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Strategy Shift In The Air For Microsoft

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the look-out-that-carrot's-loaded dept.

Windows 439

mrdaveb writes "In the face of a declining market for MS Windows and MS Office, Microsoft's recent statements and acquisitions point to a future in which .NET is a key driver behind a strategy which will see Windows CE devices taking the limelight. This article explores the problems which Microsoft face in maintaining their stranglehold, and their likely route to keeping Windows on top."

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Wear & Tear (3, Insightful)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623104)

What Microsoft really needs is some way of ensuring that software wears out at a similar speed to hardware

It gets me wondering why consumer is willing to pay $4999 for a Plasma TV that has a specific (say 20,000 hours) lifespan, but can't stand paying a $49 software that has an expiry date.

Hardware used to last for 10-20 years (like old radios), but hardly live past 3 years nowadays, yet consumers are rushing out buying and replacing gadgets every day.

I guess the main influence is Open Source and freeware, which sort of prevent major software makers to gang up on consumers.

Wear & Tear on hardware is by nature, Wear & Tear on software is by design, and people can choose against that design, but not many people can break nature's monopoly.

Re:Wear & Tear (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623137)

Because people believe microsoft FUD, people listen to it, soak it up, and without critically thinking go "yeah... they're right... that's what I need".

witness this [danamania.com]

Re:Wear & Tear (1)

WanderingGhost (535445) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623157)

Wear & Tear on hardware is by nature, Wear & Tear on software is by design

On hardware? By nature? You certainly never heard of programmed obsolescence...

Re:Wear & Tear (4, Insightful)

WesG (589258) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623298)

In the face of a declining market for MS Windows...

Declining market for MS Windows??? Show me some facts that says the market is declining for MS Windows! Microsoft just posted record profits for the quarter. How is MS Windows declining???

Re:Wear & Tear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623453)

Start a new thread if your not replying to the GP.

Some people's children.

Re:Wear & Tear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623207)

Since when does software have physical components that wear out?

Re:Wear & Tear (5, Funny)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623241)

My local PC dealer says MS Windows wears out and has to be reinstalled every few months.

He says this has been true since windows 1.0, and who an I to query a professional?

Re:Wear & Tear (5, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623210)

There's a difference between the physical limits of hardware and designed-in product failure. People simply don't like it when a company deliberately breaks their product to soak more money out of them when they could've given people a better product that they wanted in the first place. $49 software with an expiry date is software that could've lasted you for life for $49. People resent being treated that way.

Re:Wear & Tear (0, Offtopic)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623318)

This might be offtopic, but what the hell. I'm going to start a company that makes household appliances. We're going to use metal gears and innards, no electronics, and charge 4 times what the competition charges for their cheap crap. We'll also give them a 10 year warranty, just like a Hyundai.

Who's with me? First product will be a refridgerator like the old ones. All mechanical, all reliable. Starting at $1500, but it'll last 10 years at least, guaranteed.

Oh, and we're going to "offshore" the company. I think an island in the Florida Keys is far enough offshore, don't you think?

Re:Wear & Tear (2, Informative)

PedanticSpellingTrol (746300) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623338)

Find a bunch of the old fogies from Western Electric to help you out with that, please. God, those old monopoly phones were immortal.

Re:Wear & Tear (5, Funny)

ultranova (717540) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623366)

God, those old monopoly phones were immortal.

It self-contradicting to talk about immortal things in the past tense ;).

Re:Wear & Tear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623377)

You basically described how Kitchen Aid appliances are made. My grandma still has her stand mixer from 30 years ago and it runs better than any new one you can find today.

Re:Wear & Tear (2, Insightful)

jxyama (821091) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623237)

>I guess the main influence is Open Source and freeware, which sort of prevent major software makers to gang up on consumers.

yeah, right, wishful thinking. "consumers" buying plasma TVs and other "gadgets" you are talking about hardly know about open source software.

i think it's mostly because it's not "physical." unlike TV, software feels so... not real. it's just something that runs on the computer - why is it "worth" so much money?

Don't think that's what consumers are doing (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623279)

When a consumer is buying a plasma at Best Buy (for example), I don't think in fact they are buying a TV with a life of 20,000 hours. I think they have no idea that is the case, and as far as they are concerned that TV should last for years and years.

I do not think that yet people are fully bought into the notion of device failure in a year rather than ten. After all, people are used to the TV's they had before which did last perhaps ten years or so (that was the case for my last TV, even really a bit longer than ten years).

People still get refrigerators that last for a while, and other appliances they probably plan to keep as long as the house.

I think also there's a function of money where people expect for hosuehold electronics/appliances to last longer as the cost increases. Certainly a lot of people expect this of cars, preferring to keep a car ten years or longer and assuming it will hold up.

Re:Wear & Tear (2, Insightful)

Deinesh (770292) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623312)

>>It gets me wondering why consumer is willing to pay $4999 for a Plasma TV that has a specific (say 20,000 hours) lifespan, but can't stand paying a $49 software that has an expiry date.

Would you pay $10 for a t-shirt you *could not* use after a year?
A customer is willing to pay $4999 for a plasma tv that will last 20,000 hous because it could just as well last 21,000 hours or 22,000 hours. The makers of plasma TV's aren't sabotaging their products.

Re:Wear & Tear (2, Funny)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623323)

Actually some consumers are richer and more stupid than others.

In the real world, many people are still running Win95 because that is what they are used to, and they don't want to run something new.

Many others are not connected to the internet, and live hundreds of miles from a phone socket.

Some parts of the world are not even American (yet).

Re:Wear & Tear (5, Insightful)

ecalkin (468811) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623327)

Because so far the consumer entertainment industry has made products that were better *enough* (and *cheaper*) that 3-5 years later, people are motivated to replace rather than repair

a lot of people can see an 3 year improvement on tvs stereos, pvrs, etc. a lot of people couldn't tell you what got better in office xp over office 2000.

Re:Wear & Tear (5, Funny)

PMJ2kx (828679) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623361)

a lot of people couldn't tell you what got better in office xp over office 2000.

They got rid of that damn paperclip!

Re:Wear & Tear (1)

CrankyFool (680025) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623408)

It's good that you're modded insightful -- you're spot-on.

My old Sony TV, which was approximately seven years old, was finally replaced not because it broke (it didn't), but because I found something better (27" to 36" and standard 480i to 1080i/480p);

My Yamaha RX-V995 that I've had for nigh on six years is going to be replaced this month or next with an RX-V1500 not because there are any problems with it (there aren't), but because the new model gives me significant improvements (component input/output, signal upconversion, automatic sound adjustment, etc).

Of course the flip side of that is that I'm not sure it's sustainable -- in what ways will what my receiver needs to do be changed dramatically in the next 3-5 years? I don't know yet, but nothing obvious comes to mind.

Re:Wear & Tear (2, Interesting)

Shalda (560388) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623383)

Nice troll, but I'll bite.

The consumer is wiling to pay for the Plasma TV that has a specific lifespan because the technology doesn't exist to make a plasma TV that lasts longer. Also, hardware (whether TV, Radio, computer, whatever) often is obsolete before it wears out.

There is no reason to buy software with an expiration date. You mention Open Source and Freeware as influences that prevent major software makers from ganging up, but that's bogus. Other than Office and Windows, there's sufficient competition in most products that keep the market open. And Office and Windows are stymied mostly by corporate buyers willing to sit on older versions rather than give in to a subsription model of liscencing.

Frankly, I think the linked article is rather bogus. Microsoft has a way of ensuring that software wears out. They simply release new versions and slowly quit fixing older versions. Combine that with added features such that older versions of Office can't open documents created with current versions and new features for Windows forcing consumers to buy current versions to run the latest software. Microsoft isn't hurting by any stretch of the imagination. There is no "declining market for Windows and Office."

Mod parent and article down as Flamebait -1.

Re:Wear & Tear (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623388)

I guess the main influence is Open Source and freeware, which sort of prevent major software makers to gang up on consumers.

Actually we like Open Source, i.e. Linux, running on Consumer Electronics because it's hackable and we love hacking more than anything, even using the device for it's intended purpose.

"i've got a c64 emulator running in spare memory on the bigscreen TV. w00t!"
"what about the superbowl?"
"what superbowl?"

Re:Wear & Tear (2, Insightful)

tonyr60 (32153) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623401)

Only a relatively small number of consumers are prepared to pay $4999 for a Plasma TV. Microsoft's market would be 1000's times larger. Also, a plasma TV has some "excitement" attached to it, it can be shown off to the neighbors etc. Software has long ago lost that "excitement", at least amongst your average consumers.

Which is Microsoft's big problem. Can you imagine asking your neighbours over to look at an update to an OS, or word processor?

There are only so many /.'s around....

Re:Wear & Tear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623439)

Nothing to wonder about... it is legit for a hardware device to be worn out... it is NOT for software... yes, it will become outdated one day, but a fixed expiry date, that is not right.

This coming from a software developer, mind you.

New product line (4, Funny)

nizo (81281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623113)

Strategy Shift In The Air For Microsoft

Here is a sneak peek at Microsoft's latest offering: cans of MicrosoftAir(tm). Tired of the same old boring air? With new MicrosoftAir(tm), there is a cornucopia of smells in every butterfly festooned can! Order a case for only $368.00 today!

Note: Microsoft is not responsible if sniffing MicrosoftAir(tm) makes the user more likely to catch a virus. Not compatible with any other kind of air. Due to licensing agreement, once you have used product, you will be never be able to breath regular air again. Void where prohibited by law.

Re:New product line (0, Troll)

fred ugly (125371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623294)

Due to licensing agreement, once you have used product, you will be never be able to breath regular air again.

hate to be a pedant, but you can't "breath" air at all, as breath is a noun, not a verb.

Re:New product line (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623375)

Inhale would probably be a better word, or maybe the more correct breathe. I am suprised you picked on that but didn't pick on my extra "be".

I love writing under time pressure! :-)

I can assure you... (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623345)

that there's no truth to the rumors of an air shortage.

No, thank you for calling... and not reversing the charges.

(Opens can of Perri-Air)

Consumer mindset (2, Insightful)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623360)

The fact that this post is modded informative shows there are people out there who will buy anything a company sells.

Re:Consumer mindset (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623416)

When that happens I always assume someone is doing it to be humorous or is trying to help my karma (since you don't get any karma from humorous posts. Well at least not slashdot karma, I like to think I get good real life karma that way :-) ). However maybe I should hurry and go register a website and start selling this product just in case.

Strategy? (2, Informative)

Ahkorishaan (774757) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623119)

Microsoft will never change their strategy.... It's always going to be keep the markets cornered, and allow as little interoperability as possible.

Re:Strategy? (3, Interesting)

chris09876 (643289) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623143)

I disagree. They're a big corporation, and although they've done bad (and even some stupid) things, their goal is still to make money for their shareholders. If that goal requires that they be 'clever' and try and change their business model/strategy, I'm guessing they're going to do something. It might take them some time (more time than others), but I'm sure that Microsoft is not going to disappear. They're going to adapt to whatever market conditions present.

Re:Strategy? (3, Insightful)

temojen (678985) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623224)

s/shareholders/board members & institutional investors/ . They're publicly traded; individual shareholders have little to no power or share of the profits.

Re:Strategy? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623278)

If Microsoft is capable of adapting to changing market conditions, they may adapt.

But they may not be capable. The book "The Innovator's Dilemma" explores cases where corporations were not capable of adapting to changes in the market space caused by "low-end" competitors moving upward into the formerly plush (well-controlled) market.

Open source has the potential for doing this to Microsoft, IMHO.

Re:Strategy? (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623229)

Microsoft will never change their strategy.... It's always going to be keep the markets cornered, and allow as little interoperability as possible.

Most of Microsoft's success can be chalked up to two failures by one other company...

IBM allows Bill Gates to own and sell MS-DOS under his own company's name, as IBM doesn't take the PC seriously.

IBM fails to protect their PC design, not taking PC's seriously, and clones flourish providing a ready market for MS-DOS

Most of everything else Microsoft has profited wildly from is centered around these two items. Microsoft has demonstrated that they are not a very inventive company by buying up lots of technology companies and immitating others. Where they have attempted to innovate in new markets they have usually fallen flat on their face and lost hundreds of millions of $. If it weren't for the O/S, Office and Server divisions Microsoft wouldn't be able to sputter so frequently.

Bill's pet project (5, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623297)

You can bet that MS corporate strategy will follow Bill's pet projects. Bill is seriously into the handheld device, so you can be sure that MS effort will be put into that.

MS has screwed up so many times in the handheld arena, but now the technology is getting to the point where maybe they can get their bloatware to work: i. mobile devices are getting powerful enough and cheap enough; ii. 3G and effective wireless netweorking are getting to the stage where they are reasonable as mobile data carriers.

MS has been losing money in mobile for many years. This might give them an edge in the future.

Re:Strategy? (2, Insightful)

brian.glanz (849625) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623334)

I agree, who wouldn't, that MS' historic stance was against inter-op in so far as inter-op harmed their business model. I see this as the primary reason they got Googled and that they are getting out-Fire Foxed. They tried to have it both ways with their approach to the Internet, but could not bend it sufficiently to the anti-inter-op will which worked for them so well, for so long.

Not only the natural trends in technology driven by human behavior and the Net's architecture, but also the courts have certainly weighed in, and they have demonstrably changed MS. I disagree that MS would continue in the same vein, against inter-op. They are out to earn, and earn big. No one can deny smaller devices already supplanting PCs, call them "phones" if you must, and the near-future trend toward ever more hardware integration with previously offline environs (LCD paint, anyone?). MS will change their strategy to be more pro-inter-op, because that is the only way in which they can continue to earn, and maybe the only way in which they can continue to (legally) exist as MS.


Microsoft Strategy (3, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623126)

See what everyone else is doing.

Copy it, tying it to your own IP, proprietary architecture and co-opting it to erode better strategies and make it your own.

Bundle it.


Fail to Profit!!!

Re:Microsoft Strategy (1)

boohiss (804985) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623158)

Fail to profit? Since when has Microsoft failed to profit? Individual organizations within MS maybe, but not as a whole.

Re:Microsoft Strategy (2, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623281)

Fail to profit? Since when has Microsoft failed to profit? Individual organizations within MS maybe, but not as a whole.

If it weren't for the OS, Office and Server divisions, they'd be dead.

Many companies would have spun divisions like those off and retained some large chunk of stock to profit from as the new entity fought on even ground to survive. That Microsoft has kept each of these divisions under one roof has a lot to say about the shoddy security, bloat and often annoying 'features' in each package.

Re:Microsoft Strategy (1)

CrixelGarten (857871) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623165)

Ah, the joys of the Microsoft monopoly. Take everything over, for we are the Borg!

Re:Microsoft Strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623413)

With the assistance of various 'corps'/gov'ts (US *cough*)/lobby groups.

I wonder when this much power can be brought to solve the worlds woes (poverty/power/water/disease/xx ad infinitum).
On a different tangent, if Dubya had simply Nuculerised irAQue (is that correct? :) where would Haliburton have got/spent the money??

Linux good, Microsoft bad! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623138)

One day I'll wake up and realize that I've been fighting a battle that should have never been fought. After all, Microsoft is the reason I started using computers in the first place.

After all, that 1% marketshare Firefox had a few months ago is probably more like .2% now. Most people switched back. :)

-- Average Slashdot reader

My conspiracy theory... (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623155)

They want as much software as possible to be distributed in potentially multi-architecture .NET, so they can try again at NT for Alpha, and this time, actually have two or three third-party applications to run...

llama-sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623427)

Dammit. I run code I find in sigs, and you know what? My memory WAS full of llamas! Then I realized that I was using the server with our Spanish database.

Cell Latency (1)

marshall_j (643520) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623159)

You buy a copy of Office, and a CPU to run it on. If you need more CPU power, it will distribute some of the load to other Cells in your vicinity (how many, depends on which licence you bought). When the hardware becomes too slow, you buy a copy of the software that comes with a faster chip - or an additional copy that allows you to use more of your existing Cells. When the new version comes out you simply buy that and throw the old one away.

Ermmm. Yech.

This whole thing with distributing load to other cells... Isn't the latency going to be a factor in anything except batch processing?

Re:Cell Latency (1)

chris09876 (643289) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623193)

Latency, scheduling issues, what happens if a cell leaves... there are a lot of issues with those processors. They have the potential to be really great, but until I can actually see them or get a lot more information on how exactly they operate, I'm quite skeptical of all the claims people are making about them.

Re:Cell Latency (1)

Paragoon (856037) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623216)

That's what I want to know as well. I've been hearing about distributing load to different cells every since the first PS3 announcements, but even on a broadband connection with _unlimited_ bandwidth you've still got a latency issue to deal with. Electricity can only travel so far. Certainly for something like a big spreadsheet calculation one expects a delay, but clearly on something like a video game one cannot wait for distributed CPUs to render a frame :)

Cell distribution I don't get... (1)

temojen (678985) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623384)

All this hype about the Cell processor keeps talking about it being distributable. This is a mater for the OS, not the architecture. The Cell processor sounds like a cool chip (especially with it's stream processors), but a new architecture is neither nescesary nor sufficient to do distributed computing.

I think if MS wants to do per-CPU licensing, customers are going to be displeased when multi-core chips come on the market or more manufacturers start making systems with multiple moderate power CPUs. Distributed load-sharing will make it even worse.

Per-concurrent-user licensing the market may accept, but per-CPU would be hard to sell in a market where "CPU" is ill defined or blurred.

Re:Cell distribution I don't get... (1)

Donny Smith (567043) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623441)

>I think if MS wants to do per-CPU licensing,

MS does not do per-CPU licensing for client software (for example some of it can even be legally installed on multiple computers - at office and home).

> customers are going to be displeased when multi-core chips come on the market or more manufacturers start making systems with multiple moderate power CPUs

Months ago Microsoft was the first major vendor to state that they will use per-socket licensing (i.e. multi-core CPUs will be considered one processor designs).
But as I said above, that has nothing to do with customer/client software. That's only for servers and server software.

It doesn't matter (3, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623161)

I think we can all safely say that no matter how successful, or not, microsoft will be in the years ahead, the millions of users trained from birth to believe that windows id the worlds only operating system are unlikely to move en masse to the alternatives.

Millions trained in MS Windows? Where? (2, Interesting)

ulatekh (775985) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623260)

Perhaps millions of Americans, but it's a big world, and a lot of third-world countries are modernizing on open-source software. I think Microsoft is destined to be an America-only thing, like football.

Yeah Right..... (1)

big-giant-head (148077) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623324)

They said the same thing about lotus 123 back in the 80's and early nintes, whats lotus's share of the spreadsheet market now?

Re:It doesn't matter (1)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623398)

Millions of americans didn't know about Napster back in the day, nor did they know about these "MP3" thingies. Millions of americans didn't know there was a search engine called "Google", they were still using Yahoo and Altavista. Millions of americans didn't know Netscape Navigator 2.0 existed, they were... well, they weren't doing anything yet.

The internet is a wonderful thing. It's the great equalizer. If other operating systems were a viable option for millions of Americans then why aren't they actively wiping Windows off their PCs and installing a Linux distro or running a live CD? Do you think maybe Mitch Kapoor or even Larry Ellison wouldn't plop down a cople of mill to do an AOL-ish mass CD mailing campaign? Just to stick it to Microsoft? You think Microsoft could keep up their "monopolistic strong-arming" in the face of a social revolution of that magnitude?

The idea that people don't know better is disingenious. I'm not saying they don't think Windows sucks to one degree or the other, just that out there in the real world the alternatives (be that Linux or BSD or whatever) are simply not very palatable. With the possible exception of OS X and a MiniMac, I must admit.

BTW, the world is bigger than America. There are 5.7 billion additional people out there. Think about that.

Natural and unnatural monopolies (3, Insightful)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623164)

MS's is natural. They are having to innovate to keep their market lead. Just like US Oil having to do everything they could to cut the price of oil. You may not like the method (making things more propriatory to raise transition costs) - and these methods may backfire (seems like they may be already), but they are one way or another trying to make their product more attractive than the next guys.

Now enter the US postal service. You try setting up a small time mail service in your city and go to jail. You try using FedEx for what the Postal Inspectors deem regular mail, and you go to jail. Similarly, if you try to stop paying into the government retirement system and start your own with higher returns.... guess what happens? Or what if you try to open your own liquir store in Virginia or Pennsylvania across from a state run ABC. Jail.

We throw this monopoly term around way to much without acknowledging the difference between a natural, earned monopoly and a violent, coercive one.

Jail and mail? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623335)

You try setting up a small time mail service in your city and go to jail.

How do you mean? Do you have examples?

Courier services, or even inter-city FedEx/UPS would all seem to be examples of "setting up a small-time mail service". Yet they get by.

I don't understand when the Post Office has ever strong-armed anyone who was doing something similar, though I am open to the possibiliy if you have a link or two.

Re:Jail and mail? (1)

Macadamizer (194404) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623406)

"Courier services, or even inter-city FedEx/UPS would all seem to be examples of "setting up a small-time mail service"."

But they are not allowed to carry standard, first-class mail. And they are not legally allowed to put stuff in your mailbox.

"I don't understand when the Post Office has ever strong-armed anyone who was doing something similar, though I am open to the possibiliy if you have a link or two."

Here's a blurb from a page that discusses the USPS monopoly:

"The most controversial business was the American Letter Mail Company, organized by Lysander Spooner. Spooner was not a businessman but a radical political reformer. He set up a mail service between New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore partly to make money but mainly as a challenge to the constitutionality of the postal monopoly. The Articles of Confederation of 1778 had vested the Congress with the ``sole and exclusive right [of] .|.|. establishing and regulating post offices'' (Art. IX). The Constitution had simply granted ``the power to establish post offices and post roads.'' This language led many, including Justice Joseph Story, to doubt whether the power the Constitution gave to set up posts and post roads was intended to be exclusive (Spooner 1971: I, 21; Priest 1975: 45-46). Spooner argued the postal monopoly was unconstitutional and in his newspaper advertisements he offered to cooperate with the government in bringing the issue in front of the Supreme Court if the government would leave his company unmolested until the issue was settled (New York Tribune, 20 January 1844). The Postmaster General was unwilling to cooperate, and Spooner was driven out of business after six or seven months due to fines, legal expenses, and the irregularity of his mail caused by government seizure (Spooner 1971, I: 14). Spooner also may have lost business to more efficient firms. While he riled the federal government with his ``impudence'' (House Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads 1843-44a), other mail companies--more intent on making a profit than making a point--kept a low profile and flourished."

USPS Monolpoly Article [cato.org]

Re:Natural and unnatural monopolies (4, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623349)

And yet, Microsoft was not found guilty of being a monopoly, but of employing that natural monopoly power in a criminally coercive manner in an attempt to leverage into an unnatural one.

In effect they behave as does orginized crime.

What was it that Argentinian minister said? Oh yes, that they do business like a drug dealer.


Re:Natural and unnatural monopolies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623407)

What was it that Argentinian minister said? Oh yes, that they do business like a drug dealer.

How'd that Argentinian minister know how drug dealers do business? :)

Re:Natural and unnatural monopolies (1)

ProtonMotiveForce (267027) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623352)

Furthermore, their "monopoly" is on intellectual property that _they_ created. It's a little like claiming McDonald's has some evil monopoly on the Big Mac, or Brittney Spears has a monopoly on "Oops, I did it again."

An OS isn't oil, it's not water, it's not air, it's not food. It's not a physically limited thing.

I've always thought the monopoly proceedings laughable for these reasons, and the rabid anti-MS sentiment sickening.

Re:Natural and unnatural monopolies (1)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623359)

Now enter the US postal service. You try setting up a small time mail service in your city and go to jail. You try using FedEx for what the Postal Inspectors deem regular mail, and you go to jail.

What are you smoking?

Other than not having access to USPS mail boxes (which are USPS private property), what is there to prevent you from creating a mail server or using FedEx to mail whatever you want?

Re:Natural and unnatural monopolies (2, Informative)

Macadamizer (194404) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623450)

"Other than not having access to USPS mail boxes (which are USPS private property), what is there to prevent you from creating a mail server or using FedEx to mail whatever you want?"

If you want to carry standard, first-class mail, then the "what is there to prevent you" is the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7: [The congress shall have the power] To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

This has been repeatedly interpreted to give the U.S. authority to create and maintain a monopoly on delivery of mail in the U.S.

But yeah, you could start your own FedEx service if you wanted to -- but they are not delivering mail, they are delivering "parcels." I guess if you wanted to send all of you first-class mail by FedEx, you could...

And today in other Welsh news.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623178)

A sheep named Matilda fell off a cliff.

Local residents of the small Welsh village were shocked.

Nohing new... (4, Insightful)

PincheGab (640283) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623180)

Is it just me or does this article state nothing new?

- Microsoft has had the Office no-upgrade problem for a long time...

- .NET was specifically developed to (appear to) run multi-platform (or was this an accident on the part of microsoft?)

- The first full release of .NET was in 2002... The beta period was long before that...

- Of course MS wants development for WinCE/PocketPC to be as easy as developing for the deskptop... Perhaps that's why you can write a PocketPC/WinCE program right on MS Developer Studio?

- Yes, Microsoft would want everyone to rent out Office instead of buy a perpetual license. Every app developer wants that. Remember ASPs (Application Service Providers)?

This article sounds like its written by someone who just got into computers and is just finding out what's gone on for the last 5 years...

Re:Nohing new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623330)

Actually, I think .NET was meant to be multi-lingual, not multi-platform. That a Mono or DotGNU has appeared, was not in the original game plan.

This is new? (1)

boohiss (804985) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623185)

"a future in which .NET is a key driver behind a strategy which will see Windows CE devices taking the limelight"

This is a new strategy? I thought the release of .NET pretty much heralded this...

MS is screwed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623187)

And it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

How can they compete with a free as in beer and free as in speech product?

With MS's onerous DRM and EULAs? Yeah, right.

Do something well. (4, Insightful)

paithuk (766069) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623192)

Personally I would just like to see Microsoft do something really well for the first time. They seem to take the approach I use at University: Do it as quickly as possible and put effort in where it can be seen. This is not what I would expect when it comes to a commercial product, and only works for proof on concepts. Now 21 years later, it's pretty clear Windows isn't a POC, so buck up and give us something we can really love. (For more information, visit www.apple.com)

Re:Do something well. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623362)

Given that Microsoft is staffed by people from the university (who work as you do), why would they have different attitudes? What would drive MS to put quality over expedience, when the majority of the programming population they're drawing from, doesn't.

The chickens come home to roost.

umm..... (2, Interesting)

djfray (803421) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623201)

What makes the article's author think that alternative Operating Systems are putting a stranglehold on Microsoft? Seriously, could someone give a link to these numbers, because I didn't see any in the article, and without it I have a bit of trouble believing the assertion.

Re:umm..... (1)

mrdaveb (239909) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623400)

Umm... where does it say that? It doesn't. "This article explores the problems which Microsoft face in maintaining their stranglehold" means just that - MS are doing the strangling. RTFA. Or at least read the summary

Strategic retreat... (4, Interesting)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623209)

I've been wondering about this for awhile. Microsoft's overall strategy has always been to be the mediator between your computer/data and you. At the beginning this was DOS, then it became Windows on top of DOS. Then Office to get to your business data, etc; Netscape was a major threat because they could usurp that position and allow you to get to your data through the web browser on a PC without needing a MS product. .NET is the ultimate implementation of this strategy. If they can really make it run anywhere: PCs running Windows, OSX or Linux on various hardware flavors AND on palms, consumer electronics devices, etc; Then they'll have succeeded in making a standardized "glue" layer between you and the hardware.

Next port Office to .NET and you have practically the same scenario as you have today except now Windows(.NET) runs anywhere.

Linux? OSX? Windows? Bah, who cares, so long as you're running a .NET license...

...or the next front (3, Interesting)

BeerCat (685972) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623409)

.NET has been around for a while, but it finally might be beginning to pick up. The w3schools stats [w3schools.com] for February* have included .NET as an OS platform, with a small, but rising share. Perhaps MS are looking for the same (initially slow) take up of IE6 or XP.

Of course, the real news is that Firefox has hit 20%, with other non-IE taking the total to over 25%. Yeah, I know, "lies, damn lies and statistics, and all that", but it should mean the end of IE only sites, when it can be shown that they are turning away 1 out every 4 site visitors.

Windows CE Strategy? Right . . . (4, Insightful)

sunspot42 (455706) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623246)

Win CE devices are going to continue dropping in price as they become more common. There's no way Microsoft is going to be able to earn anywhere near the margins they make in the PC business on a $100 cell phone, and there's no reason why hardware makers in the competitive electronics marketplace won't switch to open source (i.e. free) alternatives in the not too distant future in order to make their products more competitive. It's not like there's a huge inventory of Win CE software out there that absolutely must be run on these portable devices.

If MS is betting the future on CE devices, dump your MS stock right now while it's still worth something. MS remains a one trick pony, and their one trick is their OS monopoly in the PC marketplace. In spite of their billions, they've never been able to dominate any other industry and they never will because they're incapable of innovation. Their entire culture involves around theft, acquisition and intimidation. Expecting Microsoft to compete in a more open marketplace and win would be like expecting the Mafia to get into the automobile manufacturing business and compete with Toyota. They aren't structured for that kind of business, have no aptitude for it, and their strong-arm techniques only alienate customers and potential partners.

Re:Windows CE Strategy? Right . . .(Agree) (1)

Vile Slime (638816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623451)


I really think the analysis in the parent article is pretty darn weak.

I mean, come on, who really thinks MS is going to jump into bed with the Cell (i.e. PowerPC) chip?

It seems as though the author kinda forgot that MS's arch-enemy IBM holds the strings on the PowerPC chip. IBM isn't Intel and IBM has been burned badly by MS before.

FUD (5, Insightful)

X43B (577258) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623256)

"Microsoft's profit is currently focussed on two major products - MS Windows and MS Office. Both of these are in decline."

Only on /. can one of the most profitable companies in the world with record profit and revenue for this past quarter be considered in decline. I'm not saying I approve of how they do it, but it is funny how FUD can go both ways.

For all their money, MS is a one-product company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623364)

Without their desktop monopoly, MS is worthless - folks don't buy MS because they like to, they do it because they have to.

Once there is a viable alternative to MS on the desktop, MS is doomed.

When that finally happens is the question, not if. And given MS's history of failure in markets other than their monopoly, I wouldn't bet too much on them surviving much past their monopoly being shattered.

Re:FUD (2)

duplicate-nickname (87112) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623390)

From Microsoft 2004 annual report:

11% growth in Windows XP/2000 revenue
19% growth in server revenue (2003/SQL/Exchange)
17% growth in Office/Project/Visio revenue

Yea, I don't think the guy writing this article has a clue what he's talking about.

Re:FUD (1)

cnettel (836611) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623456)

OTOH, marketshare and "mindshare" is declining, even though we shouldn't forget that while Linux is gaining from both Windows and mainframe/big-name UNIX, the general trend towards (relatively) cheap x86 is still a good thing for both those platforms. When the total market size stops expanding or enters a much slower expansion, MS will be in for trouble.

Pure Intellectual Masturbation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623289)

I've seen much more evidence that .Net is dead than that it's the future of Microsoft's strategy. This whole article sounds a lot like someone came up with a pretty theory and then tried to find facts to match.

Windows CE is a miserable, miserable OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623291)

PocketPC, Windows Mobile Edition, and everything else that runs on it, suck too.

Cell not a general purpose CPU (2, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623320)

It's a nice conjecture, but I don't really see MS getting all that hyped about Cell when it's more likely that they see it as a competitor. After all, you don't have to be using WinCE to take advantage of the distributed architecture.

Furthermore, Cell isn't a general purpose CPU. In fact, it may be slower for general purpose computing than today's CPUs. According to the Ars Technica article posted earlier today, they trimmed a lot of the out-of-order execution logic out of the main PowerPC component to make room for the SPEs and to let it be clocked faster. It also seems to only have a single FPU on it -- a logical move since the SPEs are vector FPUs primarily. Code not optimized for Cell (which is going to be a limited subset of multimedia applications) will run slower. The .NET VM isn't going to auto-parallelize code after all.

Overall, I don't see MS trying to abandon x86 for Cell any time soon since x86 multimedia processing power is more than enough for most consumer applications. While Cell may take off for games, it's not going to make Office or Explorer run any faster.

The writing is on the wall. (2, Insightful)

mrbcs (737902) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623337)

Not many people need the latest and greatest computers. I still have 98 running on an AMD 64 bit 3000+. (I like fast but I don't really NEED it) I still use office 97. I can't see this computer industry ever reaching previous heights.

We don't NEED a new bug ridden Microsoft OS or Office suite. Microsoft is starting to see what the rest of the computing world has been dealing with for the last couple years.

The industry is stagnant and there are now tons of 1 ghz machines out there that will run any old os and suit most people just fine. Business is starting to smarten up. I pity those guys that bought into the Microsoft subscription service. How much longer for Longhorn? I don't think they're getting their monies worth and I doubt they would continue the subcription the next time.

The sooner Microsoft dies a horrible death, the happier I'll be!

In decline my ass... (1)

burnsy (563104) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623343)

I'd like to know why ths author thinks that these items are in decline. Check MSFT's last annual report.

"For Microsoft, fiscal 2004 was a great year, marked by strong growth and development of exciting new technologies. All of our businesses grew during the year, increasing total revenue by $4.65 billion, or 14 percent, to $36.8 billion. Profit margins from continuing operations improved, particularly in our emerging businesses."

"Our Information Worker (home of office) business continues to grow, with a 17 percent increase in revenue during 2004."


"Client revenue increase was driven by a 14% growth in OEM licenses and 16% growth in OEM revenue on increased consumer PC unit shipments in the first half of the fiscal year and growth in business PC unit shipments in the second half of fiscal 2004. " " So in summary... MSFT Revvenue +14% Office Revenue +17% Windows Revenue +11%

.NET can't save MS -- Mono exists (1)

ulatekh (775985) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623346)

How will getting everyone to standardize on .NET save Microsoft? An open-source version of it (Mono) already exists, so unless Microsoft's licensing terms are better, I don't see how this will lock people into anything Microsoft-specific.

Perhaps they'll make things a little easier then (3, Interesting)

strider3700 (109874) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623347)

I'm in the middle of learning to create a program on a windows CE device. Since it's going to be used to aquire data I figured it would be nice to install some form of DB on it. Sure enough there is SQL 200 CE for the ce .net devices. So Here I am thinking this is great I'll install that and away we go. 1 day later I'm still working on that install.

First I already have visual studio .Net installed and I really can't complain about it. Best IDE I've ever used hands down.

Second I know that I need SQL server to replicate the DB's with so I head off to MSDN and grab it.
500 or so meg later and I burn it to a CD(my media versions of the subscription haven't arrived yet) and start the install. Installation doesn't appear to do anything. After messing with it for a bit I remove it. Remove the desktop edition, and remove the old sql client tools. run the install again and it works. Fine I can live with that.
So I install sql 2000 CE It tells me that I need sql 2000 SP1 installed. I assumed that the newest version on MSDN would have the service pack installed already but I would be wrong.

So 430 meg later I have downloaded SP2 (sp1 is rolled into it) and another 120 or so meg and I have SP3. Install those. Reinstall sql CE. I get further but I now need to install IIS so that the two can comunicate. It didn't come preinstalled on this XP pro SP2 PC so I get to track the program down, set it up then get the database installed then I can get back to the 20 minute tutorial I was following. .Net on CE devices may work nicely but the hours of hoops to jump through just to get started is a real pain in the ass. By far the best part of this exercise has been visual studio. I added the necessary parts as a reference and away it goes.

Deploying programs to the device is trivial. If all the rest of the software was at the same level as visual studio I wouldn't be using linux as my desktop at home.

Why MS bought VirtualPC _and_ What .NET is about!! (3, Interesting)

javaxman (705658) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623357)

I've heard this explaination as to why Microsoft bought Connectix ( and thus Virtual PC ) before, but never quite so successfully explained.

Basically, they bought VirtualPC so their future customers, running on some non-x86 processor, can run legacy x86 Windows programs along side their .NET-based programs. The detail being that of course, the .NET-based apps are running in a ( licensed ) Microsoft operating system environment. As an added bonus, the OS used in VPC is yet another licensed MS operating system! Even _more_ software sales for M$!!

It's just the M$ way of _not_ betting the farm on x86... which is the true point of .NET, at least according to this guy.

Hey, they're not stupid at M$, they just like *MONEY*!!!

So would that mean Office in .Net? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623368)

It doesn't seem like a new strategy to me, I think the heralding of it as an official strategy is when Office is ported to .Net. I don't recall seeing signs of that though...

One interesting aspect is that it seems to me the whole support for unsafe code and for differnet languages is perhaps all to make it easier to port Office to .Net. Still seems like it would be a bother to port, and additionally if it has too much native code you've not really gained any benefits.

The funny thing is that other companies seem to have a head start in porting office to other systems. Open Office from a desktop standpoint, and on the Blackberry they already let you download and modify some Office documents right on the handheld. Perhaps they are a little late to this party.

The key thing they forgot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623378)

The article forgot one key thing. Now that Software Patents are scheduled to be made into law in Europe (as per today's slashdot article), Microsoft will then unleash their Patent attack on Open Source Software (as per the HP memo which was leaked last year).

The FUD and fallout from this ought to help keep Microsoft on top for many years to come.

They should just go Hardware. (1)

torpor (458) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623417)

Put all that money, straight away, into hardware, Billy-boy.

Its getting so that any $10k-startup or so can print their own boards and get their apps out there, sub-$500 like, and this means that the division between soft and hard-ware is fading. Hardware prices are matching 'software prices' .. when you can get a $99 PDA with its own C compiler, you've got a totally different computing market than it was in the 70's, 80's, and 90's ...

Xbox2^H360^H^H^HWhatever, XBox-Portable, XBox-Handy, XBox-Roomba .. 'tis the only path.

Where's the staying power gone? (1)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623419)

"One approach which they periodically try is to move software onto a subscription model - you pay a flat fee for access to the latest version of a particular application."

I bet you can't find an convert tool for Office 2003 or OpenOffice to read ProWrite Plus 1.0 documents.

I'm still waiting on a company that offers software with staying power. We get a new version of Windows every year or two, and a new version of every *nix/BSD every 5 months. I'd be lucky to not have to redo my system configuration every time a new version of whatever OS comes out and decides to wipe out my old configurations. Plus there's the downtime. When are we going to see a kernel that can be upgraded while the system is still in operation and serving up webpages for happy customers? I don't want to have to take my websites down for half an hour every time there's a new kernel out or a new security patch for x and y applications.

I'd just like to see some software that runs for ten years straight without any need to upgrade or convert to a new format. And the same goes for hardware. How long can I trust my P4 and AMD Athlon 64 systems to run before their circuits degrade. By that point I'll have to buy a new computer that probably won't be supported by Windows or the current Linux distros and all my old software won't run on the next best thing. I'm going to have to start writing my resume, financial docs, journals, and everything else in xml+css so I can trust it'll work on .NET and all the other new standards.

I think the author missed something important (4, Interesting)

ShatteredDream (636520) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623421)

About Longhorn. It was supposed to be the Great Leap Forward for Microsoft and yet most of the cool features have either been pulled for future releases or being backported to XP. This will probably be the first version of Windows where there is very little incentive to upgrade from the previous version for most of Microsoft's users.

The absolute worst thing that could happen to Microsoft would be for Windows to lag in sales. So much of their company rides on the success of Windows and Office that if one of those gets badly damaged it would have very damaging results for the entire company.

The skillsets are different (1)

g0hare (565322) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623447)

It takes a different set of skills to GET dominance than it does to keep it. Also, naturally, once you're number one, everyone is taking a shot at you, not just a few people.

Ask a football coach.

Seriously, a "stranglehold"??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11623460)

Noone is forcing you to use Microsoft Products, nor are they forcing you to continue monitoring every marketing decision they make.

However, the fact that you are giving them that much attention means that the alternatives are weaker than either the sum of its parts or the whole combined: Microsoft has a superior product line in terms of Operating System and Office Suite software.

There are cheaper alternatives out there, but the reality is thier interfaces are weak and flawed compared to Microsoft.

XP has been the most stable operating system that Microsoft has ever released, and they don't even get credit for not shoving Longhorn down our throats prematurely. Instead, they get rediculed for not forcing an upgrade when one is not needed.

Longhorn will integreate features of .Net into it's framework - thanks to the growing popularity of RSS and syndication methodologies - so anyone could have guessed that would be their next move.

Microsoft has a stranglehold because people like the poster continue to give them credit everytime they blink, sneeze or cough the wrong way.


Google! (3, Insightful)

LesPaul75 (571752) | more than 9 years ago | (#11623464)

I (still) say that Microsoft is being forced into changing their application delivery model by Google. What choice do they have? What happens when Google rolls out a word processor, spreadsheet, and a dozen other "Office-like" apps all of which run right in your web browser, and they offer it all at a really, really competitive price per user (especially to businesses), and Microsoft is still selling clunky old CDs?

Look at it this way... Which would you rather have: this [microsoft.com] or this [google.com]? One of them comes on a CD, and becomes outdated very quickly unless you continously patch and upgrade it. The other is just a URL that you type into a browser, and you can let them (Google) worry about keeping it up to date.
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