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Microsoft's Martin Taylor Responds

Roblimo posted more than 9 years ago | from the we-love-everyone-and-everyone-should-love-us-too dept.

Microsoft 627

We passed on your requested questions for Martin Taylor, Microsoft's global general manager of platform strategy, and we got a slew of them. Instead of emailing your questions to Martin, we did this interview by phone and added in a few follow-up questions. You can listen to an MP3 of the call, read the transcript (below), or both.

Roblimo: Ok, this is Robin 'Roblimo' Miller of Slashdot. I'm on the phone with Martin Taylor of Microsoft. How are you doing today?

Martin: I'm doing great. I'm very excited to have a chance to talk to you. I know that we've been trying to get together for quite a few months now. So I apologize if my schedule has made it difficult. But I'm glad that we're finally getting it done.

Roblimo: Me too. At long last. (Martin laughs) We have questions which are all from readers. The first one is from Greyfeld - Slashdot user 521548 - and he asked, "Have you ever used Linux? For what purpose and what was your personal experience using Linux?"

Martin: I actually have a couple of machines here in my office that are running Linux. It's mostly just to take a look at what works and doesn't work. We also have probably about a hundred or so servers running, you know, Red Hat, SuSE, Debian, Gentoo, you name it. So, you know, we can take a look at how things work and do some comparative analysis and things of that nature.

My personal experience? I use some earlier versions of Linspire and Xandros, and as an end user that is not as technical as some other people, I would say I found it somewhat challenging, downloading and installing some applications and getting Internet access through our proxy server and some of those things.... device plugging in and plugging out was not quite as seamless as I thought they might be. However, I would say the basic user experience of clicking and moving around and things like that, you know, was fine.

Roblimo: Ok. This is a follow up. Askadar asked what is Linux doing right? "I assume that you must have evaluated Linux. While doing that, what did you find about Linux that you think is good?"

Martin: I think a couple of things. One, you know, for the user who really wants to really tear things apart, do things on their own, build their own distribution, they really have, obviously, that level of source code access where they can do things like create a customized distribution with a very, very small footprint with only what they want and not a bunch of other things. You know, Linux is attractive to that class of a user. Linux is attractive to, let's say, Google - a large company that really wants to build a big server farm. They want to hire quite a few very talented engineers to really tune that on a daily basis and things of that nature. So I think that when you get to like specific niche areas and those areas where people really want to get deep on their own and take on a lot of that responsibility on their own, you know, I think Linux is attractive on those scenarios. And obviously that's where you see a lot of the market pick up on Linux on that basis as well.

Roblimo: OK. Lets move on to a different question. This is from your favorite Slashdot poster and mine, Anonymous Coward. This is a question that didn't make the cut, but, I assume... Do you read Slashdot?

Martin: I do. I probably go to Slashdot at least a couple of times a week, but depending upon the news of the day, the news of the week I might be on it multiple times a day. (Roblimo Laughs) Because it depends on what's happening in the world in same way that I would go to MSNBC on big news days and small news days, lets just say.

Roblimo: I understand. This is an Anonymous Coward's question. When Microsoft seems to tout its desire to facilitate interoperability, do you mean interoperability seamlessly between your operating system and environment with alternative systems such as Mac OSX, Linux, Sun Solaris, etc? Or, do you mean interoperability between Microsoft products?

Martin: Yeah, I actually look at two things. I actually call Microsoft products working well with other Microsoft products, firstly, I call that integration. A little bit. I don't know if these are defined terms in any Microsoft textbook or Slashdot glossary. I don't know but...(Martin laughs).

Roblimo: We don't have a glossary. We're not that formal.

Martin: But personally, you know, I say hey, you know, when I think about Microsoft products work with another Microsoft product - I look at that as more integration. How well those things work together. And then I look at interoperability as Microsoft products working with non-Microsoft products. And, I think we work really hard to facilitate something. You can go all the way back, let's say, to integrating with Novell days where we wrote our own Novell client, we wrote our own IPX/SPX stack to allow us to integrate with Novell servers.

Roblimo: What about now though?

Martin: And then, bringing it all the way forward. Even now, with SMS... to allow us through OpenWeb ... to get to Unix and Mac clients and Mac servers and Unix to Linux servers to manage those things, distribute those things. I look at the work that we've done with Services for Unix that allows us to integrate with Unix to Linux environment - NFS gateways, NFS hosts, NFS clients. So I think that we can really look around and say, what are the things that we need to do to either partner with our clients like in the (Gnutella - not clear) case or like in the services for Unix case... find a way to interoperate in different scenarios.

Roblimo: Another question none of the readers asked but really dovetails here. Are you willing to cooperate more closely with the Samba project than you have in the past?

Martin: I think that we're always open working with people in a variety of different levels to make sure that, again, that we can work well together. Now, I would say that most of the things that we do from an interoperability perspective are driven more by customers and less by industry, meaning that when we have customers say, "Hey, we need these two things to work together and then," you know, that's where a lot of our (Gnutella?) projects and channel partnerships come to play with that Unix to Linux integration. That's the work that we're doing with Services for Unix and some of those other spaces. We won't say no to discussing things to anybody but at the end of the day we're gonna really work hard to do what the customer asks us to do.

Roblimo: Next question, from ProteusQ, Slashdot user no. 665382. He's asking about protection against malware and he's asking you Martin Taylor, "What applications do you run to protect your windows license from malware (viruses, trojans, spyware, etc.) and what do you pay for this protection for a year? How does this cost compare to the costs incurred by other Windows users and compared to what you would pay for the equivalent protection offered in Debian?"

Martin: Got it. So first of all I actually run, obviously, Windows XP. I run XP SP2. I also have downloaded the beta of the spyware product that we recently, one of our recent acquisitions, into a combination of XP SP2 and spyware product that I downloaded. That's pretty much how I protect in running both my desktop pc or my laptop I use here at Microsoft as well as the 3 PCs that I have in my house - a very similar configuration.

Roblimo: How much would these add-on programs cost you? People like you and me, lets say, as a journalist, I too can get free software from anybody. What would it cost you as a regular user?

Martin: Well today, XP SP2 is free if you're a genuine or a valid Windows XP user. It's just a matter of downloading. And today the spyware product that I've downloaded is also a free beta and we've not announced any pricing terms or plans for the product as of yet. So everything I'm using today is free.

Roblimo: Ok. And this is all the protection you need?

Martin: It's all that I have today and it has served me pretty well so far. But I'm hesitant to say its all that I need because I feel, I would be honest to say, that I'm probably not as deep in terms of really analyzing everything that I need but today I have not had any major problem in any shape or fashion with the current configuration. The spyware technology or the anti-spyware technology, I should say, helps me a lot and that was one of the biggest gaps, I would say, in my desktop profile. And, you know, in the spirit of full openness, before we had the spyware technology when I bought a Dell machine for at home for my wife, we actually had, I think, there was some Norton tools that shipped with that PC and again there was no extra charge for that, you know, maybe Dell bundled it into the price, I'm not sure. But I have not personally had got to go out and purchase or download and pay for any additional security product at this point.

Roblimo: Ok. Question that I'm gonna have to ask you personally. This is not from a reader that will segue into the next reader's question. Obviously I run Linux.

Martin: Real quick, what do you run? What version do you run now?

Roblimo: I run MEPIS, which is essential Debian. And right now the browser I have open is Firefox.

Martin: Got it.

Roblimo: So I don't have all those popups and things. How do you keep from seeing popups?

Martin: Windows XP SP2, we have a popup blocker, part of that update to Windows XP that allows me to, you know, deny popups, but also give me a pretty functional bar where I can right click on it when it tells me something has been blocked if I need to see that popup because then, as you know, mini web sites might have the type of transaction engine where they do have something that might appear to popup that you need to get the information to continue whatever transaction you're driving on that website and so...

Roblimo: Firefox has that too.

Martin: Yeah but I'm saying that's what I use - Windows XP SP2.

Roblimo: Here's a related question from Doug Dante. He's asking about open source applications helping Windows compete. "To what extent are open source applications on Windows helping it to be more competitive versus Linux? For example," he says, "I immediately install OpenOffice or, Firefox, and Thunderbird over a virgin Windows install?"

Martin: Yeah, I'm sorry, I heard the initial point saying, "How do open source projects help Windows compete?" I'm not quite ... Repeat the question again. I missed that ...

Roblimo: What he's saying... I'll turn his question around from the way he wrote it.... He's saying when he installs Windows, he takes a virgin Windows install and immediately adds OpenOffice.org Firefox, and the Mozilla based Thunderbird email programs to it. And he's asking, How are these helping Windows to be more competitive versus Linux?"

Martin: Yeah, I guess I don't look at it that way necessarily. I don't look at it saying, "Hey, are there great open source projects that are available on Windows?" I think, let me try to paraphrase it and answer it. I think what he's saying is hey, the new breed of applications available on SourceForge(.net) and open source application, you know, are they making windows become more relevant or helping it compete against Linux, because at the end of the day Windows and Linux are just operating systems and the application stack above that that allows them to be for people to choose. Is that a fair way to look at it?

Roblimo: I would say yes.

Martin: I would say I don't see from that perspective anything different today than yesterday. We've always had a pretty good, let's call it, an application catalog some written by us, most written by everybody else. And so in some way you can say open source as a development model just created a bunch more applications that all can run atop of Windows. And so, you know, people are always shocked by this. They don't know that there's literally over 10,000 projects up on SourceForge for the operating system alone - just for Windows 2000 and Windows XP. And, you know, you can go to SourceForge and browse around and you'll see quite a few applications out there. And that's actually, you know, I'm gonna extend the question a little bit if you don't mind.

Roblimo: Go ahead.

Martin: One thing that really frustrates me a little bit, and you can say this is partly because of us at Microsoft and hopefully we're getting better here, is that people try to position us as Microsoft versus open source. I really don't view the world that way and I know that we don't view the world that way. I think that we view the world saying, you know, take OpenOffice. We think Office, the product that we have, is a great product and we want to make sure that we can show that product in a value offer over OpenOffice.org. Or over OpenOffice or StarOffice every chance that we get. That doesn't mean that we are anti-open source. It means that we think we get a better product compared to that one. Whether that came from open source model or proprietary development model. The same way that we look at Corel or what you still look at - AmiPro or WordPerfect or whatever. And so, you know, to close outthe question. So, yeah, there's application code written for Windows, you know, and underneath the open source model if its licensed underneath the GPL, the, you know, different types of licensing models and open source, then great, God bless them and Godspeed, and that increases the application platform availability that we have.

Roblimo: I'm gonna ask you sort of a question in here that's not in my original list. And I'm actually looking on Slashdot right now. For, again, that you just really led me into, and even if I don't find the exact question I can paraphrase it.... There were over 1,000 comments, you know, on this interview call for questions.

Martin: About midnight last night I was anxiously reading Slashdot. And I was wondering where you're gonna take me, Roblimo. And so, yes, I read everything as of midnight last night, I read every single thing. I think 1,096 was the number I saw at about midnight.

Roblimo: Crazy, crazy. See, you're loved. Everybody loves you.

Martin: But I love everybody. (both laugh)

Roblimo: Anyway the gist of the question is... I can't seem to find it... there are so many. I've got to cut to just plus five questions but there's fifty-some of those. This one was asking about the chronic Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt thing, if it's true that Windows and Microsoft products are that much better, why do that? What's the point? Isn't that like Ford spending their time knocking GM rather than just using Ford?

Martin: I think I know what you're referring to based on some of the stuff that I read last night. And so if I can and you can say I'm cheating, I don't know. But let me kind of, sort of, aggregate about eight or ten different postings I saw last night that kinda speak to that. I think the real...

Roblimo: That's what we're trying to do here.

Martin: They're fresh in my mind, I remember them all, so let me tell you kind of what I heard or what I read last night in aggregate. Pretty much saying, "Hey, why have this get the facts campaign if your products are better as you suggest they are in different categories and why do you feel the need to tell people that they're better...

Roblimo: No, that's not the question.

Martin: Ok.

Roblimo: Why do you, not from you per se but from some of your co-workers, from Microsoft executives, seem to lash at virulently with anger against Linux and open source?

Martin: You know, on this one, I actually think that we've made a lot of progress and so let me be very open with you and kinda give you what I feel is history and I love your read on this as someone who watches us and watches the industry and the things that you do over the length of time you've had. I would say years ago we did not fully understand - I'm speaking aggregately as a company - did not fully understand Linux and open source and so whatever you're dealing with something that is a bit of unknown, I think it's natural to have somewhat of an emotional reaction to that. And also if things didn't quite make sense to you, when you thought people might be acting somewhat irrational, then again it led to somewhat of an emotional response in some ways. And so I think that was the early view. I would also say, you know, that it's a shared responsibility issue because, again, as an avid reader of Slashdot, I would say that many of the folks who participate on Slashdot are somewhat... viceral.

Roblimo: Really! What might have led you to that belief, sir? (laughs)

Martin: And their feelings towards us. And so I think that there was a point where we both maybe kinda at each other a little bit. I think that we need to get past that to the point where everyone benefits from a more constructive, pragmatic dialogue to the point where, you know, it's not an emotional thing saying Linux is bad or open source is awful or those types of things, but it's a more pragmatic customer oriented thing that says "Hey, here's why I think we've got great value added here, here's why I think we have a better TCO story. Here's why I think that our integration ..."

Roblimo: Let's move on to a TCO question. It's where you gonna go anyway..

Martin: No, no, no. I was basically gonna say...

Roblimo: No, no I have a question about TCO.

Martin: Hold that for one second.

Roblimo: Ok.

Martin: So I think that we've come a long way from where we were years ago. Can we handle everybody on every comment everyday? No, but I think in aggregate, and I hope you would agree, what you hear coming out from Microsoft is a the different tone than you heard three years ago.

Roblimo: A compassionate, proprietary software company. (laughs). Alright let's talk about ...

Martin: (Laughs). That's a good tag line, I have to pay you if I use that in my next PR speeches?

Roblimo: Absolutely, pay me what it's worth, namely zero. (laughs) Here's RailGunner who's a registered user no. 554645, he wants to talk about Windows TCO versus Linux TCO. And he asks, "Why do you claim Windows has a lower Total Cost of Ownership yet you do not add the cost not incurred by Linux and FOSS beyond open source software of a Virus Scanner, Microsoft Office on the desktop or IIS/SQL Server on the server, plus the damage that is done by such worms as the Blaster and Slammer?

Martin: Yeah, so it's kind of a two-part question. The first thing I would say is, you know, when you go take a look at the Total Cost of Ownership of studies that were done both by Forrester, by Giga, by IDC and by some of the other analysts, they go to the entire solution. Some of those solutions do have some level of Web server and application server as part of it and some are more than just simple workload scenarios. I think that rarely do we say Microsoft gives you lower Total Cost of Ownership." I think what you'd find us really saying when you get to the next level is "Hey, for this solution, for this scenario, this set of products compared to these other set of products, Microsoft can deliver lower Total Cost of Ownership." So it's really more of a product and a scenario based thing to take a look at, and then all those elements that come into play there. So that's the first thing that kinda covers the first part. The second part you mentioned was the notion of how you account for, let's say, some of the security issues from that perspective.

Roblimo: They never seem to be included, right. In the studies that I've read - believe me - I've been to all the Microsoft market materials and independent studies. Independent studies done by companies which are supported at some point by Microsoft, however, I must put a disclaimer that Microsoft is a major advertiser on OSTG - and we thank you for your support.

Martin: And these kinds of companies are also supported by IBM and HP and Red Hat and other companies as well because of kind of the way that our industry moves. All that being said, so, on the second part, we've been looking for way on how you model that out. Yeah, how do you model out what you do about security. Yeah, you could always do, let's say, the analysis post-hurricane, and take a look at, "Ok, what were the damages based on this scenario?" But that really doesn't give you a view of Total Cost of Ownership or anything like that, so we've been trying to find a way to model out, let's say, Total Cost of Security, or something like that where you can be somewhat predictive. But it's incredibly hard to do and so, you know, I'll ask our wide community of Slashdot users - if someone out there has a model where they can do some type of predictive modeling, because that's really what it's about, it's about predictive modeling on what will the cost be over the next three to five years. How does that look? You know, I'd love any input and guidance, but I know some of the analyst firms are also grappling with this idea, as well.

Roblimo: And most of these people read Slashdot too...so you will get answers.

Martin: So,you know, we'll figure this out at some point in time but the way to do that is not to say, "Look, we spent X amount of money to due to Blaster, you know, so now I think now the right thing to is ask, "Hey, what does it cost us to design a secure environment? What does it cost us, you know, to innoculate our environment? What does it cost us from a people resource perspective to build the right redundancy required should something happen?" So those are the costs that... I think you'd want modeled out and look into when looking at Total Cost of Security from that perspective. But I could be wrong and I'd love some feedback.

Roblimo: You'll get it. And here's sort of a question that I pulled out of one of the thousand-worders that was cogent... This is a theme that runs throughout the TCO studies that Microsoft boosts. He asks us, "Do Linux geeks really pull in that much more money salary-wise than Windows geeks?" That's a common theme - that it costs more to hire a Linux admin. And he says, "I find this claim hard to swallow especially in today's economy."

Martin: OK, well. This is kind of a my-word-against-your-word thing that I don't want us to get there. But I just hired 16 Linux consultants for a project I'm doing. And I asked the company that was doing the hiring to actually - I also had to hire 16 Windows and .NET architects as well. No question that 16 Linux guys I hired cost me a lot more. And it's just a matter of, its just economics - its simple economics. There's way more people out there that I know that might be unsettling for our friendly Slashdot readers.... I don't mean this a bad way... But in all honesty, there's way more guys out there that know Windows than know Linux. That's just the reality.

Roblimo: Is it possible that it was just hard to find Linux-skilled people who are seriously into it... skilled people who are willing to work for Microsoft?

Martin: It wasn't a, it was a third-party. They didn't know that they were working for Microsoft.

Roblimo: Ahh. Ok.

Martin: I had a third-party go out there to hire 16 topnotch Linux developers/architects and 16 topnotch Windows architects so I could do some comparative studies on some work that we're doing. And no one knew that Microsoft had anything to do with this in terms of hiring people to work on this.

Roblimo: Interesting.

Martin: And so anyway, again, its less about that. It's more about the fact that, hey, there's just less skilled people out there, you know, in aggregate, in our IT population. And so, I think, that's the big issue.

Roblimo: Ok. The salary thing does contradict what I see here in Florida. But aside from that, again like you say, you know, I've seen two thousand salary surveys and three thousand answers.

So, here's another question - very different - about Microsoft - breaking it's own software from Aim Here (765712). "All these serial number checks, dial-home schemes, registration schemes, digital "rights" management schemes, crippled 'starter' versions of Windows, and now all sorts of anti-piracy checks whenever someone wants to patch their Windows box - Microsoft spends an awful lot of time and effort deliberately making sure their software doesn't work unless the customer jumps through the appropriate hoops. Aren't you worried that this continual (and increasingly intrusive) process of deliberately breaking and/or crippling your own software is going to alienate some of your customers and make them feel like criminals, particularly since the makers of the free software operating systems that you're now competing against have no need of any of it and can concentrate all of their resources on trying to make their software work?"

Martin: OK. You said a lot there. I won't cut and parse through that early part.

Roblimo: Bottom line is, here I am running Debian and if I decide that I want to add three more computers, I will take the CD and slap it on, end of story. And my net cost for a complete desktop is zero and I don't have to register it. I can't do that with the one instance with Windows that I do have, I can't slap it into another computer.

Martin: A couple of things. One, I would say when you look at commercial companies now they adopt and deploy Red Hat and the commercialized distribution.... There is a registration process if I want to install Red Hat on another server and has support for that server. Yes, I can go freely copy it wherever I want, but if I want to have supported servers as most organizations do and/or supported desktops, there is a registration process. So I think that we don't look that dissimilar in our model of, you know, asking people to register or at least, you know, fill out/verify the legal copy that they are using.

The second thing I would say is, one thing that I wasn't sure from the statement that was made by, I think, Aim Here, was that "we require people to go through hoops in order to patch those systems." That is not the process today. Today if you're running on Windows and you need a security patch, you know, there is no additional hoops or things you need to go through in order to install a security fix for your technology today. So that was a little bit weird as well. And again, and lastly, I think we're working super hard to make whatever this process is incredibly seamless. You know, I, again, I recently bought a Dell computer for my wife at home and it was literally seconds that it took it to go up to Microsoft.com, verify its ID and then come back down.

So I think that, you know, what you're going to begin to see is the continual evolution of kind of a community-to-commercial approach that's happening in the Linux, or, let's call it, really, the distribution world. Because, yes, you'll always be able to install, you know, Debian or something like that on a million machines if you'd like. But again, as things become more commercial as they are with the Linux distributors, you'll see similar processes in place because that's the only way that they can verify users so they can offer them a support model.

Roblimo: So what you're saying is that you have to register for support with Linux.

Martin: I mean, I'm not an aggressive Linux user as some of our Slashdot audiences are. But the servers I have running and the desktops I have running here, I do have to register those with Red Hat to be in agreement with my Red Hat support agreement.

Roblimo: OK. Not everybody uses Red Hat.

Martin: No... Most commercial customers that I've talked to primarily use Red Hat or SuSE as their distribution for commercial customers.

Roblimo: OK... Let me ask... Let's move on here. We have, really, two more questions and this is the last long one, from JimmytheGeek ... (laughs)

Martin: I'm worried already.

Roblimo: He's been around for a while on Slashdot user number 180805. And he's saying, "One of the myths about Windows is that there is a company behind it you can hold responsible for flaws that impact an organization." "But," he goes on, "if you read the EULA, the End User Licensing Agreement, of any Microsoft product, even an update, it disclaims any responsibility whatsoever. They specifically avow that they are not fit for any purpose. So what's up with that?"

Martin: Yeah, this is a broader conversation, a broader question. I actually read this question last night as well from Jimmy.

Roblimo: I've read the EULAs. I'm the only person you've ever met who's probably read every single licensing agreement for every piece of software he's installed.

Martin: There's a couple of lawyers that we have here that read quite a few EULAs as well.

Roblimo: They are sick, too....

Martin: (laughs) Nevertheless, there's a couple of things. First of all, I would say, really when we talk about the kind of accountability and standing behind it, there's a few things that we reference there and where we spend our time. One is, for commercial customers, you know, how we can provide this level of roadmap, this level of ownership and all these types of things today on that perspective, let's just call it from the general support perspective, and how that works. I mean anyone will agree that Red Hat or IBM or even Novell with SUSE, they can only take, you know, things to a point at the end of the day, because at the end of the day they don't own the kernel, they don't take the final decision on what's in or what's out of 2.6...

Roblimo: Well, no, they can modify it however they want.

Martin: No, of course but when they do, then you could be on a different path, or you can be on a different path or fork on a different tree, but essentially they start with what level of mods that they do. And so the point of that is to say, "Hey, we have that all the way in the end level of ownership where we can deal with that."

The bigger issue that comes up of this accountability issue is around this notion of indemnification and protection. This notion of "Hey, I can tell any one of my customers, if there's any issue from an IT perspective, you know, patent, copyright, trade secrets..." Microsoft fully takes care of you and we extended all the way down to any end user where that wasn't a part of our normal EULA. As of November we made that change as well - EULA being in the End User Licensing Agreement. And so I think that's the issue where a lot of accountability come into play. But how do the vendors, or how do the distributor or software provider fully protects and indemnify any customer that is using their software from ...

Roblimo: I don't think that's the question that we're trying to ask. He says, and I can give you the full thing.. "Open source licenses usually have the same thing, but those are generally free products. You guys have taken in a couple hundred billion. Plus, we can use the code as we like. So you can't claim any kind of equivalence." So I think what he's talking about is the one big glaring thing - that Microsoft in those EULAs does not claim the software is fit for any particular purpose or that it will work, essentially.

Martin: Yeah, I don't think we quite ... it won't work. I don't know ...

Roblimo: No, for any given purpose.

Martin: C'mon Rob, I know that's the broad surface. Go read Red Hat EULA and Red Hat will pretty much say, "Hey,we can't guarantee anything with the software either." I've read it. Read their filing statements. It's the same thing, right?...

Roblimo: Well I use a different variety of Linux, perhaps...

Martin: Right, so I think it's impossible for any software provider to say categorically their offer can do any single thing that you ever want to do in the world. Right?

Roblimo: Mmmmm, yeah, but it's always been an amusement part, you almost have to laugh...

Martin: Fine, so it's fine that people can have good sport with it, but when you get down to the kind of the brass tacks at the end of the day, again, I don't know any software provider that says, "Hey, our software can do anything in the world that you want to do, so go do it."

Roblimo: There's implied fitness in most products, like, if I were to go buy a Jeep Cherokee - I have one - there is an implied fact both by their (being on) sale and the FTC forces them... and other government agencies force them to imply that it's safe to drive on the road, or reasonably. Not that it's safe for me to drive drunk with no shoulder harness and go crazy at 120 miles an hour, but that it's fit for the purpose of being, you know, a transportation device.

Martin: Right.

Roblimo: And this is something that, you know, again, maybe the software industry in general needs to work on, wouldn't you say?

Martin: Yeah, I would actually take us up on that. This is not a Microsoft specific issue, because I don't think we're that unlike any other commercial software provider, you know. And with regards to that, it's probably easier to make fun with us than anybody else. But nevertheless...

Roblimo: One last question that you sort of touched on earlier... Augustz - with a "Z" on the end - asks this very bluntly: "Are Google morons given that TCO is significantly less for Windows than Linux?" and his reference is the Microsoft advertising and "Get the Facts" literature. "Are the folks at Google morons for using Linux? They use a lot of computers, and TCO has got to be important to their environment."

Martin: That's one of those, let's call them niche environments where I would say, I'd personally... Well, let's be honest. Your average commercial company will not pay for the staff that Google has to run their engine. I mean, they hire quite a few very senior, very technical people to do a very specific function. And from that perspective, they're very different from your generic IT scenario. Most companies, I mean, given that most companies are not technology companies, most companies that I talk to, they're not in business to hire a whole bunch of people to drive a stack of servers. They're in business to, you know.. they are airline companies that put people on planes. They are soda companies that to get people to drink. They are news companies like Slashdot to get people news. And so, anytime that they can reduce the complexity of their environment and not have to hire people to manage or maintain that, that's a good thing for them. And so, I can tell you that again that's a different usage scenario in terms of how they've optimized around that based on a more general purpose scenario.

I'm not gonna go and say "Oh my God, they're crazy, they're gonna have an incredibly high cost of ownership because of what they've done. I also not going to go on record to say that they could go to Windows servers and their TCO would drop in half. Again, as I said earlier, when we look at Total Cost of Ownership it's by solution, by scenario - not a broad, sweeping all-things-are-made-of, all-people-type-of-statement.

Roblimo: That's all the questions I have planned. Are there any we failed to include but we should have?

Martin: No, I'd say as I read last night, there were some that we probably can never talk about publicly because... (both laugh) which was fine. But I have their names and emails myself so I can answer them. And then there's some kind of around this whole "get the facts" thing and I do maybe, in closing, want to talk about that a little bit, if that's ok.

Roblimo: Go right ahead.

Martin: Let me give you a little bit of history on kinda why I'm doing what I'm doing the way that I'm doing it. You know when I joined, I tried to go figure and work on some of this, I was amazed at reading Slashdot and reading some other things... just how aggressive people were on Microsoft isn't this, Linux is this. But it was (usually) grounded in one instance meaning, "Hey, I did this one time and here's why I think one or both or neither are better or good or bad," or it was just not grounded at all on any level set of data.

And so a big push that I wanted was to just get the facts, and say "Hey let's move this out of an emotional, aggressive discussion and let's really kind of have it based more on a practical, pragmatic discussion." Actually I even got that from customers.

I'm not a deep, deep technical guy, I'm not a deep, deep industry guy. I spend more of my time talking to customers, trying to structure the work that I do based on what they ask. And customers are asking, "Hey, can you help me understand TCO, Microsoft versus Linux for this scenario in the work that we do? Which of these technologies... help me understand this or that..." And that's the kind of work that we do.

And so, if you read the details, which I'm sure you have, if not, we're not 100% favorable to Microsoft. There are some things in there that say why Linux is good, there are some things in there that say why the Web work load, one of our older studies, you know, gave good TCO for Linux and Apache against IIS 5.0. So there are things out there, and I try to be as transparent as possible on all of those types of things. I mentioned earlier about another company, I used another company to hire these people, I didn't want to bias the study in any way by people knowing Microsoft was hiring these engineers, so I had a third party hire them. And, of course, once everything is done, everything is transparent, so you can see everything in terms of the server configuration, who we hire, you know, how the whole thing works, but there's a deep level of transparency that I try to provide.

But again, on that one that I mentioned, I wanted to make sure that they weren't biased because I was hiring them. So I work really, really hard to make sure we don't bias these things and they're aa pragmatic as possible. And so, if there are topics that, you know, people think we should undertake... again, I hear from customers all the time, and that's what we spend time on but, you know, I'll keep reading Slashdot, and when people post stuff and issues into them, then we'll take on some of those discussions and challenges as well.

Roblimo: I'll tell you what, here's an open invitation that's a good idea. When this is posted, there will be discussion. Do you have a Slashdot login?

Martin: I do not have a Slashdot login but I feel bad about that, and so as of tonight I will have one. Will it cost me any money?

Roblimo: It will cost you just as much as Debian Linux and all the software on my desktop.

Martin: Oh that'll cost me a lot of money to manage and maintain but... Robin, Oh no, no, you can leave it alone. It just works (laughs) In other words it will cost you nothing.

Martin: No problem. So I will get a Slashdot account tonight.

Roblimo: I'm saying you're absolutely welcome to jump into the discussion, and I think your participation will be very valuable.

Martin: Got it.

Roblimo: So, thank you so much for your time. This has been, as always, a pleasure.

Martin: Ok Rob, thank you so much, and I apologize for taking so long to do this and I look forward to maybe doing it again. Ok?

Roblimo: I love it.

Martin: Ok, thanks. END

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627 comments

The reason he answered by phone (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678214)

His Windows PC crashed.

Re:The reason he answered by phone (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678292)

How so? Did he try out Linux? Maybe Knoppux or some other crap.

Linux is not ready for the desktop. Its TCO is much too low for graphical applications.

michael is audi 5000! Time to par-tay! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678221)


It pleased me greatly to see him finally get the boot. It took a while, but hurrah.

LOL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678222)

OMG Micro$loth ate my balls!

2nd post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678227)

and M$ still sux.

Woo Haw!

Question (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678228)

What special technology do you guys use to get IE to render Slashdot properly (and consistently?) I'm sure the guys at Mozilla would love to get their hands on that.

MP3 of the call? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678263)

Like shouldn't it be in the latest/greatest WMA format... requiring 50MB DRM-patch^H^H^H^H Free Media Player, 5 reboots and credit card submission to get the "license"?

Re:MP3 of the call? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678279)

It was a compromise. Microsoft would say WMA, the Slashdot OS purist would say Ogg Vorbis. So they went with mp3.

Re:Question (3, Funny)

halivar (535827) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678366)

It's called "Handling Broken Slashcode Technology(tm)". I hope it's patented.

Re:Question (2, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678520)

It's called "Handling Broken Slashcode Technology(tm)". I hope it's patented.

I had a major beef with some auction tool people used on eBay for a while, which left off closing tags and broke tables, etc. Granted I make a typo myself now and then by leaving the / off my closing tag and an entire post is in italics, but it's still readable.

I noticed IE was somehow able to resolve the ebay posting breaks, possibly by recognizing an end to a section and realizing some things needed to be resolved and filled them in as best it could.

Of course the dork sellers would say something like, "looks ok to me in my browser", to which I'd reply, "sure, but it doesn't work for other browsers. are you willing to forfeit sales because of this?"

The answer Microsoft would be proud of: "you should stop using your browser and use IE"

Re:Question (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678665)

The answer Microsoft would be proud of: "you should stop using your browser and use IE"

Sounds ok to me. Firefox is anal, IE is fault-tolerant. Every CS-student is taught that fault-tolerant programming is good.

You jest, however (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678591)

This is one of the very few areas that IE is better at than Firefox: handling broken code. IE does a very good job at figuring out what someone actually intended with the broken code and rendering it well. It's one of those thigns that ought not to be necessary, since veryone ought to check their code, but is quite nice in reality.

I still recommend Firefox over IE, since broken code that screws up isn't that big of a problem and teh other benefits of Firefox more than make up for it, but it is something that IE genuinely does a better job of.

Re:You jest, however (4, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678689)

It's one of those thigns that ought not to be necessary, since veryone ought to check their code, but is quite nice in reality.

One possible quibble about this: sometimes you don't want broken things to "work properly". I know this will sound silly to some, but for certain things and in certain instances, it's better for broken things to be broken.

I used to work with Martin Taylor (2, Funny)

CreamOfWheat (593775) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678238)

He is a really funny and brilliant guy. He does have a really nasty habit of picking his nose in public and eating the booger. This really grossed people out at meetings. Still a wonderful guy!

Re:I used to work with Martin Taylor (1)

LinuxGeek (6139) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678582)

Hmmm, that kind of relates to him using all MS apps to protect his system from spyware, you know "eating your own dog food".

MP3 of the call (4, Funny)

starphish (256015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678245)

I think you should have made the file an AAC out of spite. Or, maybe a WMA out of deep admiration for Microsoft.

It makes you wonder... (3, Funny)

OECD (639690) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678303)

Instead of emailing your questions to Martin, we did this interview by phone

What, Outlook acting up again?

Re:It makes you wonder... (1)

Orion442 (739483) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678338)

And the Funniest Post of the Month Award goes to....OECD! Seriously, co-workers must be thinking I've finally snapped.

I realise that's a joke, but (2, Insightful)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678643)

I don't know whether it was intentional, although I suspect so, but it gives the impression that the answers aren't being filtered by a crew of PR specialists.

Re:MP3 of the call (1)

indigeek (755687) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678486)

The format does not matter. I think this is a test to see if they can slashdot slashdot.

Can't talk publicly? (2, Insightful)

Tet (2721) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678246)

No, I'd say as I read last night, there were some that we probably can never talk about publicly because... (both laugh) which was fine. But I have their names and emails myself so I can answer them.

Does the very fact that you can't talk publicly about some of this stuff not strike you as odd? Are Microsoft so unsure of their stance on particular subjects that they can't discuss it in a public forum?

Anyway, since you're apparently going to be reading this, can you answer my question [slashdot.org] ?

Re:Can't talk publicly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678311)

Does the very fact that you can't talk publicly about some of this stuff not strike you as odd?

Uh, no. Because I have a job. There's nothing unusual about what he said.

Re:Can't talk publicly? (5, Insightful)

Hanzie (16075) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678429)

As a representative of a major company, he can bring down lawsuits for whatever he says. There are plenty of lawyers reading whatever he says, looking for an opening.

So yeah, there are definetly things he can't talk about publicly, like Xbox2 launch dates, pending litigation (everybody has pending litigation). Then there will be other stuff that he won't even know about -- MS is a big company.

Personally, I'm releived that we've actually got somebody with a voice in MS who certainly appears not to be a dick. It gives me some hope.

I'd really like to know if it is conceivable that MS would actually offer a "Windows" window manager to run atop linux. No reason they couldn't, and I'd sure as hell buy it for the windows boxes I have to run at work.

20KB/s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678260)

On my (well, almost) 100Mbit/s connection slashdot gives me 20KB/s!
Slashdot slashdot!

My question (0, Troll)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678261)

I had a doubleedge sword question that never got asked.

How long did you run Linux in the office? If he said temporary then he's not in a position to judge Linux, since he's a noob. If he said a long time, then it's got to be better than windows.

Re:My question (4, Insightful)

TheCabal (215908) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678447)

What? n00b opinions are somehow considered invalid? n00bs, my friends, is exactly what Linux needs or it will die.

Re:My question (4, Insightful)

Paladin128 (203968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678615)

Regardless of whether Linux gets the n00bs, it will live on for quite a while. Why? Because it's really useful in a lot of niche environments, very flexible and customizable, and great for us geeks that just want a computer to work the way we want it to.

Who's developing it? The geeks. Who gets the most use out of it? The geeks.

That being said, unless someone comes up with a distro that can provide just as good of an end-to-end user experience than Win32 or OSX can, it won't catch on for the home desktop. Corporate desktop is another matter; if you have a farm of cubes full of accountants, secrataries, telemarketers, or anything else that has needs to be met by OO.o and Mozilla, LTSP is a seriously viable and cheap and easy option that a number of companies have already jumped onto.

Re:My question (1)

lowe0 (136140) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678564)

You know, part of being a fair and impartial interviewer is avoiding exactly this sort of trap question.

Important Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678276)

Do you think what Gates did was blackmail, extortion, cohersion, or all three?

Re:Important Question (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678717)

Cohersion - when someone is forced to do something they don't want to do, but manages to pull themselves together.

Martin Taylor (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678287)

I for one hail our new overlord Martin Taylor.

Oh come on....somebody had to say it.

'We back our product' (1, Insightful)

tonsofpcs (687961) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678315)

He basically is saying that MS backs Windows, and when given the example from the EULA that says they don't, he just starts trolling on linux, saying the 'makers' don't back it. He's never posted on usenet or used irc, has he?

Re:'We back our product' (1)

fucksl4shd0t (630000) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678673)

He had a good point, every single EULA you read, no matter *who* it comes from, says something to that effect. He didn't specifically troll Linux, either, he trolled RedHat and SuSE, which he also mentions are the ones they see being deployed in large (read: competitive) deployments.

Consider it something of a complement, he's accepting RedHat and SuSE as peers. And he had a good point.

When you get right to it, if they said "This product is supposed to do [this]" and it doesn't, they'll get sued and it'll likely be a frivolous lawsuit. The action we want taken on this matter shouldn't come from Microsoft, we need the FTC looking at software.

Re:'We back our product' (3, Interesting)

cooldev (204270) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678702)

I'm certainly not a lawyer, but I think the overall point is that EULAs are written in that way because companies do not want to make a guarantee that their software is fit for any given (or specific) purpose.

This says nothing about the actual or attempted backing: if I release a piece of freeware I wrote in my spare time, and stick the same EULA on it that Windows has, Windows still has better support. End users can trust that Microsoft is going to going to actively support that OS through it's planned end of life, but I may never answer a single email or release a single update or patch for my freeware app.

In other words, EULAs are simply a necessary evil in our overly-litigious society. You need to look at companies' actual track record to predict the level of support you're likely to get. Depending on your situation and personal opinion you will have a different opinion whether OSS-style or MS-style support is better, but it's all about the track record, not the EULA.

Re:'We back our product' (2, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678714)

This isn't really true. The terminology in the EULA is legal boilerplate that is common in almost ALL commercial software. I've seen the same crap over and over, even in situations where it doesn't apply at all -- like hardware drivers.

Terms and phrases like "merchantability", "fitness" and "suitable" have specific legal meanings that don't necessarily mean what the common man think they mean. It is like the idiots trying to put stickers on textbooks saying evolution is just a "theory" and not knowing the *actual* definition of "theory". (Hint: Electricity and Gravity are both "just theories".)

He was just waffling around saying "the entire industry has been fucked by the lawyers" because it wasn't polite.

-Charles

Well done (5, Insightful)

tehshen (794722) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678316)

I admit I only skimmed, but I'm actually pretty impressed about how Martin Taylor handled an interview with the world's greatest mass of Microsoft-haters - specifically, without lying or resorting to their usual business tactics to justify themselves. Good interview!

(Except, seemingly, for the answer about TCO. I didn't get that one)

Re:Well done (3, Insightful)

StateOfTheUnion (762194) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678390)

I think that he handled the interview well because he knew his audience . . .

/. readers are more resistant to Microsoft FUD than the average joe . . . I'm sure that was in Martin's mind during the interview.

Having said that, I would still agree that it was indeed a good interview overall.

Re:Well done (4, Insightful)

arkanes (521690) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678398)

There was a lot of spin. The guys really good. He wriggled out of the TCO thing by pointing out that the TCO studies only address a specific scenario, which is true, but it's hardly how they're presented in the literature. He came very close to admitting that the marketing literature is crap and shouldn't be taken seriously, which we all know, but would be interesting to hear.

He squirmed a lot on the disclaimer of fitness thing, too. He's totally correct that pretty much all software (OSS included) makes this disclaimer, but he didn't really adress the issue that the barrier of responsibility is much lower for something thats provided gratis than for a commercial product.

Re:Well done (5, Insightful)

Erbo (384) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678435)

Well, all I can say is, if Microsoft were completely populated, or even majority-populated, by people like Mr. Taylor, Robert Scoble, and Raymond Chen, I would have substantially more hope that "peaceful coexistence" between Microsoft and the open-source community would be in fact possible. I thought Taylor sounded open-minded and willing to listen and learn, not just launch missiles of Redmond rhetoric. Good job for all concerned!

Re:Well done (5, Interesting)

bheer (633842) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678565)

In my experience, MS devs have uniformly been bright and competent and so have their developer relations teams (including evangelists).

The bad apples are the enterprise sales teams. Their policy is to milk each customer for what its worth, and as a result you _cannot_ get honest pricing answers out of them. (To be fair, other enterprise vendors -- bar Sun's new licensing -- are as bad or worse, but MS has to deal with the added stigma of bad press every other day).

Re:Well done (2, Insightful)

Erbo (384) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678634)

So, it's "engineering good, sales & marketing bad?" Sounds like most companies out there (pretty much the Dilbert stereotype). Of course, MS' size magnifies the effects of both.

Re:Well done (5, Insightful)

El Cubano (631386) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678475)

I admit I only skimmed, but I'm actually pretty impressed about how Martin Taylor handled an interview with the world's greatest mass of Microsoft-haters - specifically, without lying or resorting to their usual business tactics to justify themselves. Good interview!

Not only that. He gave the impression, especially for a non-technical guy, that Microsoft is very methodical and serious about how they evaluate their competition. I am not talking about the "club them over the head" approach. I am specifically talking about the "several hundred" Linux servers they run. The evaluations of usability and features that they do.

I enjoy a good MS bashing as much as the next guy, but I think this really shows that the Open Source movement has truly begun to achieve one of its stated goals: better software. Whether you use F/OSS (which I think is better), or MS products, the quality is proving because of the competition. Top it off with MS lowering their proces to compete with "free" and there is no denying that everyone wins in this situation.

Re:Well done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678697)

Plus, I particularly like this interview because of the fact that it was a spoken interview, it was harder for him to wriggle out of answering things and there was elaboration that you don't get with the 'send them the questions, wait for the answers' method which slashdot favors.

Huh ? (5, Funny)

improfane (855034) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678336)

"And today the spyware product that I've downloaded is also a free beta"

Most spyware is free ;)

Re:Huh ? (4, Funny)

P-Nuts (592605) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678438)

"And today the spyware product that I've downloaded is also a free beta"
Most spyware is free ;)

Yeah, but the Total Cost of Ownership is much higher than with commercial spyware.

Re:Huh ? (1)

dpille (547949) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678590)

Most spyware is free

Then how do spyware companies make any money?

Volume.

Finally, a situation where the old joke actually makes sense.

Great interview (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678363)

I thought Martin would be far more ...er... Microsofish than he was. He seem quite honest about most of his answers.

Re:Great interview (1)

fucksl4shd0t (630000) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678713)

Disclaimer: I've been a Microsoft-hater since the early 90s.

If you've been paying attention :) (which I haven't), Microsoft is in an interesting stage of development. They're losing their centration problem. So they're about to enter the concrete operational stage. They've probably got about another decade or so before they'll have completely grown up.

Meanwhile, much of the public face of open source software still has it's centration problem and therefore egocentrism.

Why aren't there more comments? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678368)

Are people actually reading the article?

Re:Why aren't there more comments? (1)

JaxWeb (715417) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678436)

Because there isn't much to bash him about, I guess?

He actually did give good answers. And the sound file meant we didn't even have to bother reading what he said!

Goodness, he's so friendly! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678369)

I want to sit down with him over a cappucino and then stick a sharp object into his rectum.

Fucking Larry King style softball questions (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678375)

Here's the real question: why can't Microsoft, with all its billions, produce anything but Byzantine piles of virtual bullshit? They are personally responsible for the personal comuting experience being miserable, and the Internet just a medium for worms and viruses and other shit that.

I just had to force quit the Task Manager! The Tasl Manager! The progam you usually use to quit some other malfunctioning pile of baboon jism passing itself of as software. Why in the year 2005 do I have to do that? FUCK MICROSOFT AND THEIR STRESS GENERATORS!

I went to delete a shortcut to a directory on a server that was no longer available. The machine froze for five minutes whie it did... what? Was it checking for the server? Why the flying fuck at a rolling donut would it do that for a shortcut that I am DELETING?!

FUCK MICROSOFT, THEIR SHIT PRODUCTS AND THOSE THAT GOBBLE MS DICK.

Re:Fucking Larry King style softball questions (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678483)

Come on, tell us how you REALLY feel.

one you know to many (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678404)

Could he, you know, say 'you know' any more frequently? An interesting yet infuriating interview, simply because of his stupid speech impediment.

Re:one you know to many (1)

lintux (125434) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678574)

+1 Insightful.

I think the transcription of the interview could've been a lot better. Without the "you knows", and it'd probably also be nice to cut out the repeated questions and things like that. If I want to know exactly how the call was, I'll download the MP3... When reading I don't need that kind of irrelevant things...

But having said that, quite a nice read indeed.

The kinder, gentler Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678408)

Featuring Martin Taylor, Bob Scoble and their "dialog" with the Open Source community. While the executives who really want to get ahead in MS have to pull some macho stunt bashing open source developers in the press.

Correction needed (4, Funny)

beacher (82033) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678420)

"I look at the work that we've done with Services for Unix that allows us to integrate with Unix to Linux environment"

You mispelled assimilate....

They should've used OGG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678427)

for true geekdom. Would sound better, I guess, too.

One aspect distresses me... (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678443)

It was a pretty good interview. But one aspect of the whole thing distresses me - Martin admits he's not a very technical user. Yet he is in charge of directions to probe and determining what facts to spread.

I just really think that if you are going to have someone in a role to do a comparison right, you really want a person with deep technical understanding in that role to really understand any comparison at a deep level.

And more fundamentally, I just have trouble believing that anyone working for a company can produce a study that is truly useful to external companies for evaluation. At some level you are subconsciously supporting your company, and that comes into documents you produce... also I think it would tend to lead to a slant of trying to find the weak areas in your own products that could be addressed more immediately than long-term.

An example of that is the whole spyware scene. Microsoft sort of addresses that by saying "Look, there is a free solution now in terms of patches and this other spyware program we bought". But it really doesn't answer the deeper question as to what a roadmap might look like to take people to a world where lots of people do not run as admin, and things like ActiveX are simply turned off to start with.

Best interview in a while (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678458)

The guy has a point, it is a sad state of affairs when we're suprised (at least I was) to see such reasonable responses and banter from a Microsoft employee. I don't know if it's because we want to hate them, but certainly there is a sort of pervasive feeling that they are a bunch of ignorant assholes. This is probably primarily because of their bullshit TCO studies that set up straw men in order to make nonsense assertions. I don't care WHAT he says about his TCO comparisons, it's a bunch of horse crap. Assuming you didn't get hit with all kinds of malware, it's either because you have your systems locked down so far it's hard to do real work, or because you spent a bunch of time and money locking down your network and everything that comes into it. With Linux or any other non-Windows OS, it's a non-issue. You just don't have the kinds of problems you have on Windows. Whether that's technical or simply because there are more Windows boxes and thus more interest is a matter for debate which cannot be solved without a thorough look through the Windows sources, but it's probably technical, and so the whole TCO thing is a bunch of crap. Talking about a total cost of security as if it were a separate thing serves only Microsoft.

Probably the best thing in the interview is when he talks about the ability to make what you want from Linux as a strength, and not a weakness. In the past there have been attempts to portray the fragmentation of Linux as a weakness but the fact is that the niche uses of linux do not devalue it any more than the niche uses of Windows, such as the Xbox.

I really hope that Mr. Taylor becomes a frequent slashdotter, at least insofar as he is capable of making comments that he doesn't have to clear with legal.

New compression scheme (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678466)

Can we please have a single character token for "You know".

egd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678471)

"I would say that many of the folks who participate on Slashdot are somewhat... viceral."
HAHA no shit Sherlock

*ahem* (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678473)

people try to position us as Microsoft versus open source [...] we don't view the world that way

*cough*bullshit*cough*

But I love everybody. (3, Interesting)

nikai (614442) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678490)

Martin: But I love everybody.

Actually, these were exactly the same words that Erich Mielke [wikipedia.org] used right before the Berlin wall fell. He was head of state intelligence and secret police in the German Democratic Republic. Being questioned about his actions by an angry crowd, he said:

"But I love, I love everybody..."

Re:But I love everybody. (2, Interesting)

Wudbaer (48473) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678692)

Might be that Mielke also said that, but the most famous one was the Romanian dictator Ceaucescu (sp?), also 1989, when he was approaching an angry mob of protestors from the balcony of his megalomaniac presidential palace. Didn't help him too much, only a short time later he was trialed and immediately shot together with his wife.

There's more (3, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678500)

Martin: Ok Rob, thank you so much, and I apologize for taking so long to do this and I look forward to maybe doing it again. Ok?

Roblimo: I love it.

Martin: Ok, thanks. END

Roblimo: And... we're off.

Martin: I love you, too. Rob.

Roblimo: I know. I know, Martin.

Martin: Kiss me, you magnificent fool!

Roblimo: Yes! Yes! Place your hands upon my heaving bosom.

(Smoochy and slippery sounds)

Chorus: Oh, my! This can't be good.

Dr. Lector: At this point, I shall make my escape. Mr. Talyor's liver will have to await my culinary skills another day.

Indiana Jones: Not so fast, Lector. I've got you covered. Hey! My revolver turned into a walkie-talkie!

Jar-Jar: Meesa tinkin dis universe not so well thought out. Laws, yes! M-O-O-N, that spells thought.

Meanwhile, the Xaat Fleet Of The Dead, a vast cluster of fifty thousand ships shaped like heiroglyphs that can drive sentient beings insane, drifted in orbit above the unknowing Earth. The Lord Commander Of Time Apocalypses sat brooding in his command cocoon as, pondering the planet's fate...

Only the surface of DRM? (3, Insightful)

NivenHuH (579871) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678527)

I kinda wish one of the questions drilled him on Microsoft's DRM strategy. I'd like to know what their 'official' motivation is for pushing DRM onto their customers, and whether they believe that intellectual property is more valuable than fair use...

*sigh* Maybe I'll hold my questions for the next 'ask slashdot'.. or .. maybe he'll email me! ;)

Interesting but utimately boring (0, Flamebait)

t482 (193197) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678528)

He is simply spouting the same stuff that Microsoft has been saying for quite a while.

Also I don't think the questions were hard enough. Not enough questions about their monopoly.

eg

1)If you went to a car dealer and bought a car for $30,000 and you found out it only cost the dealer $3,000 would you feel ripped off? If yes - isn't that what MS does with MS Office?

2) How do you feel about governments spending hundreds of millions of dollars on software in countries where a large percent of the population is homeless and hungry (eg Brazil). Wouldn't the governments be better off spending the money locally on support than importing software from the US?

3) What companies/products are highest on the MS radar? Oracle/IBM/SAP. If you could grind one competitor into the dust which would it be?

Re:Interesting but utimately boring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678580)

Oh, you are one of those "people can make money, but only how much I think is proper" people. Get a grip. Why would you feel ripped off because the dealer made a $27,000 profit or that perfume makers sell their products at prices 800% over their cost? You should make purchasing decisions based on the value you place on the product, not any other criteria.

Re:Interesting but utimately boring (1)

swimmar132 (302744) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678626)

Addressing the first question.... No, why would I buy the car in the first place if I didn't feel it was worth the money? And if I felt it was worth the money, why would I feel ripped off?

Re:Interesting but utimately boring (1)

jxyama (821091) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678668)

i can give you the answer for some of them...

>1)If you went to a car dealer and bought a car for $30,000 and you found out it only cost the dealer $3,000 would you feel ripped off? If yes - isn't that what MS does with MS Office?

first, no dealer would get the car for that cheap, when you include all the costs, not just physical costs.

>2) How do you feel about governments spending hundreds of millions of dollars on software in countries where a large percent of the population is homeless and hungry (eg Brazil). Wouldn't the governments be better off spending the money locally on support than importing software from the US?

depends on how much local support costs. importing a supported and established software can be more cost efficient. hunger and homelessness are as much social problems as economic problems. i don't believe simply channeling economic resources to those problems will eradicate them.

It's a long way... (1, Funny)

sjonke (457707) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678532)

...down to here. Good thing I've got my scroll wheel set to quintuple speed - a must have setting for any red-blooded slashdotter!

Welcome to Slashdot (3, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678533)

"Martin: I do not have a Slashdot login but I feel bad about that, and so as of tonight I will have one. Will it cost me any money?"

Charge for Slashdot? Only someone from Microsoft would think you could charge for a slashdot login :)

"Martin: Oh that'll cost me a lot of money to manage and maintain but... "
I have to had this if Martin is reading. We have both Linux and one Windows server and a bunch of XP desktops. The amount of time dealing with the Windows server vs the Linux servers is about the same. The difference is the Linux servers run our mail system, firewall, database server, and Subversion. The Windows box runs the accounting system. We find the Linux boxes to be a lot more useful and a lot more secure than the Windows boxs. We are a small company and not Google. Our next big dive into Linux will be for our new phone system. Not saying you are wrong but you do not have to be a Google to make Linux work well for you.

Martin came across much better than Roblimo (5, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678534)

I really applaud his obvious patience. After reading the questions and his anwsers it seemed that the pettiness was very one sided. It got to be a little silly when it came to the portions about malware/spyware/etc

As for the part about the TCO when looking at malware, virus, and trojans, too many people here ignore one major fact.

If you get enough people to use a product your going to have a large number of idiots in that group. It works this way in any large group of unrelated people (unrelated by trade/social group/etc). An example I like to use is a MMORPG. You can find many people who are great to play with but at the same time you are constantly having to deal with the effects the idiots and the exploiters have on your enviroment.

Simply put, with the widespread availability of Windows you are going to have many people who are too stupid to own a computer let alone use it.

I found the portions explaining integration versus interoperability a little light. While Martin made good in his replies I don't think the questions were phrased well enough to get the response that was hoped for.

The EULA comparison to cars was where I found Rob being truly petty. Apples and Oranges. Exceptions have to be made. When you sell something commercially you pretty much have to exclude yourself from claiming what it can do as someone will attempt to extend that meaning into realms it does not belong. This works the same in cars. That Jeep might imply by the fact it has 4-wheel drive that it would work in situations without roads. Yet I guarantee that the manufacturer has all sorts of warnings about how that isn't true. Again, people as well as corporations must protect themselves from idiots. Can we truly blame a corporation that doesn't try or are we to blame them for the fact they didn't try hard enough?

Quite straightforward... (1)

Tethys_was_taken (813654) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678538)

...but his replies on these two major questions (IMO) were very strange. I'm going to try to summarise his replies, please correct me

Q: Why do you never include the costs of fixing Security Problems in TCO studies?
A: We don't know how to calculate that cost. We would like suggestions.

Q: You claim an advantage of MS over Linux is accountability, but your EULAs say otherwise
A: Everyone does it. We're no different.

Although I applaud him for actually requesting suggestions from "the enemy", I was expecting better-informed answers(especially since he said he had read all the questions earlier.)

Re:Quite straightforward... (1)

swimmar132 (302744) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678651)

So, uh, he was supposed to go and research all the answers to every question that was raised here? He didn't know which questions in advance Rob was going to ask him, you know.

Wow (1)

swimmar132 (302744) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678553)

That's one of the straightest interviews from Microsoft that I've ever read. Good job to everyone involved.

One comment on the TCO... yes, the studies examine one particular scenario. But the ads that trumpet the TCO studies sure don't make that clear (that the study is for a couple specific scenarios and leaves out a large part of 'real ownership costs' that you'd run into in the real world).

No Antivirus???? (1)

cojsl (694820) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678555)

Martin apparently doesn't use anti-virus software (I'd bet he simply forgot about it though). Also, he dodges the "annual cost" part of the question: Roblimo: Next question, from ProteusQ, Slashdot user no. 665382. He's asking about protection against malware and he's asking you Martin Taylor, "What applications do you run to protect your windows license from malware (viruses, trojans, spyware, etc.) and what do you pay for this protection for a year? How does this cost compare to the costs incurred by other Windows users and compared to what you would pay for the equivalent protection offered in Debian?" Martin: Got it. So first of all I actually run, obviously, Windows XP. I run XP SP2. I also have downloaded the beta of the spyware product that we recently, one of our recent acquisitions, into a combination of XP SP2 and spyware product that I downloaded. That's pretty much how I protect in running both my desktop pc or my laptop I use here at Microsoft as well as the 3 PCs that I have in my house - a very similar configuration. Roblimo: How much would these add-on programs cost you? People like you and me, lets say, as a journalist, I too can get free software from anybody. What would it cost you as a regular user? Martin: Well today, XP SP2 is free if you're a genuine or a valid Windows XP user. It's just a matter of downloading. And today the spyware product that I've downloaded is also a free beta and we've not announced any pricing terms or plans for the product as of yet. So everything I'm using today is free. Roblimo: Ok. And this is all the protection you need? Martin: It's all that I have today and it has served me pretty well so far.

Reasonable (4, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678561)

He seemed reasonable to me. I agree that the aggressive, emotional discussion should be done away with. Linux wants to be something more than a hobbyists' passion, but it's still treated like one by its own users.

Some of the questions were rather silly. Rob asked him what he does about popups? Come on, SP2 has been out for what, over half a year now? When it came out, Slashdot ran about two articles a day on it. And he still didn't know it came with a built-in pop-up blocker?

I would have liked some meatier questions. Like what the guy thinks of some specific cases of Microsoft "business strategy" from the past or what weaknesses he sees in the Windows GUI.Instead, it was EULA this, EULA that. I think Slashdotters are the only people so worked up over EULAs, and it just bores me! Where are the questions on Longhorn and what they plan to accomplish with it? I don't care what Linux distro Rob uses or how his software didn't cost him anything, you know?

One Quote that Indicates that MS... (4, Interesting)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678566)

...sees things very differently from a lot of us:


Martin: I think a couple of things. One, you know, for the user who really wants to really tear things apart, do things on their own, build their own distribution, they really have, obviously, that level of source code access where they can do things like create a customized distribution with a very, very small footprint with only what they want and not a bunch of other things. You know, Linux is attractive to that class of a user. Linux is attractive to, let's say, Google - a large company that really wants to build a big server farm. They want to hire quite a few very talented engineers to really tune that on a daily basis and things of that nature. So I think that when you get to like specific niche areas and those areas where people really want to get deep on their own and take on a lot of that responsibility on their own, you know, I think Linux is attractive on those scenarios. And obviously that's where you see a lot of the market pick up on Linux on that basis as well.


Most of us here fall into this "niche". But I really don't think it's much of a niche, but more a growing segment of the IT industry. I would even go so far as to say the common home user. My current exploration of AMD Opterons for 64 bit computing in addition to clustering [sourceforge.net] and virtualization with projects like Xen [sourceforge.net] prove that the average home user is moving in this direction. People aren't interested in having plain old PCs that only have a two year lifespan at home anymore. It's inefficien[tt], expensive and limiting. Most home users want clusters with a centralized home application/file server that can suspend and restore virtualized sessions for high availability (HA). HA is not just for "geeks" anymore. After all, I'm not a geek, I'm a musician/artist and I'm working heavily with this stuff because it applies directly to my main interest which is using computers to make music and visual art. There aren't too many people these days that just want to buy a PC that can only run a handful of applications and wastes a lot of CPU cycles doing nothing. For the people who ARE interested in that, there is the Mac Mini (which is the best way to go in terms of being efficient).

MP3? (1, Funny)

3ryon (415000) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678577)

You can listen to an MP3 of the call, read the transcript (below), or both.

What no Ogg? Oh, I get it, proprietary software vendor -- proprietary software codec.

OK, so... (1)

SFA_AOK (752620) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678578)

Was it just me or... wait, y'see, here's the... because... yeah, because I think... Was I the only one who found the replies hard to parse in places? I get the feeling the MP3 will make more sense to me :)

Go figure... (4, Insightful)

spin2cool (651536) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678602)

Wow - you mean all Microsoft employees aren't corporate drones out to steal your money? Here's your proof, Slashdot.

And most of the thing that Martin says make a lot of sense. I definitely agree that Linux is still a niche product. For web servers, research institutions, and hardcore geeks, Linux may be the flavor of choice. Like it or not, though, Windows is still easier to use for most people.

This is partially due to market share (it's what people are used to) and partially because they've simplified and hidden key components that 90% of people will never touch. MS has also shown a lot of responsiveness in their efforts to get standards-compliance built into their browsers and their focus on increased security lately (now that the market demands it).

I sincerely hope that Linux becomes user-friendly, more widely adopted and makes a run at the market. I absolutely believe that free (as in speech) software is better. I just think Microsoft takes far too much crap around here for doing what all businesses do - playing the market and trying to make money.

Same old tactics (1)

winavr (793523) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678603)

The bigger issue that comes up of this accountability issue is around this notion of indemnification and protection. This notion of "Hey, I can tell any one of my customers, if there's any issue from an IT perspective, you know, patent, copyright, trade secrets..." Microsoft fully takes care of you and we extended all the way down to any end user where that wasn't a part of our normal EULA. As of November we made that change as well - EULA being in the End User Licensing Agreement.

Oh sure, Microsoft is now going to take care of you with regards to patent issues.

Meanwhile, they're still trying to patent everything in sight, and they'll still try and smash the (Linux) competition with patents.

And he says he wants everybody to stop being so visceral about the FUD thing.

Who cares about the TCO question, when they're still pursuing their same old tactics.

Disengenuous jumping through hoops answer (2, Informative)

spacey (741) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678617)

There's nothing in any of the linux licenses that says you can't take the license you're using, shut it down, decomission the system, format the drive, throw it out, and re-use that license on another system. You still have the same number of licenses for whatever linux you were running.

Now, I seem to recall that if a company bought a windows PC, and then wiped the drive and re-installed their windows build, which could have exactly the same or less software on it, MS demanded that they pay an additional license fee on top of the one that was paid for with the system, even though the net number of licenses in the organization had changed by excatly zero.

Is this guy aware of that?

-Peter

Dodged "Suitability" question (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678621)

You dodged the question about suitability for a particular purpose. The EULA specificall disclaims suitability of any purpose and you asked essentially, who would warrant suitability for every purpose? So here again is the question, in a different form.

Is there any single task for which you will claim that Windows (any flavor) is suitable? Will you warrant that in a legally binding manner as a paragraph in your EULA?

Gasp! It's all going to my head! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678625)

This is from your favorite Slashdot poster and mine, Anonymous Coward.

No, no ... please ... I'm just doing my job ...

Oh what, the heck; you guys love me! You really love me!

OpenOffice.org Firefox? (1)

midianus (727997) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678633)

Interereresting, Where can normal people get that?!

Re:OpenOffice.org Firefox? (1)

RedHatRebel0 (800752) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678656)

If you are asking where to get that software, just go to www.openoffice.org to get OpenOffice and www.mozilla.org to get Firefox/Mozilla/Thunderbird. You can also visit www.sourceforge.net for a ton more OpenSource applications for all operating systems.

SAMBA raises an interesting problem (5, Insightful)

ShatteredDream (636520) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678640)

For a long time my biggest problem with American politics is the fetish most American political pundits have with analogies, regardless of whether they fit. Analogies are easy because they allow someone to be a complete and total sophist, but do a fine job of concealing that point. Case in point: comparing cars to computers. They are different industries and have different needs. What works beyond the base level of "tends to work" for all industries is usually very different. For example: modern IT is built on near total interoperability. We need the ability for example to take a Windows file server and give file services to non-Windows clients or vice versa. With a car, unless you know what you're doing, there is absolutely no reason to mix and match car parts from several different vendors.

Protocols and file formats should belong to the customer, not the company that makes them. Instead of Microsoft having legal control over the Word format, I as a paying customer who has data in the format, should have total legal control over how I use the format. If I want to pay Sun to support OpenOffice to create a filter capable of moving my data around, Microsoft should have no legal say in this. File formats and network protocols are not products, they are amorphous ideas that define how we send and receive information from one computer or part of a computer to another.

And to be fair, yes I believe that if Microsoft wishes to they should have a legal right to reimplement the entire Flash file format for Windows Longhorn. My gripe isn't so much with Microsoft, but with the legal system that has effectively introduced and then systematically reinforced aggressive, nigh sociopathic behavior in corporations.

Let's face it, if Ballmer wanted to open up all of Microsoft's protocols and file formats, Microsoft would easily face a shareholder lawsuit. Why does the system give standing to a lawsuit over something so petty? The system should not only zap all control corporations have over their file formats and protocols, but shield them from shareholder lawsuits when the company freely lets others compete based on merit, not litigation-dodging finess. I am sick of these lawsuits where some pipsqueek sues a company under such pretenses. Do you own even a percentage point of the stock? I own stock in Wal Mart, but I don't lord that over the greeters.

It has generally been my experience that those who support software patents are willfully ignorant about the differences between software development and most other industries. They want to have it both ways, get to hold up the fast pace of innovation as a sign that capitalism works (and it does), but then they want to impose a legal regime that they know runs counter to the nature of that industry. Software patents would work if we weren't held by our balls by WIPO and had to give such large, "fair" patent durations to every industry, but instead could give them out based on the nature of the industry. And people wonder why I think the Senate needs an enema, the 17th amendment revoked and the every treaty (and the treaty ratification power itself) in the last 20 years revisited. More than 3 years for a software patent is a guaranteed way to make sure that the only innovators are lawyers whose rhetorical innovations keep the courts flooded with useless drivel and every would-be small company founder sleepless at night worrying that several years of hard work could get stolen by several months of frivolous (but well-financed) patent litigation.

Actions speak louder than words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678641)

Right here [slashdot.org] is everything you need to tell me about Microsoft's views on interoperability, fair competition, OSS software and "I'll break your face" business incentives.

Windows is just as good as Linux... (1)

Raypeso (851771) | more than 9 years ago | (#11678678)

Is all I ever hear from windoze fan boys. There are some problems with linux, and there are some problems with windoze. The only difference is that one is free and open and the other has a huge price tag. I think it's funny how windows fans always seem to forget how much that software costs.

MS really got their money's worth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11678699)

whey they hired that guy. He gave a rather good interview, and adressed everything that he was asked. Good on him, considering we slashdotters aren't the most sympathetic audience.
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