"OOOH, intercourse the penguin!" --GrahamChapman
Can we learn from Microsoft?
The company that everyone loves to hate. Be that as it may, it is important not to develop a blind-spot towards them. One can learn from practically anyone. People who don't are incurring unnecessary risk. To get an idea about what you can leverage from MS, start with
Alternatives for those not wishing to use Microsoft
There are other practical alternatives
While this may be true today in some way, there is more than one way to deal with them. This line of italic text was originally written by a person who has never run software from MicrosoftCorporation on a private computer of his on a serious level. At work he develops on a DebianGnuLinux box, and only uses MicrosoftCorporation software to test. This is not out of hate for MicrosoftCorporation, but because software from MicrosoftCorporation contrary to common belief does not appeal to everybody.
- Microsoft is a fact of life; deal with 'em or perish.
So, you're operating in complete agreement with the statement, then?
No, I don't understand. But people send me documents from the MicrosoftWord program, so I have to install software to decrypt the documents, or teach them how to use other programs. Either way is dealing with it. Alternately, I could say to them, "Don't send me documents from your program, I care not for them.", but that would be to perish, according to this author, I guess.
You could install OpenOffice - it's come a very long way in the past few months and opens every DOC file I throw at it now. Sometimes the way to "deal" with microsoft is to not run their software at all.
How true! I don't run the software of MicrosoftCorporation. OpenOfficeOrg, AbiWord, AntiWord? and others are some of the tools I use to DealWithMicroSoft?. When I need to write documentation or other stuff, I usually prefer to use LaTeX2e in a comfortable editor like GnuEmacs (maybe with AUC-TeX or simular).
Is the Market Place wrong?
- Can a company with, what, 90% of the market be all bad? I think not. Some of their approaches make a lot of sense: frequent builds, for example. See my Web site, http://www.armaties.com, for some links to books describing how they actually do their projects. Some good ideas there. -- RonJeffries
- Couldn't find any links on that site, Ron... LinkRot? (Try the nearby http://www.xprogramming.com/books/xp_recommended_reading_prog.htm)
- McDonalds also advertises their French fries as "America's Favorite Fries", even though in taste tests just after that slogan came out, Wendy's fries beat them handily. Afterwards, McDonalds started putting a wee subtitle on their television ads: Based on sales.
- Pitney-Bowes -- Years ago I worked for a Pitney-Bowes subsidiary, and learned that, because they had something like 95% of the postage meter market, they had been investigated for anti-trust violations, but the Department of Justice concluded that their market share was so high because no one really tried to compete with them. So a large market share is not automatically an illegal monopoly.
But Be Inc. did try to compete with Microsoft, and we all know what happened to them...
The Market Place Popularity vs Quality - which counts most?
Ubiquity Quality Benevolence Popularity Characterization Marketplace
- The moral of the story is that ubiquity and quality are not interchangeable words.
- All bad? How's about MonSanto as benevolent? Just 'cause you're popular, doesn't mean that you're wonderful and your feet don't stink.
- This is a good point: in fact it seems to suggest that MicroSoft knows that the world knows that their products suck, so at least they're pragmatic...
- There are segments of our society which hold to positions as expressed above, but there is a much larger segment found to behave in the marketplace in direct opposition to the characterizations. They realize that even though Crude Oil stinks, there are huge, multinational Corporations who have the ability to convert it into available and usable gasoline, plastics, cosmetics, medicines, machines and products found useful if not essential. It is the characteristic of modernization that because of the necessities of research, exploration, manufacturing and distribution, that large organizations are required to exercise the efficiencies necessary for cost-efficient production of products on a global scale. -- DonaldNoyes
Microsoft and open source
Microsoft is beginning to open the door to its SourceCode
, if only partially.
Much better .. or they feel breathing on the back of the neck..
- 22 February 2002 "By sharing our source code responsibly with our partners, we are committing our most valuable intellectual property to the belief that a vibrant and integrated software ecosystem is critical to the future of our global economy and IT performance," --http://www.isa.org/journals/ic/news/1,1160,2204,00.html
- They are getting much better...as in they are beginning to understand the values of collaboration and sharing -- BenHughes
- Personally, I've often wondered when they would figure out that one of the biggest reasons for the popularity of the MicrosoftFoundationClasses was that they came with full source code.
Microsoft humor, or MicrosoftBashing You choose.
View that morality and choices made on the basis of money is part of the real problem
Programmers like what they are doing, even at Microsoft
- Part of the problem may be that when you are under thirty five and a multi-millionaire (as are many MS program managers) you naturally don't care. *You'll retire soon and comfortably no matter what happens. So why stir the pot? Ship it.
- If you're a millionaire and you're still working, it's because you DO still care about the job.
- Or you want more of the kind of money and power that got an uber-celebrity like Madonna to spend a weekend at an uber-geek's house like Gates'.
- I've had experience with programmers in this situation, including some from MicroSoft. Few of them are on the "more millions" treadmill.
- Most of them were driven by the process: it's inherently fun to program.
- Unfortunately, it does seem to cause them to lose sight of why they're hired to program in the first place: to solve (usually other people's) problems.''
- I think most reasonable people would agree that things of true value are not made 'for the money' so much as for love; and that love will not admit of a shoddy product, nor be satisfied until it is as good as possible.
- I was struck by the MicroSoft "Prepare for Liftoff" conceit somewhere on their web site that I wrote them, asking whether they had considered how much this sounded like "Prepare for Ripoff"
- What do they care, they're simply in it for the money.
- Now, some would say that in a capitalist society every business that stays in business must be driven by this principle (i.e. everything comes down to bean-counting). .
- Two-tiered product schemes, such as MicroSoft's 'consumer grade' versus 'professional grade' versions of Windows, by definition have to be a ripoff. If the 'professional' grade is indeed made as well as possible, then the 'consumer grade' version must be a degraded disgrace that is distributed to prop up the inflated price of the 'professional' version. The incremental costs of duplicating, distributing, packaging either version is virtually the same. The cost of having two different lines of code development, each with untold millions of lines of code we are told, is definitely more expensive for MicroSoft then simply employing the 'professional' grade programmers to make one, definitive operating system. Obviously, it must be far more profitable for MicroSoft to incur the additional cost of producing and selling an inferior product, the 'consumer' version, simply by the fact that they would be irrational to choose a course that didn't maximize profits, not to mention their profit history. (See recent RedHat strategies for a Linux comparison)
- Capitalism the MarketPlace? and individuals cannot be trusted : So, contrary to popular belief, capitalism does NOT produce optimal product quality...in fact it creates as degraded a quality product as a gullable public will pay for. And, as the adage goes, you get what you pay for.
- A societal disaster : A factor in the ongoing disaster that is MicroSoft (a disaster for society at large) is that since MicroSoft is a monopoly, it may be keeping the 'consumer' grade Windows simply to keep a pool of programmers in their own camp rather than freeing them to work at potential competitors. After all, there are only a finite number of OS programmers, so buying them up (what used to be called "co-opting" them) and giving them a pretext for drawing a paycheck lets MicroSoft create whatever dreck it likes without fear of meaningful competition, charging whatever price it wishes.
(sounds a lot like if you can't beat them join them) (any one here thinking about going to work for Microsoft?) Ooops! Gone to work for Microsoft?
- Breaking up Microsoft a good thing, it will unemploy programmers : THIS is only one of the compelling reasons for breaking MicroSoft apart--to liberate programmers. Society would doubtless benefit far more from cheaper programmers working on a diverse mix of competing operating systems than the present situation, which benefits no one on the basis of quality and reliability and rewards Gates, the managers and stockholders all out of proportion to the value being created....whilst BLOCKING alternative situations, some of which, in all probability, would be a greater gain for society at large. (Like Global Outsourcing?)
- Kind of sucks, doesn't it...
Duplication of Effort as efficient and beneficial
- Competing operating systems? Having companies having to make their software 20 different ways?
- I hardly see that as society benefiting.
- Look at game consoles and game ports between consoles, most of the time the game gets crappier with each port, AKA deteorating software from OS to OS.''
Integrate and Implement Everything
The problem with Microsoft is that they tend to be too greedy
. They want everything, the birthday cake, the crumbs, the gifts and eventually they'll want to eat the guests too. They just don't know when to stop!
That may be the first error in their strategy. People in business are like guests at a party; they tend to dislike over-eaters, pigs who want to have the whole cake. They want a piece too. If there was a street-musician making a lot of money playing music in the streets of Seattle, soon enough you'd see Bill Gates cashing in! (They might already be involved if the music making money is using computers and software)
Gain Some Lose Some
Gates and Ballmer should have used the gain-some-lose-some mantra and everything would have been fine for them. To the contrary their motto was: Win everything at all costs.
'''Comparing behaviour before and after SteveBallmer
became CEO may be instructive: MS has moved towards settling lawsuits rather than pursuing them and many at the company are aware of the bad relations their attitude and actions have caused. If you find public apologies compelling, listen to almost any speech by Steve Ballmer.
For example, an excellent sacrifice would have been to not integrate Internet Explorer in Windows 98. This way they would have given a chance to Netscape and other browsers. No they couldn't resist putting Netscape out of business. They wanted that market too. (When I last checked you can get and use Netscape and scores of other browsers 20020312). it's not the same Netscape
'''Also Netscape contributed significantly to its own downfall by attempting to charge heavily for the distribution of the Netscape browser when dealing with magazines and ISPs (at a time when personal downloads of the Netscape browser were free). In fact Netscape distributed more copies of its browser than there were users on the Internet and still failed to displace IE. This is not to suggest that IE lacks flaws - only to point out that many companies make mistakes. A behemoth like Microsoft does need to reach higher standards than others to be fair, not lower standards.
''' Name me a corporation whose investors allow lower profits next year than this year. MS is owned by stockholders, so it has to be "greedy." All corporations do.
- That (and many other things) got them in trouble with the US Government via the Department of Justice who blew the whistle (sort of).
- I think what we have here is a compulsion to make more and more money. It is as dangerous as gambling. When do you stop wanting money? When do you start enjoying your money? I am sure psychiatrists will eventually find a name for this deviance. When last I checked Bill Gates was in the business of giving money to help others (to the tunes of billions).
--Name a corporation that doesn't want to make more money next year than it did this year: increasing profits is the oxygen
More on Microsoft's troubles in court at GrokLaw: http://www.groklaw.net/staticpages/index.php?page=2005010107100653
- Craving for money, craving for Power (Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam Hussein...). This is all part of the same compulsion I believe. (The three examples are political dictators)
- An Evil monopoly? -- Not automatically, but we have some case law that suggests that in Microsoft's specific case, it is an illegal monopoly. I'm just waiting for all the appeals to finish so I can start calling them "The Criminals From Redmond" without threat of a defamation suit. ;-) -- ZygoBlaxell
If marketing means (as the AMA have it) matching the needs of your customers to the capabilities of your company, at a profit, then MS are a marketing company. And there's nothing wrong with that either. If you think marketing is merely promotion, then I don't think the success of MS can be totally attributed to their promotional skills. There's more behind their success than that.
Implementing Good Ideas
A recycler of ideas. Many companies are. It's a perfectly reasonable strategy. NotInventedHere
Now by accusing the Sofware Giant of being greedy does not mean Microsoft hasn't done some good stuff, made some good inventions. I am sure some people will eventually find something original Microsoft has come up with. Personally I did some research but could not find anything.
Well known Integrations and Improvements
- DOS: copied from CPM.
- The icon menu [Windows]: Apple
- The mouse: Xerox Parc (actually invented - and patented - by Douglas Engelbart at SRI)
- The integrated programming environment [Visual Basic, C etc.]: BorlandPascal?? Absolutely not. It was SmalltalkLanguage. [Not to mention the LispMachine]
- The Spread-sheet [Excel]: <- MitchKapor -Lotus 123 <- VisiCalc
- The navigator/browser <- Mosaic from UIUC
- Flight Simulator <- Originally written by Bruce Artwick and published by his own company SubLOGIC, prior to its eventual sale to MS and re-branding as the *Microsoft Flight Simulator
Recycler of ideas
than a true inventor. Their true strength is marketing though, thanks to SteveBallmer
and not technology!
Microsoft are so big that trying to pigeon-hole them as one entity is nearly impossible. For example, I doubt we would see MicrosoftLabs in the same light as we see their legal department.
- GM didn't invent the motor car.
- Citibank didn't invent the idea of banking.
- The mouse wasn't invented by Xerox Parc,
- Lotus didn't invent the spreadsheet
Improving Good Ideas
- Even if one accepts MS invented nothing (which I don't), then you'd have to agree they tend to improve the heck out of the things they start with
- Excel is much better than 123 ever was.
- The Infra-red optical mouse (previous optical mice had required a special mouse pad)
- Tabbed windows (first seen in OS/2, a joint MicroSoft-IBM project collaboration (at the time), but popularized in MicroSoft Windows 3.11)
- Anyone who is familiar with the difference in computing today as opposed to what it was in 1980, can thank Microsoft for improving software and making the way for improved and enhanced hardware we find used the world over. Would we be where we are today without Microsoft? Would an individual user be able to assemble a computing system with hardrives allowing access to Terabytes of information and programs for under 3000 dollars? That is about the cost of a state of the art machine in almost any generation of computers. Would you choose to negate progress made in your behalf because someone has gotten rich providing it for you? Probably not. This is not to say that tomorrows providers will be the same as currently, or even that progress is inevitable. One has but to look at history to see that mankind has not always moved from good to better to best. Let us hope that in our own lifetimes that such will be the case. -- DonaldNoyes
It is just not sane for the economy, for the business world and for the software world to have one single company that is so huge and so powerful. Wealth like power has to be distributed between many
. This being said, if Microsoft offered me a big contract, I'd certainly change my tune (see AnimalFarm
by George Orwell). But deep inside I'd still believe what I just said!
This is where we are headed though: less and less small companies. More and more huge companies and multi-nationals. Savage capitalism. Just not right... I wonder what the solutions could be?
The Microsoft possibility
The second word in a typical abstract now required in every software business plan: 'The Microsoft Possibility' must describe preparations for the time when this behemoth sets its sights hungrily upon your innovations and inventions. For when you wake the slumbering giant, you must anticipate its co-opting of your standards and corruption of your ideals in its pursuit of 'universal adoption' (a derivative of Marxian belief, I think).
[True! Microsoft waits for others to do the inventions then they copy them left and right!]
Patents and Copyrights
- For Software Companies, the Patent Process is also known as the Microsoft Protection Program.
Microsoft tablet ads have been trashing Apple and Apple Siri of late. In the Jobs era, revenge would be swift and heavy. Let's see how Apple responds. The problem is that counter ads would legitimize MS as a competitor in the minds of viewers, which so far based on market share, it's not. Maybe Apple will try another route such as including OpenOffice
pre-installed on all Macs.
Bad Ideas and Claims of Hoaxes
- April 30, 2003: News release by MicroSoft UnitedKingdom divison boasted about an Internet-enabled portable toilet with a name of iLoo (a jab at Apple?) The iLoo, described in the press release as a portable toilet with wireless keyboard and an extending height-adjustable plasma screen in front of the seat.
- May 12, 2003: Claimed a hoax by MicroSoft head office. (An April fools day prank played 29 days late?)
- May 13, 2003: Claim of hoax recinded by MicroSoft but they said that the project has been killed off as the project was not a good extension of the brand.
- source: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2003-05-14-iloo-hoax-retract_x.htm
Microsoft technologies and quality