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Microsoft

Windows Exec Doug Miller Responds 747

Posted by Roblimo
from the people-without-penguins-on-their-monitors dept.
Doug Miller (no relation) is an amazingly affable and unflappable man. This interview came about because I asked Doug face-to-face if he'd do it when we met after a panel discussion he was part of in Washington DC a few weeks ago. He said "sure" without even a second's hesitation, let alone checking with PR people. His answers to the 10 selected questions we sent him are 100% straight-up. You may not like everything he says (devout Free Software people probably won't like any of it), but Doug Miller deserves your respect (and courtesy) for telling it like it is -- at least from Microsoft's point of view -- without a hint of weaseling.

1) Impact of DOJ case
by skoda

In what ways, if any, has the DOJ anti-trust case affected Microsoft's "competitive strategies", as well as the work Towards "interoperability"?

Doug:

Microsoft has always been a customer focused company and to satisfy customers, you need to build solutions that are competitive. I can't really say if anything has changed over the years, but I can tell you that today we are in a very competitive market - for all the technologies we are involved in. There is nothing like good competitors to help a company focused on building even more value in their offerings. As a result, we need to be even more diligent about building solutions that customers want. For example, in the server space we need to compete with Linux - a pretty good server operating system that is promoted as being free and has a solid following in the technical community. Our products need to show long term value that goes beyond the initial purchase price so the argument becomes not how much does your operating system cost up front but more importantly, how much will your operating system save you over the years that you use it.

Ultimately we believe some of the enhancements we have added to our Windows 2000 server operating system will save companies many times the cost of the operating system in productivity gains in areas such as of ease of use, management, applications choice and support and robustness. Regarding interoperability, we strongly believe the company that interoperates best, is the company that will win the business.

Interoperability is a key competitive strength. We clearly accept that customers will choose multiple operating systems depending on how they need to solve their business problems. Providing ways to plug into those other operating systems - both at a system level (e.g. files, user directories etc.) and at an application level (e.g. data formats) is essential. Microsoft has received unwarranted criticism by some for its ability to interoperate with other operating systems. I actually believe we have better interoperability today than any other OS out there. We fully support data, directory and system interop with UNIX, Linux, Novell, Mac, IBM mainframes through our base OS protocol support as well as through products like Services for UNIX, Interix, Services for NetWare, MetaDirectory and Host Integration Server.

2) OS X
by neutrino

With the recent release of MacOS X what are your reactions to it and what plans do you have to compete with a truly user-friendly desktop OS combined with the stability of a UNIX backend?

Doug:

I'm not sure much will change with the release of the new Mac OS X, as a result of the new UNIX-like features. The Mac crowd has always been a special group that has been very dedicated to the Mac platform. We actually see this as a great market for us to sell some of our products into; of course Office for the Mac is a very successful product.

Ultimately application support will be the most important factor for OS X or as it is for any operating system. BeOS is a great operating system technically but hasn't offered the features to obtain the broad ISV support you need to catch on in the mainstream market. You could ask the same question for Linux with the GNOME or KDE desktop or any of the window managers that look like Mac or Windows desktops. In the end, the OS has to do something useful. The Mac platform has been very viable in the past and I'm sure it will continue to thrive in the future.

Reliability or stability has been a major focus for us as well. We are hearing very good reports from customers who are now using Windows 2000 - both on the desktop and the server. Of course, being user-friendly is also important to us. If you haven't seen the beta of Windows XP, check it out - it is VERY cool.

3) Explain this piece of competetive strategy to me
by RareHeintz

Why does it seem that Microsoft routinely ignores glaringly obvious security concerns in favor of "convenience"-related features? Is this a false impression, and if so, why is that the impression so many security professionals form when confronted with the history of security in Microsoft products?

As an example, I'd single out (though it is by no means the only example) Microsoft Outlook. The inclusion of active code (scripts, ActiveX controls) in what was formerly static data (SMTP email) combined with defaulting to the least secure configuration (opening and running emails without user intervention) left the door wide open for the Melissa virus and its desendants. What happened here?

Doug:

You raise a good point - which is how to you balance ease of use and functionality with security and exposure to hostile attacks from the outside. We have always made an effort to provide highly functional software that makes the user experience as intuitive as possible. At the same time, we are sensitive to the growing security threats to our customers, and providing enhanced security has been and continues to be one of our top priorities. In the case of Outlook, we've taken several steps to provide improved security for users. For example, after the "I Love You" virus of last spring, we took the initiative to change the balance between security and functionality by releasing the Outlook E-Mail Security Update. The Update prevents executable attachments from being delivered to an Outlook user, and also prevents code from sending mail on the user's behalf without the user's permission. No user who's installed the Update has been harmed by any of the e-mail viruses that have been seen since "I Love You". The Update was made available as a standalone offering last spring, and has been included by default in Office 2000 SP2 and in Office XP.

We continue to enhance our offerings in this area - in fact next week, we will be showing some new technology at the RSA show to further protect users.

4) Lay it out for us
by FWMiller

Can you ever see Microsoft applications like Office, Visio, and Project being ported to Linux, and why or why not?

Doug:

"Never say never." Microsoft is continually looking at market opportunities for its products - on both our own platforms as well as on other platforms. As mentioned above we saw a great opportunity for selling our Office products on the Mac platform and have licensed a lot of our technology for use on other platforms. In order to consider porting our desktop products to Linux I think two things would need to happen.

First, there would need to be significant consumer demand from Linux users that actually use Linux as a desktop operating system and were all using the same desktop environment. Today we do not see a large installed base of Linux desktop users that use a single standard for desktop computing with Linux. Would we port to KDE or GNOME or would we try and make the products look exactly as they look today on the Windows platform? It is not obvious which way would be the right way and it would be a huge task to do this at all.

The second thing that would need to happen is Linux users would need to be willing to buy our products if we ported them. Today, there is an almost violent dislike for anything Microsoft in the Linux community - just look at some of the postings on slashdot! My sense is that a lot of people would not buy our products if they were available. But in some ways I think this really goes beyond Microsoft. We have spoken to a lot of Linux users and one of the things that they like is that they can get free Open Source applications on top of their free Open Source OS. I have yet to see any company using the traditional commercial software model become hugely successful selling their products into the Linux market. Take Corel for example. Their Linux product and the suite of applications they sold along side their Linux OS were really quite impressive. Despite this, they did not seem to end up selling very much.

I personally feel that there is little opportunity to make money selling software in the Linux marketplace - buying software goes against they whole Linux / Open Source culture.

That said, there are solutions out there that allow Linux users to run Windows applications today.

5) The "services" model
by Animats

When I see Gates saying "all Microsoft software will be rented in ten years", I see IT managers scheduling exit strategies from Microsoft products. Clearly, a services model benefits Microsoft, but do you really think corporate America will go for it?

Doug:

I personally think that we will see a mixed model for the foreseeable future. Some companies will sell, some will rent, some will provide hosted applications for a fee and some will do combination. We have been using our Enterprise Agreement system for providing our software to large corporations for some time and it seems to work well for both the customer and Microsoft. The customer pays a single fee for the use of Microsoft products for a period of time and they can then deploy the software as needed without having to purchase individual copies. They also get upgrades to the software automatically during the contract period. Microsoft has a predictable revenue stream for the period and can afford to support the customer and fund research and development to enhance the products going forward. In a sense, much of corporate America and corporations around the world are already using this system today.

The interesting challenge will be to see if we can provide a similar program for smaller companies and home users that offers the same customer benefits of license simplicity and paying for the services that you use. In some ways it is much like the system most phone or cable companies use today. Pay a monthly fee to subscribe to a set number of features. There is no reason why you can't do this with software and associated services.

6) Loosing the Golden Ring from Microsoft's fist?
by cworley

When Compaq (later followed by others) loosened the Golden Ring from IBM's grasp by reverse engineering their proprietary bios, the Open Hardware PC platform revolution was ignited. Motherboards, memory, adapter cards, etc... could be made by anybody; hardware innovation increased at a rapid pace, and prices plummeted.

That left only two proprietary pieces atop the Open Hardware PC: the Intel CPU and the Microsoft OS.

Intel's been losing ground, especially with clone maker AMD (but, AMD still has to pay Intel royalties for every clone processor).

The OS, though, has proven tough to emulate. Not only does it reach the pinnacle of complexity (where chaos kicks in), but any emulator must chase Microsoft's tail: the emulation will be worthless come Microsoft's next OS patch (i.e. the DRDOS settlement).

Ballmer has recently stated that he thinks Linux is Microsoft's biggest potential competitor.

Could Open Source be a revolution similar to the PC Open Hardware revolution of the early 80's, bringing true competition and innovation to PC software, or is Ballmer's statement just a ruse?

Doug:

We definitely take Linux very seriously.

First of all, Linux is a pretty good collection of technology and is able to do many things as well as UNIX, Windows or other operating systems. It is hard to call it an operating system when in fact "Linux" typically refers to a distribution that includes contributions from hundreds of projects. This is one of the most interesting aspects of Linux but also one of the biggest challenges for Linux users. Lots of technology but little in the way of integration for things like management, internationalization, documentation, installation, data sharing etc. But looking at Linux technically, there is no real revolution here. Linux looks and feels like UNIX and isn't any better than a commercial version of UNIX.

Secondly, the area that gets the most attention in the press is the fact that Linux is "free" and you can get the source. Again, I don't see a major revolution here. The BSD operating system has been free for more than 20 years and you have always been able to get the source as well. Other companies make their source freely available and give away their binaries as well (e.g. Sun). Even free has its costs in the end in the form of user training, support, applications etc. so the fact that the OS is "free" really has little bearing on the fully loaded costs of deploying and using a computing platform.

In the end, it all comes down to solving customers' problems and there is nothing revolutionary about that. Linux will only be hugely successful if it can solve customer problems better than UNIX, Windows and other OS platforms. I know there is a lot going on to enhance Linux but be assured Microsoft is not sitting still - we continue to proactively innovate and continue to be totally customer driven.

7) Copy protection at the hardware level
by iamsure

What are the current, and future opinions at Microsoft about Copy Protection at the hardware level?

If a spec is developed that has TRUE hardware-industry support, would Microsoft utilize it in its software, would it ignore such abilities, or would it give consumers the right to check a box to turn it on or off?

(And if you choose the check option, what would the default be) :

Doug:

There are others at Microsoft who are better equipped to answer this question than me. I know we are continually looking at ways to protect our software but balance it with an acceptable user experience. Software piracy for all commercial software companies around the world is a huge problem. For companies that choose to charge money for their software, there should be ways to ensure they are paid appropriately. I know a lot of Open Source supporters seem to think that all software should be free and unprotected. I think it should be up to the software company or developer. If you want create a product and give it away, it's a free world - that's your choice. But you should also respect that if a developer wants to charge money for their software, they should be allowed to do that and have some legal or technical assistance to protect their property.

8) Licensing
by Phoenix_SEC

Doug, I was reading a review of Windows XP today, and came across some interesting information on the new licensing scheme. From what I read, the XP will use the current hardware configuration to generate an id string (I believe they called it a fingerprint), which you then tell Microsoft, over the phone, to get the license key for your machine. In an end-user environment (especially laptops), configurations change constantly, and thus the user would be calling in regularly to get a new key.

At the same time, several OS developers (e.g., Apple, various Linux distributions) are moving in a very different direction by open-sourcing their operating systems.

How do you feel this difference in policy will affect Microsoft in terms of new computer purchases (e.g., choosing a different OS - even a previous version of Windows) and upgrades to existing systems?

Doug:

Microsoft is a commercial operating system company that makes most of its revenue from selling its software. We charge money for our software. That is how we pay our developers, our support people and others to provide for the ongoing existence of our company. Other operating system companies like Sun, Apple and IBM make most of their money selling hardware or services. These folks can afford to "give away" their software since they use it as a hook for selling more hardware or services. In the end, the customer pays something towards the cost of producing the operating system - either separately or embedded in the cost of the hardware.

The model around Linux is truly bizarre. How much do RedHat or Caldera really make from selling their distributions? It seems not very much. So in order for them to survive they rely on selling proprietary software, support, services, books, tee shirts, penguins etc. Not a very revolutionary business, but in the end they must sell something if they want to survive.

For Microsoft, we simply want to have a fair system to be compensated for the use of our software - much the same way other companies are compensated for the use of their products or services. It is sad that we have seen so much talk in the industry about devaluing the worth of software. Software is core to the computer experience. People create software and it is essential that we pay people for their valuable and creative work.

9) Interoperability
by moonboy

Microsoft representatives are often talking about innovation and it is well known in the developer communities that Microsoft often seeks to "embrace and extend" certain technologies. Examples include Kerberos and Java (although I'm sure there are others.)

Many readers/posters on Slashdot like to joke about this philosophy calling it instead "embrace and extinguish" because it seems that Microsoft, in their "extending" a particular technology, also make it incompatible with the originating technology. This "extending", coupled with Microsofts huge (some would say monopolistic) presence in the marketplace, places the original technology in jeopardy.

In another interoperability area, the SAMBA software suite has encountered more than a bit of difficulty in making it easier for Unix and Unix-like OS's to interoperate with Windows.

My question:

Since your focus at Microsoft seems to be the interoperability of your products with others, could you explain Microsoft's reluctance to "play fair" and adhere to existing standards?

Doug:

First of all, I think it is worth pointing out that standards, on their own, are not substantial enough to fully solve customer requirements. If you look at the UNIX world, the POSIX standards were only a subset of what you needed in an OS. The attempt by the Open Group to define the UNIX 95 and UNIX 98 standards still fell short of what it would take to build a fully functional UNIX operating system. As a result, the UNIX OS vendors took the standards and extended them to add the appropriate functionality they felt they needed to meet their customers' needs. Some of these enhancements were based on other standards but often these features were proprietary code that they did not share with the rest of the world. Why? Because they wanted to have features that they felt were compelling to customers and gave them an edge over their competitors. Extending standards beyond a given specification is a way of life for all software vendors. Show me one product that is built exclusively on a standard specification that does not include code beyond the standard. It doesn't exist.

Microsoft is very standards driven. We are an active participant in many of the standards bodies and have been leading the charge in promoting the use of XML, SOAP and other standards for our .NET initiative. We have not only "embraced" many of the computing platform dejure standards but we have also built products to embrace defacto standards from other operating system platforms. For example, we fully support NFS and NIS in our Services for UNIX product to allow full file sharing and user directory interoperability between our platform and UNIX or Linux platforms.

We should be very clear in defining the difference between standards and proprietary intellectual property as the above question seems to arbitrarily mix the two. When it comes to implementing standards-based software, we respect the standard and expect that our software will fully interoperate with other products that have also implemented the standard. We also develop software that is not based on an established standard - either no standard exists or the standard that exists does not meet our customer requirements. Should we be required to publish the source code or underlying designs of all our software so that anyone can copy it? I would hope not - much the same that companies in other industries have the right to build products and retain the intellectual property rights associated with those products.

10) Microsoft and KDE vs GNOME
by Karma Sucks

Has Microsoft evaluated the latest Linux desktop technologies such as KDE2.1.1/Qt2.3.0 and Ximian GNOME 1.2? Well, we know you probably did because you mentioned KDE/KFM extensively in your anti-trust trial.

The advances that these projects have been making is incredible. And at the same time differences between these projects is amazing. So what is Microsoft's evaluation of the situation. What does Microsoft think of KDE vs GNOME, in terms of the consequences for Microsoft and Linux?

Doug:

We have looked at both KDE and GNOME. There is some interesting work going on there. I personally feel it is too bad that the Linux community can't agree to build on one graphical environment. I had this debate with Bob Young once where he stated it was great that so many desktop options exist for the Linux user. I don't see it. Lots of choices of desktops in the academic community might be good for stimulating many different approaches but having too many choices in a commercial platform environment in the end, confuses developers and users. If the Linux community could take the best thinking from both the KDE and GNOME projects and join forces, they would have the best chance for success. ISVs would have one platform to write applications to and users would have one user experience to learn. However, that is only half the battle. Having a great graphical environment is a good start but commercial application developers need to be convinced that the platform can pay them dividends in future profits. As mentioned in a previous question, if the Linux community wants to attract great applications, then they need to be willing to compensate developers and that means paying for software.

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Windows Exec Doug Miller Responds

Comments Filter:
  • by HeUnique (187) <hetz-home@co b o l2java.com> on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:03AM (#315049) Homepage
    I would like to respond to your comments about buying software, and selling the office to Linux.

    Lets start at the end of your comment (I'm reffering to question 4)

    You've mentioned Corel Linux. I happend to be one of their beta testers and used Corel Linux for a couple of weeks.

    IMHO, the Corel Linux is something like "proof of consept" - yes, they did a nice job of packaging and making it easy for end user - but what a disribution is worth if there is only 1 security fix in 6 months? (go ahead, count the security fixes that debian had in that same branch they made the Corel Linux). Also, what about compatibility? they changed the QT libraries that they were practically useless for avrage programs to be compiled? haven't they heard about compatibility libraries? even RedHat puts compatibility libraries with a new major version of their distributions.
    And updates? I didn't see any update besides the 1 security fix there.

    So lets summorize this point: people don't just buy or use a product unless they read reviews about it and maybe following it along the way. With Corel Linux track so far - I wouldn't bother to use it.

    Now - the porting to GNOME or KDE - come on Doug, you can do better then that! you're using Motif with applications that you port to Unix (or Linux), so whats GNOME or KDE got to do with it? you can use the XDND protocol (along with some others RPC like Sun RPC's) to do OLE. Go ahead - ask the guys at Mainsoft how they're doing it. Besides - all the distributions today are installing BY DEFAULT all the libraries that are necessary to run both GNOME and KDE applications.

    As for your point of buying commercial software - You are more then welcome to call VMWare and ask them how they're VMWare for Linux is selling and why they make they're product first to Linux and then to Windows - they sell pretty well. In fact - they have been profitable since they started to sell their product.

    So yes, an avrage Linux user doesn't buy lots of commercial software since most of them are free - but do a survey and you'll find that for a good commercial products with a good price - they'll be lots of people and companies who will buy commercial applications.

    And another thing - MS attitude to Linux in terms of porting applications to Linux: Microsoft is porting their MSIE and Windows media player to Solaris and HP/UX - why not to Linux? We both know that by any count you have more Linux workstations then there are Sun's and HP Unix workstations COMBINED! so why not port your MSIE and Windows media player to Linux? if you already ported it to other unices - it wouldn't be that hard to move it further along to Linux. Even the GUI stuff can be ported with QT Libraries

    my email address on this post is real, please - feel free to correct me or to respond me.
  • What if you don't have an ethernet card? I know it's silly to some of us (I have at least two home networks, plus a vpn to the office, and have been modem free for about 2+ years), but there are people that simply don't have a network card. What happens when one of these people buys XP and doesn't have a modem, much less an internet account, how is that going to work for registration?
  • by Chris Johnson (580) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:29AM (#315057) Homepage Journal
    Very good point, and very revealing, too: sometimes you forget that to some people, the idea of cooperating and behaving socially is not only bizarre but frightening and possibly dangerous. I think the accepted term for this is 'sociopathic'.

    Rather than have open source outlawed as being anti-American *g*, maybe it would be good to question everybody in the country, 'why would people do this?'. Anybody who literally did not understand why people cooperate and behave socially would be locked up as a sociopath, on the assumption that normal people can choose to behave socially or not, but people who don't even understand the concept are a danger to others :)

  • I know that my own employer's job would be a lot easier if the same OS ran on every platform. There are tons of stupid differences in non-standard areas such as tape drivers that make porting any software that deals with tape drives a pain in the %$@!@. One way we got around that on some platforms was to write our own tape driver, but that adds its own compatibility problems. E.g., on Solaris, we must compile it for: Solaris 8 64 bit SPARC, Solaris 8 32 bit SPARC, Solaris 7 64 bit SPARC, Solaris 7 32 bit SPARC, Solaris 2.6 64 bit SPARC, .....

    It would also help if there was a such operating system as "Linux", but that's another issue (grumble grumble).

    -E

  • Until then, stop wasting the oxygen.

  • by Holgate (712) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:14AM (#315061)
    <i>We are an active participant in many of the standards bodies and have been leading the charge in promoting the use of XML, SOAP and other standards for our .NET initiative.</i>

    Well, a cursory glance at Dave Winer's <A href="http://www.scripting.com">Scripting News</a> might suggest otherwise. One of the leading exponents of SOAP, and of cross-platform interoperablity, talking fairly frankly about how he's had his fingers burned by "embrace, extend, exclude".
  • But the basic point - that licensing costs mean NOTHING in terms of owning a server is compeltely true.

    This is utter, utter horseshit, designed to deflect from the truth of the matter.

    I work for a small company (15 employees). I built our web/email/etc. server, and it runs Debian Linux with Interbase.

    The machine would need a sysadmin regardless. If it were not me, and the machine ran Windows, an NT monkey would cost at least 75-80% of my salary. A good one would cost just as much as me.

    I handle all the "support" for the machine. If you have a bit of knowledge, it's not all that hard. What I can't answer myself, I do through mailing lists.

    If we used Microsoft solutions, instead of Free or Open Source Software, let's see what we'd have to pay: Win2K w/ Internet license - $2,000; SQL Server - $40,000 (it's a dual proc system); Exchange - roughly $3,600 for 15 CALs...more when we get more employees

    That's nearly $50,000, not counting various development tools that we would probably have to pay for as well.

    That is not an inconsequential amount of money, and it is disingenuous to pretend that it is.

  • You know, I don't think they're _ever_ going to Get It.

    - He's barely even started when the first FUD hits "Linux is advertised as free", hinting at vague hidden costs lurking out there to bite the unwary (Gee, like MS Tech Support doesn't soak you per incident)

    But he misses that it's Free; that universal access to source code that you are *encouraged* to use elsewhere results in an ever-growing knowledge base - which not only lowers the barriers to (development) entry for those so inclined, but also results in ever-growing numbers of people qualified to provide ad-hoc support - which in turn works against the never-quite-voiced "support costs will kill you" FUDbit.

    - He complains about competing desktop standards as being "confusing", but he totally misses that being able to pick, choose, and configure my desktop experience is something I WANT - it makes me more productive. And he also doesn't seem to grasp that this can be done per-user, so that the complexity of the desktop can be adapted to whoever logs in to the machine without disrupting the others.

    "Any color you want, as long as it's black" went out with the Model T. Why is MS so intent on reviving it?

    - He goes on at length about Linux's lack of a "revenue model", but is completely oblivious that Linux doesn't NEED a revenue model. Linux is NOT about selling software, it's about solving problems.

    "Linux is one of our primary competitors" - no, it's NOT! "Competitor" assumes that both parties are struggling over some territory in a shared space. MS is about making money by selling software; Linux is about solving computing problems. If people can use Linux to make money along the way, fine, but the success or failure of Linux is not measured on financial scales.

    MS has some very smart people working for it, no question about it. If they were totally incompetant, they wouldn't be where they are today. But the more interviews I see with MS personages, the more I realize that they don't understand the nature of of the beast they're facing. They cannot attack the problem, because they don't comprehend it.

    Want to know what the dinosaurs said when they saw the first mammal? Ask a MS rep about Linux.

  • Thank you - and your comments are well taken.

    It will not be lost on you, however, that the dinosaurs were very successful as long as a certain set of environmental conditions held. Once those conditions were no longer in place, they failed to adapt and died out almost instantly (in evolutionary timescales)

    Mammals, while they've been around for less raw time, have demonstrated greater adaptibility - noteably, surviving a few ice ages.

    Of course, we have those pesky insects and microbes all over the place that tamper with our Darwinian analogy, but that's niether here nor there. :)

    I see it like this: the combination of widespread, high-speed access to the Internet and the return of the concept of software as shared knowledge (instead of for-sale product) is to MS as the asteroid smacking the Yucutan is to the dinosaurs.

    The old conditions that encouraged their past success are rapidly disappearing - can they evolve and survive?

    We've got ringside seats at least. :)

  • Railing against "the Linux public representatives" - true or not - is to miss the point. Linux _does not care_ what its public representatives do. I'll grant that if some of our more visible figures were more... marketable... the process might be sped up in certain circles, but that's just a matter of speed. One year or ten years, it really doesn't matter.

    Every line of code written for "Linux" is publically available. Every line of code, no matter what the root justification at the time of writing (be it a personal itch scratched, or a problem solved, or a feature added to improve someone's bottom line) becomes part of the common, freely available whole.

    As long as there is still one lone hacker coding and publishing, Linux will continue to advance. The rate of advance may ebb and flow, but the net advancement is unstoppable.

    MS's past history with competitors that have mounted challenges to their hegemony have either been to tamper with the core product, (to make it either incompatible or irrelevant) or to purchase the competitor outright (and either co-opt the product or bury it) Niether strategy can work against Linux - Linux does not need MS compatibility for the large part, and can react much faster than MS to API changes in the small part. And as for outright purchase... they can join the party, but they cannot extinguish it.

    You simply cannot "fight" Linux using the language and tactics of business. It's like trying to drill an oil well with a chicken - it just doesn't work that way.

    Dismissing Linux as "the Anti-Microsoft", as if it were just some sort of form of protest or backlash (of which there is undoubtedly a large amount) is also to miss the point. Around here, (Fortune 100 company) Linux is being installed anywhere and everywhere it can. Why? Because it works. It's good enough for the job, and it marks the freedom from reliance on vendors and proprietary code. The fact that there's no license fees to pay is just gravy (nice gravy, but gravy)

    IT departments solve problems. They provide services. They don't care about politics, marketing, market share, or whatever. But every single one of them has (many, many times over) seen a key vendor go under, stop support of a key product, or discovered problems that cannot get fixed (for whatever reason) With Linux, you get source - for EVERYTHING. Having the source means never getting caught with your pants down.

    Here's a harsh fact - the VAST MAJORITY of coders, admins, and other computer professionals do not write code for sale. Instead, they are employed by other businesses as support personel. They are problem-solvers. And they are adopting Linux like manna from heaven. I see it all around me. Projects that 5 years ago would have had MS as a direct partner are now being developed on Linux without MS ever being told about their missed opportunity for a sale - and if it wasn't for the enormous amount of legacy data (Spreadsheets and documents) produced on MS tools that only work on MS tools, Linux would be all over the desktops here.

    Never be a 10% player? Brother, we passed 10% a long time ago. The "idiotic business ideal" is that we EVER paid money for software. Software is a SERVICE, not a "product" - and Linux is a long overdue correction.

  • It's nice to see the world from Microsoft's point of view for a change. This interview helped clarify a lot of how I already felt about them. :)

    That said, Microsoft seems to be attacking Linux on the grounds that while Microsoft products cost and arm and a leg up front, it will lower your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) in the future compared to Linux which costs nothing but takes a "genius" to run.

    For example, if you deploy Windows NT, you pay however much for the software licenses to have it installed and you hire an MCSE to run it. The MCSE follows the instructions, point, click, configure. Etc. Not to dimish their work, because some MCSE's actually know a lot about NT, but the checklist goes something like: Restart the application. Restart the computer. If it still doesn't work, install service packs. Reinstall the system or call Microsoft support.

    If the admin sucks, fire him and hire a new MCSE. My impression (from dealing with NT when I have to) is that most MCSEs really can't do a unique thing with NT. Non-standard problems are real, major problems simply because the system is so closed and the MCSE isn't knowledgable enough to get into it's guts. While your TCO is lowered because the MCSE's salary is less, he is incapable of solving atypical problems. Thusly, you call Microsoft support. Hopefully, you can make the calls to Microsoft support infrequently enough that it doesn't raise your TCO by any significant factor.

    With something like Linux, you tend to need to employ people with greater skillsets, and thusly at a higher salary to get any work done with it. The fact that you can't just fire the admin and look for Linux Certified Systems Engineers means that hiring a new admin will be more difficult. The benefits here are that the Linux admin has greater control over your system, and can probably get more done in less time, and have the solution be a better fit.

    It seems that people who need an information infrastructure choose commercial NT oriented stuff. People that are in the actual business of selling technology tend to veer towards Linux because they are developing NEW technology, advancing the state of the art, etc. Linux helps them to do this by being powerful.

    I am of the belief that the CIO's segment of computing (as opposed to the CTO's segment) which deploys Windows has a higher TCO because their systems aren't an exact fit for their needs. It's sort of there, but the tiny nuisances in dealing with a solution that isn't an exact fit adds up to significant costs that raise your overall TCO. Hopefully this is where I come in and deliver a kickass Linux solution AND support it, cutting your TCO dramatically. Tired of the blue screen? Give me a call :)

  • I have read many very articulate oppositions to the MS man. I suggest reading them to see how to do it. (but I bet I'm preaching to the choir here).


    ~^~~^~^^~~^
  • > This seems to be the pervailing attitude among
    > those at Microsoft and elsewhere: users are
    > stupid, so stupid that we must make all their
    > decisions for them.

    Maybe, but that is not what Doug Miller say.

    Smart users want a desktop with a uniform interface, because a uniform interface make you spend less time getting adusted to the quirks of each application, and more time doin actual work.

    Currently, if you want a Linux desktop with the best graphical applications, you get a few KDE applications, a few Gnome applications, a Motif application or two, an OPEN LOOK application, a number of Athena applications, a lot of Xlib applications, and maybe some TCL/TK, InterViews and GNUStep tools.

    This is bad for users, and also bad for developers who will not know what desktop to target their software for.

    Doug is correct, lots of different approaches is good from an academic point of view, but it gets in the way of actually getting work done.
  • fuck, there's a lot of very GOOD reasons to have the same OS on every platform.

    Scalability, being one.
    Sure, you want an OS that runs on high-end server platforms, midrange desktops (that doesn't force you into a yearly hardware upgrade due to software bloat), and perhaps even handheld devices. Then you can write your apps more easily to port across the various devices in your enterprise, your support people don't have to learn different tools and standards and document formats and protocol implementations.

    It's a dream. Why can't it be a reality? Because of capitalism. The vendors can't screw down the standards and suck optimal profits out of their IP monopoly if systems were that open. Only the customer would benefit from a system like that. The customer, and their customers.
  • "We also develop software that is not based on an established standard - either no standard exists or the standard that exists does not meet our customer requirements. Should we be required to publish the source code or underlying designs of all our software so that anyone can copy it? I would hope not - much the same that companies in other industries have the right to build products and retain the intellectual property rights associated with those products."

    In response to his answer, NO, you shouldn't be REQUIRED (by law) to publish the source code or underlying designs of all your software (so that anyone can copy it). You should be REQUIRED by a strong sense of wanting to fulfill customer desires, to publish source code and underlying designs of all of your software. Not "so anyone can copy it" but so anyone can fix it, extend it, understand and trust it. Hard-coded binary-only software is useful in the limited set of features and functions that were designed into it. But if it's broken, doesn't perform as advertised, or cannot be extended or ported, to fulfil customer requirements, how is that good? It's not! It's shit! All because you're terrified of people freely copying and pirating your software, you can't accept the FACT that most legitimate businesses WILL pay for software, even if it's freely available. You thow chains on the advance of the software, it advances at the pace YOUR dev budget says it can, bugs get fixed at the pace set by Marketing's drive for shiny new features of questionalbe technical merit. Security is an afterthought.
    You should be REQUIRED by a sense of honesty, and commitment to the customer to open your software. Keeping it closed leads to no accountability, and skewed requirements based on internal corporate politics, rather than what the user truly needs.

    If you close your source, your customers lose a great deal of flexibility, and only the gullible ones feel truly secure. I guess that's taking advantage of the PT Barnum business ethic "sucker born every minute". What a proud corporate legacy.
  • Really, let's say Microsoft DOES want to do an Office for Linux. How hard would it be to parallel-develop one for GNOME and KDE? Really.

    They can USE the fact that there are a lot of very vocal opponents to Microsoft on slashdot as a means of justification for NOT writing a Linux port. We all know the REAL reasons.

    We also all know that there are at least as many, if not more, Linux users who still require the use of MS Office, and would glady pay for and buy a Linux version. In fact, I would say that they could probably ignore GNOME, for philosophical reasons that people running GNOME are probably doing so because they are rabidly anti-closed-source, and therefore less likely to pay for a close-source MS Office.

    How hard would it be?
    Has Microsoft done any marketing research to find out whether they could make any money off of a KDE LInux port?
    I'm sure they haven't bothered, because would just weaken their OS monopoly. What's the point?

    Well, the point would be, if they DID do a Linux port, they could also support an implementation on Solaris, and Mac OS 10, and BSD. Stuff in the Unix world ports around VERY easily. Sure, they may have to hack it in as an XFree86 interface on Mac OS, but obscene hacks have never stopped them on the Mac side before. . . (or Solaris, for that matter, as anyone who has used the abomination called IE for Solaris knows.)
  • no. it takes 5 minutes to figure out how to drive a car. The long training and practice comes with learning to drive a car IN TRAFFIC.
  • TiVo *is* kind of hard to use.
  • I'm not biased anti-microsoft. They really do, empirically suck.
  • lies, damn lies, and statistics.
  • My company has a software package that was marketed at Enterprise accounts for $450. Our marketing research indicated that IT managers did not take us seriously, because of the low "commodity market" price, and determined a lower threshold of $2000. The price was raised to $1995, and I'm not shitting you, sales skyrocketed.

    Of course, take this all with a grain of salt, because I'm not revealing my employer's name for obvious reasons.

    Why would they pay for Open Source? Because Microsoft asks for legitimate $$$ for a legitimate license to use the software. Open Source has nothing to do with it. Today, nobody's stoping companies from borrowing someone's Win2k CD and installing it on their machine and entering in a SN they got from Hotline. Microsoft still gets their money, because businesses want to be legitimate. No accountant says, "say, why did we pay for solution B here? We didn't HAVE to." Just because some software's source code is open doesn't mean it's legal for a customer to just violate licensing. That may be possible for the GPL, and I don't care. I'm not saying MS should go GPL, I'm saying that MS should open it's source code, for the obvious benefits it can provide to it's customers.

    My point is, if MS truly was oriented to customer needs, they'd do this.
  • by Helmholtz (2715) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @09:31AM (#315090) Homepage
    First of all, many thanks to Doug for his candid and non-obscenely-lawyerized comments/answers.

    Something I would like to point out, however is the interesting non-mention of the GPL. "free Open Source software" is often mentioned, but never is the fact that the power of the "Linux movement" if I can use that term is pretty firmly rooted in the GPL. While I agree that RMS can come off as very strong most of the time, I do think it is significant that most software designed for Linux is not only available free of charge, and with the source code, but that it is protected by the GPL. This is the major difference, in my mind between the BSDs and Linux. Anyone can use BSD code (stuff like, oh I don't know ... a TCP/IP stack for instance), incorporate it into their code, and then hide it.

    Microsoft has been in the profitable licenscing business for a long time now, and I think that while they say that Linux is their number one "target" right now, what they really mean is that the GPL and all its implications is their target, for it effectively competes on the philosophical level with Microsoft's licenscing stategies ... or at least I think it does. Many peole don't care about any of this, but they will in future. When the US Consitution was drafted up the Bill of Rights as we know it wasn't seen as something that was needed ... but some of the more extremeist of the drafters foresaw that it would become important in the future. I think the GPL should be looked at in the same light. Many think it's try to defend something that isn't that important right now ... and that may be true, but far in the future it is going to be extremely important. And the general public has shown time and time again that they often don't think about the far reaching consequences until it is way too late. IMO, the Microsoft licensing philosophy exploits this.

    Also, when it comes to a single desktop environment, I think that compatibility would be nice, but that GNOME or KDE or any of the hundreds of individual window managers should not "concede" and merge together into a "unified linux desktop". That is the purpose of the distribution in my mind ... already some distributions, like Mandrake, default to a specific environment. If you are saavy enough to change it, hooray, if you don't want to futz with it, hooray.

    In Brave New World stability was chosen at the cost of choice. Having a wide degree of choice does cause problems, does make some people feel bad emotions (anxiety, frustration, powerlessness), but I see the alternative of having the maddening hordes take the easy road of numbing happiness as a danger, not a boon.

    Well, I guess that's about all I have to say about it. Thanks for reading.

  • I'd think that it was a close call with that- pretty much a push in my opinion.

    While they're on "more" machines, it seems that a LOT of those machines are not really in use (As in extant machines- not really pertinent to this discussion) and that there's a lot of "requested" ports for architechtures that Linux seems to be stably running on already or there's ports already in beta stages...

    Machines like the s390. There's no completed version for the s390 per the netBSD pages.

    Machines like the AS400. There's no mention of that on the netBSD pages.

    Embedded machines like the Versalogic VSBC-6 (x86, EBX form-factor, specialized hardware)- *BSD doesn't, to the best of my knowlege have device support for the on-board industrial I/O on the VSBC-6. Any distribution using the 2.2.X Linux kernels does- I know, I wrote a driver [sourceforge.net] for it and officially maintain it.

    I think you'll find that the original poster referred taking a source of an app from an x86 Linux box and compiling it for execution under Linux s390 and IBM's experimental wrist computer- and expect to have the app run largely as it's supposed to. You can't do that with netBSD- at least not right now.

    Yes, netBSD sits on "more" platforms. More doesn't equate to better in all cases.
  • by juri (3177) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:16AM (#315092)
    Can isn't the same as actually doing it. Yes, the code is out there, but there isn't very much cross-pollination, AFAIK, at least not from KDE to Gnome. Much of the code isn't directly transferrable and I think there's a bit of NIH working against it too. Of course you can run KDE and Gnome programs at the same time, but I don't really know how often that happens.

    As for narrow-mindedness: Yes, it's nice to have a choice and competition is good as he himself pointed out in another part of the interview. However, he was mainly talking from the POV of a commercial developer who has to decide which environment to support when creating/porting a product. And it can be a problem: how can you be sure that when you choose KDE libs, the Gnome users won't shun your product, or the other way around? Besides, you can't be nowhere near sure that a user actually has the needed desktop environment on her Linux box.

    Don't be blinded by the fact that he works for Microsoft. He does have a valid viewpoint and things aren't perfect in the Linux community. The current situation does have it good points, but there's the flipside, too.

  • I agree with your sentiment, but you're not right about IIS... per-seat agreements do not apply to anonymous web connections.

    I'm fairly certian if you gave all those people logins and authenticated them through SSL, then you would be in trouble. I've never done it so I've only read that part of the EULA in enough detail to know it does not apply to me.

  • This seems to be the pervailing attitude among those at Microsoft and elsewhere: users are stupid, so stupid that we must make all their decisions for them.
    This seems to be the prevailing attitude among those "at" Linux and elsewhere: users are smart, so smart that they can figure out what ever we throw at them.

    See how extremist everyone can get when Microsoft and Linux get mentioned in the same room? Doug makes a perfectly valid point about the usability and out-of-box experience of the typical Linux distro, and the knee-jerk reaction is to act like he's banging his shoe on the table, shouting "We will bury you."*

    I'll take the typical developers' cop-out and say that it's a training issue. Too much of what people need to get the job done, and not enough of the overall metaphor. Here's a desktop, here's the icons, here's the menu, here's a folder tree. It doesn't matter if you use GNOME, KDE, Mac OS 9, Mac OS X, Win95, Win2K, WinXP, or WinPDQ. User interface design has only been moving in drips and drabs over the past five years or so. The biggest culture shock involves the mouse button count. :-)

    I agree with Doug that too many choices, too soon, will confuse the average user. I also agree with Bob Young that, for the experienced user, choice is good. Either way, as long as there's competition, there won't be a monoculture.

    Please, the world isn't that stupid.
    I don't mean to be so nihilistic, but the world isn't as smart as you think. At the very least, it's far too impatient to frell around with downloading ALSA packages for their laptop's sound system, when Windows 2000 "just works."

    "User-friendly" and "powerful" are not mutually exclusive. They just take more work.

    *: ObAYB: All your desktop are belong to us.

    We're not scare-mongering/This is really happening - Radiohead
  • >Finally, Microsoft may port a few programs to Linux. The most likely thing: Internet Explorer.

    And if it's a robust, stable browser that lets me view 90% of the Web sites out there, complete with all their JavaScript, ECMAscript, and (what?!) VBScript gee-gaws on the Linux platform, then I will use it.

    The greater glory of Konqueror/Nautilus/Mozilla/Galeon/whatever be damned, I just want to surf the Web.

    Think they'll port it to LinuxPPC?
    --
  • Java (using one of those two refered to) was VERY well defined, and there are many good implimentations. What was 'incomplete' about this standard which forced them to break it. And not only do they modify the standard, but they can't even impliment it correctly without a discusting number of bugs.

    I just don't buy this line of reasoning.

    Java being a "standard" is just as much a figment of Sun Microsystems's marketing hype as the preceding interview is representative of Microsoft's marketing hype. Java isn't a "standard"! It's a product of Sun Microsystems! Just because they let other people play in their sandbox doesn't mean they have a purpose any higher than gaining market share.

    So Microsoft foiled their market share bid, eh? Well,boo hoo. Looks like Sun's got that situation remedied now, though. So I suppose you're all going back to writing 100% Pure Java apps now?

    Last time I was involved with a Java project for the desktop, it went from being 100% Pure Java, to being mostly-portable Java, then finally to being an application that could run only on the MS Java VM (meaning that in order to run it, you needed IE installed). The reason? The "pure" Java solution wasn't up to snuff.

    Fair enough -- you can say that the people who spec'ed out this application should have known better. They should have understood Java engineering better to either have picked a different language, or else to design it in such a way that it didn't need Microsoft-specific Java extensions. That may be true, that may not -- I wasn't there for that part of it, and I'm not enough of a Java guru myself to make that call.

    What I do know is that, using the Microsoft JVM, they could make it work. It would do what they wanted it to do, and it would do it fast enough that perofrmance was acceptable for the intended user base.

    So ... "embrace and extend" is evil? How so? Microsoft took the Sun Java specification and further developed it so that Java applications could run more efficiently in more real-world application situations. Sure, they only did it for Windows. But what the hell did you expect?

    If you wanted Java to run more efficiently in more real-world application situations on all platforms -- well, isn't that Sun's job? They're the ones waving the flag for portability, aren't they? "Write once, run anywhere," right? Well, then they should deliver it, already!!

    I do think Microsoft has carried on with some fairly nasty business practices. But sorry, I just don't think you can hold up Java as the best example.
    --

  • Actually, the main problem of MS's Java was that they had added methods to some interfaces. This might seem like it's not a problem, except that if you had a class that implemented an interface, but Microsoft added a function, then your code no longer works. I don't remember which ones they extended, but they were fairly out-of-the way and little used. However, the concept was quite alarming. In addition, their Visual J++ program would spit out non-Java code by default, unless the user specifically enabled pure Java output. This means that there wasn't any particular reason to not spit out Java code (since it was just a switch to turn it back on), but they decided to do it just the same.

    As for JNI, that is very, _very_ important, especially if you develop Java extensions. Without a standard JNI, a software developer would have to develop extensions for multiple VMs on the _same_ platform. Blech.

    RMI was also important to anyone wanting to do distributed development.
  • As for compiling programs, this is not a requirement for Linux users. I know a lot of Linux users who have no idea how to do this. If you are compiling from source, that probably means you are wanting a development version of some code, and thus classifies you as a techie. If you aren't a techie, just do what you would do for every other operating system - wait for the release.

    You don't have to be a specialist to use Linux. Mandrake makes it fairly simple. The only confusing thing about Linux is where you should store your files. And that takes about 15 minutes to learn.
  • This is called "Trickle Down" economics, and as was seen during the Reagan era, it doesn't work. The truth is, the rich will keep getting richer, and the poor will keep getting poorer.


    I don't know whose numbers you were using, but during the Reagan era, there was far more "class mobility" (people moving up the economic ladder) than ever before him. Trickle-down actually did work.

  • I think this speaks to the whole idea of "Linux" being one thing. "Linux" is a technology, not an operating system. RedHat is an operating system. To say "Linux" is an operating system that should be compatible with every other "Linux" system is like saying "BSD" is an operating system that should be compatible with every other "BSD" system. When in fact this is not correct. There is no reason why Mac OS X should be compatible with FreeBSD even though they use the same Kernel. "BSD" is a technology used in OS X, but that doesn't mean that it should retain compatibility with anything else.

    RedHat is an operating system. Mandrake is an operating system. SuSE is an operating system. Linux is not. The fact that you _can_ make an application run on all of these systems is an interesting side-effect of the fact that they use the same kernel. However, to think that this is absolutely necessary is silly.
  • THAT IS THE ENTIRE POINT. You can't make a software package that is good for everyone and still easy to use. That's like trying to make a single kitchen appliance that does everything a kitchen should do. Last I looked, real kitchens had a lot of disparate devices.

    The problem is, current industry practices aren't quite compatible. For example, doing so, as you have pointed out, segments the market into a bunch of niche markets. However, that's not a real problem. In fact, it's more of an opportunity for new markets than anything else. Think about it, a _lot_ of people buy game consoles, even though they have computers. And there's not a lot of difference. The main difference is that the game consoles are geared to their users. It's much easier to just sit back and play a console game than to get one working on your computer.

    For techies who want to do everything, there will always be a PC. However, I think people are finding out that a PC is just way too much computer for the average person. The key to reducing complexity is not having a giant operating system that takes care of it for you (and thus usually does a poor job), but to actually reduce complexity in the total system. I say this about both Windows and Linux. Having an "easy-to-use" Linux system will still be difficult to use for most people. Not because its Linux, but because PCs are too general to be simple.

  • by johnnyb (4816) <jonathan@bartlettpublishing.com> on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:48AM (#315107) Homepage
    An operating system is substantially different than a car or a toaster. Can you make your toaster do arbitrarily many things, or interact with arbitrary components? I don't think so. And, actually, in "appliance" settings, Linux does extremely well. Take the Tivo, for instance. Noone says the Tivo is hard to use. That's because, like a car or a toaster, it has only one use.

    When you come to something inherently complex, trying to act as if it were simple causes more problems than it solves. Granted, Linux swings farther in the other direction than it should. However, when the OS starts doing things "for you", without telling you, it complicates the issues, and confuses the user even more. Users are very able to follow instructions. Surprisingly so. The problem is that when a system tries to out-guess you, you can't just hand someone instructions - they end up fighting the system.

    What needs to happen, both in Windows and Linux, is to have a more "appliance-oriented" attitude. The OS, as it is currently conceived, is a total waste of time for the average consumer. What needs to happen is for many more specialized "appliance-type" computers/OSs to spring forth. Linux is the optimal system for this, because of its componentization and customizibility.

    This is the concept of the iMac, and it is truly the best way to go. For example, you need a "Grandma" machine, that doesn't allow you to add any devices or software, and just incorporates the functionality a "grandma" would want. Also, it should be organized based on the use patterns of the average "grandma". The "grandma" should have no conception of a separation of software and hardware, it should just be a complete package.

    The same can be done for business terminals, graphic artists, and so forth. If you insist on having a more "general", "pluggable" interface, well, that's for techies. Any attempt to dumb that down to the "idiot" level will cause more problems than it solves. That doesn't mean that we should make them as complex as possible, but "dumbing them down" isn't the solution either. Consumers just want to get things done. They don't want to mess around endlessly with their systems.
  • by ChaosDiscord (4913) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @09:32AM (#315109) Homepage Journal

    I personally feel it is too bad that the Linux community can't agree to build on one graphical environment.

    Yes, Linux needs to grow up and have a single, consistant interface, just like Windows. Look at the many products which accept the need for conformance under Windows. Products like Softimage [softimage.com] (example [softimage.com]) (though they may have an advantage, being owned by Microsoft for a while), LightWave [6] [lightwave6.com] (example [digitmag.co.uk], check out the conforming buttons and tabs), and Kai's Power Tools [corel.com] (example [corel.com])

    Media players naturally conform to the standard Windows look and feel. Winamp [winamp.com] led the way. Soon there were competitors like K-Jofol [ronography.com] and Sonique [lycos.com] which felt that they could make their mp3 players conform even better to Windows GUI standards. RealPlayer [real.com] quickly followed. Apple realized they couldn't rehash the Macintosh interface for QuickTime [apple.com], and delivered a version that perfectly matched the Windows standard. Not to be out done, Microsoft released a new version of the Windows Media Player [microsoft.com] which perfectly complied with the Windows standards for interfaces.

    Even the next version of Windows, Windows XP [microsoft.com], has been carefully crafted to conform to existing standards. With such strong and unwavering leadership, no one would even think of using an alternate shell [litestep.net] or replacing the entire widget set [windowblinds.net].

    Thank you, Microsoft, for getting the world to agree on one graphical environment. Thanks to your efforts to end competition, there is no risk of the Windows platform fragmenting into a pile of inconsistent applications, each making their own rules.

  • (And as a suggestion, change the ID to the computer's MAC address. These things change a lot less frequently [How often does a hardware hacker completely change his ethernet card? Not often.])

    Actually, as a laptop user, I have 2 ethernet cards which I switch out. When I'm on a 10baseT network, I use a standard NE2K. When I'm on a wireless network, I use an Orinico WaveLAN card.
  • The point wasn't that Windows can't support multiple NICs. The point was, that if you restrict software to running on a machine with a particular MAC (based on the NIC), then said software will fail when I change to a different NIC. The original poster said that people don't change NICs. I was saying I may change my NIC multiple times a day, depending on where I'm accessing the LAN from.
  • Here's the way the above post would have looked if the letters in the tags had been capitalized

    We are an active participant in many of the standards bodies and have been leading the charge in promoting the use of XML, SOAP and other standards for our .NET initiative.

    Well, a cursory glance at Dave Winer's Scripting News [scripting.com] might suggest otherwise. One of the leading exponents of SOAP, and of cross-platform interoperablity, talking fairly frankly about how he's had his fingers burned by "embrace, extend, exclude".

    I guess it's just a Slashdot thing.

  • Ya know anytime I ask questions like that on /. I get dinged for flamebait -

    What about - "why or does Whistler impose licencing restrictions that are absurb, prohibitively expensive and don't insure us of anything other than kowtowing to MS - - How does MS actually fucking propose to do anything that helps us administer desktops?"

    Is that too fucking obscure for you buddy? Or are too comfortable sitting in the big fucking easy chair carping about your technical fucking purity?

  • He could have answered "We're the dominant player in the desktop OS market space, so obviously it adds more value to our competitors products when they make their offerings work well with ours than making ours work well with theirs." That would have been honest and nobody would have faulted him for it.

    Actually, he *was* being honest--didn't you hear him say that they were in business to make money? <grin>

  • "Windows offers a friendly environment that makes it easy to use software."

    I've recently been getting my uncle, who is in his eighties, into using a Windows PC.

    This is the first time he's used a computer, though he has used keyboards before, and it's made it clear to me that, for the average person, *using computers is still too hard*. It's easy to forget this when you've been using computers much of your life, and are surrounded by basically PC literate people at work.

    Windows is certainly easier to use than DOS, but I've had to simplify the Windows setup so much that I could do this equally well under Linux. The only reason I didn't is that my uncle's friends provide local tech support, and they know Windows. Also, he can get local training in using computers.

    One of the hardest things was the atrociously complex interface to dialup networking in Windows NT, and the way IE4's Offline/Online setting is shared with Outlook Express - I ended up buying a shareware dialer so that I could set up Netscape as the browser, not for ideological reasons but so that it wouldn't mess up the Outlook Express offline settings (which make it easy to compose email offline).

    The lessons for Linux or any Windows alternative are:

    - focus on real ease of use with non-PC literate users (Redmond Linux is getting quite close to this with task-based menus and so on - see http://www.redmondlinux.org/). Microsoft is pretty good at this, but maybe Eazel and Ximian type companies will run their own usability labs.

    - incorporate natural language and voice input technologies - the keyboard and mouse are still barriers for some people

    - settle on a single 'default' GUI, so that local training and support can be obtained without the 'I only know GNOME' syndrome

    If my uncle lived round the corner, Linux would have worked well, but supporting someone 100 miles away solely through the phone and dialin is just too hard.
  • Remember, most Unix vendors charge more for their systems than Windows vendors, and full-on Unix-based solutions are costlier than Windows ones. Virtually all of the examples you are citing come from academic computing - Unix is more respected in academic CS environments, and academic projects are more likely to be released freely. GIMP, Postgres, Linux, BSD, Mosaic and Tex all had roots in academia - the only major open projects I can think of that didn't are Mozilla (which, remember, has some roots in Mosaic) and Apache (which also began life, I think, in the original NCSA httpd, although I may be wrong.)

    You want to promote high quality free software? Promote higher education! Make it more exciting to work in academia than in the private sector!

  • by Locutus (9039)
    It is sad that we have seen so much talk in the industry about devaluing the worth of software. Software is core to the computer experience. People create software and it is essential that we pay people for their valuable and creative work.

    Now come on. What did they do to Netscape by giving Internet Exploder away for free?

    This just shows you, MicroSerfs are hippocrites(sp?) and don't be fooled by their use of the word OPEN. It means something totally different in Redmond.

    LoB

  • Oh, I'm sorry did I say they just gave Internet Exploder away for free? What I meant was THEY FORCED IT DOWN EVERY WINDOWS USERS #&^!#%^'ing THROAT AND THREATENED EVERY OEM IF THEY DIDN'T COMPLY. That is what I meant.

    And now the poor little MicroSerfs are crying that people are devaluating software. Well, fork you Bill Gates and company and that high horse your riding too.

    Since you replied to my post, how dare you assume I believe all software should be free!

    LoB

  • Are you THAT naive? I'd say 90% of the NON techies I know who have PC's wouldn't even consider installing another browser because they already have one. PERIOD. If that doesn't tell you that forcing applications on users via pre-installs is the same as eliminating most, not all, of the distribution of anybody else's application serving the same purpose.
    The browser is an internet/networking application and paying $50 for what a browser does is not unreasonable. That money could have producted a better product very quickly but we'll never know that because Micro$oft used its MONOPOLY MONEY to fund it's browser application and all but eliminate all other browsers via forced OEM pre-installs. Just look at the stat's, 80% Exploder....... just over 10% for Nav/Communicator.

    They, M$, has done the same with Java. They knew they didn't want Java on client PC's going out the OEM door. The only way to stop that was to stop Netscape and fool the OEM's into using a corrupt M$ JVM to keep that precious DOS application called Windows protected.

    bla bla blah. They are so F$CKed this could go on for months and you say Tony yada-yada didn't force you to keep your preinstalled browser. BFD IMO

    LoB
  • Microsoft has always been a customer focused ...
    The Mac crowd has always been a special ...
    We have always made an effort to provide highly functional ...
    ... more than 20 years and you have always been able to get the source ...
    "Never say never." Microsoft is continually looking ...


    <yawn>

    Nothing very enlightening here - pretty much standard Msft party line public relations stuff, like a politicians meaningless july 4 feel-good speech then heading back to the office for more backstabbing, bribes, payoffs, graft, corruption, vote fraud, etc.

    </yawn>
  • by Si (9816) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:01AM (#315133) Homepage
    Also, personally speaking, I must declare an interest. I much prefer using Linux to Windows because it is easy to use and allows doesn't want me to be an idiot and try to do everything for me. The last time I used windows it wouldn't let me recompile my kernel so that I could have working sound and access my linux partition.
    Except it didn't work. So I was screwed over.

  • > nor does it help pay the bills for many people.

    It's software, as it becomes more commoditized, it won't help pay many bills in and of itself.

    Products and services help pay the bills, no matter what flavor they are. You can charge for the "product" that is software, or you can use it as a loss-leader. You can also do it as well, or better as a hobbiest than as a professional. That makes the software itself much less valuable, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, as that affordability makes it easier for people who need the software to have it.

    FWIW: I do INFOSEC, so Windows helps pay my bills more than the Open Source OS' that I use to do my work every day. I'm not sure that's the positive thing that you seem to paint it as.

    Paul
  • It may be true of most people, however there are a lot of people writing a heck of a lot of code gratis. If *all* software were free (as in beer), not many companies would go out of business which weren't ISVs or Microsoft, or software consulting houses. If it were all required to be Open Source but not free very few at all would go out of business (companies like SuSe and RedHat open source all their software and they seem to be in business, so you see it's possible to do.)

    The only externally used software I've written for my current employer was given away. Eventually software will reach the same stage of life as stock photography- almost all the pictures necessary are already taken- what will happen to your economics then?

    Remember, unless you're playing, software isn't an end, it's a tool. If hammers were free, only the hammer makers and sellers would be impacted. The fact that there are very few commercial DNS server products on the market, for instance, doesn't mean people won't sell non-generic name service solutions or go hungry.

    The opposite question is why spend years paying for a product if, after you've purchased it, the developer has made the fair value from you?

    Finally, not everyone who is being paid to write software _should_ be. Narrowing that field down wouldn't be a bad thing in all cases.

    Doug's point is only key if you're a one trick pony with only one way to make a living, otherwise it's not a very important point.

    I spent almost 5 years at an ISV (mostly as an assembly language programmer), and let me tell you- "product" code is nowhere near as lucrative as custom code, which would be cheaper if most of it was already built- but the fact that VB programmers make more than teachers isn't necessarily a good thing.

    Look at the stock photographic industry and understand what happens if you've only got one skill and the market shifts to commoditize it and be full of talented ameatures who don't mind making a tiny ammount or no money producing as good or better material.

    Paul
  • by panda (10044) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:41AM (#315136) Homepage Journal

    He makes it very clear that he doesn't understand the nature of Free Software and GNU/Linux when he says, The model around Linux is truly bizarre. How much do RedHat or Caldera really make from selling their distributions?

    He is focusing on the busines side of things, on the competitive side. He reflects the Micro$oft ethos and figures the only thing that matters are the other corporations and businesses. He overlooks what is really driving the Free Software Movement, the users and developers who actually do the work.

    The model around GNU/Linux isn't bizarre at all. It's about what everyone should have learned in kindergarten: sharing, cooperating and playing nice with your friends. These are lessons that Micro$oft still needs to learn.

    GNU/Linux isn't about bu$ine$$ or selling software. GNU/Linux is about a guy in Cambridge, MA and a guy in Helsinki who thought that the world would be a better place with a free implementation of a UNIX-like operating system, and the thousands (now millions) of other people who agreed with them.

  • I hope you run fast before you get flamed. :)

    I think while Linux has its strengths primarily as a server operating system (after all, that's what UNIX was heavily designed for), the chaotic nature of Linux development has kind of hindered it from being used on desktop computers. Indeed, the best-known use of Linux in the consumer market--the TiVo Digital Video Recorder--is not marketed as a Linux device, and I think TiVo wants it that way.

    Hopefully, with the completion of the Linux Standards Base (LSB) program, then Linux can be improved in an orderly fashion.
  • That may have been more a research project than anything else.

    I think if you want to put a quick kibosh on Real, make the .ASX and Windows Media formats Open Source. I wouldn't be surprised if that happens fairly soon.

    As for the .NET initiative, Microsoft would wave a major olive branch at the Linux/BSD crowd by making API information available under the GNU GPL on how to make Linux and OpenBSD servers operate in the .NET environment. That would be extremely bad news for Sun, since that will undercut Sun's strategy very quickly.

  • by RayChuang (10181) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @02:31PM (#315139)
    If there was an Internet Explorer for Linux, it will NOT be a port of any existing code. If you look at the current versions of Internet Explorer for the Macintosh, they're written from scratch specifically for the Macintosh environment (it was written by a team of MS engineers based here in the Bay Area), owing nothing to the Windows version.

    Very likely, IE for Linux will be written from scratch, and will likely function akin to the upcoming IE 6.0 for Windows 98/ME/2000/XP.
  • by RayChuang (10181) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:59PM (#315140)
    Internet Explorer for Solaris was kind of a rushed port that did not really take advantage of the graphical environment used normally in Solaris.

    I think if we do see a version of IE that runs under Linux it will likely be a written-from-scratch version that takes advantage of the API calls used in KDE or GNOME so it works seamless in these graphical environments.
  • by RayChuang (10181) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:10AM (#315141)
    I think he has some very interesting insights in regards to the computer industry--probably more than the vast majority of the Linux crowd.

    First, I think that Microsoft will be a huge contributor to MacOS X. The reason is simple: it is relatively easy to write to the Mac environment, since all the API calls are standardized. After all, we will see Office for MacOS X and very likely Internet Explorer 6.0, too.

    Second, Miller is correct that Linux is still primarily a server operating system. This is where Linux's strength lies, and don't be surprised that Microsoft offers ways for Linux servers to operate in the Microsoft.Net environment.

    Finally, Microsoft may port a few programs to Linux. The most likely thing: Internet Explorer.
  • That's nice, but what if you have something ELSE in the other slot?

    -
  • but gnome and KDE are both working on making apps interoperatable...


    there is a lot of development going into making both of those evironments be able to talk to each other.
    ---
  • I thought he answered it quite directly: "We charge money for our software."

    This allows them to sell more software. Never mind the first-sale doctrine or any of that nonsense. They want your money, and they have the technological means to extract it. What more did you expect him to say?
  • by IntlHarvester (11985) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:43AM (#315160) Journal
    A great example is component embedding. OpenOffice has a whitepaper up discussing the component models available on Unix systems.

    Turns out you have:
    + The Gnome model (still in beta?)
    + The KDE model (different in KDE1 and KDE2 ?)
    + The Mozilla model
    + And now, the StarOffice model.

    Meanwhile on Windows, you've got a single model, COM.

    Now, tell me why a platform with maybe at best a 2% desktop marketshare needs 4 different ways of component embedding and a platform with 90% marketshare can get away with one.

    And sure, there's always a good reason that you don't want to someone else's widget set. But, now, we are talking about fundemental interoperability issues. It's been possible to insert (say) a Excel chart into a WordPerfect document on Windows for nearly 7 years now. Will this sort of thing ever be possible on the tower of babel of Unix desktops?

    But, yeah, I know emacs and pipes rule and nobody needs that stuff.
    --
  • by kaisyain (15013) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @09:34AM (#315181)
    I didn't say it was the same as a car or a toaster. I had only two points which, apparently, I somehow obfuscated.

    The original post said that idiot proof things can only be operated by idiots. His implication was 1) that Windows is idiot proof, or will be Real Soon Now, 2) only idiots can operate such things. In response I say, 1) Windows is so far from being idiot proof that his statement is ridiculous, 2) there are plenty of idiot proof things in the world that non-idiots are able to operate, invaliding the entire basis of his "insightful" claim.

    Secondly, the original post seemed to be operating under the assumption that everyone wants the same thing from their computer, namely what the original poster wants. Some people don't want to tweak every last thing on their toaster. They aren't interested in the physics of toasting. They just want to eat toast. Different people want different things from their computer, which will necessitate different approaches in OS design and user interface.

    FWIW, I agree with you that OSes need to evolve towards a more appliance like attitude, at least for the overwhelming majority of users and uses. I would wager that the poster I responded to do does not agree, since that is making things idiot proof.
  • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @09:30AM (#315184) Homepage
    This seems to be the pervailing attitude among those at Microsoft and elsewhere: users are stupid, so stupid that we must make all their decisions for them.

    No, users are trying to USE their computers for something. Unlike kernel hackers, geeks, and your general /. crowd, most people WANT TO GET WORK DONE on their computers. They really don't give a damn about pushing the envelope on new OS technology, upgrading their file system, or taking positions in a religious war.

    I'm beginning to think that Microsoft really will continue to kick Linux's ass around the block, because no one seems to want to actually figure out why their products sell so well. MS woke up, and they clearly understand how and why people use Linux, and are incorporating that knowledge in their development and sales goals.

    Linux folks seem content to just say "oh, they're just sucky, so pooh on them" rather than actually learn something frm their success.

    NORMAL USERS DO NOT WANT A HUNDRED DIFFERENT WINDOW MANAGERS! THEY WANT TO GET WORK DONE AND GO HOME.

    I do not know how much more clearly this can possibly be stated, but it doesn't seem to be getting through to Linux developers. You would think that 95%+ of desktop systems using a single interface would give the hint. We're not talking about developers or power users, who DO like to customize for power, we're talking about actual users who write reports, run spreadsheets, and download porn. They do not give a rat's ass about KDE vs GNome, and if you tell them the first thing they have to do to use the system is decide on a freaking window manager, forgetaboutit.

    There rarely is One Right Way

    That is true. But there usually is one standard way. Regardless of the inefficiency of the QWERTY keyboard, MOST people don't have trouble with it because its pretty much the same everywhere.

    I'm sure NASA is thrilled that their engineers can "choose" between english and metric units -- it gives them more power! So what if it leads to the occassional incompatibility and loss of millions of dollars in equipment. We'd hate to take away the power of choice.

    Most people are not seeking the "perfect operating system" (otherwise known as One Right Way). People are looking to get work done, and Microsoft excels at meeting the PERCIEVED needs of their customers. Whether Linux or some other system would be better if properly customized and learned is a whole 'nother topic, but Microsoft sells a solution that is Good Enough (and in business, Good Enough is usually more cost-effective than One Right Way).

    The first thing Apple did when they moved to OSX was standardize the interface. They didn't REMOVE the ability to customize it (or to run X with Gnome or whatever), but the truth is the VAST majority of users have no desire whatsoever to customize their interface beyond wallpaper and icons and sounds, etc.

    Please, the world isn't that stupid. Don't insult the people who fund the very survival of your company.

    MS is the single most successful company in the history of the world, pretty much. As long as they stay paranoid, I don't think they need to worry about going bankrupt any time soon.

    People are not stupid, and for you to take "standardization" as an assusation of stupidity is an interesting mischaracterization of Doug's statements. People have enough complexity in their lives, we hardly need to be forcing more on them just to send an email. If they want to customize, they'll find out how, but Linux forces the issue from the first boot, and that turns off a lot of people just looking to get work done.

    Editing the windows registry is no harder or easier than editing unix config files, the difference is that you don't HAVE to edit the registry just to use the system. You don't even have to know that the registry exists...

    ---------------------------------------------
  • by Skapare (16644) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @09:03AM (#315190) Homepage

    Open Source creates as much wealth as proprietary products do. The difference is that there is not a huge chunk of that wealth siphoned off to a vendor in the process. Now that in and of itself isn't as bad as it first sounds, because what goes around, comes around. However, when you have to fund the vendor through this mechanism, and if the vendor has a say in how the product behaves, then they will end up putting forth a lot of effort to make the product do certain things strictly to enhance that siphoning. Software vendors like Microsoft have to ensure that customers pay for the products and services and not steal them. The problem is that so much effort is expended to ensure that revenue stream as opposed to other innovations that actually benefit everyone. In the past we have not seen a great deal of this because as the computer market grew, Microsoft's corporate value grew along with it. Now that there is saturation (virtually every office and most homes now have a computer, and the vast majority of them run Microsoft OS products), Microsoft has to find other means to not just ensure a revenue stream, but to also make it grow.

    One big difference between Microsoft Windows and Open Source systems like BSD and Linux (the distributions) is what and who the designers are focusing on. I can assure you that for whatever goals Microsoft has in terms of value growth and value siphoning, they are indeed focusing on making software for others. The BSD and Linux community still come across as making something more for themselves than for others. However, that may not be as bad as it sounds. Read on.

    With the technology of software becoming ever more complex, it still takes people with intense technical backgrounds to deal with the issues. I'm often quoting Bruce Schneier [counterpane.com] when he says "Security is not a thing, it is a process" and I keep wondering if that shouldn't also apply to virtually everything else in computers and technology, as well.

    Business is shifting more and more to a service strategy. Microsoft clearly knows this and are working to position themselves to provide these services. Others will do so as well. It will happen over a broad scale from the largest (Microsoft, IBM, Sun, Oracle, etc) to the smallest (your local contractor). Many new business ideas will come not as products, but as services. The technical community will be the source of a lot of that, if not most of it.

    Where Open Source and free software comes into this, and where BSD and Linux have their advantage, is that they are oriented more to the technical person who is deploying these services. They will then be the embedded components not of a product, but of a service, where the particulars matter only to the service provider, not the customer. When businesses stop buying computer systems as products, and start subscribing to them as services, they will be less and less involved in the roles of administering them. The service provider will be doing that, and the focus on making the administrative interfaces easy for the technically inept will become less and less important.

    Why should someone, even a sales guy in an ISP, be administering a system? They shouldn't. It will be done for them as part of the service when they shift from buying a product to subscribing to a service. Services are where it's at, and those who do have the tools handy (your collection of free software) are in the some of the best positions to create and offer those services.

  • by Stephen (20676) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:12AM (#315202) Homepage
    Does anyone in Redmond think the /. crowd will feel like they got real answers out of this?
    You know, apart from question 8, I was surprised to find that I do feel like I got real answers. Of course, it's Microsoft's own special view of the world -- but I still feel that it was answering the questions clearly and coherently. Don't confuse a different point of view from your own with a failure to truly answer the question.
  • by austad (22163) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:46AM (#315206) Homepage
    I liked his last response about KDE and Gnome and deciding on one, or joining the best aspects of both. I know that both of those groups have their differences, and it probably will never happen, but just think of the progress that would be made on one project with double the number of developers, instead of on two completely separate projects.

    I'm actually torn between the two. I use KDE 2.1.1 at work, and Gnome 1.2 at home. Sometimes I switch, but I think both have their advantages and disadvantages.

    Recently, I decided to write a small app which I'll soon GPL once it's functional. I looked at both Gnome and KDE, and decided that KDE seems simpler to write code for (I'm not a code wizard :).

    I probably just started a huge flame thread, but Linux seriously needs one desktop standard that nearly everyone can agree on. Unfortunately, alot of work has been put into each system, and if someone did start a project to merge the two, we'd just end up with Yet Another Alternative, which would make 3 major environments. Lot's of choice for users, but it sucks for commercial developers who want to port to Linux.
  • by Merk (25521) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @10:26AM (#315211) Homepage

    I wonder, is there anybody at Microsoft with a somewhat senior position who isn't a drone? This whole thing just sounds like the questions any other senior MS employee would give, with a bit of Unix knowledge thrown in for seasoning.

    On question 1 he says "Microsoft has received unwarranted criticism by some for its [in]ability to interoperate with other operating systems" and that "I actually believe we have better interoperability today than any other OS out there". I think just the opposite is true. Linux could read FAT32 partitions when NT couldn't. You can open a Windows formatted floppy in an Apple OS, Linux, or any number of other OSes, but try going the other way. Because MS is the dominant desktop OS, they have no real need to play well with the other desktop OSes. The other OSes, on the other hand, have to play well with MS just to be useful. When MS does make something work well with a competitor's product it's often because that competitor is dominant in that particular area. That's just business.

    He could have answered "We're the dominant player in the desktop OS market space, so obviously it adds more value to our competitors products when they make their offerings work well with ours than making ours work well with theirs." That would have been honest and nobody would have faulted him for it. (Well some rabid MS haters would have but they'd fault him no matter what he said). By claiming that MS has better interoperability than any other OS out there he just comes off as yet another MS drone. It really looks like MS is founded on intellectual dishonesty.

    Next, on question 2 he seems to lay out a few backhanded attacks like "... Mac OS X, as a result of the new UNIX-like features". Saying that OS X has "UNIX-like features" is like saying that ice has some very water-like qualities. Now it could just be unflattering wording, but it just looks like more incidental MS FUD. "OS X has UNIX-like features but don't get your hopes up".

    With the question of MS security WRT outlook and the VBScript viruses he slipped by the question like a seasoned politician. Instead of addressing the issue -- "what caused this horrible security model" he addressed how they fixed one particular problem, then quickly tried to change the focus to something else. It's a model so often used in politics:

    Q: Some people are concerned with [LARGE ISSUE W] after [INCIDENT X]. What do you have to say about this criticism?
    A: [INCIDENT X] was unfortunate, but we quickly came up with [QUICK FIX Y] and since then there have been no further issues. We'll be doing great things in the future, as evidenced by [DISTRACTING SHINY THING Z].

    His answer to the next question tries to take an isolated incident: Corel's poor results in their one and only foray into the Linux area, and turn it into proof of a bigger issue. Corel failed and they had cool stuff, so what hope does anyone else have? Anybody who knows the whole Corel incident well knows that there were a huge number of problems in the way Corel went about doing things, from arguably violating the GPL in their beta test agreements to making their version of Linux look like a bad Windows rip-off.

    The next question actually started with a truly honest and straightforward answer "We definitely take Linux very seriously." In less than a paragraph he was again slipping in the FUD: "But looking at Linux technically, there is no real revolution here. Linux looks and feels like UNIX and isn't any better than a commercial version of UNIX."

    If Linux isn't better, but is just as good as a commercial version of UNIX then isn't that a revolution right there? An OS as good as a commercial UNIX where every standard component is Free is revolutionary.

    Next he tries to dismiss Linux because the concept of a free OS isn't new. But he's again missing what makes Linux such an important thing. Not only is it free (no cost) but it's Free (libre). And not just as a whole, but free *per component*. The GPL, and its widespread use, is revolutionary, and obviously MS recognizes this because they're now lobbying the government to rid the world of this unAmerican scourge.

    The next question? Dodged. But if you read between the lines the answer is obvious: "For companies that choose to charge money for their software, there should be ways to ensure they are paid appropriately ... and have some legal or technical assistance to protect their property."

    My guess is that as soon as MS builds hardware copy protection into their OS they'll launch a FUD attack against Linux claiming that Linux doesn't care about protecting someone's IP, and that it's a system for "hackers" who only use it so they can get around The Law.

    The issue of hardware fingerprints in the next question was ignored completely. He only mentioned RedHat and Caldera enough to insult them. But the end result the attitude was perfectly clear. "We're a propriety software company and that's what we're going to stay, no matter what".

    The next answer was actually well written FUD. So well written I missed what he was doing the first time around. He built up a straw man pretending the issue was building software that did what a standard said and nothing more, then showed how ridiculous that was.

    At the same time he dodged the real issue of Microsoft breaking standards. Apache can do some really cool things that aren't part of any HTTP standard, but when it comes right down to it, Apache still is a web server that follows the relevant standards. An end-user will never have to know what kind of web server he's using to know if his browser can use it (pages are another matter). Is Microsoft Kerberos truly Kerberos? What about Microsoft's Java? If they had simply added keywords to the language that affected how the code was compiled but the code still ran on all JVMs that would be one issue. But Microsoft's Java extensions made bytecode that could no longer truly be called Java bytecode.

    The last answer actually seems like it comes from the heart (I guess his wasn't completly removed when he became part of the collective -- they have it on standby so it can be used in an emergency like this).

    Anyhow, I wasn't impressed. Are there any senior level Microsoft employees who can do any one of these things?

    • Admit the company made a serious design mistake in a product (say a horrible security model in outlook)
    • Concede the company in the past has used shadey business practices
    • Say that there are areas they are seriously behind their competition
    • Admit that they haven't discouraged piracy at times in order to broaden their market share
  • If my uncle lived round the corner, Linux would have worked well, but supporting someone 100 miles away solely through the phone and dialin is just too hard.

    My mother lives about 2 hours away (75 miles + 35 minute ferry ride). But she's been getting along with Linux fine. She has Windows on her computer also, but she doesn't run it anymore because she can get everything she needs to do done on Linux.

    I suppose part of the appeal (to me) of setting up Linux for her was the remote management features. Granted, I haven't had to do this since it hasn't broken, but it's a comfort to me that I can ssh into her box and do maintenace if I have to.

    She's at the three month mark, and is now bugging me to find her a decent book so she can do some sysadmin stuff herself. Any suggestions from anyone? (Something that covers KDE & SuSE with pretty pictures would be nice)
  • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:42AM (#315225) Homepage Journal
    It seemed to me like he is confusing two different issues: publicly documenting extensions to standards that might undermine interoperability, and opening source code.

    This is either a failure to consider the question thoughtfully, or a deliberate straw man argument. The questioner didn't raise the issue of opening source code, Mr. Miller did. So far as I know nobody wants access to Microsoft's Kerberos code, they only want information about what Microsoft Kerberos clients expect to see on the customers' wire so their servers will interoperate correctly.

    Why not open Microsoft's source? Well, Mr. Miller would argue that Microsoft's software is a valuable commodity and that users should expect to pay for it.

    Fair enough. But what are standards? Standards happen when different parties put work into a common set of public specifications rather than incompatible private ones. That work has value, and they should be able to enjoy the benefits of that work: a larger and more robust market.

    There's nothing wrong with extending a standard, so long as it doesn't raise serious interoperability roadblocks for users for trivial reasons. But by extending Kerberos in the way that they did, Microsoft is benefiting from the work of Kerberos' developers while denying thos developers the same benefits.

    There is a word for this: freeloading.

  • This seems to be the pervailing attitude among those at Microsoft and elsewhere: users are stupid, so stupid that we must make all their decisions for them.

    Many - not all - users *are* stupid. Even many of the supposedly computer-savvy people on Slashdot are *frighteningly* stupid. Everyone in this field learns sooner or later that if you provide an option, some idiot will set it inappropriately. The world is full of newbies clicking the "expert mode" button. If you're providing products for millions of users, the vast majority of whom can barely handle anything more complicated than clicking on an icon, then limiting those users' choices seems like a pretty valid design decision.

    There rarely is One Right Way

    ...unless it's your way, apparently. I hack kernels for a living, and I also *choose* to use MS products for some things. Are you, the champion of free choice, going to tell me my choice is invalid, that the products I prefer *shouldn't even be on the market* because they don't satisfy your desire for twiddling and tweaking? Yes, choice is good, and one valid choice is to *forego* certain other choices in the interests of getting on with life and getting things done. Windows users forego some choices, Linux users forego others. Live and let live.

  • by chill (34294) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @10:24AM (#315238) Journal
    Customers want convenience first, last and in between. EVERYTHING else is a distant second (if not third or fourth).

    Windows is a major success because it is everywhere. You can get software for it at every store that sells software (except the 0.01% that sell only Mac or Unix). This means CompUSA, Best Buy, Walmart, etc.

    99% of the files/data found on the 'net can be loaded/run in Windows. (You might not be able to get them out once in, but that is a different story.) Convenience.

    Convenience will convince people to put up with blue screen crashes, crappy software, extra expense and everything else.

    I can't remember how many times I drove by my local CompUSA or Best Buy and wanted to buy a game -- but they don't have them for Linux. (The manager at the local CompUSA now tells me "nope -- nothing yet" before I even ask if they are going to stock anything.)

    Linux won't be able to match them on the desktop until it can match them in convenience. Eazel is working on one track with Nautilus and their services -- so is Red Hat. More needs to be done.
    --
    Charles E. Hill
  • by macpeep (36699) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:38AM (#315254)
    Microsoft's Java VM was *the* best and *the* fastest until Sun got to version 1.1.8. After that, Sun was ahead in the game and the only contest left was between IBM and Sun. The only things missing from Microsoft's implementation were RMI and JNI. Lack of RMI was a little odd since it could easily be implemented 100% in Java code and therefore be added later to the VM simply by adding the missing classes to the classpath. There was also no real good reason to drop RMI. As far as JNI goes, Microsoft truly had a MUCH better technology, and Sun itself had gone from one implementation to another. These two parts of the Java spec; RMI and JNI, are the only valid complaints about their VM IMHO. Complaining about bugs is bogus because Sun's own VM was in MUCH worse shape. Netscape's VM always was a joke and still is (the one bundled with the 4.x series browsers).
  • by anticypher (48312) <anticypher@gmai l . c om> on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @09:39AM (#315279) Homepage
    In addition to Java and kerberos, there are many other examples of extend and extinguish. The one I am most familiar with is the PPP authentication protocol MS-CHAP.

    PPP defined a open ended number of authentication protocols, PAP and CHAP being the first two implemented. PAP and CHAP are both freely available, and CHAP was designed to respond to security shortcomings in PAP. The spec allows for future authentication protocols to be developed.

    MS-CHAP is a one of those future protocols, but there was a twist. MS-CHAP was introduced into windoze NT3 RAS dial in server, and later as the only authentication protocol in windoze 95. That meant that any user with windoze 95 could only use the dial-up software with an ISP running a copy of NT behind each modem.

    Modem server makers such as Ascend, 3Com and Cisco all quickly reverse engineered the protocol, but M$ had patented the algorithm and the protocol. Since M$ was at the height of its monopolistic bully attitude, and the comm server makers were all relatively small, none dared a court battle over a patented algorithm. Cisco approached M$ to put regular CHAP into win95, but M$ refused.

    Then M$ approached all the modem server manufacturers with a deal, they would license their own code for MS-CHAP for about US1.20 per modem, and existing servers could be upgraded for about US$1.50 per modem. So all the ISPs who wanted to play in the win95 dial-up market had to upgrade all their modem servers at a fairly hefty cost, with all that money going to M$.

    As a side note, M$'s implementation of MS-CHAP has some serious security problems, a google search can turn them up. The security holes are pretty difficult to exploit, but allow for session hijacking and man-in-the-middle attacks.

    the AC
  • There's an article [zdnet.com] at ZDNet which lists the requirements and recommendations. It does not say which are requirements and which are recommendations, so it's unknown whether the no upgrade policy will be a requirement.
  • by mwalker (66677) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @11:43AM (#315312) Homepage
    Let's put 2 and 2 together:

    Doug: - "Interoperability is a key competitive strength."

    Anitcypher: - "That meant that any user with windoze 95 could only use the dial-up software with an ISP running a copy of NT behind each modem. "
    - "Cisco approached M$ to put regular CHAP into win95, but M$ refused."


    Since Doug would never flat out lie in a public forum, we must conclude that:
    - Doug means: "interoperability with our own products" is a key competitive strength.
    - He leaves out the implied "non-interoperability with other people's products is a key competitive strength".

    Doug writes: -", we need to be even more diligent about building solutions that customers want"
    - "In the end, it all comes down to solving customers' problems"
    - "we continue to proactively innovate and continue to be totally customer driven. "


    Anticypher writes: "As a side note, M$'s implementation of MS-CHAP has some serious security problems, a google search can turn them up. The security holes are pretty difficult to exploit, but allow for session hijacking and man-in-the-middle attacks"

    Again, since we must assume Doug is telling the truth, then we must conclude that a large customer base has demanded security holes in this product

    Our job is to find these customers, and kill them.

  • by wcb4 (75520) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:12AM (#315336)
    (ie: free software is bad. Only proprietary software can be good).

    This is typical OS zealotry. Its not what the man said. There is good OSS software, and always will be, but admit it, there is also a lot of crap out there. Its the same in the Windows world. There is a lot of really good freeware and shareware out there, and there is a lot of junk. There is also a lot of good commercial software out there and some junk as well. In the commercial software arena, the signal to noise ratio is a bit better, as the REALLY poor software companies cannot afford to stay in business and disappear. In the free software arena, subpar software is accepted simply because "what do ou expect...its free" is the accpeted attitude. If the linux community did not mind paying for SOME of their software, some that is actually worth having (not to say that they cannot continue to use the truly good free stuff) you might find more quality developers moving into this space. Commercial developers will not move into a space where the attitude is "a half asssed peice of software that is free will beat a great piece of commercial software every time".

    A (not so)prime example is GIMP. GIMP is a fantastic piece of software for 90% of the market, but for the other 10%, there simply is no substitute for photoshop, yet adobe, which does make a superior product (and whoever disagrees has obviously never really learned to use photoshop......flame if you will, but I've used GIMP extensively under linux and spent 12 years in printing where hot-retouching was a major part of my job, so I speak form experience) will never move into that space because there is a "good enough" attitude simply because GIMP is free and photoshop never could be. While many of you may argue that GIMP is not a good example (and I agree to the extent that GIMP is *very* close to commercial quality) there are many examples of this attitude.

    When the linux community wakes up and realizes that some of us make a living at this stuff and have families and children who actually want to have food to eat and house to live in and we need people to pay for the services and software we create, the sooner linux will grow up.

    Its not the technology behind linux that's keeping it from being mainstream, its the attitude of the community behind linux that keeps it from growing up.


    I think....therefore I am

  • by mikej (84735) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:17AM (#315360) Homepage
    Actually, MS released their required specification for a pc that will be allowed to carry the "Windows XP' logo (like that little metal sticker saying "Designed for (list of windows versions)) not that long ago, and it included a clause that the case not allow access to the internals. They basically stipulate that for a machine to be deemed 'XP Compatible' it cannot be upgraded by the end user. That's how they plan to get around the problem: The service tech. gets a new key from MS after the hardware has been upgraded at his shop.
  • by j-beda (85386) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:01AM (#315363) Homepage
    There is nothing more important than wealth creation. Wealth creation allows for true redistribution of wealth. Companies such as Microsoft have made tons of money and now Bill Gates is giving billions away.

    ...

    The kind of socialist ideal implied by open source, where no-one makes pits of money is very bad for the country. If this happens, you get barely affluent people - people such as yourself, who in the main don't pursue any philanthropic activity.

    The USA is hardly a model for "good living". The health stats for the US poor are not very great compared to other industrialized nations. The gap between the rich and poor, worker rights, environmental standards, and all sorts of other things that seem to be better addressed in other more "socialist ideal" influenced countries is not the best commendation for the current system.

    Your points about innovation may turn out to be true - but really there is no good data to support them yet. It is certainly true that financial considerations can provide great incentives, but it is also true that without proper checks and balances such drives can make for terrible long term decisions that can effect the entire society.

    I would put forth that anyone who thinks that wealth creation is the most important thing in the universe needs to spend a little more time thinking about community, family, health, and happiness. Money can be an important tool, but it is just that, a tool. Don't be just a tool seeker.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:50AM (#315367) Homepage Journal
    Several times he dismisses Linux as not being particularly revolutionary. But it is revolutionary in several ways. It runs on damn near every hardware platform ever. There's no other OS that does that. I can take a program on my IA32 archetecture, move it right on up to an S390 (or down to IBM's Linux watch) and be pretty sure that compiling it there will work pretty much the same way. I reiterate, no other OS does that.

    The cooperation Linux encourages in developers is truly revolutionary. While BSD was the first "free" OS, for some reason it didn't seem to encourage the level of cooperation that Linux does. I don't know why. Maybe it's the GPL, maybe it's the timing, maybe it's the marketing but the Linux community has managed to grow while BSD has remained out on the fringe. The fact that all these developers are coming together from all over the world is pretty revolutionary.

    The GPL in and of itself is pretty revolutionary too. Some people don't like it, but I do. If you want to profit off my work, I want you to give something back to the community. I tend to be more inclined to muck about with the lgpl which strikes me as being more evenly balanced. At a time when Corporate America wants to tie your computer up in proprietary standards that keep you from using your computer in any way without their express permission, the GPL will become more and more important in encouraging hobbiests to tinker with hardware and code.

    I'm pretty sure the "Revoltionary" vision Microsoft is trying to force down our throats is one where your only choice is that you lease a propetary machine, run Microsoft's proprietary OS and pay for each application by the minute. I really don't want to live in that world.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:34AM (#315368) Homepage Journal
    I was attending a keynote by Scott Draeker last week and he was quite concerned with the possibility of newer video cards putting DirectX right on the hardware. While I don't know a lot about CPRM (Which fortunately was shot down this time) worst case I would have to have a special driver to run my hard drive. A driver I'm sure I wouldn't be able to get for Linux. I can't get a free (speech, not beer) DVD player for Linux. Intel and Microsoft (and a bunch of other people including IBM) were working on the I20 spec which originally was structured to shut out open source developers. The RIAA and MPAA want nothing less than end to end encryption from your computer to your output devices and none of that shit will be ported to Linux, I guarantee you that.

    And you think my paranoia is unjustified and that they can't make me buy windows? Well if I can't legally get drivers for my hardware, I can't choose to put Linux on that hardware.

    Currently I have a choice and only buy hardware that I know I can get true open source drivers for (Matrox G400, Creative SBLive, that sort of thing) but I can see a day coming when there will be no choices. When that day comes, you'll get your computer free with your lifetime MSN subscription which I'm sure will be a very reasonable $100 a month. All your hardware will be "Windows Optimized." All your data will be in remote .net data stores. All your applications will charge you to access that data by the minute. You won't be able to get a C compiler because "The average user doesn't need to bother with that sort of thing." Am I being paranoid? They're pretty much spelling out their business plan. If anything, your Microsoft complacency is a bit unfounded.

  • by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:46AM (#315383) Homepage Journal
    I hope you don't mean to imply that he is unknowledgable about Linux and UNIX in general.

    Remember OpenNT ? Softway Systems ? The re-implementation of the NT posix subsystem to let you run and develop unix/x11R5 apps natively on NT ?

    Same guy.
  • by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:15AM (#315384) Homepage Journal
    No other OS runs on lots of platforms ?

    I'm sure you're familiar with NetBSD [netbsd.org] :)

    Linux is not "#1" in platform-variety. Many linux ports are half assed or unusable.

    Your microsoft paranoia is a bit unfounded. Why would microsoft give a damn if you wanted to run linux on your computer ? It's your computer - not theirs. If linux is what you want to use, by all means, go for it. They'd rather sell you windows, but if you dont want to buy it, they can't make you*

    *A long time ago it was difficult to get a cheap name brand computer without paying "the windows tax". even this is no longer the case. But it was never _impossible_.
  • by Christianfreak (100697) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:24AM (#315402) Homepage Journal
    On how Linux can be really successful for the end user. End users and pointy haired bosses look at a software package and evaluate it by how it looks, I think that Msoft has this one down pat. Really their idea of renting software is pretty attractive in some ways to larger companies (I've worked for a company with copies for every single one of like 500 machines, not fun). I don't think it would be good for end-users but that remains to be seen.

    I appriciate his honesty. Msoft isn't the Borg, they're out to make money and they are very good at it, some of their practices are questionable and for the most part their software sucks. On the flip side we in the Open Source/Free Software community would be very wise to take some these ideas and apply them to our own projects, I think that he raises some very good points about things we need to keep being successful.


    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:00PM (#315417)
    Because most don't have any money.

    Most of the screaming on Slashdot is your high school and (to a lesser extent) college crowd. I remember futzing with Linux about 4 years ago, and I didn't mind that it took a few days to get everything to play nicely. At my last job, getting Linux configured to my liking took the better part of the day. Now that I sit on the other side of the employment divide, I realize the value of my employee's time. I want them enhancing the bottom line, not losing 4-6 hours getting sound to work.

    This crowd talks about buying games. Most of the probably pirate them, or buy one copy and burn many copies. I found that as I have more money and less time, it isn't worth hacking anything. It is rarely worth the effort to get half assed solutions.

    Professionally, at a job a while back we tried to mess with some open source stuff to adapt to our needs (including Slashcode!). Most of it was BEYOND subpar. The code being available was nice, but the documentation was lacking and the coding involved few abstraction layers so getting inside was a nightmare.

    I have often found it easier to play with a few OSS packages, poke around when needed, but implement our own stuff. Having it available under the GPL is nice (to give back, we tossed a few of our building block pieces up, but never got around to polishing up the rest for release... maybe when we're not too busy) for learning, but most of the code out there is garbage.

    I just dropped $130 to get MacOS X for my G4 Cube on my desk for playing around. It's nice, and I want to move over to it (to keep my development and application environment on one machine), but knowing Windows as well as I do (MCSE and NT Admin for the past 4 years, just moved back into the programming side of IT recently), it isn't worth it.

    The problem is that people playing with Linux are mostly doing it as a hobby. Hobbyists don't want to spend money for the hobby, it's a labor of love. They learned Linux to learn Unix, and now find that they like some of the software and prefer to use it professionally.

    However, despite all the GUI copying, KOffice is a joke compared to MS Office. When companies make an effort to develop something cool for Linux (VMWare, for starters, that was mentioned before), the OSS community immediately attempts a copy of it. That is somewhat self defeating. If you want software available right away on your platform, it would be nice to buy it instead of trying to copy everything.

    Oh well, we'll just reimplement everything twice. Company 1 will make something useful and sell some copies. The OSS world will try to FUD them out of existance with a crappy substitute that will be good enough "real soon now".

    Maybe the Open Source Advocates should start playing nice. Talk to Apple about GNUstep. Maybe if they toss some effort into it and OpenSTEP again, we'll have a real cross platform development environment. KDE/GNOME boys, you can provide your hooks.

    Maybe we all write OpenSTEP applications to run on MacOS X, Linux/KDE, and Linux/GNOME, and when source is available, you can compile on *nix/KDE or *nix/GNOME... but maybe we'll all just flame Microsoft instead.

    However, when a game purchase is a major portion of your income, $500 for Photoshop seems outrageously priced. But if you saw the salaries of your Graphic Designers... they get whatever they want.

    Alex
  • by mmmmbeer (107215) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @10:58AM (#315424)
    You don't have to let the KDE or Gnome teams decide for you. Use one sometimes and the other other times. Not what youi want? Take the code and make your own. Don't like that? Don't use a GUI at all. Like windows? Use windows. But don't act like whatever works for you should work for everyone.
  • by Richy_T (111409) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @09:15AM (#315432) Homepage
    The scene: The Galapagos Islands, on board "The Beagle" which has been at anchor for two weeks. We are in Charles Darwin's cabin, he is studying some books intently

    A knock at the door

    Darwin: Come in

    Dougabus Miller, a young socialite enters. Dougabus has made his money by exploiting a monopoly on grain exports to Namibia to extract exorbitant prices and to force unecessary purchases of umbrellas from his factory in Scunthorpe. On board the Beagle by accident (he thought he was boarding a ship bound for Jamaica for a two week "fun in the sun" holiday), he amuses himself by pestering anyone who will pay him attention

    Dougabus: Hey-ho, Darwin. What's up.

    Darwin: I am just finishing up these drawings for my journal

    Dougabus: Drawings? Nothing Lewd I hope? Can I have a look?

    Darwin: No, Dougabus. Nothing like that. I am drawing the finches that we have been studying on the island that Jaques noticed on Sunday

    Dougabus: Finches? That's rather a lot of drawings you have there. Why so many? Why not just one? Isn't one finch much like another?

    Darwin: Ah no, you see, young Dougabus. That is the interesting thing. Each of these finches is slightly different. See, this one has a beak adapted for pulling insects from bark, this one a beak adapted for cracking open small snails and this one, claws that can open this shrink wrap on CDs in under a second. All slightly different, all adapted to exploit their environment to the maximum.

    Dougabus: Well, Darwin, old chap. I don't see it. I mean, surely all these differences just cause confusion for the lady finches and finding a dinner jacket to fit must be pure hell. No, they should take the best features from each of these "adaptations" and unite them. Then they would have the strength and the power to rise up, march forward and TAKE OVER THE WORLD! Muahahahah Muahaha Muahahaha Hahahaha

    Darwin: No, you see...

    Dougabus: Muahahah Muahahahaaaaa

    Darwin: Dougabus!

    Dougabus: Muahaha Muaha All your base are belong to us Muahaha

    Darwin: Stop it

    Dougabus: Muahahahahahahahahahahahahah aha

    Darwin reaches down and draws gun from under the table

    Darwin: The things I do for evolution.

    Darwin points the gun at Dougabus and pulls the trigger. A loud bang rings out and Dougabus falls to the ground, fatally wounded

    Dougabus: Muaha?

    Darwin puts the gun down, having saved the human race for another day. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to Darwin, at that very moment, a seamstress from Portsmouth Harbour is carrying the spawn of Dougabus Miller.

    The End

    Rich

  • by bluelip (123578) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:12AM (#315452) Homepage Journal
    If they are paying their support people by selling the software, where the heck does that $35 for a dekstop incident or $100+ for a server incident go when they charge me when I call their "support" line?


  • by susano_otter (123650) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:43AM (#315453) Homepage

    Well, it's a good point. As far as I can tell, you've got two scenarios:

    1. Pay for a software license. Pay a competent technician to manage the software. Pay for end-user training. Pay a support provider for support. Pay for periodic upgrades.

    2. Get the software for free. Pay a competent technician to manage the software. Pay for end-user training. Pay a support provider for support. Get periodic upgrades for free.

    The question is: "Does the money saved by getting the software for free offset the higher costs of a competent technician and end-user training?"

    Microsoft seems to think the answer is "no", but with a caveat - even if owning, managing, and using the free software is cheaper, it is still difficult to find a market for applications developed on such platforms.

    This makes little sense to me. First of all, if the free software truly is cheaper then more people will migrate to it, and the market for apps will increase dramatically. Second, many companies don't make money by selling software for platform X; they make money by selling physical objects or services of some kind (websites, clothing stores, auto manufacturers, &c.). For them, free software might reduce their overhead and allow them to spend more resources on improving their core business.

    On the other hand, if free software achieves the goal of becoming user-friendly and intuitive, then the need for support will decline, and then there will be little or no revenue stream to support the development of free software. Free software will go back to being a basement hobby, and the commercial world will continue to be dominated by Micro$tarbucks/SunOracle.

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:49AM (#315495)
    it runs on damn near every hardware platform ever. There's no other OS that does that.

    obviously your net connection to netbsd.org is filtered by your ISP. you should ask them to remove that entry since its making you look stoopid.

    --

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:30AM (#315496)
    note how there wasn't one bit of content reply in the question of how the end user (with a laptop or continually changing hardware config) will deal with the 'get a fingerprint, call in to M$ and then get the license key' issue.

    this doesn't seem well thought out other than being a way to suck more money from the end user. in no way is this 'customer friendly', its a pure money-grab.

    in a corp environment, sure, most of the time the hardware doesn't change from its initial install config. so this scheme might work ok for this env. but home users DO upgrade their own boxes. do you (M$) plan to alienate home users who want to upgrade a single component (video card, drive controller, sound card, etc)?

    if there was one and only one thing I could use as an argument against M$ and their licensing, this issue would be it.

    and its sad that it was asked but not answered in this forum ;-(

    --

  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:29AM (#315534)
    It runs on damn near every hardware platform ever. There's no other OS that does that.

    Because when it boils right down to it, there is no reason to have one OS on every platform. Added to which, we are not talking about an identical piece of software running on an IPAQ and a 390. The tweaks are signficant enough from a developer standpoint to almost consider them separate products.

    While BSD was the first "free" OS, for some reason it didn't seem to encourage the level of cooperation that Linux does.

    The FreeBSD core committers model has worked very well, and by the looks of it, linux is heading in the very same direction.

  • by SnapShot (171582) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @11:06AM (#315538)

    650 comments on slashdot.org as of 4pm EST. Microsoft has finally brought the Linux movement to a standstill. ;)

  • by Fervent (178271) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:44AM (#315551)
    While most of the questions were answered pretty succinctly (I liked the straight-forwardness in saying "We sell software. This is what we do. That's why it's proprietary."), the unfortunate dodge of the Windows XP "fingerprint" ID upsets me.

    I hack my machines regularly. Video cards and occasionally motherboards move on a 6-month to 1-year basis. I also reformat my partition every 3 months for Windows, every 6 months for Linux. Does this mean I'll have to be constantly calling in to get new keys? That's just ridiculous.

    For those of us who have followed the rules, who haven't made a million copies of our W2K CDs and passed them around the campfire, this is like a shot in the face. I severly hope this is corrected.

    (And as a suggestion, change the ID to the computer's MAC address. These things change a lot less frequently [How often does a hardware hacker completely change his ethernet card? Not often.])

  • I had this debate with Bob Young once where he stated it was great that so many desktop options exist for the Linux user. I don't see it. Lots of choices of desktops in the academic community might be good for stimulating many different approaches but having too many choices in a commercial platform environment in the end, confuses developers and users.

    This seems to be the pervailing attitude among those at Microsoft and elsewhere: users are stupid, so stupid that we must make all their decisions for them.

    That's great if you're trying to consolidate your monopoly position, but it does absolutely no good whatsoever for the advancement of anything whatsoever.

    The world is full of choices! There rarely is One Right Way. I feel sorry for those who are so confused and terrified of the world that they don't even want to be presented with choices.

    Besides which, the problems with a monoculture are legion...I hardly think I need to go there.

    Please, the world isn't that stupid. Don't insult the people who fund the very survival of your company.

    b&

  • by donutz (195717) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:25AM (#315574) Homepage Journal
    t does make one wonder, though, why he even bothered doing the interview.

    We all know we're biased anti-microsoft, so I think you're asking the wrong question. Why did WE bother to even ask the questions? We know we're not going to get answers we like, and whatever answers we get, we will see as him being biased against us...

    I think he did a good job with the interview. He knows he's walking into the flames, but he answered anyway. His answers may not make us happy, but so what? did you stop to realize that the Open Source movement isn't perfect? It's made of people...I've said it before, and I'll say it again...people are stupid! Yes, even in open source. What I see from this interview is that we've got some stuff right, they've got some stuff right, and there's obstacles in the way to getting all of our right stuff together...

    ok, enough ranting.

    . . .

  • by Ill_Omen (215625) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:05AM (#315614)
    Actually, I think you missed his point.

    He's not talking about Open Source or Free Software. He's referring to the business model around companies 'selling' Linux, eg RedHat and Caldera. RedHat is a publicly traded, for profit company. RedHat needs to make money to exist. While GNU/Linux may be about all those great things that come with Free and/or OpenSource Software, RedHat is not, despite the fact that they are basing a company around it. That is what he means by "bizarre."

    I happen to agree with him. It is bizarre. That doesn't mean it's not going to work, however.

  • by update() (217397) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:23AM (#315617) Homepage
    Does anyone in Redmond think the /. crowd will feel like they got real answers out of this?

    Looking at your question, there wasn't much to say and he said it. There's a trade-off between security and ease of use. They erred on the side of convenience and some users got burned -- but those users didn't have to setuid their CD player software to get it to work. What were you expecting him to say? "We're idiots. Linux r00lz!"?

    Like a lot of Slashdot interviews of "The Enemy", questions that are basically "You suck. Don't you suck? Admit you suck." got moderated ahead of ones that might produce interesting answers. And then when the answers fall short of, "Yes, we suck." everyone complains that it's just a lot of marketroid-speak.

    The interview with the Carnivore reviewer [slashdot.org] was a great example -- 5 of the 10 questions essentially are "You're a liar. Why should I believe you when I say you're not a liar?"

    Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

  • by Geeky Frignit (232507) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:45AM (#315649) Homepage
    This seems to be the pervailing attitude among those at Microsoft and elsewhere: users are stupid

    You know, I have run across a lot of people in my life who are not efficient computer users. Windows offers a friendly environment that makes it easy to use software. Truthfully, there are a lot of people out there for whom Linux is not an option. There are a lot of people out there who don't know how to compile the source they got from someone to get a program to run. To be an efficient Linux user, this is one of the many special skills you have to have. In this sense, Windows does appeal to a lot of people, a lot of smart people too, the only difference is they are not computer techs, they have other specialities.

    I'd like to see you run Linux, knit a sweater, play a musical instrument, and fix a car. Hell, I can just barely do the first. I am not a supreme Linux user. I can do a lot of things, but I can't get WINE to work, use the Gimp worth a damn, etc. There are many types of people in this world, not everyone has to use Linux.

  • by RareHeintz (244414) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:18AM (#315673) Homepage Journal
    I know the pitfall you're speaking of, but I don't think I'm doing that here. I really don't feel like I got anything out of this that I couldn't have read in any of Microsoft's content-free press releases. For example, just saying that "Microsoft has always been a customer focused company" neither makes it so nor does it represent an answer (or even a useful part of an answer) to a question about how the anti-trust case has affected MS's interoperability strategy. It's a feel-good non sequitur.

    OK,
    - B
    --

  • by RareHeintz (244414) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:59AM (#315674) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps you weren't paying attention.

    My question was not about individual security flaws. Everyone knows that every product has those. I don't know why (if you actually read the article and the rest of this thread) you think I don't understand that mistakes get made.

    My question was about the set of attitudes and practices that systematically ignore the most basic security principles and lead to frequent releases of software with gaping security holes. Note the difference: honest mistakes vs. deliberate adoption of poor doctrine and practices. If you don't get it now, I can't be bothered to explain it to you further.

    OK,
    - B
    --

  • by antarctican (301636) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:30AM (#315713) Homepage
    It's been a long time since I've seen such double talk, this guy should be in politics!

    One question explicitly asked about MS' dealing with issues such as Kerberos and Java, and how MS basically broke those standards (don't deny it, they fucked those standards so far up the ass they could taste it), and what do we get, double talk about 'intellectual property'.

    Java (using one of those two refered to) was VERY well defined, and there are many good implimentations. What was 'incomplete' about this standard which forced them to break it. And not only do they modify the standard, but they can't even impliment it correctly without a discusting number of bugs.

    You really expected MS to be honest and complete with their answers? When I first say the call for questions up, I dismissed it knowing the amount of spin doctoring which would be done would make all answers worthless.

    We are the enemy, the only reason they bothered to do this is to try to gain our trust (ha! like that'll ever happen) and throw us off balance. Anyone who buys the bullshit they just spewed or think these answers are at all complete is a total moron.

    Intelectual property my ass, if they were so concerned with interoperability they'd publish these standards which they've extended. No one said they'd have to publish the source code, but at least TELL US how you changed the standard and maybe, we might embrase your modification.

    Geez, micro-morons.


    antarctican at trams dot ca
  • by Danger Vole (412064) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @07:46AM (#315767)
    IBM published the source code under copyright. Compaq had to reverse engineer the BIOS to create an IBM PC compatible BIOS that was free of intellectual property claims by IBM. Compaq had two teams, one that wrote a functional requirements document based on the IBM PC BIOS and another team that used the requirements document to write a new BIOS from scratch.

"Consider a spherical bear, in simple harmonic motion..." -- Professor in the UCB physics department

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