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Break Microsoft Up

Unknown Lamer posted 1 year,26 days | from the or-just-give-up dept.

Businesses 355

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Tom Worstall writes in Forbes that the only way to get around the entrenched culture that has made Microsoft a graveyard for the kind of big ideas that have inspired companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon is to split the company up so as to remove conflicts between new and old products. With Ballmer's departure, instead of finding someone new to run the company, bring in experts to handle the legal side and find suitable CEOs for the new companies. 'The underlying problem for Microsoft is that the computing market has rapidly left behind the company's basic strategy of controlling the machines that people use with operating-system software,' says Erik Sherman. 'The combination of mobile devices that broke Microsoft's grip on the client end, and cloud computing that didn't necessarily need the company in data centers, shattered this form of control.' Anyone can see how easily you could split off the gaming folks, business division, retail stores, and hardware division says John Dvorak. Each entity would have agreements in place for long-term supply of software and services. 'This sort of shake up would ferret out all the empire builders and allow for new and more creative structures to emerge. And since everyone will have to be in a semi-startup mode, the dead wood will be eliminated by actual hard work.'"

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Yeah (1)

clickson (2887959) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684429)

With pleasure!

Re:Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684457)

Let it die a peaceful death.

Re:Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684595)

Didn't the US government try to do this once?

Re:Yeah (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684881)

No, the U.S. government just keeps right on growing, tumor-like.

Re:Yeah (4, Informative)

Deviate_X (578495) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684953)

Splitting Microsoft along business/consumer lines:

MicrosoftBusiness:
*WindowsDesktop (Profitable)
*WindowsServer (Profitable)
*WindowsServerApplications (Profitable)
*WindowsCloud (Profitable)
*WindowsMouseAndKeyboardWhatnots (Profitable)

MicorsoftConsumer:
*Bing (Lossy)
*Xbox (BreakEvens)
*WindowsPhone (Lossy)
*WindowsTablets (Lossy)

I predict that MicrosoftConsumer would quickly cease trading in the wake of this split, leaving only Microsoft standing.

Re:Yeah (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684965)

Bullshit because all that would do is make one company with bad management into a bunch of companies with bad management, it wouldn't solve a damned thing. Frankly the whole TFA is full of shit, if it were true why not break up Apple? Why not Google? After all they too have products that don't really go together as far as an overarching strategy yet they are doing just fine aren't they?

No what has caused MSFT to go off the rails and what any CEO with a brain, hell what ANY person with a brain should do in that situation is simple....LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS! How so many large companies can totally screw up in something so damned simple is beyond me, but that is exactly what happened with MSFT. Ballmer had his head so far up Wall Street and Cupertino's collective asses all he could do was go "ZOMFG apps apps apps MOBILE!" while he not ONCE, not a single time, actually bothered to sit down with the grunts in the field and go "What does the folks want to buy?"

You look at the moves MSFT has made in the past few years and one thing becomes crystal clear...every new feature, and starting with Win 8 every new OS, its all been designed to give MICROSOFT more advantages, not a damned thing for the user. Its like the entire system is designed by Dilbert's PHB! I mean how hard is it to picture Ballmer and his lackeys sitting at the big table going "Well what do we need...well selling a new OS every 5 years is great for the user and the ecosystem but we have to make those quarterly earnings projections, so we'll just ship them out the door ASAP. What do you mean they'll be half baked? That's good, that means it'll screw up quicker and they'll have to buy new hardware which means new license sales! Okay wall street is jerking off to ARM so we'll make WOA, of course i know all the software won't run, that's the point dumbass, we'll have the appstore market all to ourselves! Oh yeah they say tablets and smartphones are hot so we'll make Windows not run worth a shit without touch, that will make people shell out Apple prices for these tablets, oh who gives a fuck if most PCs won't run it, did you see the Financial Times? Its all about corporate control and apps so the fact that most PCs and software won't run well just means we corner the market again!"

So it does NOT need breaking up, what it needs is NOT a CEO but instead a LEADER, one that will get his head out of the Financial Times and stop coming up with more ideas to make the products better for MSFT and instead be making damned sure they know what the CUSTOMERS want, because all they did under Ballmer was toss away good will and burn bridges to try to out Apple Apple while ignoring that if their customers would have wanted an Apple they'd have bought one!

Re:Yeah (4, Insightful)

gnasher719 (869701) | 1 year,26 days | (#44685033)

No what has caused MSFT to go off the rails and what any CEO with a brain, hell what ANY person with a brain should do in that situation is simple....LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS!

Clarification: Listen to your customers, and figure out how to make them _want_ to give you their money and come back for more, instead of figuring out how to take their money away from them.

When you talk about out-Apple Apple, I have the impression that Surface is what all the fanboys asked Apple to do with MacOS X, and what they predicted Apple do to, and Apple just wasn't stupid enough to do it :) Microsoft was. So _listening_ to people has its dangers as well.

What's good for others apparently is no good for M (5, Interesting)

rjf_ie (630615) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684467)

classic old-school, google gets praise for the chromecast, for having an OS, for being in mobile, being in search, being in social networks.. and that's all good. Apple ditto.. but not acceptable for MS. Microsoft needs a good shaking but there are some strong elements in there that need to be supported and accelerated. They have as much right to push for the unified vision as anyone

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (5, Insightful)

davidbrit2 (775091) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684479)

I think the problem is that their unified vision is anything but unified. Hell, they can't even make up their minds about what Windows 8 is supposed to be.

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684719)

Nope.

The problem is that there's people running Microsoft who still think the way to sell more Windows 8 isn't to listen to customers and fix Windows 8's problems, it's to make (eg.) the next release of Direct3D Windows-8-only thereby "forcing" people to upgrade (LOL!)

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44685067)

The EASIEST WAY to fix Windows 8 is to add it to their SPLA licensing program - that fucking simple.

Just Win 8 (not Win7), and let the DaaS market / Internal IT run with it for their employees.

Their entire premise of "winning" the desktop war was to get it in front of as many people as possible - with smart phones destroying that, they should be leveraging Win 8 running in a VM and being presented to the user via some phone app / RDP / Citrix / whatever.

It wont matter that Timmy just bought some shiny new iPad, when his daily usage of the iPad consists of opening some app that lets him access his work / home desktop remotely 10 hours a day.

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684785)

I think the problem is that their unified vision is anything but unified. Hell, they can't even make up their minds about what Windows 8 is supposed to be.

By contrast, their development and cloud products are getting more synced up as each month passes. Their work on Azure is probably the best example of MS unifying a bunch of teams to a common goal.

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684495)

Right, what I find amazing is all these Microsoft haters who supposedly love FOSS all run Macs and are completely entrenched in the Apple walled garden. MS wants to create a unified infrastructure, but since they're the IBM in the eyes of the hipster doofus generation, they get burned for it.

point of fact: Mac runs FOSS, iOS is the garden (2)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684943)

iOS (iPad and iPhone) is the walled garden.
Mac runs any FOSS applications you want, so yes Mac is great for free and open software users.

I used Linux exclusively for many years. When I was given a Mac Pro with 32 GB of RAM, two $400 graphics cards, etc. I decided to try it out. In 18 months of use, I've not found any OSS applications that don't run nicely on the Mac.

Re:point of fact: Mac runs FOSS, iOS is the garden (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44685009)

iOS (iPad and iPhone) is the walled garden.

True, but it's an extremely spacious walled garden with ridiculously few pests and weeds (otherwise called malware). To wit:

http://thenextweb.com/google/2013/08/26/internal-us-government-memo-warns-authorities-about-android-malware-threats/ [thenextweb.com]

"According to the government’s findings, 79% of mobile operating malware threats in 2012 took place on Android, compared to 0.7% on iOS."

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (3, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684511)

Well, while Windows Mobile used to be the best option for a smartphone out there, and shows that MS were at least trying to be in that market a long time ago.. the fact remains that they haven't come up with anything good on their own for a long time. They try to muscle their way in on everything, rather than making people want their devices. Look at all that shit with the Xbone. Xbox Live had started turning a profit, but they weren't happy with that, and kept trying to push ways to squeeze even more money out of their subscribers. If they focused on creating good products that people love, rather than thinking "how can we take a piece of this emerging market?", they'd be a lot better off.

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (5, Interesting)

Dogtanian (588974) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684581)

they haven't come up with anything good on their own for a long time

I'd say that they at least deserved credit for Kinect. While it was obviously released in response to the unforeseen success of the original Wii and its novel control methods, the fact remains that it went beyond being just a "me too" product and was genuinely innovative in its own right.

That said, it was arguably the exception rather than the rule, probably because it came from the XBox division and wasn't a threat [slashdot.org] to the entrenched interests and politics of the main Windows and Office divisions that have crushed so much potential innovation within MS.

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (1, Troll)

Scutter (18425) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684623)

The Kinect was a great piece of kit, but in its next iteration, it went right back to "How can we use this to monetize our customers?" Turning into a spying platform to serve targeted ads did nothing but turn people off buying the latest.

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (3, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684661)

I'd say that they at least deserved credit for Kinect.

Well, they bought the Kinect ... so if the extent of Microsoft's 'innovation' is technology they buy, then yes. But in terms of a single really ground breaking piece of technology Microsoft developed in-house, it's much harder to think of recent examples.

Yes, the Kinect is a pretty good system, but let's not lose sight of the fact that it was purchased technology. All this means is Microsoft is still rich enough and occasionally observant enough to pick up technology other people have created.

In terms of their own creation of products from scratch -- I don't think their recent track record is all that impressive. Sure, they've got bazillions of dollars and can keep buying stuff, but as an innovative technology company goes, they've proven a little stagnant recently. Their tablets, phones, Windows 8 ... none of those are doing anywhere near as well as a company the size of Microsoft would expect, and Microsoft s bordering on being a bit player in the mobile market.

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684825)

Sorry - but that is not 100% correct. Being a former MS employee, they were working in their research division on Project Natal in the 90's, which became the backbone of the Kinect. I saw it at many research fairs at the Redmond campus.

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (1, Funny)

MrDoh! (71235) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684591)

Windows Mobile the best option? Eeep!

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684717)

Here, you dropped this 'was'. I found it down the back of the sofa you were just chilling on.

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684819)

I probably was at one time. Before iOS and Android came along, there wasn't much in the way of smart phones. The first gen iPhone didn't come out until 2007, and Windows mobile had been released since 2000. There really wasn't much out in the smartphone market at that time. Their problem was their failure to innovate and stay current. Similar to IE6. Most people forget that when IE6 came out, it was a really good browser. The problem is that they didn't change it for 10 years, even when there was clear evidence that it was being left behind by better competition.

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684959)

Well, while Windows Mobile used to be the best option for a smartphone out there

Okay, seriously, what are you on and are you sharing?

I had a Windows Mobile (5) phone back in undergrad. That phone didn't even last me 6 months. The battery life wouldn't even last 8 hours, on idle. Every time I started an application, I had to make sure to go to Task Manager to kill it, otherwise it would sit in the background and slowly suck the life out of my phone. If I didn't, my phone would be dead by lunch. Now, you may think I was solving NP-complete problems but no, I'm talking about one, maybe two applications. Even worse was the fact that it couldn't multitask at all, at least not without crashing every 10 minutes or so. Call quality was abysmal, the user interface was horrid and couldn't be customized (Remember, papa Ballmer knows whats best), and doing anything on the phone was a total chore. As for the model, it was some HTC from T-Mobile. Worst $250 I spent, and that was after signing on for another 2 years.

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684521)

fuck your unified vision.

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684525)

Those others are succesfull and buzzing with creative energy. Microsoft has a long-standing corporate culture, crativity does not seem to be working. Also Microsoft is really big, they have a game console, OS, all the other software and they make hardware with stores to support. On the other hand, something like a console requires such massive investments, only very few very big companies can have a successful console.

It's really a question of if they can make a Windows that provides new/more value to the software market, then they could increase PC sales and justify their existence.

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684573)

classic old-school, google gets praise for the chromecast, for having an OS, for being in mobile, being in search, being in social networks.. and that's all good. Apple ditto.. but not acceptable for MS.

I don't think anybody is saying Microsoft shouldn't be allowed to continue as a single entity with their current strategy. They're saying it's not proving to be a very good strategy, and that the entity known as Microsoft might be more profitable if it was broken into several things.

See, Apple and Google seem to be able to execute on their strategies. But Microsoft is so concerned about cutting into sales off Office or their desktop OSes that some of their other offerings aren't doing so well.

classic old-school, google gets praise for the chromecast, for having an OS, for being in mobile, being in search, being in social networks.. and that's all good. Apple ditto.. but not acceptable for MS.

Yes, but has it been working for them? Because, arguably, the Windows Phone and the Windows tablets aren't selling overly well, Windows 8 itself is proving a little lackluster, and Microsoft has generally been stuck doing "me too" for years.

So, either they need to start making different decisions (like allowing one division to do stuff that isn't dictated by another), start dropping products which are underperforming ... or split into multiple divisions so that they can be separate businesses and actually try to thrive.

But I think it's hard to not come to the conclusion that something about how Microsoft is doing their strategy is causing some of their products to be selling terribly.

The "lose money on everything but make it up on volume" works when you're a hugely rich company, but it's still a terrible strategy.

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684659)

But Microsoft is so concerned about cutting into sales off Office or their desktop OSes that some of their other offerings aren't doing so well.

Imagine if the Apple Mac department had blocked the iPhone and/or iPad because it could eat into the Mac market share (which I'm sure it did). I guess Apple would by far not be as profitable as it is now.

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (3, Informative)

gnasher719 (869701) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684865)

Imagine if the Apple Mac department had blocked the iPhone and/or iPad because it could eat into the Mac market share (which I'm sure it did). I guess Apple would by far not be as profitable as it is now.

The iPhone is indeed killing iPod sales. The iPad is destroying all growth in Mac sales. And Apple is quite happy with that. Steve Jobs himself said (and I'm quite sure he quoted someone else) that "if you don't cannibalise your products, someone else will".

good for the goose, good for the gander (2)

tverbeek (457094) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684793)

I think breaking up Microsoft would be for the better.... and the same with Apple, Google, and a whole bunch of other megacorporations. At some point that "unified vision" becomes a straightjacket preventing the various divisions from innovating and responding to the market, and all three of those are past that.

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (1)

evilRhino (638506) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684973)

Praise for chromecast among whom? I think the corporate media really pushed the thing to where it got initial traction, but it appears that the development community is turning against it with the lockdown on unauthorized streaming content [droid-life.com] .

Re:What's good for others apparently is no good fo (1)

Teresita (982888) | 1 year,26 days | (#44685049)

Praise for chromecast among whom? I think the corporate media really pushed the thing to where it got initial traction, but it appears that the development community is turning against it with the lockdown on unauthorized streaming content. I got a Rikomagic TV stick, also for $35, runs Android, can't be locked down. Chromecast doesn't interest me.

More jobs for lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684469)

yeah .. bring it on.

Schumpeter (1)

harvey the nerd (582806) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684473)

Schumpeter's gale, Creative destruction, is brewing a cup of economic karma for msft. If only we could get one going for RIAA and MPAA.

Amusing (3, Insightful)

shellster_dude (1261444) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684489)

One of the most successful companies of all time, which is still doing billions in business, and everyone can't wait to tell them how they are fucking it up...

Why don't all these brilliant analysts go make billions if they are so smart?

Re:Amusing (4, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684539)

Because they are fucking it up. Royally. They've enjoyed having a de-facto monopoly position for a long time, but since the rise of mobile devices, everything is becoming even more web-centric and cross-platform than before.

Windows and Office are slowly losing their status as requirements to get anything done in business, and they're definitely not needed for home computing any more. Geeks already know this, but the rest of the world is catching on too.

Re:Amusing (1)

Christian Smith (3497) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684649)

Because they are fucking it up. Royally. They've enjoyed having a de-facto monopoly position for a long time, but since the rise of mobile devices, everything is becoming even more web-centric and cross-platform than before.

Nothing de-facto about it, they are a criminally convicted monopolist.

In fact, their monopoly is the only thing that keeps them afloat. Windows is still shipped on 90+% of new desktops/laptops. Office makes up a good chunk of those as a bundle. Desktop dominance gave them a foothold in the server market, which they exploited. IE kept people tied to Windows for a long time, but that is crumbling now proper standards are being followed.

Windows and Office are slowly losing their status as requirements to get anything done in business, and they're definitely not needed for home computing any more. Geeks already know this, but the rest of the world is catching on too.

Yay!

I'm slowly bringing the missus to the new world order. All her work is done using LibreOffice, and the next step is to move her onto a Linux desktop.

Re:Amusing (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684767)

I have to call BS. Microsoft has a stranglehold in the enterprise from stem to stern. Need E-mail, Exchange or nothing (good luck getting internal legal to sign off on a cloud provider due to Sarbox, FERPA, HIPAA, FISMA, and other regs, even though some providers claim to be "certified".) AD is the only game in town because so many applications authenticate from that. Not LDAP, AD. SQL Server is usually the only choice for a lot of applications. For the desktop, lets be real. Windows is it, unless you move to VDI or a thin client infrastructure, or just want users to use a few applications internal to the company.

MS just had a big price hike in the enterprise to make up for lost revenue. Because they can, and businesses will continue to pay their SA fees.

Re:Amusing (1)

Opportunist (166417) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684925)

You act as if borders and national regulations mean anything to international corporations. If you don't like the laws, restrictions and regulations of country A, your HQ is suddenly in country B and you have to stick to their rules.

Some Caribbean island sure hold a LOT of companies these days, despite their tiny size...

Re:Amusing (1)

greg1104 (461138) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684947)

Tomorrow's big enterprise companies come from today's small ones. And the small ones have just given up on Microsoft products. I spend a good chunk of time wandering around startups in the valley and NYC areas. The last time I saw Windows running on a computer at a startup was 2009. It's all Macs and Linux now in new companies; Microsoft programs reek of old, dying tech to them.

Re:Amusing (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684547)

as a certified m$ hater I am pissed off by incompetent attacks on the company. You are absolutely right - the analysts should make billions themselevs instead of talking nonsense. There is a good reason they do not - they can still split and merge companies for a good fee. The mess these actions cause are just increasing business for them - all what has been badly merged (for a fee) needs to be split (or a fee).

Re:Amusing (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684553)

One of the most successful companies of all time, which is still doing billions in business, and everyone can't wait to tell them how they are fucking it up...

If you look at the numbers, they are clearly fucking it up.

Why don't all these brilliant analysts go make billions if they are so smart?

Because Microsoft has been creating illegal and unethical barriers to fair trade by abusing its monopoly position.

Re:Amusing (5, Informative)

nojayuk (567177) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684821)

"If you look at the numbers, they are clearly fucking it up."

Revenues for FY 2013 for MSFT were $77.8B, up 5.6% over FY2012. If that's evidence of "fucking it up" then I know of a lot of businesses who'd really like to be fucked up like MSFT -- Canonical, for example is in Mark Knopfler territory financially speaking, Sony's been losing money year on year for a while but is still regarded as successful, same with a bunch of other tech companies large and small.

MS' innovation and expansion days are over, they moved (like IBM did in the 90s) to being a services company several years back instead of pushing for growth because in part they had nowhere left to grow into since they owned 90% of the market for business desktop software and a large chunk of the server OS market too. They don't do hardware like Apple and Samsung because they've got customers who do hardware for them (Dell, HP, the various mobo manufacturers). Even the Surface machines are a tiny part of the MS oeuvre, more technology demonstrators than real products. The only mass-market hardware product line is the Xbox and that's not core to what MS does.

Because Microsoft has been creating illegal and unethical barriers to fair trade by abusing its monopoly position.

1996 called, it wants its "Year of the Linux Desktop" T-shirt back.

Re:Amusing (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44685065)

Did you warn them? [xkcd.com]

Re:Amusing (4, Funny)

Type44Q (1233630) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684559)

Why don't all these brilliant analysts go make billions if they are so smart?

You don't have to be a successful automotive engineer or car designer to take one look at the X-90 [wikipedia.org] and see that someone somewhere, in more ways than one, fucked-up monumentally.

There's your car analogy, for simplicity's sake. ;)

Re:Amusing (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684567)

People may not know how to make billions but people with a basic understanding of numbers can see how Microsoft is worth less than half of what it was when Ballmer started which, to most people is an indication that the company is fucking things up. Further, looking at the long list of failed (and failing) products they've released over the last decade, one can see another rather obvious sign of fucking things up.

You don't have to be capable of making a billion dollars to recognize that Microsoft, on their current path, is the next RIM or Nokia.

Re:Amusing (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684877)

People may not know how to make billions but people with a basic understanding of numbers can see how Microsoft is worth less than half of what it was when Ballmer started which, to most people is an indication that the company is fucking things up.

He has been CEO since June, 1998.

MSFT Market Cap in 1998 was $244.79 billion.
MSFT market Cap is currently $284.47 billion.

I realize that 16% growth kind of sucks over a 15 year period, but I'm finding it hard to walk away from the numbers thinking that Microsoft is "worth less than half of what it was when Ballmer started"

1999 was their record year for a market cap ($447.21 billion), but that was right before the dot-com bubble burst, so actual thinking people that can recognize cherry picking arent going to let you use that year as a starting year (it was $288.91 when the dust cleared in 2002, the bubble collapse was 2000 and 2001.)

If you want to get into their failures in emerging markets, thats all true, but their desktop software market is still near its peak using every honest measure such as those numbers that you wanted people to look at.

Re:Amusing (2)

bravecanadian (638315) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684901)

Microsoft is not worth less than half it was when Ballmer started.

The stock is.. maybe you heard there was a crash of technology stocks right around the time Ballmer took over?

Their revenue (and profits if I recall) are all much larger than they were 13 years ago.

Re:Amusing (1)

blankinthefill (665181) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684625)

What gets me is all these people saying that Microsoft needs to innovate and move into new markets, but also believing things like in this article. Moving into new markets, many of which are new only to Microsoft, is going to be costly and time consuming. The ability to spend large quantities of money and easily take losses that others would find devastating is an advantage that Microsoft has over many other companies, and it would allow them to move into basically any entrenched space they want, with the right leadership. I mean, look at Bing. It's lost billions of dollars... but it's been steadily growing for several quarters now, and is on the threshold of breaking even, or even becoming profitable in the next year or so. OSD has historically been a loss for Microsoft, but they played a long game, and they now have a strong presence in the world of search, and are beginning to capitalize on that. To be honest, I think that their performance in online search exemplifies the strength of the company as it is now. What other company would have been willing to go through what Microsoft did to muscle into the entrenched market that is online search? Yet they've been successful, and it's going to start paying off soon. If you consider that they are playing a long game (which they are), they very well could be considering what OSD is going to be doing for them 20 or 30 years down the road... and considering the growth they have been exhibiting, they have built OSD into something that may have the potential to rival their work with Office over that time. This is an advantage and strength that they will need to move into these areas that are new to them, and is something they would give up by breaking the company apart. Now, really utilizing this advantage does mean that they have leadership in place that allows them to innovate in new spaces like a smaller company, but this seems like a much easier problem to solve then resolving the question of how they leverage their strengths if they end up breaking the company up into smaller, more focused parts.

Re:Amusing (3, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684799)

One of the most successful companies of all time

At one point, so was Enron and the Roman Empire ... that doesn't mean Microsoft hasn't put out some dogs lately, and that they couldn't be making even more money if the division which makes Office wasn't using their strange hold on the company to make sure nothing cuts into their profits.

Are you seriously thinking Windows phone, their tablets, or Windows 8 are hugely successful products?

Microsoft's strategy the last bunch of years has been to prop up unprofitable products until they become successful (XBox) or cancelled (Zune) -- and with the hardware makers pulling back from their tablets and phones to focus on things, it's going to hurt even more.

Re:Amusing (2)

intermodal (534361) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684809)

I appreciate your view, but at the same time, I can't help but observe that your logic is broken. Making billions but less billions than they previously were making is a bad sign, especially when coupled with a lower percentage of the overall market share and a huge public rejection of your latest flagship products. Gotta look past the number of zeroes.

Re:Amusing (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684813)

Now now, Steve. Don't take it personally.

Re:Amusing (2)

gnasher719 (869701) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684847)

One of the most successful companies of all time, which is still doing billions in business, and everyone can't wait to tell them how they are fucking it up...

Well, they are fucking up. There's the old joke: What's the easiest way to become a millionaire? Start with a billion... Microsoft was in a very, very strong position ten years ago. That's why they are still in a reasonably strong position today. But really, if Ballmer had done a good job then we would all have been using Surface tablets for the last three years with the some UI as the M-Phones we were using for the last six years, and we would be poking fun at Apple's and Google's feeble attempts to get into the market. If we wanted to know anything, we would bing it, not google it.

Re:Amusing (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684903)

Oil tankers tend to go forward a long while even after the engine is off.

MS has been going forward quite a while now without any engine running. And restarting it means that you have to invest a LOT of fuel just to get it going again, unless you strip that tanker down to a speedboat and leave the rusted hulk behind.

Re:Amusing (2)

Jason Levine (196982) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684909)

Most of Microsoft's continued profits come from "momentum." Back in the day, everyone HAD to use Windows and Office. If you didn't use Windows and Office, you couldn't do business. (Yes, I know there were always alternatives, but the mindset and market share were such that it was very hard to NOT use Microsoft products.) Today, you don't NEED to use them. Many companies still use them because that's what they've always used (i.e. Momentum) but that can't last forever. At some point, some companies will look at alternatives to cut costs and might go with offerings such as OpenOffice.org. Other companies will question WHY they need to buy an upgrade when the version they are currently on works fine for their needs. Once their Windows and Office divisions drop profitability (which, IIRC, is already beginning), the whole company (which has positioned itself to rely on those divisions) will topple.

The "split them up" plan is designed to prevent this otherwise inevitable downfall. They might be able to pull it off without splitting up, but it's going to be a hard change and I don't know whether Microsoft is up to it.

Re:Amusing (3, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684955)

Nobody here is arguing that they are doing billions in business. The issue is that they should be doing many billions in business more than they are. In the words often attributed to Senator Dirksen "A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money."

This is an industry in which incumbent multibillion giants fall, events that many Slashdot saw or experienced first hand. Fundamentals are fundamentals and any company the starts to consistently make the same mistakes that the previous multibillion dollar companies made is likely to have a repeat of the same consequences.

Microsoft treats it's customers (e.g. Windows 8.1 Start Button instead of Menu), manufacturing partners (8.0/8.1 & the Surface), professional advocates (ending Technet) and it's own employees (stacked ranking) with contempt. When your busy pissing off the very people that you need to stay in business you lose their good will. When you lose their good will they start to make fundamental decisions to go with competitors products. The market reflects these changes everywhere from the rise of alternative office suites to failure of Windows phone to the largest consecutive set of multibillion dollar losses the PC market has ever seen.

The giants can and will fall, nobody is entitled to an empire. Unless Microsoft stops treating the very people it needs as the enemy and starts listening to what people keep telling them that they want they will continue to lose their empire. Start by reading this excellent piece from Vanity Fair on Microsoft's Stacked ranking system for their employees [vanityfair.com] .

Where is Tuppe666 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684499)

Where is Tuppe666 to tell us how lololMicrosoft yayGoogle!

Time Wasted (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684711)

Where is Tuppe666 to tell us how lololMicrosoft yayGoogle!

Why would I do that? You would have to be living in a hole not to see that Google is coming from a successful multiple product launch; Positive numbers for Chome OS and Docs...and it looks like they have cracked TV first while replacing Airplay. Microsoft have had nothing but bad news since SurfaceRT was announced a failure...Balmer kicked out (Bill Why?)....A gaggle of articles like this one of how to fix Microsoft failure in everything but Windows/Office and their replaced services even though it has a monopoly in Desktop Applications. In fact these articles are about Microsoft being unfixable in its current state.

The bottom line is Ironically they should probably focus on actual products and services rather than attack cowedly from behind a thin veil of secrecy in Scroogled. :)

Justice was right (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684503)

An old DoJ decision ruled that Microsoft was to be split. They fight it back, and it never occurs, so Microsoft wins... now it loses.

That's just karma in its face.

Too big to fail (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684517)

How come it makes sense to split up MS, but banks and other financial companies that are huge and have a real impact on the economy can't be split up?

Re:Too big to fail (1)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684705)

Because Microsoft doesn't have enough friends in Washington, and no important politicians are major MSFT shareholders.

Re:Too big to fail (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684815)

Devil's advocate:

* Many banks do diversify, and have split themselves up into semi-autonomous companies (one for mortgages, one for banking, one for investments, etc). The actions of each of these do not generally affect the others, and are run independently.

* Microsoft on the other hand has 'divisions' that are all forced to play nice with each other, and are all suborned to the interests of Windows and Office - even when it makes no strategic or economic sense to do so. Also, those 'divisions' often change and morph as needed to make the SEC reports look rosy.

Yes and No (4, Interesting)

nukenerd (172703) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684535)

FTFA :- "Anyone can see how easily you could split off the gaming folks, business division, retail stores, and hardware division says John Dvorak."

Agreed. Each of those areas could be self-contained, if it isn't already.

"Each entity would have agreements in place for long-term supply of software and services. 'This sort of shake up would ferret out all the empire builders and allow for new and more creative structures to emerge."

Why? There will always be empire builders. And why would "new and more creative structures" emerge? If the existing divisions are lagely self-contained, what stops that now? I have witnessed companies down-sizing and splitting up - management become obsessed with it as an end in itself, like "well we shut down that department, what can we shut down next?". They stop thinking about the product. "Creative" groups are the first up against the wall.

On a much smaller scale, I saw a company of about 30 people reduced to about 5 because the new owner, a devout Thatcherite, just thought "The smaller the better". It ended up with the craftsman in the workshop keep having to stop making stuff to go and answer the phone; that was not efficient.

Re:Yes and No (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684597)

FTFA :- "Anyone can see how easily you could split off the gaming folks, business division, retail stores, and hardware division says John Dvorak."

Agreed. Each of those areas could be self-contained, if it isn't already.

I disagree.

Sure, applications such as Office can and should have been split off long, long ago. Office suffered when it was held hostage to the need to prop up Windows. I guess Bing could stand alone if losing a half billion dollars a quarter was a sustainable business strategy.

But most of the rest of the other divisions are tightly coupled to pushing Windows, and have no purpose outside of that. Is Xbox as a company going to be responsible for writing their own kernel?

Re:Yes and No (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684843)

If the existing divisions are lagely self-contained, what stops that now?

Problem is, Microsoft doesn't let them be self-contained. Everything is geared towards protecting Windows and Office. Divisions have been shuffled around as needed when the SEC reports and/or marketing needs a boost.

Re:Yes and No (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684897)

Problem is, Microsoft doesn't let them be self-contained. Everything is geared towards protecting Windows and Office. Divisions have been shuffled around as needed when the SEC reports and/or marketing needs a boost.

Apple doesn't let its product lines be self-contained. But instead of trying to protect certain products, they try very hard to make everything work together well.

Micro$oft will be fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684537)

As long as the only other OS (talking PC, not Mac bullshit...) out there is Linux.

Aka they will be strong as ever, forever... unleast Google save us with Chrome OS.

=(

Re:Micro$oft will be fine (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684853)

If OSX were to ever be licensed to generic PC's, I strongly suspect that Microsoft would be in deep shit within two years. The only thing that keeps that from happening is that Apple doesn't want their own profits diluted.

Re:Micro$oft will be fine (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684963)

If OSX were to ever be licensed to generic PC's, I strongly suspect that Microsoft would be in deep shit within two years. The only thing that keeps that from happening is that Apple doesn't want their own profits diluted.

Apple is taking according to some figures 45% of all profits in the computer hardware market. With Dell and HP profits in that segment dropping, it might be more today. It's not Apple's livelihood anymore, they make more money elsewhere, but much too much money to fritter away.

Now if there was a strategic benefit to it, then Apple could do it. But there is no strategic benefit today for Apple in inflicting damage on Microsoft. Right now, Apple probably wants Microsoft as strong as possible to keep Google in check.

false alam, John Dvorak quoted in blurb. (1)

Zimluura (2543412) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684545)

it's kinda like quoting bill o'reilly.

Not a bad thing (1)

Deron White (3003173) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684549)

The knee jerk reaction would be to call such a reorganization a failure. It wouldn't necessarily be one. If a breakup worked as intended with each unit succeeding it could be a model that apple and google might be day follow.

Big Ideas (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684555)

I can't see any successful big ideas which have come out of Google in the last 5 years. The last good big idea was probably Android in 2007 and even that emerged partly from an acquisition. Apple's last good big idea was again in 2007.

Re:Big Ideas (1)

ganjadude (952775) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684585)

i see you are talking about the iphone, id go a step back and go with the ipod. the iphone was just the obvious evolution from the ipod. IMO its been over a decade since apple has come out with anythng special

Re:Big Ideas (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684703)

Well, there will be people who say the iPod was nothing special (I'm not one of them) because of mp3 players existing before then. But both of you are forgetting about the iPad - first real successful tablet in that form.

But I think the problem is that technology levels make some items inevitable and we're really waiting for technology to advance for the next big idea to manifest. Not so much the next big idea itself. Unless they can replace our eyeballs with an attractive replacement that also acts as a phone, camera, and HUD... convergence technology is pretty limited right now to what we have - a phone, tape recorder, gps, browser, camera, etc in our pockets.

Everything from there will be an evolution until that eyeball form factor is feasible.

Otherwise it's like waiting for the next big idea on the desktop in 1985 (when the 386 was released). Milestones (integrated soundcard, etc) came and went but the next big revolutionary idea never came. Evolution came. We went far since then. Looking back, home computing seems like a revolution. But it's one revolution, lots of little evolutions.

The next big idea (www and internet for the common man) did, but it was not strictly a desktop thing imo. But again, www is the revolution. Lots of evolutions since then to make the web page of 1993 look antique.

Get away from the hardware (1)

proslack (797189) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684561)

They should focus on their core competency: software. Expand existing business-oriented product-lines to iOS, Android, and Linux, in addition to Windows. There-in lies the revenue. Trying to compete with entrenched hardware manufacturers like Sony and Samsung is a loser's game.

Re:Get away from the hardware (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684993)

Expand existing business-oriented product-lines to iOS, Android, and Linux, in addition to Windows.

I'd agree with this if it wasnt for the fact that their only real flagship (big revenue) software products other than windows are a desktop-centric and a server-centric product.

The days when Microsoft was selling BASIC to computer makers (such as to Apple, Commodore, etc..) is long gone, and its simply not coming back. Nobody is doing that now.

Dumb (1)

Horshu (2754893) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684569)

Is this the same genius at Forbes who actually suggested that Microsoft sell off Xbox a few months back?

Maybe in 1999 (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684579)

No one recognized the Year of Linux having come and possibly passed, because it was in the pocket, not the desktop.

Back in 1999, this breakup may have been a good idea, comply with the Court monopolistic findings and make 2 much more agile companies.

But what is the point now? The techscape is very different and Microsoft's woes is mostly the result of internal bureacracy that built up complying with that now obsolete order. Get rid of the bureaucracy, not split the company. At worst, it goes to court and I find it very hard that MS will lose.

What MS needs is leadership that's more adventurous than "Look! Me too!" and backed by MS's considerable but ever slowly dwindling resources. In the last 15 years, all they added for themselves on top of the OS and Office was Xbox. The problem long term for MS is that the desktop is now old hat and it has no share in mobile. On top of that, for most users, Operating Systems will be given ever less importance to the end user. Already, I have friends who do their Quickbooks and Intuit taxes online with just a browser. Something they couldn't do 15 years back. They use one of the free office softwares and edit pics with another free program that's better than 90% of the pay programs. Their OS at this point couldn't matter less and that's how they like it. All that matters is their data and being able to manipulate it. 15 years ago, it was unfathomable to get on in the world with anything but Windows. Now you can get along with minimum 3 OSes.

MS's OS (and it's wealth) comes at considerable cost to others. License fees ratchet up every so often and what now. If other industries/companies can do away with a cost, they will. And that means eventually dumping Microsoft. Especially when this expensive commodity can be replaced for free. With Chromebook, this is creeping in. 15 years ago, this was unfathomable and crap like Lindows was a joke from a 3rd tier company no one heard of. Because Ballmer was right - it's about the applications, stupid. Developers and all that.

Ironically, that's exactly what MS now lacks in the mobile arena. They lost at their own game. They're suffering the same problem Linux had on the desktop - marketshare. With the Microsoft Zune, they skated to where the puck was, not where it was going. Taste that, friends, because that's just sweet. Now that OS agnostic world is on the horizon, Windows becoming a niche among professionals and gamers but no longer synonymous with computing, or even desktop computing.

Who knew? The Year of Linux on the Desktop will probably come when the OS couldn't matter one bit anymore and for that very reason.

synergy (1)

countach (534280) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684593)

The only thing that ever made Microsoft great was its ability to leverage its core OS into new markets. Sure that isn't working lately, but if you take that away, what have they got left? Not a lot.

I'm not sure what "computing market" this guy sees (1)

geminidomino (614729) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684605)

The underlying problem for Microsoft is that the computing market has rapidly left behind the company's basic strategy of controlling the machines that people use with operating-system software

In what alternate reality? The computing market here in the real world has wholeheartedly embraced that strategy. Windows and Mac on the desktop/laptops, every game console's proprietary OS, iOS and even Android is heading in that direction in the portable space. Linux is still mostly free of it, but then Linux is a blip in "the computing market" in this context.

I'm not saying that Microsoft's not screwed, but I question the credentials of an "expert" who says, essentially, "The reason <big oil company> is in so much trouble is because they refuse to adopt the new standard of cheap, safe, readily-available cold fusion."

... said John Dvorak (5, Insightful)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684617)

The moment someone uses John Dvorak to support an argument, I stop taking them seriously.

Re:... said John Dvorak (1)

Crimey McBiggles (705157) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684795)

Yeah, same here. Ain't got no mod points, sorry.

Re:... said John Dvorak (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44685051)

John Dvorak says mod parent up!

time to die (1)

noshellswill (598066) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684627)

Microsofts legacy is to have provided more leverage over bytch-Gaia,  and to have provoked more personal power & more public wages for more & diverse peoples in a shorter time  than any company or guild or state in the history of our world. Such is  any-mans computer power ... stolen fire from Hephastus(?) forge so-to-speak.  Nice legacy! That's enough for any one organization to do. Time to die.

Errors (1)

AdmV0rl0n (98366) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684633)

Microsoft being broken up would break the things they have that are working. So their cloud/application linkage in azure would be broken up.
The area where the disaster has taken place is in Windows. By making 8 - they've irrepairably damaged 7, and 8.1 doesn't fix it. The cloud area they worked on has been destructive of on premise IT, which is dumb. You don't need that damage.

If you really kill windows, you're in very deep trouble on the server and application sides, and it requires a full rework.

Although at present Azure works and their cloud works, its so dependant on end user windows machines that they are no in a very deep hole. And Ballmer going I think echo's this.

Its a shame, because frankly there is some damn good stuff in the stable, and its inter operations work at a level nothing else does. Break up doesn't help that at all in any way.

Re:Errors (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684783)

Win8 with the Metro UI is a mind change, the same as going from WIN32 API programing to .NET in 2001, it took them 5 years to gain enterprise class level. W8 is only 1 year old it needs time to mature, only that. With 8.1 it isn't still finnished, but is the second step to a desktop/touch unified interface.

plit it up in what ? (1)

blauwbaard (1577401) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684645)

1. an office unit, it will be a monopoly but it could port to other platforms and make more money ? Microsoft turned it into a monopoly by levering its OS-dominance 2. an exchange-active directory unit, it will be a monopoly but it could port to other platforms and make more money ? Microsoft turned it into a monopoly by levering its OS-dominance 3..an OS division, it will become a "nearly" monopoly ? 4. a database division, it could port to other platforms and make more money ? 5. a games division, it will soon die, its not profitable ? After all games never managed to become a monopoly, because Microsoft did not have another product it could leverage.

A king has his reign, and then he dies. (1)

gatkinso (15975) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684669)

It's inevitable.

Take a look at IBM . . . (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684695)

. . . back in 1992-1993, all the analysts were screaming that IBM needed to break up.

What Microsoft needs, is a Lou Gerstner, not a breakup.

Re:Take a look at IBM . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684851)

IBM has essentially sold off various divisions, and is now one of several baby bell IBMs. So I'm sorry, what makes you think the analysts were wrong?

also break up apple mac OS from the hardware (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684699)

so they can come in have a os that can run of most of the systems running 7 and 8 right now as well maybe some of the systems still on XP.

Also that can let mac os X run on real server hardware.

Re:also break up apple mac OS from the hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684867)

No thanks. Can't we have at least one hardware platform that works out of the box, and doesn't require me to spend days installing needlessly large and buggy vendor drivers and 3rd party software to cover basic functionality?

Apple Inc. not Computer; 2013 Year of Apple Server (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684995)

so they can come in have a os that can run of most of the systems running 7 and 8 right now as well maybe some of the systems still on XP.

Also that can let mac os X run on real server hardware.

It would be lovely to see Apple seriously challenge Microsoft when they are weak in Computers, but it looks like they are willing to squander any advantage they have *again*, right now mac sales are dropping, and making computers into electronic devices might bleed more cash from your current customers, but it is clearly a losing strategy.

Apple could license their OS, Hell they could buy Dell, they just don't care about computers any more.

Tom Worstall? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684743)

Tom Worstal? What multibillion dollar corporation has he built, maintained, or revitalized?

Here's an oft forgotten stat. Last year, Microsoft netted $21billion where as Google netted $10billion and Apple netted $6billion.. Do you really think that Microsoft should be chasing Google or taking business management advice from hacks at dying magazines?

makes more sense to break Google up (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44684839)

they seem to have their hands in too many cookie jars and unable to focus on anything lately

What doesn't kill you... (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684937)

they seem to have their hands in too many cookie jars and unable to focus on anything lately

The whole point of why we are taking about breaking up Microsoft...Something Gates Lied under oath to protect against, is because Google *succeeded* in those very some of those very sectors that Microsoft failed so spectacularly in.

The reality is I suspect part of Googles success has been because it had been attacked from so many sides. Competition has made Google successful...Years without it, with a sudden need to, is how Microsoft got here.

Personally I think Google should think about taking on Amazon.

Its slightly off topic, but Google unlike Microsoft has been willing to kill off unsuccessful projects, and start again, rather than Microsoft's Double Down approach which only works if your a Monopoly, not the challenger.

Terrible idea (1)

bravecanadian (638315) | 1 year,26 days | (#44684875)

I agree that they need to prune and focus.. and I absolutely hate how they make up the worst names for all there products and services (Windows RT anyone?) which only adds to the confusion about their offerings.. but what SHOULD be one of Microsoft's big advantages is that they have *all* the pieces of the puzzle.

If they could ever just work together and integrate them all they literally have most of everyday computing covered with their products. The potential for easy sharing of data across platforms and form factors as well as ease of setting up solutions is huge.

From developer tools to the desktop, server, tablet, phone and cloud they have all the pieces. They should be whupping the competition with the inherent flexibility and ability to get things done when all those platforms are under one roof.

I have no idea why they have stayed with their knife in the back culture so long but they need to change it.

Re:Terrible idea (1)

leonbev (111395) | 1 year,26 days | (#44685005)

Yeah... how do these people plan on breaking up Microsoft, anyway? The only really profitable divisions are the Office division and Windows division... everything else is barely making a profit (Like the XBox division) or are losing money by the boatload (The tablet division, the phone division, Bing, etc.)

Unless you paired some of the unprofitable divisions with the profitable ones, things like Bing and the Surface would die immediately. While I'm sure that many Slashdot fans would cheer about that, it's probably not the best outcome for Microsoft.

Microsoft Mobile (1)

javajeff (73413) | 1 year,26 days | (#44685063)

A new company name: Microsoft Mobile.

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