Microsoft partner ad nauseum as long as you keep dumping-overpriced-use-Microsoft-or-no-other-crappy products on the world while claiming to be such a cooperative and benevolent company.

>That means you're just a little bit insane.

Thanks for the complement--from a softie, that means so much to me. Do you treat all your customers this way or just the ones who point out the truth of your phony mantra? With most of the market share, I would assume it would be easy to find true believers to justify your own form of madness.

Keep drinking that koolaid--without it how could people like me exist? Are you suggesting that my motivation is insanity to justify your motivation which is a million dollar a year bonus? What about the concept of populist altruism as my motivation and yours as a means of keeping your job?

Who exactly is the deception expert here anyway?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_Manipulation_Theory

Anonymous said...

msft was NEVER a monopoly. the fact that it was found one is a legal reality and drives the actions that follow. and thats all well and good if you're debating the "fairness" or more appropriately, legality, of fines, but lets not pretend for one minute that there was a REAL monopoly that had REAL impact on much of anything.

Let's have some intellectual honesty, please. Microsoft Windows is installed on over 90% of desktop computers around the world, and that alone gives it monopoly power. That's not illegal or even necessarily bad though - natural monopolies occur all the time.

The problem was bundling apps with Windows led directly to competitors being locked out, which triggered anti-trust actions against the company. It seems like corporate welfare for the little guys, but the rules of most countries dictate that monopolies have to play under different rules. It's part of the business world and all companies have the same rules when they hit that monopoly status.

If Microsoft were not a monopoly, then surely the army of lawyers in any one of the cases in the US or EU would have managed to present that argument. Perhaps the legal systems are all biased against Microsoft, but that's starting to get too long a bow to draw. It's more believable and more in line with Occam's Razor to accept that the company has a monopoly.

As I said before, it's only a bad thing to hold a monopoly when you use it to lock out competitors or to leverage against other markets. Other than that, be proud to be part of the monopoly company - you're the winners after all! Apart from a few legal issues (which wouldn't have made much difference to the marketshare in the long run) your OS and apps have made it to where they are on their merits.

As for whether the Microsoft monopoly has hurt OSS products like OpenOffice - I'd say the lack of focus and control hurts OSS more than anything else. When developers all pull in different directions you end up with a hodge-podge application - confusing or 'borrowed' UI, cool features that don't always work and a real follow-the-leader mentality in the resulting app. OpenOffice is an awful app - every time I tried to use it, it crashed. The short time I actually spent in the app seemed like some sort of nightmarish MS Office environment where everything is similar but nothing works as well.

Microsoft Office is head and shoulders better than OpenOffice, but the real kicker, the really surprising thing is this: OpenOffice has not even tried to innovate, instead preferring to emulate MS Office. While MS Office tries new ideas like the ribbon, OpenOffice has nothing new to offer. Yes it's free, but where are the great ideas we should be seeing from the army of enthusiastic developers? If I have to learn an office suite, why should I go for something that's stuck in the past, instead of paying a few dollars and getting a product who's developers are actively trying to make more useful and streamlined for customers? I hear various reports about the ribbon concept, but at least it's something new and useful.

That's the failure of Open Source - too many developers think that an app is a checklist of features, when to customers it's a tool that helps them do stuff. The UI makes or breaks that tool in a customer's eyes, and the great majority of Open Source devs have clearly no clue about UI.

Sadly for Microsoft, Apple know all about UI, and that's why the iPhone and iPods are taking the world by storm while Windows Mobile and the Zune plod along the road to nowhere.

The Mad Blogger said...

>WHAT is stopping a genius (like yourself) from building an open source product that does these things and then ruling the world?

Be careful not to assume (as you did in your long tirade) that I and others dissing Microsoft want to see an open source world as you envision it. I am no more of a socialist than you are. The reason Open Source even exists is that there was never a meaningful way to create an alternative to Microsoft products due to the proprietary formats. Hopefully that will change with the EU decisions, but I am not holding my breath.

I agree that the open source community is less innovative even than Microsoft, and certainly it has lost many golden opportunities to compete in office and operating system software markets while Microsoft floundered for ten years on the innovative fronts with Office and Windows products.

That said, perhaps the Linux model could never get a foothold until the latest EU decision. We will see.

The great economic debate between the ideas of Adam Smith in the eighteenth century and Karl Marx in the twentieth century is over with the proofs of capitalism's validity provided in the last century.

The reason capitalism survived and socialism or communism did not is because of the great ethical base of capitalism to provide a more valid answer to how to execute economic theory. Adam Smith was talked and wrote a lot about the importance of ethics in the formula to make free markets work--the concept of good will is a requirement to succeed otherwise you get a Monopoly or one company dominance over markets. Capitalism is not unlike a flower that can be choked off when the weeds are not held in check.

So the end solution is to have a lot of players in the game making competitive products which drives the innovation and quality up. I never said anything about not making money doing it.

Anonymous said...

> Let's have some intellectual honesty, please. Microsoft Windows is installed on over 90% of desktop computers around the world, and that alone gives it monopoly power. That's not illegal or even necessarily bad though - natural monopolies occur all the time.

> The problem was bundling apps with Windows led directly to competitors being locked out, which triggered anti-trust actions against the company.

As a softie, I joined in 2000, after the supposed monopolistic ya ya ya ya stuff happened. But: I never understood the 'locked-out' claims. I ran netscape, knew others who did too. You just get the disk, LIKE ANY OTHER SOFTWARE, put it in the drive, LIKE ANY OTHER SOFTWARE, and install it, LIKE...you see the point. If Microsoft had been a monopoly then all of those whiners would have had 0% penetration into the Windows world, limited only to the other 10%. But the truth is people could and did choose other software, or choose not to. Either way it was their choice, which flies in the face of all of those monopoly accusations, as far as I can see.

Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft.
Caveat: I am looking for work elsewhere, so monopoly or not, I don't really care personally. It just seems like a dishonest argument and always has to me. Maybe MS strong-armed some hardware vendors, I don't know and won't defend that.

Anonymous said...

Raging nerd alert. This is all bound for the CRF for sure because it's getting so bitchy. Yes, if you ask with a straight face if there have been any improvements in Word between 1997 and 2007 you will be laughed at by anyone who has as much as demoed the program.

I'm the originator of this thread. I probably shouldn't have said that "all improvement stopped" but nothing you've said has spoken to my main point that compared to ~1985-1995, the rate of improvement now is much more shallow. Sure, a lot of stuff has changed, some for better, some arguably for worse, but look at the difference between early versions of Word for Windows and Word 97. It's ENORMOUS. And I'm saying THAT improvement was primarily motivated by competition. Discuss. (Or not.)

Anonymous said...

That's the failure of Open Source - too many developers think that an app is a checklist of features, when to customers it's a tool that helps them do stuff. The UI makes or breaks that tool in a customer's eyes, and the great majority of Open Source devs have clearly no clue about UI.

Well, there's open source where some guys come up with a project in their free time and bang out some code for it as a hobby, and there's open source where a project can be just as corporate as Windows but its source code is 'open.'

When you malign "open source devs" in this case you're probably referring to Sun Microsystems employees instead of the loose community of hobbyist volunteer developers you may have expected. (BTW, personally, I find any non-constructive criticism of volunteers to be revolting.)

Anonymous said...

After almost 10 years at MSFT I recently left and went to work for a company that uses open source software. I hadn't run Linux since the late 90's. You can imagine the fun on my first day when I was introduced to my new best friend, my Linux dev machine.
What I very quickly discovered is that there is a huge gap between how the OSS community portrays its accomplishments and reality. The supposed better quality and security of open source software are all in the minds of the zealots.

When I started at MSFT I was given a machine with NT4 and I feel the OS and the tools I'm using today are no better than the ones I was using 10 years ago. Linux is barely where NT4 was then in terms of quality. You wouldn't believe the number of stupid easily reproducible bugs I keep hitting.

One day we had a power outage, and a significant number of the Linux boxes never came back up. We had to reimage them. How much crap would MSFT get if their OS was that unreliable? Meanwhile the average Linux zealot is all proud because his machine has been up for 400+ days while under no significant load. IMHO that's a better measure of the quality of service from the power company than anything else.

Anonymous said...

When you malign "open source devs" in this case you're probably referring to Sun Microsystems employees instead of the loose community of hobbyist volunteer developers you may have expected. (BTW, personally, I find any non-constructive criticism of volunteers to be revolting.)

I can't use OpenOffice long enough to give constructive criticism, save "get some focus and try not to be Microsoft Office." Being a free version of MS Office means it's still playing follow-the-leader, and that's a game where OpenOffice can just never win.

Be revolted if you like, but the criticism is valid. The open source projects (yes, the ones on SourceForge and not the corporate-funded ones where some result is expected for the money) I've investigated are haphazard, usually one of a bunch of attempts at the same thing, get forked when egos come into play and generally end at v0.9 or whenever the thing runs. Linux is a miracle in that world, but it required strong focus and control, as well as lots of corporate effort.

Anonymous said...

Maybe MS strong-armed some hardware vendors, I don't know and won't defend that.

They did. I was on the receiving end of such strong-arm tactics in the 90's for which they had their knuckles rapped.

The way it went was: You could buy MS-DOS at the "discounted" price (i.e. the same as DR-DOS or any other competitor) but you had to pay MS for every hardware unit shipped whether it had MS-DOS on it or someone else's. So, if you wanted to provide your customers with a choice and sell units with either MS-DOS or DR-DOS, that was fine, but MSFT got paid either way. i.e. if you shipped MS-DOS you paid MSFT. If you shipped DR-DOS, you paid MSFT and DR.

Now, MSFT, said if that was a problem you could always pay "retail" (i.e. the marked-up or non-discounted, "rack" rate) which then made MS-DOS too expensive to offer at all. So, whachagonnado?

MSFT could get away with this sort of pricing because it was the market leader and the pricing policy made it all but impossible for competitors to get any business, hence the abuse of monopoly allegations.

Just my 2 cents said...

Toward the end of their reign, dinosaurs ran out of functional evolutionary changes, and ended up diversifying in appearance only - different shaped crests and bills, etc. They could make no further anatomical improvements. The line had gone as far as it could.

After switching to Office 2007 this week, I can see that there a few minor anatomical improvements, but The Ribbon is only diffent - not better.

I can now say with confidence that Office shows all the signs of becoming a big lumbering dinosaur; hoping that some new colors and a new ridge on its head will be attractive to a mate.

Anonymous said...

They did. I was on the receiving end of such strong-arm tactics in the 90's for which they had their knuckles rapped.

The way it went was: You could buy MS-DOS at the "discounted" price (i.e. the same as DR-DOS or any other competitor) but you had to pay MS for every hardware unit shipped whether it had MS-DOS on it or someone else's. So, if you wanted to provide your customers with a choice and sell units with either MS-DOS or DR-DOS, that was fine, but MSFT got paid either way. i.e. if you shipped MS-DOS you paid MSFT. If you shipped DR-DOS, you paid MSFT and DR.

Now, MSFT, said if that was a problem you could always pay "retail" (i.e. the marked-up or non-discounted, "rack" rate) which then made MS-DOS too expensive to offer at all. So, whachagonnado?

MSFT could get away with this sort of pricing because it was the market leader and the pricing policy made it all but impossible for competitors to get any business, hence the abuse of monopoly allegations.


I was at MS when this was happening, but you've mis-characterized it. HW vendors had a choice: they could either pay us per-copy or they could pay us a fee based on how many PCs they sold. Most vendors found it much easier (and cheaper) to pay us a fee based on units sold rather than trying to keep track of what PCs shipped with MS-DOS and what PCs shipped with OS2/DR-DOS/etc. This seems like a completely reasonable thing to do.

Where things fell apart is that we charged different vendors different amounts per unit sold. Big, giant Compaq got a cheaper rate per unit sold than, say, Gateway. It got even cheaper if they promoted IE. Oops.

Anonymous said...

Be revolted if you like, but the criticism is valid. The open source projects (yes, the ones on SourceForge and not the corporate-funded ones where some result is expected for the money) I've investigated are haphazard, usually one of a bunch of attempts at the same thing

OpenOffice is not simply a "corporate-funded SourceForge" project. It was a commercial product originally invented and developed for profit by a German company and was bought by Sun in 1999, and now it's mainly developed by Sun. So it was not invented by the "open source community" and most of its development is not done by the "open source community." So I still think you're misunderstanding the situation.

Open source projects may tend to be haphazard in general but you were originally saying that most open source devs have no clue about UI and think that an app is just a checklist of features. This is a personal insult and not just an observation about the tendencies of a group and it would be nice if you took some responsibility for it.

Anonymous said...

[quote]
Toward the end of their reign, dinosaurs ran out of functional evolutionary changes, and ended up diversifying in appearance only - different shaped crests and bills, etc. They could make no further anatomical improvements. The line had gone as far as it could.
[/quote]

LOL. I think a big rock fell from the sky which twarted any forward movement the dinosaurs may have made evolutionary-wise.

Use Office 2007 longer than a week and explore it before you say such things.

Shachar Shemesh said...

Anonymous said:
The open source projects (yes, the ones on SourceForge ...) I've investigated are haphazard, usually one of a bunch of attempts at the same thing, get forked when egos come into play and generally end at v0.9 or whenever the thing runs. Linux is a miracle in that world, but it required strong focus and control, as well as lots of corporate effort.

I think this comment shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how open source works. The basic idea is that it doesn't matter how many bad projects are out there, nor even what is the percentage of good projects. Bad projects don't cost you anything at all. The only thing that matters is how many good projects are out there.

Is there innovation in open source? I have not seen any serious proprietary implementation that does what my very own rsyncrypto does (warning - a sourceforge project), or that of rsync (warning - a samba project). Even Basian spam filtering made it into Mozilla long before Outlook finally included it.

Are many of the concepts taken from elsewhere? Yes, that how innovation works in software. Did Microsoft invent the command line? The mouse? The window? The click or the double click? MS provided its own implementation of ideas already invented by others, and that's ok. That's how software evolve. The main thing where open source is better is that:
1. A failed attempt doesn't cost you anything.
2. If there is anything salvageable from said attempt, you are not bound to also take the bad with the good.

The version 0.9 complaint is, likewise, a misunderstanding of open source. Just like proprietary software tends to bump the versions up way too quickly, so that version 1.5 is still, in actuality, an early beta version, in FOSS the versions often only reach 1.0 after the software is way too mature to be called that. Typically, it would only be called 1.0 when the developer decides the version is mature enough to work on a major feature upgrade.

Lastly, there is the claim of forking. I don't know what projects the original poster tested, but I have seen EXTREMELY little forking in the FOSS world, and never of small projects (at least, not forks that lasted or made an impact). Of the big projects, I can think of Wine (a license fork), X.org (a combined license and inadequate response from the original maintainers) and Joomla (community participation of maintainers) as forks that happened over the past decade. Of those, X.org completely eliminated the original project (XFree86), Wine had the original project stagger along for another year or two, and then disappear (but TransGaming still has a closed source product based on it). I'm not sure where Mambo is today, and it is getting a rewrite anyways. In other words, the forks were so successful as to kill off the original, which means it was not really a fork, just a vote of no confidence.

I can recall no other forks at the moment, and I doubt there are more than a couple I have left out. Either way, with the possible exception of Joomla/Mambo, forking is just a way to take the leadership from someone who is abusing it. No actual lasting splitting of resources has ever happened, which means there is no reason to see that as a negative thing at all.

Hope things are clearer.

Shachar

Who da'Punk said...

...and with that, I'd like to close the book on the Open Source / Linux / Microsoft back and forth. Things aren't as contentious as they used to be, and that's good.

But this really isn't the place for engagement. Moderation wise I was happy for it to go on more than I'd usually like because folks did a fairly good job indulging in a modicum of respectful back and forth.

Enjoy your weekend!

Anonymous said...

"And my partheon shot - for all of you that love the EU so much, do the rest of us a favor. Turn in your American passport, move to the EU, and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out. Send us a postcard on how the tax rates over there work out for 'ya."

I know that it'll sound far-fetched, but MS could totally exit the EU market; fire every single employee in the EU and every single company or contractor it works with there. So could Intel.

At the end of the day, Europeans would still buy and use MS and Intel products, albeit probably at a higher price and bought on the gray/black market. After all the marketing efforts and money spent, plus the cost of fines--and they'll keep coming--what does MS has to show for it?

Even 500 million/year from products sold without headeaches to third-party wholesalers--ask no questions, offer no warranties or support--would be a nice net profit.

Anonymous said...

Neelie Kroes. She is not some rabid Euro-socialist crashing down on US Captialism.

This is exactly what she is. In their own words, they are defining any product with more than 40% market share as a monopoly. She believes competetion is best served by punishing the leaders, raising the losers and making everyone in between equal. This is fundamentally the opposite of capitalism. What is worse is there are no checks and balances. The EU commission makes the laws, enforces the laws with fines, and are the same body you appeal to?

Anonymous said...

Not sure if anyone is following the MSFT & YHOO story anymore. I am not reading this on a raguler basis.

But.... It's Saturday nite. I'm drinking a bottle of Prosecco and snuggly engulfed in my copy of Smart Money. There is an article by Roger Lowestein on page 42. Wow, "Microsoft + Yahoo != Google."

The first 5 paragraphs are a must read for any MSFT share holder for any strategic soul at MSFT.

The conclusion is: "All this leads to a question: What's so bad about the business Microsoft is already in?" (My conclusion exactly a few months ago, as well)

I am no longer at MSFT. I sold most of my stock. But I still like this company - I like its business model. Could someone with any balls slip a copy of this article under Mr. Balmer's door? I would do this, but like I said, I no longer work at Microsoft, or, after finishing my Proseco, I would drive myselft to campus and slip the article under his door.

Anonymous said...

The reason capitalism survived and socialism or communism did not is because of the great ethical base of capitalism to provide a more valid answer to how to execute economic theory.

The drunk guy.... Working my way up through the comments.

Sorry man, the reason capitalism survived was because capitalism provided the best way (some would argue, the only way) to price things/services. The best way to price something is to offer it to someone and ask them to buy it. It's called a free market, you know????

Socialism had the whole 5 years plan thing, where the planners would figure out how many people would need shoes in 5 years, what type of shoes, what size, etc....
Did not work too well. It took half a century and countless number of lives.

I will go back to reading more comments.

Read Milton Friedman and Michael Jensen and then bring ethics into play.

jon said...

22 out of 23 analysts surveyed expect Microsoft to buy Yahoo without raising their price, which has sunk to about $40B. Eric Auchard and Daisuke Wakabayashi-Analysis discuss for Reuters.

The Slashdot discussion of the Microsoft and Yahoo executives meeting has some entertaining comments, like flyingsquid's summary:
Cornelius, in the bank office, clutches the mortgage in his bony fingers, then twists his long, black moustache. He throws a chair across the office, laughing in triumph. But who is that figure silhouetted against the horizon? That handsome, broad-shouldered man wearing a white hat and riding a white stallion? The reflected sun shines from the gleaming sheriff's badge on his chest, which reads, 'Don't be evil'. But can he possibly come soon enough to save the fair Miss Yahoo? Next week, the exciting finale!"

We shall see. Most non-Microsoft people I've talked to think it would be great for Microsoft if this deal goes through, even though they're likely to screw it up; there are also a lot of concerns about whether it's a good thing for users, particularly from a privacy perspective.

jon said...

oh, and for those of you who are fans of my earlier PREfix/PREfast work: I was quoted in the Economist's article on software tools, where my view that computer science is really a social science showed up in paragraph two framing the entire piece.

More thoughts about the revolution-in-progress on Liminal States, along with an interesting gender-related observation.

Anonymous said...

I'm the originator of this thread. I probably shouldn't have said that "all improvement stopped" but nothing you've said has spoken to my main point that compared to ~1985-1995, the rate of improvement now is much more shallow. Sure, a lot of stuff has changed, some for better, some arguably for worse, but look at the difference between early versions of Word for Windows and Word 97. It's ENORMOUS. And I'm saying THAT improvement was primarily motivated by competition. Discuss. (Or not.)

Name one software product that has been around as long as Word that has changed as much in the last three years as in its first three years. You can't because it's a unattainable bar to set as product feature sets mature and computing resource advances become more stable and predictable. The most important changes that will happen in ANY mature application will be seen in incremental UI improvements. See for example the iPhone which does practically nothing new or different but due mainly to a glossy sheen and other people's ideas (gestures did not originate with Apple) is taking the market by storm. Go tell Steve Jobs he's not truly innovating because bah the touchscreen interface has as many drawbacks as advantages, I'm sure he'll listen thoughtfully and furrow his brow and stop the production line at once. "Welp, this is no command-line-to-GUI-level change, must be a crap idea..."

Similarly, Office's style previews seem really "duh" until you see them in action and realize how simple and helpful they are. How about Excel's improved graphs--yeah, it's "just" graphics, right, which I guess is a fair criticism if you access Excel from a Braille reader. The ribbon? Well in my 30 minutes of dicking around with it I can assure everyone that it's no big deal. And the iPhone is just a pretty interface, the Eiffel tower is just a tall building, and the Mona Lisa is just a painting of a woman.

Ribbon, shmibbon! I don't care if it makes the program more accessible and useful for millions of people. You see I'm quite bored with Microsoft and its products and I feel that reflexively criticizing applications I've failed to use is contributing something of value. You see I was around in the days of MS-DOS 3.3, that makes me something of an expert on these things.

Why do people who offer nonserious criticisms always expect deep and engaged rebuttals? Maybe you should just read your original post and ponder why you felt the need to write something so vapid.

Anonymous said...

Time/Warners suit against MSFT is going ahead: here. "Microsoft Bob was a blatant attempt to extend Microsofts Monopoly in the operating systems arena into the Entertainment space" a spokesman from Time/Warner was quoted.

Shakes head - can we please just buy a garage, give the money away and restart from scratch? Being the butt of legal jokes is no fun anymore.

the mad blogger said...

>Read Milton Friedman and Michael Jensen and then bring ethics into play.

Milton Friedman definitely, but Michael Jensen only provides the rationalized basis for Microsoft's management structure, aka the partner and stock options, which, except for the partner is quite diluted these days.

I think the great illusion of stock options process in the way that Microsoft practices it is that it is a strong motive for Microsoft's constant legal and government entanglements. It drives the conscience and ethical behavior to the bottom of the list of behavior modifiers that affect a partner's decision making process, which drives things like brand value, customer satisfaction, and most importantly, the tendency to use deception on occasion to drive the sale of products.

In other words, it gives rise the a self-rationalized consequentialism methodology of the end justifies the means, which we all know is extraordinarily destructive to the concept of ethical behavior and a customer driven company.

Probably the Cournot-Nash equilibrium has as much to do with Microsoft's current corporate condition as anything. Non-cooperative gaming theory would imply that the other player, `the customer' has made a move that is counter to the expected behavior of the master game boy at Microsoft, Steve Balmer.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it - the Vista Capable debacle calls for blood in the parking lot - specifically blood that is a positive DNA match for Will Poole. He needs to be publicly fired for his stupid, short-sighted actions.

Look, I know a lot of people within MS are annoyed about this and would like to see Will Poole get canned, but the reality of the situation is that he cannot get fired till this whole issue is sorted out in court, given that he will be a partiticipant in the hearings. Imagine firing him now and having him turn on the company and all its other "practices" or dirty little secrets. That would be a nightmare. I doubt there is any way he would sign a confidentiality agreement now.

Steve Ballmer said...

Microsoft will overcome all obstacles!

Oyunlar said...

Wine is a very good simulator of windows. not for cracking Windows. If it's passes WGA it just shows weakness of WGA.