Microsoft Lemmings

The suggestion is that MicrosoftCorporation promotes itself as stopping software projects from running off of cliffs, then doesn't.

This would be MicrosoftBashing if it weren't the poster's personal experience.

Well, I think you might need to expand. A GoodWorkmanDoesntBlameHisTools??

"The software industry wastes as much as 97% of its projects. If you want to defeat these odds, you could hire for a project lead an eXtremo and/or a former SmallTalker...

...Or you could sign up for Microsoft Certified Codependency, and send them all your money before you then drive your project over a cliff and into the sea again." --PhlIp

...Or you could read YourBadExperienceDoesntMakeItEvil and HorsesForCourses, and reflect on the fact that there are many different technologies out there, and many projects successfully using a mixture of those technologies, and that many of those projects have used technologies from MicroSoft as a part of the mix without running off a cliff. If you are blindly relying on someone else's technology to avoid that cliff edge, you may as well just start investing in parachutes.

True, but Microsoft products tend to take a "import willingly, export grudgingly" approach. That makes it difficult to make Microsoft products interoperate with non-Microsoft products. I don't know if that's due to mentality or a real plan to push out any competition.

Can you provide an example? My experience has been the opposite. Delphi, Smalltalk, Perl and other languages interact more easily with Microsoft components than they do with Sun's Java components, for instance.

Try: Ah, I thought we were talking about Microsoft's development tools. Have you tried doing any of the above in systems like Lotus Notes? My experience has been that Microsoft is no worse than the competition when it comes to application interoperability, and better with regards to reusable ActiveX components.

True, I personally like MicrosoftDeveloperStudio? - but I think they made that good for two reasons: 1 - the really technical developers got to develop it, and 2 - it has to be good to get anyone to write apps for windows.

We eventually went with Apache & WebDav using Sunbird's calendar. For addresses we hacked a batch file to query for each vCard one at a time. OpenOffice's HTML editor was much cleaner than MicrosoftFrontPage, and Exchange server was then replaced with sendmail on linux. Open source is much better about interoperability.

Some open source products are good about interoperability with some other open source products. Any product that tries to create a market identity has to differentiate itself from other products. Look at all of the Linux distros and their myriad differences. I don't think anyone who has worked with Lotus Notes will complain about Exchange Server.

The key difference is the use of open standards. Open source uses them naturally, while Microsoft either does the sleazy EmbraceAndExtend, or invents a completely proprietary (and increasingly patent-locked) standard. Open standards are the real benefit, open source is more incidental.

But Microsoft is not unique in that practice, and there's nothing sleazy about EmbraceAndExtend. That's the way businesses avoid creating CommodityMarkets. Once everything works with everything else just as well as everything else the only differentiator is price. When price is the sole differentiator the player with the deepest pockets and/or largest economies of scale wins. All of that shrinks profits and puts the squeeze on R&D, killing future innovation.

I don't care about justifications for EmbraceAndExtend - it's not my problem to help other businesses survive. I have a job to do, and I'm going to pragmatically choose the software that best helps me accomplish my tasks. We used Microsoft before, and now there is a better alternative - it just happens to be open source. If Microsoft wants to make closed standards, ridiculous assertions of innovation, and lock-in customers, that's their right, but I have no obligation to help them, and many reasons to distrust them.

Then at least be fair and say the same about IBM, Sun, Apple, CA, RedHat, etc. This isn't a Microsoft issue, it's an economic issue.

We aren't running IBM, Sun, Apple, ComputerAssociates, or RedHat. Unfortunately Windows isn't a choice due to antitrust & monopoly issues. I can ignore the others, but Microsoft Windows (and bundled/"integrated" apps) is something everyone has to deal with every day - that's why they are the subject of so much hate and bile. If Microsoft were actually a choice and not a foisted monopoly, they would have already failed.

That's odd. Microsoft has never forced me to run their operating system or their applications. I've worked at shops that develop for Systen V Unix, VMS, Solaris, MS-DOS and Windows. I don't think Microsoft is any worse than the other vendors, just more popular.

[Historically, this isn't true. I would say that in the last 5 years the MS platform has become stable and reliable enough to talk about in the same context as the others you mention. Before then, any such comparison was laughable. Some people hold a grudge, I guess :)]

I'm not talking about the quality of the operating systems but about the ease of interoperability. The other vendors had higher quality operating systems in the past, but they weren't running them on personal computers. Indeed, all of them failed to take the PC seriously until it was too late. [But the ease of interoperability argument was (is it still? I expect things are a bit better now) pretty laughable too. It's been a while since I had to deal with them, but historically at least MS products mostly interoperated ok *only* with other MS products of nearly the same age. Interoperability between versions of the same program was poor, let alone other programs (even in the same 'suite')] How is that any different from the other vendors?

Well, this debate has been done before - on this wiki even. Suffice it to say that many people do feel microsoft is widespread due to antitrust issues rather than popularity due to features. Of course not everyone will have that same opinion. In fairness the same was said about IBM until the 80's revolution. Maybe one day I'll have to drop open source for something else if open source gets too oppressive somehow. I really don't like how Microsoft conducts it's business or advertising, but politics take a back seat to technical pragmatism. I could even see a day when I choose microsoft again - but they would have to make massive changes before I'd even consider that.

I'm not saying Microsoft isn't a monopoly. I'm saying no one has ever forced me to use their OS or apps, and that the decision isn't between open source and Microsft, but between open source and closed source software. In the world of closed source software, Microsoft is no worse than the competition.

Maybe, maybe not. None of the closed-source competition (SunMicrosystems, Apple, etc.) has ever gotten anywhere near monopoly status. Apple has long behaved in such a fashion that I suspect that if they did become a monopoly, they would be as bad (if not worse) than Microsoft is.

But the potential misbehavior of competitors doesn't exclude Microsoft's anti-competitive behavior, for which it was duly convicted in a court of law. (And despite the sentence being overturned by the Court of Appeals and the subsequent change-of-heart by the DOJ that occurred when GeorgeBush became president, doubtless with the help of MS campaign dollars, that conviction still stands).

Only it isn't misbehavior we're discussing. It's how you avoid a commodity market. If Microsoft, Apple, Sun, CA and everyone else provided plug compatible components that could all be reliably swapped for each other then the most popular one would be the cheapest one. And the cheapest one would be the one that could best afford to sell at the least profit. In other words, Microsoft.

Of course, even time will wash away that stain. BigBlue used to be as bad as Microsoft, if not worse. Nowadays they are considered one of the "good guys". Reform is possible; though I don't think Microsoft will ever change it's ways as long as BillGates and/or SteveBallmer are in charge. -- SomeoneElseJoiningTheDiscussion?

I don't consider IBM one of the "good guys". But I don't consider Microsoft one of the "bad guys" either.

I wouldn't know as well as I can choose not to use the other guys. . . but my experience with Solaris and AIX did seem to have the same locked-in "you'll take what we sell you for 20k and like it or. . . haha there is no or, you have to take it!" attitude. So I'd venture to say you are correct there. -- LayneThomas

This page needs refactoring into MicrosoftInteroperability?
Microsoft doesn't run lemmings over cliffs; Disney does. See http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/lemmings.htm.

How could Microsoft stop a project from going over a cliff? I don't even understand what that means. Would they send people out to physically rip up bad business plans, deflate overly optimistc estimates, reverse death marches, and shake teams out of analysis paralysis? I don't keep up with Microsoft promotions. Are they really claiming they will do all of this?

I've worked at Microsoft and non-Microsoft shops. I haven't noticed any correlation between tool vendor and project failure rates.

-- EricHodges


I thought MicrosoftLemmings referred to those decision makers who choose Microsoft products as their corporate standards because "everybody else is doing it." As in the mother's admonishment, "If all of your friends jumped off a cliff, you would too."


See CriticsAreYourBestFriends CriticalSpirit CategoryMicrosoft

EditText of this page (last edited November 7, 2005) or FindPage with title or text search