×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Microsoft Spends $9 Billion On Research, Focuses On Cloud

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the time-to-double-down dept.

Microsoft 133

superapecommando writes to share that Microsoft appears to be going all-out on research in the coming year, with a great focus on the cloud. They're supposedly planning to spend $9.5 billion in R&D; that's $3 billion more than the next-closest tech company. "'Especially in light of the tough difficult macroeconomic times that we're coming out of, we chose to really lean in and double down on our innovation,' [Microsoft COO Kevin] Turner said. Turner contended that Microsoft has more cloud services than any other company, ranging from its consumer email service to hosted enterprise products such as its Dynamics CRM (customer relationship management) system to its Azure cloud operating system. 'We're going to change and reinvent our company around leading in the cloud.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

133 comments

In other words... (5, Insightful)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31373982)

"...We're not sure our OS and Office monopoly will last forever, so we'd really like to see if we could actually turn a profit on something else."

Re:In other words... (1, Troll)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374084)

"...We're not sure our OS and Office monopoly will last forever, so we'd really like to see if we could actually turn a profit on something else."

If you aren't growing, you're dying. True for any business.

Re:In other words... (4, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374240)

That's MBA bullshit.

Re:In other words... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374714)

True, but MBAs and the over-testosteroned in general are famous for believing their own BS.

How many legs does a dog have, if... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31375072)

True, but MBAs and the [microcephalics] in general are famous for believing their own BS.

Calling marketing as 'research' doesn't make it research, no matter how true believers the MBAs get.

Re:In other words... (3, Insightful)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375476)

Well, it's not BS. It's incomplete. It should be: If you're not growing or giving your customers a reason to stay, you're dieing... The caveat is that "giving your customers a reason to stay" in MS lingo is "Let's lock them into something so hard, that once they are a customer, they can never go somewhere else without a HUGE migrating expense"...

"Paradigm for out-of-box enterprise synergy." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31374186)

"We're going to change and reinvent our company around leading in the cloud."

Translation from corporate-speak: "Since the people in charge, like Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, have little technical knowledge or interest, we want to be the leaders in cloudy thinking."

That's how it appears to me.

Re:In other words... (1)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374216)

Wonder what Google is doing then as 90% of their revenue is ads... At least MS has a handful of significant revenue streams compared to the 1 google has...

Re:In other words... (5, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374250)

Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have always said that they knew Windows and Office won't last forever. in the last 10 years they expanded into video games, business software, database servers, general IT servers for IT management, etc.The "cloud" is just a buzzword. few months ago i was reading some article about how someone was deploying servers for some internal project. and the article said they were building out a private cloud.

most of the cloud nonsense is for small businesses. i've helped a few build infrastructure and it's a waste of money buying servers, Windows Server licenses, etc. easier and cheaper to outsource it to Azure, Google or someone else.

for larger businesses hardware is so cheap that it doesn't make sense. We're about to buy a few $15,000 servers when the new Intel CPU's come out. 2 6 core CPU's, 72GB of RAM, 500GB to 1TB of hard drive space, all kinds of monitoring capability, etc for $15,000 each.

i was talking to an IT sales person the other day and he didn't even try to sell an hardware to us. he kept on pushing services. servers are a commodity made in China by little kids. just like ipods. I guess services is the next frontier to try to squeeze some profits

Re:In other words... (3, Interesting)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374504)

I'm dealing with a lot of the same issues that you mentioned. Specifically the SMB market and the move toward online hosting of services. What I've been finding is that although you can realize a savings in hardware cost, you end up losing some of those savings by having to bring in faster and redundant internet feeds.

Where have you seen the dividing line materialize for the decision to keep it in house versus move it offsite?

Re:In other words... (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374710)

i calculated the cost of a 64GB 8 core server 24x7 at EC2 and it came out to something like $6000 a year. This will run you $10,000 to $13,000 total for a HP PRoliant DL 380 G5.

it's very simple. you buy a server onsite you can use regular hard drives, etc. Amazon and the other cloud providers have to buy all kinds of expensive SAN's and redundancy. In practice they have to buy two servers to let you host your one server that you will buy normal hard drives for.

then there are upgrades. our server purchases this year will replace perfectly working servers that will go to a DR site. it's going to be quick for us. For Amazon once they buy the hardware it may be hard to add new architecture servers to existing clusters. we run VMWare and i've seen the guys cry because it can be finicky about having different models of servers in the same cluster.

Re:In other words... (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374970)

The server hardware costs are easy enough to figure out. We're using similar boxes here (Proliant ML370s). The boxes I was looking at came out to about $8000. They were similar to yours, but had one processor instead of two and 8GB of RAM instead of 64. I could see them hitting $10000.

Where is the break even point? I still have G2 / G3 Proliant boxes running in production. Those are seven plus years old at this point. Even with warranty costs, and assuming you spend $10000 up front on the hardware, those boxes are still way less than $6000 a year for a similar Amazon solution. Of course that doesn't include the cost of a SAN, but it does include over a terabyte of DAS.

How do you quantify offsite application performance, and how do you determine how much extra bandwidth you are going to need?

I'm in the situation where my users are running ancient hardware (Celeron 2.4ghz with 512MB of RAM is the standard config). There are some key applications that can be hosted on terminal services or Citrix. The question is whether or not to buy a new servers or two to continue hosting the apps in house, or to push the apps onto a server farm and deal with monthly costs for hosting and more bandwidth.

I honestly need to do more research on my end but I have a hard time getting honest answers about how many users can be supported on XX amount of bandwidth. It seems like my organization is right on the border line (cost wise) between hosting in-house versus moving it offsite. The real cost savings seems to come with disk space. A decent sized SAN for our environment is about a $20,000 idea.

Re:In other words... (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375274)

we run MS Terminal Services which is Citrix lite and the ratio is 10 people per server or so. I think the reason they run it is we serve big customers and they don't want to pay for network bandwidth to small offices to run local apps. but we don't run it with dumb terminals on the desktop. if the TS server crashed people would just run apps on the desktop.

if you run the dumb terminal deal it's still going to be way more expensive than buying and supporting desktops. Windows 7 works fine on 5 year old hardware. why spend hundreds of thousands of $$$ on licenses and hardware when there is 10% unemployment. if it doesn't turn out well, you may be out of a job

Re:In other words... (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375386)

I wish Windows 7 ran fine on 5 year old hardware. Maybe the OS runs, but once you start running anything on top of the OS it is TERRIBLE. Luckily I don't really have to be concerned with licensing costs. I work for a 501c3 non-profit and Microsoft practically gives us software. It is the application licensing costs that kill us. Our CRM system cost us over $20,000 last year in licensing and maintenance/support.

Why did you go with Terminal Services over Citrix? Citrix seems to make it much easier to publish individual apps.

Re:In other words... (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375280)

meant running physical hardware is cheaper. especially when some SQL queries request GB's of data

Re:In other words... (1)

zero0ne (1309517) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375892)

you can do a lot of things in VMWare to get over that hurdle, some supported by VMWare, and others not.

Re:In other words... (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374754)

Where have you seen the dividing line materialize for the decision to keep it in house versus move it offsite?

When your costs are lower having it offsite than from supporting it internally, whether it's with internal IT staff or outsourced support. Just run total costs both ways. Don't forget to take intangibles into account though as well.

Re:In other words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31375630)

and then as so often happens your ISP gets a problem and your company can no longer produce..

No please no clouds thats from the unix time when MS gave everyone a PC instead of a rented terminal line..

Re:In other words... (1)

bmajik (96670) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375390)

for larger businesses hardware is so cheap that it doesn't make sense. We're about to buy a few $15,000 servers when the new Intel CPU's come out. 2 6 core CPU's, 72GB of RAM, 500GB to 1TB of hard drive space, all kinds of monitoring capability, etc for $15,000 each

Still, no matter how many computers you buy and how expensive you make them, paying humans to keep them running is going to be the largest portion of IT costs.

The question is: do you want your organization to become a lean-n-mean specialist in keeping IT infrastructure running, or would you like to buy "IT service" from someone who _does_ specialize in that industry? If you have 100 servers to keep running with 5 guys, and you don't really need more than 100 servers.. how do you make your IT business more efficient? Are you really going to push to "lose" one of your employees?

My company is a strategic competitor to google, so while "company loyalty" might dictate that I badmouth them, the scale, uptime, and efficiency of Google's IT operations speaks for itself. They have innovated IT since day 0, from building their own server hardware, to re-thinking reliabilty, to engineering their own power and cooling -- they have innovated up and down the entire vertical stack of IT infrastructure.

"WeSellWidgets" and their IT staff of "2 dudes, mostly" is simply _never_ going to compete with that. So when google or amazon or Microsoft [home team plug] or whomever says "we can give you this for this monthly dollar amount" and you honestly assess your costs of insourcing.. for a number of situations the cloud-hosted model makes sense.

At MS we try not to hire people as full time employees for tasks that don't relate to the core mission of our business. The same lady has been the cashier in my cafeteria for years, but she doesn't work for MS - she works for an agency that MS has contracted with. Selling Food to employees isn't something Microsoft wants to make part of its core business, and so we outsource that entire problem to a company who _does_ want to do that.

IT infrastructure is not the primary mission of most companies that need to consume IT. Plumbing isn't the core mission of most companies that need to consume water, and electricity isn't the core mission of most companies that need to consume electricity. In the latter two cases, maintenance of plumbing and electrical systems is almost universally outsourced. People continue to disagree on when and how IT services will tend to be thought of as plumbing and electrical "always on, take them for granted" type services, but most people seem to agree that it is an eventual inevitability.

Re:In other words... (1)

RicktheBrick (588466) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375540)

Software is at least 10 years behind hardware. In other words if they stopped making any progress in hardware it would be at least 10 years before software was developed to get anywhere close to the maximum benefits that the hardware is capable of accomplishing. Microsoft should be able to offer all hardware for free with a subscription of 2 or more years of their cloud computing. We should be able to offer enough services that even the fee would be better than free since the services should be able to save the user more money than it cost. A service that would save energy costs would be the primary one but I can see several more in house security, personal security, communications, and entertainment. For instance commercial tv should be abandoned. I see no reason for making me watch a commercial for a product I have no interest in buying. After or before the program is viewed a list of products or services should be available with the ability to click on any of them to receive more information. That way more products or services could sponsor the programs since people could click on those they are interested in buying in the near future. There are plenty of ways in house security that could save more money than they cost too. For instances shutting off electricity or gas when there is a short or leak could save a house from being destroyed. When this has happened several times the savings in insurance would be enough to justify the cost. I have sure hope that in the year 2020 or before they can provide this service since if I am still alive I will be 69 than.

Re:In other words... (2, Interesting)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374450)

Microsoft sees the future and it is about to run them over. A lot of organizations don't want to eat the hardware costs associated with Office upgrades every three to five years. Microsoft is offering to host the applications online. From what I've heard about Office 2010, they aren't doing a very good job yet.

At this point it looks like they're in a race with Google. Google is trying to add functionality to bring Docs on par with Office. Microsoft is trying to get Office online before Google replicates enough of the functionality to destroy Microsoft's licensing stream.

Given the perpetual beta mindset on Google's part, coupled with their absolutely abhorrent attitude toward end user support, I give Microsoft a better than 50/50 chance of getting a reasonable offering put together in time.

Re:In other words... (2, Informative)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375996)

At this point it looks like they're in a race with Google. Google is trying to add functionality to bring Docs on par with Office. Microsoft is trying to get Office online before Google replicates enough of the functionality to destroy Microsoft's licensing stream.

Wrong. Microsoft isn't just in a race against Google. It's in a race against pretty much everyone.

Take for instance its SQL Server, one of its traditional cash cows. Several years ago, my company was paying Microsoft $11,000 for a license of SQL Server 2000 (Standard Edition). A couple years later, we were paying a very small fraction of that cost for the SQL Server 2005 (Workgroup edition) without any noticeable loss of prior functionality (and no significant loss of the very nice tools/wizards that came with it).

At the time, it was competing against mySql, and other open source alternatives such as PostgreSQL, SQLite, etc. Now it's still competing against those open source alternatives, but it's probably starting to lose marketshare to the Cloud alternatives as well. Now like you've pretty much implied already, it's probably not losing much yet to the Cloud services from Google (or to Google's BigTable or to Google's Spreadsheets for instance), but once again, it isn't just competing against Google (it's still competing against everyone: the open source community, open source vendors, various cloud providers, and anyone who has a service that may not be a direct competitor to Microsoft, but that could still tangentially nibble away at and encroach more on the territories of Microsoft's biggest cash cows.

So in that sense, it's not looking too good for Microsoft's future right now, and it's not even clear if Microsoft's new strategy will help that much either. By going for the cloud, Microsoft may continue to undercut in price its very own products (not just its rivals), so it may be able to conserve some of its marketshare, but at a much more rapid and significant loss financially.

Re:In other words... (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#31376274)

So in that sense, it's not looking too good for Microsoft's future right now, and it's not even clear if Microsoft's new strategy will help that much either. By going for the cloud, Microsoft may continue to undercut in price its very own products (not just its rivals), so it may be able to conserve some of its marketshare, but at a much more rapid and significant loss financially.

I think you're right on target with your analysis of the situation. We always hear tales of Ballmer's rant about "Developers, developers, developers." Microsoft is facing a double pronged threat on the developer front. They not only need to continue to encourage developers to stay with their stack of SQL/.Net/IIS/etc, but they need to do that while also competing on cost. They have to come up with a way to counter the LAMP stack. That is their huge challenge, and they might not be able to do it. Even if they continue to offer compelling functionality at competitive prices, they are going to hemorrhage double digit percentages of market share while they figure out what the right balance between cost and functionality is.

I think SalesForce.com is a decent example of where the cloud is going. It's a generic, extensible CRM platform. I haven't heard any rave reviews about it, but at the same time they are gaining market share based on price and the ability for people to customize it. Not surprisingly, Microsoft has moved Dynamics into the SaaS space. I don't use either product, but I have looked at both of them while researching alternatives to the platform that we are currently using.

The one downside of cloud apps at this point seems to be their infancy. One vendor I was talking to was touting his "Team of programmers in India who can develop whatever functionality you might need." as a selling point. To me, that's not a selling point. That tells me that his app isn't done yet, and he expects me to underwrite his development costs. I don't really care if hosted licensing costs are half of what in house costs are if the savings are going to be gobbled up by costs for "enhancement requests". What a new SaaS provider calls an enhancement request, their competition calls a standard feature.

CmdrTaco spends $9000 on penis pills (-1, Flamebait)

Freetardo Jones (1574733) | more than 4 years ago | (#31373986)

CmdrTaco spends $9000 on penis pills but he still has a baby penis.

And you know because...? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31374130)

How do you know these things? Are you a bathroom peeper? Perv!

Re:And you know because...? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31374150)

CmdrTaco's micropeen is pretty widespread knowledge, dude.

It's good that there are clouds in America (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#31373990)

Because without the internet in America we would all become Chinese people who don't speak English. I support Microsoft to rebuild America and Her Economi,

Trendy and Incompetent (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31374000)

Microsoft has gotten very pathetic. They're investing billions researching a near-meaningless buzzword? Talk about grasping at straws.

Re:Trendy and Incompetent (3, Insightful)

jschmitz (607083) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374100)

I couldn't agree more "cloud computing/hosting/whatever is a vague term used like any other buzz term. I just see it as a platform where the resources should be allocated automatically and the underneath system takes care of having those available. The same failure points are there. You're just putting the trust and management to someone else. Even if they do have backup plans and certain levels of redundancy, it can always fail. Cloud computing isn't something magical. “Similarly datacenters fail, get disconnected, overheat, flood, burn to the ground and so on, but these events should not cause any more than a minor interruption for end users. Otherwise how are they different from ‘legacy’ web applications?” That's because they aren't. The system is just managed by someone else, and its managed for thousands of people at the same time so its cheaper. Kind of like what Akamai has been doing for long with their content delivery network - it's cheaper for the providers because they dont have to build the infrastructure themself, and its cheaper for Akamai because they do it for so many clients. "

Re:Trendy and Incompetent (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31374368)

Logic is out. Buzzwords and shiny interfaces are in. Apple proves that to you.

Re:Trendy and Incompetent (1, Insightful)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375782)

You are a retard.

Which is more credible:

a) Microsoft pays very intelligent, very educated people ridiculous sums of money to make sound business plans and they realize cloud computing is going to be a major factor in the coming years.

b) Some dipshit on SlashDot is smarter than all these people and "knows" that cloud computing is just a "near-meaningless buzzword".

Jesus Christ. I can just see that ridiculous sneer on your fact over that unkempt, patchy bear that covers half your fat neck.

Obvious question (2, Interesting)

paiute (550198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374046)

Has anyone checked to see if Microsoft has trademarked the word "Cloud"?

It's _research and development_, not just research (4, Informative)

melted (227442) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374062)

Research costs Microsoft about $700M a year, probably less now after the recent belt tightening and layoffs.

R&D means everything that's involved in creating products, including developers, testers, program management, management, non-sales executive pay, etc, etc., and yes, research as well.

Re:It's horseshit, not just research (2, Interesting)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375930)

At a previous employer, I was asked by management to estimate how much time I spend doing "research", left undefined. The explanation - it's for tax purposes, and we can get a credit for research.

I'm not going to say I read the relevant laws to find the definition, but I did follow company policy and made a best guess based on what I thought should reasonably qualify under a sane tax system. So although I didn't claim anything that a normal person would call foul, I'm sure there were some hours that wouldn't qualify.

Hours were turned into dollars, and the results collected and turned in as "research and development" spending for tax purposes. We met both the letter and spirit of the law, as much as was possible. But we were not a product company, nor a major innovator in our market(s). We did lots of research with very little to show for it. The intended purpose of the law of course would be to encourage invention if not innovation, and have a more efficient and/or productive economy, resulting in snowballing gains as different sectors picked up on advances in other areas. Makes sense.

I'm sure someone else will point out how many cool things MS research announces then fails to turn into a marketable product, so I won't go into that. I'm also sure that Microsoft's obligations to its shareholders have continually been ignored as dividend payouts have been begrudgingly given, on the odd chances they are given at all. While sitting on piles of cash. As a shareholder, i'd like to see MS Research almost entirely dismantled, dividends you can count on, and for fuck's sake replace the entire marketing silo with a small panel of the following makeup who will say which products get to market and how:

A graphic designer
A soccer/hockey/whatever mom or dad
Someone employed in middle management of a non-technology company
One person of any type who has never seen an episode of survivor or american idol
One person who knows the words to every Lady GaGa song (artist to be updated by annual shareholder vote)
One person who belongs to every social network known to man and has no concept of privacy (must have an entry on http://failbooking.com/ [failbooking.com])
Bill Gates
A rat terrier (for product testing), alternatively a young japanese man will substitute as needed
A 14 year old girl (preferably familiar with glitter and whose favorite color is pink, replaced annually for obvious reasons)
A business analyst with a marketing related education, who counts as 1/2 vote

There's your entire marketing department, and they will make better decisions and cost less money. You can probably pay them in MacBooks, Comp tickets, maid service, fairy dust and unicorn shit, rainbowed versions of normal objects like neon beer signs and the like, permanent Bing #1 results for keyword 'smush', certificates for a discount on the next purchase of a Windows(tm) product, used panties, arcade crane game baubles, and insurance benefits with an occasional kick to the balls, respectively.

Azure looks interesting... But... (5, Informative)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374092)

Azure is definitely interesting... It's distributed programing model does look to have some advantages. But I think it won't take off like Amazon's has for a few reasons...

First off, there are no computing containers. What I mean by that is you can only run applications on Azure, not whole operating systems. This does have some efficiency gains (in that you don't have an added OS layer in the middle, but it VASTLY increases the tie-in to the system, and prevents you from doing simple things like adding a server template to turn on if your site gets a lot of load.

Second, It requires applications to be custom written for the environment. You can't trivially port a ready-made application from a single server to Azure... While this is good on the efficiency side, it's not good for the weekend warrior or small businesses who want to remain portable and flexible...

Third, it's only on their cloud. You have to trust MS's infrastructure. And you need to trust MS with YOUR data... It's not like amazon's offerings where clones have popped up that are compatible (so you could recreate your own cloud if you wanted to, or use a competitors)... So that locks you in to their system. My guess, is that most sizable companies won't like this at all...

I'm not saying people won't use it. I'm not saying people won't like it. What I am saying is that it is not playing in the same field as the other "Cloud" computing platforms. IF MS opens up Azure (at least in a binary form) where you can install it on your own infrastructure, then it may have a shot. If they allow guest operating systems, then it may have a shot. But without both, I think there's just too much tie-in to be comfortable (and base your business around)...

Disclaimer: This is based on a presentation which I attended by the lead engineer for Azure back in December of 08. Things may have changed since then, but I haven't kept up with it specifically...

Cloud Computing is perfectly secure. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31374540)

Wait a minute. I'm a manager, and I've been reading a lot of case studies and watching a lot of webcasts about The Cloud. Based on all of this glorious marketing literature, I, as a manager, have absolutely no reason to doubt the safety of any data put in The Cloud.

The case studies all use words like "secure", "MD5", "RSS feeds" and "encryption" to describe the security of The Cloud. I don't know about you, but that sounds damn secure to me! Some Clouds even use SSL and HTTP. That's rock solid in my book.

And don't forget that you have to use Web Services to access The Cloud. Nothing is more secure than SOA and Web Services, with the exception of perhaps SaaS. But I think that Cloud Services 2.0 will combine the tiers into an MVC-compliant stack that uses SaaS to increase the security and partitioning of the data.

My main concern isn't with the security of The Cloud, but rather with getting my Indian team to learn all about it so we can deploy some first-generation The Cloud applications and Web Services to provide the ultimate platform upon which we can layer our business intelligence and reporting, because there are still a few verticals that we need to leverage before we can move to The Cloud 2.0.

Re:Cloud Computing is perfectly secure. (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31376070)

My main concern isn't with the security of The Cloud, but rather with getting my Indian team to learn all about it so we can deploy some first-generation The Cloud applications and Web Services to provide the ultimate platform upon which we can layer our business intelligence and reporting, because there are still a few verticals that we need to leverage before we can move to The Cloud 2.0.

Boss, what are you doing posting on /. ?

It sure isn't a +5 Funny post, its actually depressingly worrying.

Mojave Investment, Take 2? (0, Flamebait)

adosch (1397357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374104)

Last time Microsoft invested big into R&D in the recent couple of years, we got the Mojave Experiment Project [microsoft.com], which was a brainwashing to non-tech people who didn't have a clue anyway. At least they are throwing their money towards a new tech buzz like cloud computing and dumping it into convincing people Vista is great, when it wasn't. First impressions are everything, we all know that. We all know by now throwing money at problems that can't be solved by money doesn't work. Maybe Microsoft will make a cloud that will float Vista away?

In Praise of Microsoft R&D (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374112)

I have no doubt that Microsoft's R&D is staffed with talented people.

I have my doubts that the Product Marketing and Sales side would turn any of it into anything of value though. In the history of innovative companies, they all tend to develop such powerful resistance to risk taking that all of the market potential in their R&D will just waste away.

Re:In Praise of Microsoft R&D (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31376370)

I d. They show very little for the amount of money they spend.

Either the people aren't that talented, or motivated, ot the are focusing too much in a small amount of areas, or MS has no fucking idea how to take promising ides and get them out of the lab.

They can certainly buy something that someone else has managed to get to a small market.

I understand RnD is a tough nut to show progress, and I understand most RnD items will not pan out.

For the amount of money they spend in RnD, they sure to play catchup an awful lot.

Lots of R&D $$$ yield ... nothing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31374142)

In the past ten years MS has probably spent $50B on R&D ... what does it have to show ?

Re:Lots of R&D $$$ yield ... nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31375108)

"In the past ten years MS has probably spent $50B on R&D ... what does it have to show ?"

Some very nice tax write-offs is what they've got to show. AFAIK, the tax man doesn't really get to ask what got researched or developed (trade secrets, etc) making it quite simple to move almost any amount of money into that part of the ledger where it effectively disappears forever.

Re:Lots of R&D $$$ yield ... nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31375852)

That doesn't even make sense. Do you know anything about taxes...or finance at all? What the hell are you even blathering about?

I am from India. (1)

Singularity42 (1658297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374146)

Where is the place to go for cloud research job in India for Microsoft???

Re:I am from India. (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374264)

Bangalore. Microsoft has a big shiny glass box of an office there. I am deeply sympathetic with your fate and hope you will survive it.

Re:I am from India. (4, Funny)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374354)

MS should set that up in Dharamsala, up in the cloudy mountains. I can just imagine the synergy with Tibetan monks humming away.

Watch This (3, Interesting)

Slash.Poop (1088395) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374166)

Watch /. tear apart Microsoft for even mentioning the word "cloud".
When just yesterday /. was praising Ubuntu working on the "cloud".

http://linux.slashdot.org/story/10/03/03/1947235/Ubuntu-Desktop-In-the-Cloud [slashdot.org]

Re:Watch This (3, Informative)

Svenne (117693) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374534)

Did you actually read the comments?

"Let's Open-Source the cloud (Score:2, Interesting)
by Anonymous Coward writes: on Wednesday March 03, @08:50PM (#31349408)

Then we can run our own cloud and connect to it from wherever we want. There's a snowball's chance in hell I'm going to run my desktop on hardware that is out of my control, but for local applications, that might be interesting."

---

"Cost prohibitive? (Score:3, Insightful)
by bsDaemon (87307) writes: on Wednesday March 03, @09:00PM (#31349544)

EC2 charges based on CPU time and bandwidth usage, so this sounds like it'd end up eating up a monthly fee of ~$netbook per month. Why would anybody want to spend their money on this?"

---

"i never saw the point of cloud desktops (Score:3, Interesting)
by alen (225700) writes: on Wednesday March 03, @09:55PM (#31350268)

hardware is dirt cheap and getting cheaper. you can buy a powerful server for cheap as well. but after you buy the Citrix or whatever licenses, a few more servers for redundancy, a ton of storage at enterprise prices, the enterprise hardware support, increase network bandwidth etc the savings vanish and it's cheaper to just buy regular desktop machines.

same thing with EC2. by the time you put in the network hardware and new circuits and pay Amazon for 24x7 instances it's cheaper to just buy desktops. i'm typing this on a 5 year old HP that runs windows 7 just fine.

i bet all this cloud nonsense is enterprise hardware companies trying to push higher margin products and no real trend that anyone is doing. the numbers just don't work out"

---

No? Check.

Just felt like bitching? Check.

Re:Watch This (1)

bit01 (644603) | more than 4 years ago | (#31376190)

Just felt like bitching? Check.

Look at his posting history. Even his username. He's probably an M$ astroturfer trying to create the perception that slashdot is biased because it's independent and doesn't toe the M$ propaganda line.

Standard marketing technique; try to create the "everybody's doing it" vibe to break anti-M$ viewpoints and promote M$ propaganda. Every story about M$ has several posters claiming that /. is biased when there are always posts from all points of view. Many are simply people in M$' reality distortion field who can't cope with alternative points of view but it's pretty consistent suggesting that there may be deliberate astroturf going on also.

Oh, and to preempt one predictable complaint; I'll be happy to remove "M$" from my posts once M$ remove their marketing keys from pretty much every general purpose PC keyboard on the planet.

---

Anonymous company communication is unethical and can and should be highly illegal. Company legal structures require accountability.

They missed the internet rush (1)

PingXao (153057) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374190)

Back when MS missed getting in on the rise of the internet, they played catch-up for years. They didn't "get" the internet at first, and that cost them dearly for a while. To this day MS is not really known as an internet leader.

Back then it was obvious they weren't doing it right. And today they're still not doing it right because they've swung the other way, apparently, and overestimated the importance of cloud computing in the future. Oh well, it's their money and they can afford to flush it.

Re:They missed the internet rush (1)

thestudio_bob (894258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374320)

Not sure what you are talking about. Bill Gates was all about the power of the internet back in the day. Heck, IE DOMINATED the browser market, for what, like 10 years.

I think you might mean that they were misguided in what direction to go with it, but even as a Mac fan, I will concede that MS understood that the internet was important. They just had problems with execution and they sat on their laurels.

Re:They missed the internet rush (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31374766)

Not sure what you are talking about. Bill Gates was all about the power of the internet back in the day. Heck, IE DOMINATED the browser market, for what, like 10 years.

I think you might mean that they were misguided in what direction to go with it, but even as a Mac fan, I will concede that MS understood that the internet was important. They just had problems with execution and they sat on their laurels.

No, they realized it was important after Netscape basically owned web browsing. Don't think they were first on the scene. They took over as usual once they realized there was something worth dominating.

Re:They missed the internet rush (1)

jamboarder (620309) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375428)

Not sure what you are talking about. Bill Gates was all about the power of the internet back in the day. Heck, IE DOMINATED the browser market, for what, like 10 years.

Ahh, younglings.... Before your time there was a creature called Netscape. It was in those days that Microsoft was nowhere to be found and apparently mocked this internet thing as a fad.

Ancient history, I know, but us geezers need something to go on about besides lawns and snow-covered hills...

Lead or Follow? (5, Interesting)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374236)

We're going to change and reinvent our company around leading in the cloud.

Going to lead in the cloud? Given that Google, Microsoft's most-direct competitor, has been "in the cloud" for quite some time, as the expertise to innovate and excel, and has the money to ensure they have everything they need, I find that to be a bold prediction founded in whimsy rather than fact. Methinks Microsoft is about four or five years too late to the cloud computing game. Sure, they have the resources to make up a lot of time but they're competing against a company that has similar resources who already has those four or five years (or more) head start.

That said, it is nice to see Microsoft recognizing that the world has changed and making efforts to change with it.

(And, no, that last part wasn't me being a smartass - I'm actually serious. It's a good thing when major corporations recognize the world has changed and adapt accordingly rather than attempting to hold on to a bygone era.)

Re:Lead or Follow? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31374598)

my guess is there a lot of upper management in microsoft, each with their own vision of what the company should be. Each is trying to take the company into a different field/direction and become a "leader" in it when in actuality the only areas they have a solid lead in are still their core offerings, office and windows. i think this is a byproduct of weak leadership and an unclear vision.

i think to the average, non-technical person microsoft is still to them the company that makes just office/windows/(xbox?), just like google is at its heart a search company. how could they possibly reinvent their company in this way? it would take years of effort with a focused vision and dedicated leadership, much in the same way that ibm has reinvented itself. those clever commercials helped too.

oh well, its friday, time for a beer!

Re:Lead or Follow? (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375772)

I would say that it is an attempt to diversify their offerings, in the event that Windows and/or Office ever fail. They will not be around or dominant forever, and surely they must recognize this. I think this is why they are going after the video game market, MP3 players, search, and all sorts of odds and ends. As these ventures turn profits, they will have more and more of a safety net to fall back on. One day they will fall from power, but they need not be totally destroyed.

Re:Lead or Follow? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374818)

i think i read that Google Apps will cost you $50 per user per year. that's about the cost of MS Exchange and Office when amortized over 5 years. why change? than you have SOX issues like backups and having backups of data from years ago available to you

Re:Lead or Follow? (3, Informative)

jcupitt65 (68879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375236)

If you're less than 50 users, google apps for your domain is free.

$50/user is for the google apps 'premier edition', which includes 25gb of storage, tech support, 10 year archive, 99.9% sla and other stuff like that.

Interesting turnaround (4, Insightful)

sean_nestor (781844) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374300)

From an article in Time magazine, December 29 1995 [time.com]:

Gates is as fearful as he is feared, and these days he worries most about the Internet, Usenet and the World Wide Web, which threaten his software monopoly by shifting the nexus of control from stand-alone computers to the network that connects them. The Internet, by design, has no central operating system that Microsoft or anybody else can patent and license. And its libertarian culture is devoted to open--that is to say, nonproprietary--standards, none of which were set by Microsoft.

Gates moved quickly this year to embrace the Net, although it sometimes seemed he was trying to wrap Microsoft's long arms around it.

I remember reading Gates' book "The Road Ahead" something like seven years ago and being surprised at how wrong he was in his estimation of the impact that mainstream Internet connectivity would have. I wish I could get the exact quotes, but there were a few telling sentences where he comes off pretty clearly as dismissive that net connectivity would become anything more than a cute PC accessory. I'm still not sure if that was his genuine line of reasoning, or of it was just wishful thinking, but I think the point was clear that Microsoft was stacking their chips against net-based services, insisting that locally-run software was going to be the way of the future.

Now they are investing in what Google has already been doing and doing well for years, following their trend of copying other business' models instead of innovating on their own. I'm sure this will work out well for them.

Re:Interesting turnaround (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31374536)

This is no different from what Apple do. They're never first with new product ideas. They watch watch others do, wait for the "apple $product hype" (probably paid for themselves), and make a crippled version of what lessor players have been doing.

MS have two core areas, OS and Office. The foster development on their platform, create annoying proprietary vendor lock-in, and dismiss everyone else. Apple is copying this. MS is the new IBM, Apple are trying to be the new MS, and Google are following shortly behind. When you make so much money for a good deal of time in certain areas, those that pull the strings fail to see a bigger picture that's better for the consumer. See the iPad for a classic example. The question is, as people don't buy google directly, what is going to trip them up? Lawsuits from software patent fanboys and troll, a huge privacy failure that makes millions migrate from gmail?

Re:Interesting turnaround (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375484)

The question is, as people don't buy google directly, what is going to trip them up?

Widespread bypassing of internet advertising. e.g. Strong AI that can be run from some future desktop computer, that searches through all the major search engines, picks the most relevant results from all of them, and arranges the links for you to visit. (Maybe only weak AI is needed?) But this would still require the visiting of search engines, so that would only really hurt Google if a superior competitor existed. Well not necessarily. If intelligent, local meta-searching was easy, then search would become competitive. So long as a search engine was good enough to want to be searched by this AI, that search engine could undercut Google's advertising rates because companies would find that advertising with them would be as effective as using Google. A race to the bottom would then ensue.

Of course, this superior local meta-searching technology would also need to be noticeably superior to Google enough that people would feel compelled to switch. The familiar look, the syntax, google maps... it's a softer lock-in than backroom deals made to preinstall operating systems, but it's still effective. Google does a very good job now, and they have an income stream that is plowed back into research to keep them competent at search. I don't see them going away. Could they be better? Maybe. I find that I often need to constrain my searches with a "site:whatever.com" where the whatever.com is the largest internet forum devoted to the particular subject. It would be nice if google were to somehow be able to figure out that when I type "$error_message $subject", that I want to search the best $subject forums about $error_message. But this is not essential, and I have to wonder how many people are this anal about getting good search results.

Google sure seems to be unstoppable now. But so did Microsoft and IBM back in their respective days.

Re:Interesting turnaround (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31374658)

I don't know if you were being sarcastic or not, but it probably will work out well for them.

Look at virtulization, as an example. VMware made good products, and once a market had defined itself MS comes in and bears it's weight down making products that are just as good.

Note: This isn't about market share, this is about what companies will deploy next business cycle.

You can argue that this is all MS does, but it's a moot point if they continue to make money.

Re:Interesting turnaround (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375106)

Just as good? Says someone who never compared vmware to MS hypervisor. I am no fan of VMware but their products are far superior to MS hypervisor.

Re:Interesting turnaround (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374920)

i use a lot of Google services and it's becoming annoying.

Gmail seems to take forever doing simple things like deleting emails. 10 seconds to delete 100 emails is way too long.
Google Reader has this annoying habit that you can't rename folders and you can't customize the size of the different areas of the screen.
Google Wave other than sucking real bad is slow. and it's a RAM hog. i've had Chrome at 600MB of RAM just on Google Wave.
Google Voice doesn't seem to have a purpose. why would i use it to call people when my iphone does it just fine and a lot faster?
Google Buzz also sucks. it only pulls tweets once or twice a day and you can't send anything.

i missed the mainframe era but some of these things seem just like mainframes are back. you get your bit of computing time and thank the computing gods for the privilege. Google reminds of me of what i read here years ago. a lot of talented tech people think of a cool idea and get it to version .8 or .9 and let the less talented people finish off the details while they go on to the next cool idea. same with Google. they come out with something and even for all of Apple's and Microsoft's buggy software, it's a lot more polished than Google's crap. And a lot of things Google does are done a lot easier and faster with a nice fat client and a server component.

  Look at Twitter as an example. The third party clients are awesome compared to the website. Tweetdeck is better than wave or Buzz. in fact i'm using Twitter a lot more for work than Google. A lot of DBA's on Twitter and they will answer a lot of questions and there is the social component of it

Just another buzz? (1)

Impie (46586) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374304)

Well ... cloud computing?

Basically it is the same technology that I have used for the last 15 years within the business.

People can call the technilogy whatever they want, it is still the same technology that drives the computercentre. It always has, it always will be, the rest is just code..

I think that cloudcomputing is good, dont get me wrong. It is just what I have been doing for the last 15 years....

Re:Just another buzz? (1)

Impie (46586) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374338)

oh .. typo .. technoligy should be technology .. :-P sorry for that ..

Simple Math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31374374)

...we chose to really lean in and double down on our innovation...

And... Two times zero is?

Where are academia's clouds? (1)

whovian (107062) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374418)

With Amazon and Microsoft being businesses, hence for-profit, I was wondering if anyone has taken a stab at cloud R&D in academia.

Over 9 billion dollars (2, Insightful)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374588)

They spend over 9 billion dollars on research, and we still need to buy add-on products to protect us from virus attacks.

Re:Over 9 billion dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31375416)

I think they've made that free these days, though you're always welcome to pay the Norton sucker tax

Ahh, the soft fluffy clound - a happy place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31374652)

A perfect place to meter the use of software and data. In the cloud you absolutely know what your users are up to and how to effectively charge them. ...To fully contain the user experience and to make money from even the slightest little use of a computer. Soft fluffy clouds of money floating around, ripe for picking. Users willing to shell out cash for use of commodity hardware and software. Of course they are investing heavily, because the vision fits their plan so well. Oh, and they can use free software to pull it off--yes it is free to them, but not free to you. ...Enter the fancy dungeon. Fix your eyes on the spinning widget...and open your wallet wide.

Step 5, Profit? (2, Interesting)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374828)

How is Microsoft going to make a profit in the cloud? The cloud is about the centralization and automatic configuration of vast amounts of computing resources. It will allow smaller companies to turn over their infrastructure management to cloud hosting companies.

When they were self-hosting, those smaller companies were often paying licensing fees to Microsoft because of some perceived cost benefit such as support or simplicity of administration. However, when shopping for cloud services, they don't need to worry about such details, and so they can focus much more on cost. A Windows based cloud hosting company would need thousands of licenses from Microsoft, and so they could save millions by using free software instead. These savings would lead to a huge price difference.

Microsoft could always offer special savings on bulk licenses, but they are going to have to offer major price drops. The centralization of hosting will give them far fewer direct customers. Where is the great amount of money to be made in this?

Their only hope is to offer things that can't be found in free software, or to reduce administrative costs enough to offset the cost of licenses. It will be a difficult challenge.

As Secure As The Wind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31374864)

The only difference between putting your tax returns and employee SSNs in the cloud and putting them in a wicker basket and hanging them on a telephone pole outside is that with the wicker basket, you can see when someone steals it.

Re:As Secure As The Wind (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375884)

Oooh, you're smart! Just like that guy back in 95 who wrote an article mocking e-commerce. I mean who wants their credit cards out on "teh interwebs", amiright?!

Re:As Secure As The Wind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31376120)

Yeah, credit card fraud hasn't gone up a bit since e-commerce became popular. And google and amazon have never been broken into recently by Chinese hackers.

What are they getting for their money (2, Insightful)

rssrss (686344) | more than 4 years ago | (#31374906)

AT&T used to have an enormous R&D program. It invented transistors, UNIX, C, information theory, ... And they even won a couple of Nobel prizes. IBM wasn't AT&T, but they still made enormous contributions like RISC and relational databases. Micro$oft has done nothing.

Job objects.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31375016)

Well, if they're focused on cloud computing, they better make sure Job Objects can be nestable.
Similar to 'process groups' in unix, it's kinda imperative for any kind of manageable distributed computing.

So far, you can only have one level of job objects, which is kinda like having a file system
that only supports subdirectories in the root.

I know it is an unpopular opinion but (4, Interesting)

Raconteur (1132577) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375018)

cloud computing is a very bad idea. The very same things that Ballmer spoke of as being exciting and profitable are the same ones that terrify me for lots of reasons. I'm not paranoid about privacy (that's gone) but it will get worse, and the possibilities for monopolization, piracy, and loss of data integrity increase exponentially. As a small business, it makes no sense for me to embrace the risk, and as a dinosaur in the digital world, I naturally balk at centralization disguised as convenience.

Great Achievement... (1)

yet-another-lobbyist (1276848) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375036)

... they burn billions on research money, yet a lot of their products are mocking someone else's creative inventions (MS-DOS, Windows, IE, Zune, Windows CE, Windows Mobile, ...) paired with half-assed and often user-annoying implementations.
Instead (or because of that) they have to spend their time spreading FUD and threatening everyone with patent suits. Thank you, Microsoft!

Buzzwords are not vision (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375074)

The problem Microsoft really has is a lack of vision. They've kinda made everything they have set out to make, and now they really don't have a grasp on what's next. Regardless of their size and resources, they aren't driving the industry the way they used to. Office is ok, and the ribbon bar is cool, for sure, but, it took them ten years of piling stuff into toolbars and menus and chasing around competitors u/i dongles in Office that they lost site of Office as a vision. Same can be said about Win7, VStudio... it's all nice and all, but really kinda visionless and above all soulless.

Nothing the company makes excites me any more. Even when they do do something cool, they wrap it up in so much EULA speak and corporatease, I feel like I just did a shot that went down smooth but made me throw up at the end. "Windows Genuine Advantage"... good Lord, they may as well just rename their marketing department to be the "Ministry of Truth."

And, now, we have Cloud.

Does Microsoft really get internet based computing? I mean, its pretty hard to argue they believe in hosted solutions when Windows costs more per ad click to run a site off than Linux ever will, and, even worse, their most consumer facing internet product, internet explorer, is so reviled that it undermines their whole brand. Even in a 100% Microsoft shop, everyone around here uses Chrome or Firefox and wishes Microsoft would just give up on the internet.

Why DO you need a cloud anyway? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375120)

When even cell phones increasingly have the compute power of what desktops did a few years ago. The only reason you need a cloud is for data, and right now, data is still expensive to do over the internet. If longer lasting and higher capacity solid state drives become mainstream, even the data reason goes away as you can have all your data on your shelf, in the kitchen cabinet, your pocket at work, and so on, and even then, most people really don't need to store every single picture they took, forever.

$9 Billion? (3, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375254)

Microsoft gave $9 Billion to its R&D department?

Geez; how'd Steve Jobs convince them to donate that much?

Joni Mitchell said it best (2, Funny)

ratnerstar (609443) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375292)

You've looked at clouds from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow,
Nine billion dollars, I recall
You really don't know clouds, at all.

SharePoint (1)

adipocere (201135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375418)

Other operating systems have pulled ahead and probably will continue to do so. Office has been nearly feature complete since Office 97 (which is perfectly serviceable for 99% of people), and Open Office will eventually get there, if it hasn't already. Internet Explorer continues to slip.

Microsoft continues to win in business software like Exchange and Outlook, and things that integrate with them. My guess is that they're putting a hell of a lot of money in SharePoint, because what other CMSs integrate that well with things like Exchange and Office and Active Directory? SharePoint will help them maintain their business dominance as they get clobbered in other areas.

I'm not sure what the cloud can do for them, there seems to be a lot of "magic happens here" in it. This could be a way for them to move Exchange and SharePoint up to a service pool in the sky.

Microsoft usually takes a few times to get things right. The next iteration of Xbox ought to be a monster, but I wouldn't rely on their cloud for a few more years.

Wasting Shareholder Money (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31375776)

How many billions of dollars have to be flushed down the toilet in Microsoft's attempt to gain new market strongholds?

It seems the best use of this money would be to give it back to the stockholers.

They're coming after Google Hard (1)

Cyberllama (113628) | more than 4 years ago | (#31376304)

It's like they JUST realized that they Google and Apple were the behemoths now and that MS is the underdog.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...