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Microsoft Trumps Google, Yahoo! R&D Budgets

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the just-because-they-can dept.

201

Rob writes to mention a Computer Business Review Online article on Microsoft's commitment to out-spend Google and Yahoo! on innovation in the coming year. From the article: "Microsoft Corp will spend over $1bn on R&D just in its MSN unit, for the fiscal year starting in July, chief executive Steve Ballmer told an audience of would-be advertising customers. The money, part of the surprise spending package that recently gave Microsoft's share price its biggest single-day drop in five years, comes as the company struggles to catch up to Yahoo! Inc and Google Inc in the search and online advertising market."

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What about that other big $$$ project? (5, Funny)

RevDobbs (313888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269681)

Nowadays everybody wanna talk [cbronline.com] like they got something to say
But nothin comes out [nickdenton.org] when they move they lips
Just a buncha gibberish [google.com]
And muthafuckas act like they forgot about Vista [google.com]

Re:What about that other big $$$ project? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15270127)

...

I didn't deserve to read that - what I ever do to you?

ROI? (4, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269682)

It's nice to know that MS will outspend Yahoo! and Google. However, isn't ROI a more important factor when it comes to things like this? I'm crystal-balling that MS will have the lowest ROI of the three over the next few years.

Re:ROI? (4, Insightful)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269754)

If you also notice, they are going to double spending from $500~ million on MSN to $1 Billion. I don't know many companies that believe they improve their performance just by doubling their budget. After you take into account just trying to rearrange the organization to accomodate that amount of growth can take several years.

This is just another organization that believes that if they throw enough money at a problem it will fix anything.

If you are a stockholder you are in for a wild ride for the next couple of years. Unlike a real rollcoaster, I would get sick from all the ups and downs!

Re:ROI? (4, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269878)

Poster wrote:

This is just another organization that believes that if they throw enough money at a problem it will fix anything.

Balmer believes if he throws enough chairs at a problem it will fix anything.

Microsoft Corp will spend over $1bn on R&D just in its MSN unit

That's a lot of chairs ... anyone buying stock in office furniture supply companies?

Google's press release in response... (2, Funny)

number6x (626555) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270142)

Googles press release in response...

"We are glad that Microsoft has made this commitment."
We at Google plan on spending less than 10% of what Microsoft does in the next year.
We also plan on more than doubling our revenue in the next year."

"Does Microsoft plan on doubling their revenue?"

Re:ROI? (1)

Quevar (882612) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269944)

If you are a stockholder you are in for a wild ride for the next couple of years. Unlike a real rollcoaster, I would get sick from all the ups and downs!

Yeah, but I don't tend to get sick on the rollercoasters that only go down....

Re:ROI? (1, Insightful)

hlh_nospam (178327) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270313)

This is just another organization that believes that if they throw enough money at a problem it will fix anything.

Well maybe, just maybe, I can finally get a job at MS...

Ok, just kidding. I would not fit in there anyway. I have way too much experience. The interview would be kinda like the one I had with Amazon -- when I saw that the interview team was composed entirely of children, I knew I did not have a chance.

Re:ROI? (5, Insightful)

jo42 (227475) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269847)

Bigger Budget != Better Product

Right On, Interguy (1)

Divide By Zero (70303) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269923)

Would that I had mod points for this.

Throwing money at a problem rarely actually fixes it. It's easier to increase a budget than to rethink your R&D priorities, come up with changes, and act on them. Spending more money typically just shows that you've acknowledged there's a problem and would like someone to think that you're committed to making it less of a problem.

Which, hey, could be the plan.

Re:ROI? (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270100)

Bigger Budget != Better Product So agree with this. Where I work the IT Staff for one department is embarrassingly incompetent. I am not saying that lightly, I don't think they can do the work. They had a project, bought up hardware, consultants, and bloated software to the tune of $380k. Nine months later it did not work and they brought me in. I looked at what they did, started from scratch and built it by myself for nothing running on a PC in three weeks using Open Source Tools. I think it is safe to say this as well. Lots of Money!=Result but Compenent people + adaquate funding==Result

Re:ROI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15270055)

MS can afford to do things like this because of the huge ROI on Windows and Office. Once those apps are developed, the only cost (besides updating and patching) is media and packaging. Huge margins on XP as it has been out for ~6 years and comes on almost all new PCs.

It's hard to assign ROI on projects like this that are more about gaining midshare than the technology itself. Without RTFA, I'm guessing a big chunk of the $1B is going to sales, marketing, partnerships, acquisitions, etc.

Re:ROI? (5, Insightful)

mschaef (31494) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270070)

This reminds me of an exchange between Thomas Watson of IBM and Seymour Cray of CDC:

"Last week Control data... announced the 6600 system. I understand that in the laboratory developing the system there were only 34 people including the janitor. Of these, 14 are engineers and 4 are programmers.. Contrasting this modest effort with our vast development activities, I fail to understand why we have lost our industry leadership position by letting someone else offer the world's most powerful computer." - Watson

"It seems like Mr. Watson has answered his own question." - Cray


It looks like that might happen again...

Re:ROI? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15270147)

I'm crystal-balling that MS will have the lowest ROI of the three over the next few years

Maybe, but why would this matter? MS are insanely wealthy remember, and it's real wealth, not stock market paper. I think the last projection I heard is that they could stop producing anything today and survive for a decade on liquid assets alone. If MS believe a research project has a chance of hurting a major competitor thereby helping them to dominate yet more markets in the long run, it makes perfect sense for them to pour hundreds of millions into it however low the ROI is because this is no money whatsoever to them.

Re:ROI? (1)

Azarael (896715) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270259)

The other point that has been proven again and again is that money doesn't buy talented developers or good ideas. Look how many competitors are throwing money and people into making a real Ipod competitor, have any of them had any real success?
All I see coming from this is MS bringing on more people and throwing more money at marketing and FUD, none of which has no guarantee of producing any 'Innovation'.

Input/Output (2, Insightful)

Kangburra (911213) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269684)

I guess they're hoping Vista does well then.

They just don't get it (1, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269742)

Those at Microsoft just dont't get it. One wonders: Did Google necessarily out-spend Microsoft in the beginning? Nope! They simply did what the masses liked. That was fast, unbiased results in a search result. To-date, Microsoft's search results on Linux are way biased toward switching to them.

May be some of that money be spent on licenses. This is because departments at Microsoft are treated and still treat each other as mini coporations. They bill each other for services.

Re:They just don't get it (4, Informative)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270208)

To-date, Microsoft's search results on Linux are way biased toward switching to them.

This is demonstrably false. To test it, I entered "linux" into search.msn.com and into google.com.

MSN's first page of results: linux.org, linux.com, kernel.org, Wikipedia's Linux article, Gentoo, IBM's Linux portal, Debian, Red Hat.
Google's first page of results: linux.org, Debian, linux.org.uk, kernel.org, Ubuntu, Mandrake, linux.com, Gentoo, Red Hat, Linux Format.

Pretty similar stuff. The fun is in the sponsored links.

MSN's sponsored link at the very top of the search results: Linux webhosting from webhosting.net.
Google's sponsored link at the very top of the search results: www.microsoft.com/getthefacts.

Re:They just don't get it (1)

nitrocloud (706140) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270310)

Okay, so does this mean that Microsoft's big campaign is to buy Google's advertisements? Has Microsoft admitted defeat already? Is their budget just meant to buy Google ads?

If Microsoft wins will the government beat them down again?

Rob from "Energy Business Review" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15269688)

Just happens to find a story from "Computer Business Review" that's been everywhere else already?

1bn dollar on search-based advertising? (4, Insightful)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269697)

Maybe they should first optimize the search, and then optimize the advertizing. It doesn't work the other way around, as people don't use search engines for the ads that are there.

As long as google's search engine is better, everyone will search there. On the other hand google's search engine is still far from flawless, so msn could do a nice job if they improved on that. When people will have an actual reason to use MSN search, advertizers will have a reason to get their ads there.

Re:1bn dollar on search-based advertising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15269799)

You must be using really obsolete software. I don't need to search for ads at all!

Re:1bn dollar on search-based advertising? (3, Insightful)

penguinoid (724646) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269931)

As long as google's search engine is better, everyone will search there. On the other hand google's search engine is still far from flawless, so msn could do a nice job if they improved on that. When people will have an actual reason to use MSN search, advertizers will have a reason to get their ads there.

Nonsense. Given the assumption that stupid people are more susceptible to ads, adverisers should pay a premium to advertise on bad search engines.

Outspend... on innovation... (5, Funny)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269702)

So who're they going to buy to get their innovation from then?

Rushes to set up a company "CS Innovation Ltd". A mere snip at $20 million.

 

Re:Outspend... on innovation... (1, Funny)

farker haiku (883529) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269827)

Don't worry gramps, they'll buy from you. Anyone with a slashdot user number as low as yours has to have seen everything under the sun ever invented as far as computers are involved.

I wish I was at MS... (2, Funny)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269707)

I can already see it now... multiple widescreen LCDs, macbooks and most ergonomical pens ever designed for everyone...

As we all know (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269708)

More innnovation is a direct result of spending more money on it.

Or, maybe that's just Microsoft 'innovation'. They certainly often seem to have a curious definition for that word.

Re:As we all know (1)

diegocgteleline.es (653730) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270183)

More innnovation is a direct result of spending more money on it.

I agree with your irony.

"Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it." - Steve Jobs

Sadly.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15269711)

Most of this R&D money won't be spent in order to make their products better, but to acquire broad-to-the-point-of-meaninglessness patents in order to prevent the competitors making their products better.

Re:Sadly.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15270088)

Hm.

I don't know. From what I've read over the past five+ years, I don't recall very many times that MS made a big deal out of patents... it's the other companies doing that to MS it seems like. And /usually/, it's something that MS has been doing for years...

Could I have missed something? Maybe.

from the (3, Insightful)

to_kallon (778547) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269712)

if-we-throw-enough-money-at-a-problem-it-will-go-a way department.

Re:from the (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15269826)

Is that the problem or the money that goes away?

Re:from the (5, Funny)

TheJediGeek (903350) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269905)

Is that the problem or the money that goes away?

Yes.

Re:from the (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269965)

if-we-throw-enough-money-at-a-problem-it-will-go-a way department.

Wake me up when they dedicate 20% of all their employees time to R&D.

Feel free to shoot me when Microsoft innovates something.

Rough Translation (2, Insightful)

kkovach (267551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269713)

We're not smart enough to innovate efficiently, so we're gonna spend gobs and gobs of money buying it! :-)

Imagine that... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15269722)

No big surprise there.

That said, I strongly suspect that those working for Microsoft work there for a paycheck -- nothing more, nothing less. Whereas those working for companies like Google love their jobs and really put the effort in -- in ways that can't be measured by hours or even "productivity". But I bet those differences has a very significant impact on the futures of both companies.

Of course, this assumes that their work environments match the reputations of the companies. That may not be a valid assumption.

Re:Imagine that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15270219)

I don't know. I think that if this is the case, it's probably only because of the work environment. I think pay is probably a fairly equal motivation for employees of both camps.

Essentially, from what it sounds like, working at Google is 'fun' (as long as you're capable for the job, they will make you comfortable so that you'll want to stay...) wheras working at MS is more of a competitive thing, sort of a 'hunt or be hunted' kind of affair (just judging from blurbs on blogs here and there).

Hm. So, moreso for MS employees, they are working to keep their jobs and get raises. Google employees are there BECAUSE they are capable and Google wants them ('cause Google gets pick of the litter apparently) so yeah, there's obviously alot of environmental factors at work on an employee.

It seems like that you would put more intangible effort into your job if you didn't have to quantify your work so much(problem at MS) wheras at Google it seems that the raw ability and innovation of an employee is the main concern rather than volume of output... anyway, this is all speculation for me. It could be very, very different. It just doesn't seem like it would be.

Big difference between "R" and "D" (3, Insightful)

GGardner (97375) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269728)

It would be better if software companies would break out Research from Development. Software ages so quickly that almost all software companies are continuously development new products. Research, however, is a different story. I'm guessing this 'R & D' for MSN is all 'D'.

Re:Big difference between "R" and "D" (1)

wan-fu (746576) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270078)

Microsoft is one of the biggest companies focused on 'R' - they have two major research labs: Microsoft Research (in Redmond) and a lab in Beijing. It's all Ph.D.'s and they are most definitely focused on research. While sometimes they have a product in mind, a lot of the stuff is pure research, very academic. They publish papers and often, their papers don't lead to products.

Meaningless (3, Insightful)

hanshotfirst (851936) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269730)

Outspending doesn't imply out-innovating. The most innovative solutions or ideas often result in (or are produced out of a need for) LESS spending.

Also, I've never considered it "innovation" when the primary business model is to copy other products' features and add a few pretty icons and obvious additions. I have yet to see a NEW idea come from Microsoft. I see a pattern of copying existing ideas, and integrating them closely with the OS so people ignore the original product since a good-enough version comes "free" with the OS.

Re:Meaningless (2, Insightful)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270200)

I have yet to see a NEW idea come from Microsoft

This sentiment drives me crazy. Frankly it has been my experience that almost nothing is a new idea! It is remarkable how often somebody comes forward to claim credit for some "innovation" after a company like Microsoft (or Apple, or Sun, or HP, or Google ...) does all the hard work and successfully brings the idea to the marketplace. The world is full of blue-sky types who sit around and pontificate, and then sit back and wait for someone else to do all the work, and then grab the credit. For my money, the hard part is the doing, not the original inspiration. And you certainly can't claim Microsoft hasn't brought to life many, many good ideas, be they their original ideas, or those of someone else.

As Edison said, Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.

Re:Meaningless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15270209)

And yet Microsoft sits on a $40 billion dollar reserve, despite all of your noted observations. They have ridiculous margins on their core businesses, so much so, that they can afford to sink billions into the xbox franchise and displace nintendo on their first try. they develop and design xbox live, which is now the prototype for online gaming - sony is quickly ad efficiently copying.

it's amazing that they are so successful given how much they seem to be fucking up. I'm curious as to how you account for this.

Common misconception (4, Insightful)

jarek (2469) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269732)

It is not the number of heads you hire that makes the difference, it's the creativity of each individual that counts. Common view by CEO's is that a certain problem requires so and so many people wich have a given set of buzz words on their CV.
If fact, what you need is to identify the creative (and unique) individuals and it does not matter how many people you have hired unless there is process in place in the company that identifies those individuals and gives them the lead.

Re:Common misconception (3, Insightful)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269906)

It is not the number of heads you hire that makes the difference, it's the creativity of each individual that counts.

It's not even that. Ideas are easy for creative people. It's implementing creative ideas that is hard.

It bet there are already lots of good ideas within Microsoft, trapped under the fat arses of the middle management.

Advertising is close to spam. (1)

gedeco (696368) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269735)

Does this mean that the next generation windows will exist in two flavors:
A cheap version with a lots of online spam and a expensive spamfree version?

Of course they will give it a more commercial name.

Seems Dvorak was right ? (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269743)

Isnt it ? While being a matter of jokes all around the world for delaying vista and the problems theyre having with it, they still pour lots of money for msn. who uses msn anyway ?

Re:Seems Dvorak was right ? (1)

Peter Bonte (919202) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269925)

Europeans use MSN but that can change real fast when a better product arrives in all the different native languages. Spending more money on it won't make the product better unless its in the advertising department.

Dvorak may have a visionary moment but i'm willing to go further, if MS loses a big chunk of net income out of Windows or Office (thats not an if but when) then they are stone dead.

Re:Seems Dvorak was right ? (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270039)

Oh well, they are in a critical point already. XP has gotten old, vista is being delayed much, and is not spoken about highly around the net - its said that not much change from xp. There is something stirring up in mac front, linux got too widespread, apache taken over iis in webserver lead and so on. Yea youre right. If ms does not do something good these days, the struggle will probably reach to a level ground for ms competitors at last.

Dear Microsoft stockholders, (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15269745)

Dear Microsoft Executives and Stockholders,

You cannot buy "innovation".

Love,

Reality

Re:Dear Microsoft stockholders, (0, Flamebait)

east coast (590680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269789)

You mean for all these years any company that has spent $$$ on R&D has wasted it's time and cash? Damn. I think you're onto something. This is truely an innovation in and of itself.

Attention all armchair businessmen! If big bucks on R&D was a waste companies wouldn't do it. If you had as much insight into this as you think you'd be the next one with the Bill Gates cashflow, not a pizza delivery monkey.

Re:Dear Microsoft stockholders, (1)

Plunky (929104) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270189)

Attention all armchair businessmen! If big bucks on R&D was a waste companies wouldn't do it. If you had as much insight into this as you think you'd be the next one with the Bill Gates cashflow, not a pizza delivery monkey.

IANAPDM but even I know that they didnt get that cashflow from innovation, they got it from luck and marketing and licensing of MS-DOS on *every* IBM PC that went out the door for years that got them the dominant market position no matter the quality of their product.

Yes, the cat got my tongue... (4, Funny)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269749)

Microsoft Corp will spend over $1bn on R&D just in its MSN unit, for the fiscal year starting in July...

That is an impressive figure to be sure but I still think it isn't enough to acheve world domination, why MS can't even develop a sealth fighter for that price let alone a whole fleet of Borg cubes fully armed, warp capable and sporting a giant Windows logo on each side.

This week's news around the NHL (1)

Are you a NIGGER (850302) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269767)

Flames fail it, losing game 7 to the Mighty Ducks @ Brokeback Saddledome

Mythical man money? (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269779)

Is this a case of Microsoft assuming they can throw vast amounts of money at any problem and solve it better than other people?

I mean, nine women can't have a baby in one month. Maybe, just maybe, the reason why Google is out innovating them is they either have smarter people, better development practices, or don't have a bunch of historical baggage of other products they need to slavishly support.

I guess from Microsoft's perspective, it's good to spend money on R&D. Hopefully they'll make better products, and at a minimum they'll probably get to write it off on their taxes.

In the long run though, I wonder if Google won't simply out-do them with fresh thinking, new ways of doing things, and a completely different business model than Microsoft. This may not simply be a matter of keep throwing vast amounts of money at the problem until it becomes easier.
    This may require some more fundamental changes.

Re:Mythical man money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15270232)

it seems if I'm not mistaken, a lot of the great things that have come out of google have been through aquisitions of start ups with great ideas and developers.

and I'm pretty certain that is what microsoft used to be.

Neither company has shown much innvoation that is completely internal. Maybe its just bill is getting old and not seeing those aquisition opportunities as early as the young guys are?

some links:
http://boakes.org/nasa-vs-google [boakes.org]

http://google.blognewschannel.com/index.php/archiv es/2006/03/09/google-acquires-writely/ [blognewschannel.com]

But then again, I'm not sure how gmail evolved, and I would say next to earth, its the best they have.

R&D? Is that 'buying other companies'? (1)

OwlWhacker (758974) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269780)


Microsoft seems to spend most of its time buying other companies these days. Is this classified as R&D?

Typical... (2, Insightful)

The_Isle_of_Mark (713212) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269783)

Microsoft throws money at its problems. Like most things in modern America more money usually means more success, right? Bully: I am going to beat you up. Geek: why? Bully: I am bigger than you and I can, that's why! Developers! Isn't Microsoft a software company?

Harness the Power (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269792)

"One is again harnessing the power of audience intelligence to get better ROI for advertisers," he said, "the second is to really do a better job to give you more complete control over the two separate marketplaces, because, as you know, search and contextual work in different ways."

Instead of coming up with the next search engine, create something entirely new to computing. You have the money, power and capability to do anything you want, let's see some real computing innovation. Start with new software. Go into better gaming hardware/software, build the next useful application - Whatever. Once you draw an audience to your websites, you harness your ROI automatically.
Suggestions for R&D:
New, Lighter, Less Expensive Secure Operating System
New Cool & Useful Technology/Hardware to digitize your home, incorporate all your digital gadgets, gaming, GPS, Remote access, etc.
New (not monolithic blue) Websites to provide free services & reviews (you actually will use) with minimal ads (see Google Earth, wikipedia, download.com)

Re:Harness the Power (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269949)

New, Lighter, Less Expensive Secure Operating System

Already done by some bastard from Finland, I'm told.

New Cool & Useful Technology/Hardware to digitize your home, incorporate all your digital gadgets, gaming, GPS, Remote access, etc.

Microsoft keep trying for this, hence Media Center. But it seems most people don't really WANT all their gadgets incorporated. Jack of all trades and master of none, and all that. Better to have one device to record TV, another to browse the net, another to play music... it's simpler that way.

New (not monolithic blue) Websites to provide free services & reviews (you actually will use) with minimal ads (see Google Earth, wikipedia, download.com)

Precisely. Already done by other people for free. How would it benefit MS to try to compete here? There used to be a Microsoft-run satellite imaging site; Google Earth has crushed it to such an extent that I can't even remember what it was called! MS's goal might be to integrate such services into Vista, however, to such an extent that the user doesn't notice they're coming over the internet - and thereby crush Google et. al. in their traditional way. Extend the desktop monopoly into yet another field, and bullshit the antitrust courts like before.

Re:Harness the Power (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270005)

Already done by some bastard from Finland, I'm told.

you meant already Finnish'd

Money as a constraint (3, Interesting)

blenderking (324269) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269795)

I like the approach 37 Signals [37signals.com] takes in discussing constraints. Microsoft has all the money in the world, so to speak and perhaps that's a hindrence to them actually. There was an article a month or so back about that fact that Apple spent so little on R&D relative to revenues and some critics thought this was a big problem (like what's next after the Ipod?) R&D spending as a % is meaningless - it's how it's spent - the objectives, the creativity, the entrpeneriual spirit that matters. Google's mandate to spend 20% on your own projects is a great example of the right kind of spirit and probably costs the company little. Theoretically, Microsoft should be cleaning up in any market they enter just be throwing enough money at the situation. And that, is the core of the problem - thinking that way doesn't put a contraint on making the most of human capital. They have unlimited money and unlimited time - they're not being forced into making the best decisions (except of course, when they feel real competition - that seems to be their only real motivator...)

Happy Cinco de Mayo! [blenderking.com]

Re:Money as a constraint (2, Insightful)

electroniceric (468976) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270246)

You're on to something, but I don't think it's just the money. While a big influx of capital and corresponding big expansion is almost always hard to pull off, Microsoft has several other factors that squelch a really exploratory culture. First of all, there's the slavish devotion to the Windows platform - everything at Microsoft must ultimately drive revenue on the Windows platform. That's due to their fundamental formulation of attracting developers by building tools around the Windows platform, rather than around some domain of tasks and. Google is not built on browser or not-browser or any language, framework, or toolkit - it's built on search. Unless Windows Live really deeply gets this, R&D dollars will almost certainly fail to change Microsoft's course. Then there's the slavish devotion to backwards compatibility - it definitely keeps their platform alive. And finally, because of their vast visibility (security-wise, DOJ), the culture has evidently become very process-oriented, and it's hard to be exploratory in that environment.

Microsoft has many very, very smart people working for it, but it is fundamentally a business-run company and not an new paradigms company. Their problem is neither lack of money nor lack of smart people to do "R&D" - it's that their leadership has refused to change the fundamental course of the company. Until they do that, "investments" are moot. Probably the easier thing for Microsoft to do would be to try to subtly shift their business model from being the Wal-mart of business computing to being a higher-margin, enterprise-focused software vendor like Oracle or SAP. With their capital and market reach, their odds look rather good in the ongoing consolidation of that space. As long as they try to merge the consumer space with the enterprise space by tying both to the Windows platform, they'll continue to lumber more and more slowly.

I know it is SOP here to... (1)

bealzabobs_youruncle (971430) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269797)

assume MS can't do well at anything, but the search results on Live are comparable and in a few cases were more accurate than what I was getting with Google. I've tested against all 3 players with the same searches and I would call Live and Google a tie, while Yahoo probably delivered the least relevant results from my very informal test. You can shrug off MS all you want, hitory shows when they want something bad enough they will get it.

Re:I know it is SOP here to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15270015)

Hmmm, yes but it only seems to work with IE...Utterly useless

Re:I know it is SOP here to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15270271)

Umm.. No. search at live.com works fine in firefox. and that endless scrollbar rather than constant page clicks is da bomb.

Outspend? (5, Insightful)

19061969 (939279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269806)

They'll do even better when they start out-thinking their competitors.

They've been outspending Apache for years in the webserver market. What are their respective market shares again?

yeah that's nice, but (1)

darth_linux (778182) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269813)

$$ != innovation more $$$$$ != more innovation you can't just throw money at (a larger set of) developers and expect cool stuff to spring out.

Re:Oh boy (1)

qbproger (467459) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269823)

Why does microsoft feel the need to get into this market? They are a software producer... Why even bother with advertising? Why not spend the billion dollars on IE and Vista?

Re:Oh boy (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270003)

Why does microsoft feel the need to get into this market? They are a software producer...

Because they are obsessed with software as an Internet service. At the moment it is a battle mainly for power and control, but it is, ultimately, intended to transform software from an item "sold" into a continuing revenue stream from use.

He who has the power and control will get the revenue stream.

"But customers don't want that; and with large HDs and OSS don't need it," I hear you cry, "and what has all of this got to do with turning into an advertising company anyway?"

Ahhhhhhhhh, Grasshopper, shift your point of view and see things behind the veil of illusion. You are still thinking of yourself as the customer and Office as the content to be delivered to you over the net, for a fee.

Microsoft now views the advertiser as the customer and is putting their research dollars into ways to deliver content to them, for a fee.

And what is this content that the advertisers desire?

You my pet. You!

Happy surfing.

KFG

Outspending guarantees nothing (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269844)

Google does some pretty fun and interesting things with their company culture. I can't imagine Yahoo! instituting anything similar without a huge change in management. I could be totally wrong on this since I haven't heard anything about Yahoo's company culture, but given Yahoo's affiliations, I can't imagine being too wrong about it.

Yahoo! is officially "old news" as far as I'm concerned. I can't imagine what could make them new again. Google, at least for now, has more 'youth' on its side and whatever they are doing is working for them. Microsoft and Yahoo will need to study Google to figure out why they are so successful rather than simply spending money doing more of what they have been doing which is failing to improve their success.

Frankly, as has been observed before, Microsoft is a little out of control with their attacks into areas they don't belong. They would do far better to shore up their core products and find a way to make them "NEW" again. People have already caught on to the idea that Microsoft has been releasing the same product with file format changes and new colors of the same bells and whistles that were already there. Vista is a dressed-up XP and the newest office isn't really all that different or more useful than OfficeXP, let alone 2003 which isn't all that better than Office97 come to think of it. For most people, Microsoft's game is just about up.

size! (2, Funny)

lovebyte (81275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269852)

It's not the size that counts, it's what you do with it.

Spend wisely... (1)

jtcedinburgh (626412) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269857)

Spending more than Google, etc., else matters for little if Microsoft don't spend wisely...

I'm not so sure that wisdom is necessarily something Microsoft has quite so much of, however...

Can't Resist... (1)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269863)

oh, oh its like 1989 all over again, the competetive spending, the silly technology built merely to demonstrate intellectual muscle , the ideologies in struggle... can't resist...

"Mr Gates, tear down that firewall"!

I wonder if there will be a coup attempt @ microsoft? (or google for that matter).

Carrying the metaphor to another extreme, I wonder if a heirarchical organization could spring up inside Google - the way modern Christianity overpowered the more decentralized Gnostic-style versions?

Live = micropayments? (1)

Quetzo (753720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269871)

... I dunno, I think MSFT might actually be doing something really visionary this time.

I bet that Live services might actually usher in the era of micropayments and on-demand access to the largest online marketplace for software, games and tools... with Microsoft as the gatekeeper. Add to that the ability to have full control on the support/upgrade cycles on business applications and complete knowledge of what users use their PCs for... this could really be a goldmine.

While the concept has existed for some time, its really nice to see a major software vendor bet this much capital to actually realize it.

How do you rate their chances of success with this?

Microsoft spends a lot of money. (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269895)

In other news: grass is found to be green, water retains qualities of wetness, sky exhibits blue qualities, and your grandmother's rhubarb recipe is not as good as you remember it.

R&D won't pull Ballmer's head out of his ass (1)

j0e_average (611151) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269902)

Once, ``I'd say developers, developers, developers, developers, but not any more, baby; it's advertisers, advertisers, advertisers,'' Ballmer said at an Avenue A client meeting in March in Florida, while running around the stage and punching the air.

Money does not equal (or generate) ideas! (1)

woohootoo (904621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269909)

MSFT just doesn't get it, do they?

What *does* an R&D budget contain? (1)

JumpingBull (551722) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269915)

The cynic in me is saying:
" Oh, and I suppose that legal costs are covered within an R&D budget also? How much of this is actually going to be used for development, as opposed to turf defending legal action by measures such as:
  • legal challenges to libre software IP
  • submarine patents to kill libre software initiatives
  • legal harrasment and intimidation of libre software developers
  • lobbyist activities in political parties and governments
  • poisoning the well for libre software in China
  • support of centeralist, autocratic and totalitarian regimes for monitoring citizens and suppressing privacy, freedom of speech and freedom of association
"

Shifting priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15269917)

"We have told our R&D folks that our number one priority, number one priority is software as a service," Ballmer said.

Well I guess the focus on security as priority #1 didn't last long then. Wonder if the new top priority will do any better.

Taking bets... (1)

not already in use (972294) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269922)

How much longer until Steve Ballmer is canned? His google penis envy is gonna be the death of MS.

Microsoft becomes (the old) IBM (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269945)

I remember reading an interview with Bill Gates many years ago when he said he never wanted Microsoft to become IBM, by which he meant he never wanted to become a big slow moving company full of suits. Any body remember the article in question? Would be nice to read again in the light of what Microsoft has become...

Remember when IBM stumbled badly and it took everyone by surprise? I wonder when the crash of Microsoft will be heard. My guess is we've still got about five years to go...

I will say one thing for MS, (1)

Fengpost (907072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269968)

Well, at least they have the guts going out with their guns blazing then die a slow painful death!

Money isn't everything: developers x 3, remember? (1)

alucinor (849600) | more than 8 years ago | (#15269984)

But hasn't Google already pretty much hired up all the experts on search algorithms and data analysis in the world? Well, probably not _all_ of them, but the smartest, and MS is getting second pickings at best (though Yahoo probably knows this space better than MS). I haven't heard of any developer defections from Google to Microsoft -- rather, it's been the other way around.

So what if Microsoft has tons of cash? Money doesn't magically transform into innovation -- it takes brilliant people to do that. Microsoft has some brilliant developers in the OS and middleware spaces (as well as marketing and lawyers) but not search. That talent all works at Google and Yahoo now.

Not to mention a lot of the old UNIX, Internet, and Web gurus work there too: http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jul 2005/tc20050728_5 [businessweek.com] ...

Search is all about results, and it's not easy to fake and fluff over with marketing. And just being able to afford the infrastructure means squat if your algorithms are second-rate.

I don't know about you... (1)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270022)

but if they are going to spend the money they stole through their OS monopoly, I would by far prefer them to spend it on research than on price-dumping a game console. No I don't pay the microsoft tax, but really I do anyway, because my kids school pays it, my local government pays it, and my employer pays it.

Innovation? (1)

WhackingDay (967592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270038)

You keep using that word. I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Sounds like a big game of cards (1)

Galston (895804) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270042)

It all seems like a game of cards.

Microsoft, google and yahoo are all at the same table and MS has just raised its stake up to $1billion. Google and yahoo see sense and call. However in the end microsoft is screwed because they have been bluffing all along.

Re:Sounds like a big game of cards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15270285)

Microsoft is like those idiots on the online poker tables that go all in every hand. The rest of the table just sits back, waits for AA or KK, and takes their money.

Hmmmm (1)

GmAz (916505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270049)

Microsoft spends 1 billion on R&D for MSN alone while Google spends way way less than that for all its services.

Google comes out on top because they have a good product and reputation everyone wants.

Who really won here, the guy who had money to burn for nothing or the guy providing valuable resources and tools.

Its just common sense to me.

Microsoft R&D == Roach Motel (4, Interesting)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270123)

I've heard MS Research described as a roach motel. They employ *lots* of extremely talented people. But it seems that once they check in, they never check out. You see them at conferences and the odd paper trickles out, but they definitely tend to drop off the radar.

I've always wondered what happens to these formerly incredibly productive people. Are they stuck in bureaucratic hell? Are they working on stuff so far into the theoretical that products are years off? Or is it the ultimate cushy job and they just get fat drinking free snapple behind their closed door?

It's true they do surface from time-to-time (like Anders Hejlberg) so you know they are working on something, but this happens so rarely you have to wonder what the hell is going on in there. Why do they get such a lousy return from their huge R&D budget?

-ec

More to the point.... (1)

suman28 (558822) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270157)

Microsoft has spent billions adversiting all the cool new features that Vista would have, and after soo many years, it is nothing more than XP with new eye candy. This shows that, just because you spend millions/billions, you won't be able to deliver all that you promise.

And Boy Does It Show! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15270170)

This is a hilarious story... MS outspends everyone on R&D yet fails with every single attempt at innvoation... prehaps that explains the fact that MS outspends everyone... BECAUSE THEY HAVE TOO!!!! LOL!

Pavlov's dog (0, Offtopic)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270236)

Does anyone here every feel like you might be a human version of Pavlov's famous canine friend.
 
/. editor posts story: blah blah blah Microsoft blah.
/.er: foams at the mouth

Related headline (1)

Badlands (906315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270238)

"Titanic Buys Bigger Deck Chairs"

Won't solve the prob (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270309)

All the R&D spending in the world won't make you first at something that someone else is already first at. They should either completely spin off R&D so that the mother company doesn't interfere (so that development can go into uncharted waters), or sink that cash back into legal battles and just sue everyone for everything.

Priorities, baby! How will this effect the perks? (1)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270318)

Dont cut back on my Pro Club membership, keep that free stuff coming, baby! More valets, damn it! Who wants to stand outside in the rain for more than 30 seconds to get across the campus? They should be LINED UP WAITING FOR ME! My dry cleaning was late last week, forcing me to hang around until 5:03pm! This cant happen! If I dont use my air-miles, you should BUY THEM FROM ME! My corporate AMEX is starting to fade from excessive usage, so you'll be taking care of that, wont you babe? Platinum anyone? I'm getting a new Porsche next month, so what about that plan to widen the parking spaces to cut down on dings? And when the hell is someone going to come by and cut down that tree to improve my view of Lake Bill? I'm telling you, it is getting harder and harder to focus on my hunk of Vista under these conditions. I might have to seek counseling!

I guess M$ R&D means .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15270336)

Rollover & Die for the companies it buys up

image. (1)

deviceb (958415) | more than 8 years ago | (#15270337)

they can spend 20 billion and it will not change the image of MSN. nobody likes them.. they stink and dress funny.

Inovate some new products that we have not seen. Don't patch a hole in the boat.

This is not really news, just something they have to spend $ on to survive in the market..
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