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The Soul of A New Microsoft

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the nice-picture-j dept.

Microsoft 294

BusinessWeek Online is running a front page story today about the new future of Microsoft. By 'looking beyond Windows', the company is utilizing fresh blood to come up with new products like the Zune, the Xbox 360, and various online sites. While the Zune probably isn't getting off to as successful a start as they might have liked, the article argues it's a positive sign that they're at least making the attempt. From the article: "The point is that Microsoft needs to find its un-Vista. Several of them, in fact. The software giant is entering perhaps the greatest upheaval in its 30-year history. New business models are emerging--from low-cost "open-source" software to advertising-supported Web services--that threaten Microsoft's core business like never before. For investors to care about the company, it needs to find new growth markets. Its $44.3 billion in annual sales are puttering along at an 11% growth pace. Its shares, which soared 9,560% throughout the 1990s, sunk 63% in 2000 when the Internet bubble burst, and they have yet to fully recover."

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294 comments

eff peee! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16995108)

wiiiiiiiiii!

need to find their heart (4, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995120)

The thesis is Microsoft needs to find their un-Vista? Hardly! Microsoft needs to find their heart. Or grow one.

Their 30-year path is strewn with castoff competitors, and wannabe partners. Microsoft has sown nothing but ill-will for the duration of their tenure. I would welcome the change that shows Microsoft wants to be a good-citizen member of the IT community and market but the evidence isn't there, in fact there isn't even a glimmer of evidence, contrary to the article's these that things like "Zune" and "X-box" are starts in the right direction.

Consider only the most recent step to re-invent, the Novell/Linux debacle. What many considered worth waiting for on good faith to be a positive step took only days to be revealed for what it was, more steps to stamp out any competition. As long as executives with the hubris of a Steve Ballmer control the direction of Microsoft, nothing positive will happen, period.

And, what of the collaboration with Samsung, Creative and others? To what end other than wasted time and money for Microsoft's "partners"? Bah!

An interesting quote from the article (Allard's response to bad words from Apple re: their Zune, and how Microsoft doesn't "get it"):

Allard was using one of the oldest motivational tricks in the book--his version of a football coach posting an opponent's quote on the locker room wall. "I for one...want to see this guy eat his words," Allard wrote. "Those are fighting words. He is speaking to every one of us and saying that we don't get it."

This only demonstrates how much Microsoft doesn't "get it". Microsoft benchmarks everything it does against perceived outside competition -- it'd be nice to see them invent their own cool stuff. Interestingly (to me), they had a chance to do just that with Zune, and completely blew it by trying to measure themselves against the ipod.

I'm not saying Microsoft doesn't have the right to be a good tough business to make good products and good profits, but Microsoft has mostly been about making products barely clearing the bar while making usurious profits with (what eventually was ruled by DOJ, and the EU) illegal monopolistic leveraging.

I know it's an old saw, but I've been waiting more than 20 years for market forces to take hold and allow technology to evolve in a marketplace that encourages competition, i.e., one that diminishes the Microsoft effect (how many company's do you know of whose business model included a goal or contingency to be bought out by Microsoft?). Microsoft may now reap what they've sown.

Re:need to find their heart (2, Insightful)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995364)

Microsoft didn't become a 300 billion dollar company by playing nice and innovating. They did it by figuring out where they needed to be after the innovators had already gotten there and done it first. They did this with operating systems, office software, and the world wide web. They got there second with a tolerable product and then marketed the hell out of it. Microsoft was rarely first, rarely best, and never nice, but they got the market share, and that's what made them a success. The Microsoft of old could sell snow to Alaskans (as an integral part of the Windows operating system, of course).


As to whether Microsoft can get back in stride, hard to say. F. Scott Fitzgerald said that "There are no second acts in American lives", but as someone quipped, he was probably drunk when he said that. Steve Jobs managing to retake Apple and turn the company around shows that, but it also shows how important it is to have good leadership, and since Bill Gates has left, the company just hasn't been the ruthless, unstoppable, Borg-like entity it once was.

Re:need to find their heart (4, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995964)

They got there second with a tolerable product and then marketed the hell out of it.

Microsoft rose to the top by illegal business practices, from per-processor pricing to the illegal leveraging of their monopoly in order to get the marketshare. Read the trial transcripts where Microsoft execs admitted that they had to bundle second rate products with Windows in order to grab the marketshare.

The Name is "Gary Kildall". (5, Informative)

reporter (666905) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995458)

The name that you are seeking is "Gary Kildall [wikipedia.org] ". His work revolutionized the operating system (OS) on personal computers (PC), and many of his ideas survive into the modern PC OS.

To summarize a very long story, an employee at Seattle Computer Products (SCP) cloned (i.e., ripped off) CP/M, which Kildall developed. Bill Gates, the young founder of Microsoft, licensed an OS to IBM, but this OS was not yet under the control of Gates. In other words, Gates sold a product that he did not actually have. After inking the deal with IBM, Gates then bought a permanent liftime license to SCP's OS. That OS morphed over a two decades into the infamous line of Windows OSes.

As for Kildall, he understandably became very bitter. Kildall was financially well off, but he never achieved either the fame or the wealth that Gates achieved. If Gates had gotten the billion-dollar wealth but Kildall had gotten the fame (for his work on OSes), then Kildall would probably have accepted the outcome. However, Kildall achieved neither the fame nor the wealth. The bitterness drove Kildall to essentially commit suicide by drinking himself to death. He died in a bar.

I understand Kildall's feelings. Someone had screwed me in the same way that Gates screwed Kildall.

Re:The Name is "Gary Kildall". (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16995646)

"He died in a bar... I understand Kildall's feelings. Someone had screwed me in the same way that Gates screwed Kildall."

The way you tell it, it sounds like Kildall screwed himself by measuring his success ("wealth and fame") against that of Gates.

Bad idea. Envy is not only a shitty business model -- as one J Allard is currently discovering to his chagrin -- but it's also a crappy way to live your life.

Re:The Name is "Gary Kildall". (3, Insightful)

Sinbios (852437) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996206)

If Kildall couldn't have made the business decision that Gates made with that first transaction, then he really doesn't deserve any of the fame or wealth of Microsoft today. If Gates hadn't done what he did, I really doubt Kildall could have taken the opportunity to go as far as Microsoft did, anyway.

Re:The Name is "Gary Kildall". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16996288)

That OS morphed over a two decades into the infamous line of Windows OSes.

The current NT line doesn't have a lot in common with the original QDOS. In fact, it would probably be more fair to call it VMS+.

Re:The Name is "Gary Kildall". (5, Informative)

bogjobber (880402) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996398)

Why the hell does QDOS get such a bad rap for ripping off CP/M? As far as I understand it, all they did was clone the API. It had near-identical functionality as CP/M, but nobody working on QDOS had any knowledge of the actual CP/M code. When DRI stalled in discussions with IBM, Microsoft jumped on the opportunity to take their place. If Kildall really desired the fame and wealth, then he shouldn't have screwed up the business deal with IBM. What is wrong with that? Is there something I'm missing? I never hear people complaining about companies cloning IBM PC's. Am I just wildly misinformed?

Re:The Name is "Gary Kildall". (2, Interesting)

kabdib (81955) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996404)

If Gary had been on the ball technically (instead of being self-absorbed and not seeming to worry about the company's long-term prospects) then utter disasters like GEM would never have happened.

DRI became technically irrelevant around 1986. They could have saved things, they could have hired better people, done some decent UI design, gotten some apps together, done some decent technology, but they just pissed the opportunity away.

Microsofties might have been arrogant, but at least they were willing to cut you some slack once they realized you knew what you were doing. The DRI folks never got past arrogance and a high-falutin' "we can't possibly be wrong" attitude. Found a bug in the linker, or CP/M, or GEMDOS? You had to prove it six different ways, then they'd fix it WRONG. (My apologies to the (few) DRI people who treated my team like human beings).

If Killdall had seen the level at which his people were operating, if he'd seen how his company was being screwed up at its roots (quality of code, of design, of customer interaction) then DRI might have survived. They had their chance and blew it, and I don't miss them.

Re:need to find their heart (2, Interesting)

NeoNastyNerd (624859) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995618)

I believe that Microsoft is still being run by its original founders (Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer in particular), who still put forth the old Microsoft mentality. As new blood enters the company and the old (can I say "cancer?"), is finally evicted, they may actually turn into an ethical corporation. If you look at many of the MSDN blogs you can see that the developers coming into the company now are much more familiar with the FOSS and understand what it means. I see a sort of "grass roots" change going on within the company that will really take off once that loud mouth Ballmer finally lets go of his Empire mentality.

Re:need to find their heart (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995830)

This new blood has no idea how to make money however.

Zune and XBox is still dependant upon the core OS and Office money makers in order to exist.

Zune will never ever be as ubiquitous as the iPod unless it is allowed to run on other operating systems.
Even if you were successful enough to convert 100% of Windows iPod users to the Zune, it still won't be the numbers of the Apple/Windows iPod user base.

DRM is Microsoft's only hope for future revenue outside of the OS and Office products. If they can get digital downloads on their codecs commercially, that will be their third profitable arm.

Re:need to find their heart (3, Insightful)

NeoNastyNerd (624859) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996172)

I guess I would argue that the only reason the iPod has taken of is not because it is allowed to run on "other" operating systems but specifically because it will run on THE operating system: Windows. If you look at the MacOS market share vs iPod market share you will see that there just aren't enough Macs out there to match the 85% iPod market share. Microsoft does not have to make their music player run on other operating systems any more than Apple does; They just have to run on the dominant OS. I don't see Apple supporting the iPod on Linux...

I strongly dislike the Zune but that is not what my posting was about. Microsoft is finally catching on that the OS of the future is going to be a web platform, and if they don't position themselves now they will very quickly be left behind as Google launches app after app that runs on any modern web browser. As far as the new blood not knowing how to make money, that is an unfair analysis of upcoming MBA students and youth in the workforce in general. I think there is a lot of hidden talent at Microsoft right now (business and technical), but the flowers are hidden behind an ugly rock (Ballmer), for the time being. Just wait for Ballmer to finally exit and the momentum will really take off. Just look at IBM of the 70's and 80's vs the IBM of today; corporations are made of people and people change. I believe Microsoft is in the process of transitioning from a "we do things our way or else," (see old IBM), to "we have no choice but to play fair," (see new IBM).

Re:need to find their heart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16995860)

I see a sort of "grass roots" change going on within the company that will really take off once that loud mouth Ballmer finally lets go of his Empire mentality.

You do? I see a company that is preparing to move to Trusted Computing-based PCs that will allow it a level of control over consumers and software developers that Bill Gates has always had wet dreams about.

I've seen absolutely NOTHING to make me think that Microsoft is any less malignant now that it was 5 years ago. Quite the opposite.

Re:need to find their heart (0, Troll)

loid_void (740416) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995750)

The thesis is Microsoft needs to find their un-Vista? Hardly! Microsoft needs to find their heart. Or grow one.

Amen.

Re:need to find their heart (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995848)

butMicrosoft has mostly been about making products barely clearingthe bar

Come on don't be so negative, although their new OS is dubious at best I really like my Microsoft mouse, that makes it no worse than 50/50 for them!

Re:need to find their heart (4, Interesting)

Taagehornet (984739) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996032)

Microsoft has mostly been about making products barely clearing the bar
Conveniently choosing to ignore the work done by Anders Hejlsberg & Co with the .net framework
Conveniently choosing to ignore the groundbreaking research on language design and static code analysis done by the Spec# [microsoft.com] team
Conveniently choosing to ignore that the debugger in Visual Studio stands head and shoulders above the competition
Conveniently choosing to ignore how Microsoft has been able to establish itself as a major player in the game console world in surprisingly short time

The list continues, but who am I kidding, could anyone here be bothered...

Re:need to find their heart (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16996152)

Conveniently choosing to ignore that the debugger in Visual Studio stands head and shoulders above the competition

Honestly, I don't see anything significantly different between any modern debuggers, nor have I in the past 10 years or so. They really seem to only differ in button placement.

Conveniently choosing to ignore how Microsoft has been able to establish itself as a major player in the game console world in surprisingly short time

Just about anyone can do that if they're willing to lose half a billion dollars every 3 months in the process.

Conveniently choosing to ignore the work done by Anders Hejlsberg & Co with the .net framework
Conveniently choosing to ignore the groundbreaking research on language design and static code analysis done by the Spec# team


I don't know anything about Spec#, but .net is just another Java. Even if Spec# is amazing, you've found one good thing MS has done in the past 2-3 decades.

And finally a new name... (0, Offtopic)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995134)

Yup, and I just heard M$ is planning on changing their logo to a genetically-modified apple. Kinda doubt it will work....

Re:And finally a new name... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995468)

Yup, and I just heard M$ is planning on changing their logo to a genetically-modified apple. Kinda doubt it will work....

A smiling yellow apple without a stem wearing 50's style glasses.
     

Percent confusion (3, Informative)

Nemetroid (883968) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995180)

Its shares, which soared 9,560% throughout the 1990s, sunk 63% in 2000 when the Internet bubble burst, and they have yet to fully recover."
If there is someone out there that thinks this was a minor loss because of the strange wording, it wasn't.

Re:Percent confusion (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16995564)

Yeah, now Microsoft's annual sales is only equal to the combined gross state products of Montana and North Dakota instead of that of Utah. Pathetic! Until Microsoft has a greater annual sales that the GDP of France I won't be impressed (which at 11% growth and perhaps 3% inflation will take roughly 50 years).

On a side note: how much money does Microsoft have saved up? I figure that Microsoft, IBM, and GE should just buy the entire Pacific Northwest and form their own little corporate state. It would certainly simplify taxes.

That's a Change (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995192)

the article argues it's a positive sign that they're at least making the attempt.


Wow, never thought I'd see Microsoft among the debris alongside the road to hell (you know, the one paved with good intentions).

The market is crazy.. (5, Insightful)

LilWolf (847434) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995214)

Its $44.3 billion in annual sales are puttering along at an 11% growth pace.
Really, 11% growth is considered bad? That's 4,8 billion growth annually!

Re:The market is crazy.. (1)

Not The Real Me (538784) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995654)

"Its $44.3 billion in annual sales are puttering along at an 11% growth pace"

This just goes to show you why tech writers are tech writers and not businessmen. I am sure Warren Buffett would be more than satisfied if all of his investments via Berkshire Hathaway could grow at 11% per annum. Clearly the author of the original article hasn't noticed but the interest rates on savings, money market and certificates of deposit have been in the 1% to 4% range for about five years now. 11% growth would be very nice for 99.999% of the people out there.

Re:The market is crazy.. (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996110)

So the writers for all financial rags are really techies in disguise? Sorry, but most of the stuff I read from "financial" "analysts" takes a pretty similar tone, where any company that's not raking in quarterly profits and also cutting costs is marked as a failure.

Re:The market is crazy.. (1)

TopSpin (753) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995772)

That 'puttering' characterization caught my eye also. There are a lot of CEOs that would be quite proud of 11% annual growth, even on an order of magnitude less revenue. There are investors that won't consider a stock that isn't growing 20% annually. Then there are mutual funds, pension plans, municipalities and wealthy investors that appreciate consistent, secure returns. This BusinessWeek ditty is intended for the former.

Zune (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16995222)

While the Zune probably isn't getting off to as successful a start as they might have liked, the article argues it's a positive sign that they're at least making the attempt.

Imitating Apple is hardly a radical new direction for Microsoft. You can say they're adding their own innovations or whatever but at its heart there's no more reason for Microsoft to be making a music player than there is for them to be starting an online book store. Apple saw a potential growth market and seized it. Microsoft compulsively followed.

Stories like this are perennial. (5, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995242)

"The software giant is entering perhaps the greatest upheaval in its 30-year history."

Yeah, right. Like the upheaval when they announced a top-to-bottom-all-new-strategy named .NET, and the upheaval when they decided this Internet thing was really important and reorganized themselves top-to-bottom to take advantage of it, and the upheaval in 1995 when Bill Gates said that the "social interface" was the future of computing and introduced the all-new revolutionary Microsoft BOB.

(Social interface? Come to think of it, where have I heard something like that out of Microsoft just recently...)

Microsoft is always talking about upheavals, but meanwhile what they actually do is keep cranking out big bloated monolithic versions of Windows with badly-copied slightly-distorted features in other operating systems, and strong-arming PC vendors into preloading them.

The parallels are almost perfect (2, Interesting)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995630)

.NET = SAA
Vista = OS/2

Proving the computer industry is like a Saturday afternoon matinee...if you hang around long enough, things start repeating themselves.

Re:Stories like this are perennial. (2, Insightful)

Kyokugenryu (817869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995702)

I know I'm going to get modded down for this, but I don't care. Why do people (in particular, *nix/Mac enthusiasts) love to simply rag on Microsoft SO much? There's a huge, huge, huge percentage of the computing world who's happy with Microsoft and would never DREAM of trying something else. I mean, I've run a myriad of OSes, like any good enthusiast, but aside from keeping BSD on my home server, I've always gone back to Windows. Why? They make the most intuitive products in the world. The Windows 95 GUI was amazing, which is why every major *nix distro worth its own weight uses a knockoff. In fact, the biggest thing I ever hear Mac/*nix guys say about the actual Windows GUI is that you have to press the "Start" button to shut down, which is the biggest nitpick I've ever seen. Microsoft does a lot, for a lot of consumers. Linux is clunky and extremely less intuitive than Windows, which is why I doubt this magical "Linux vs. Windows Desktop War" I always see being predicted here on /. will ever happen, let alone be won by Linux. Macs are very user friendly, I'll hand them that, and it now has the edge of running any software a PC can, but it still requires Windows (Another sale by MS) to do it, so it's a moot point. I think MS's target demo is Gamers and Newbies now, and they're doing a pretty good job pleasing the hell out of them.

Re:Stories like this are perennial. (1)

rhizome (115711) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995824)

There's a huge, huge, huge percentage of the computing world who's happy with Microsoft and would never DREAM of trying something else.

There's a huge, huge, huge percentage of those people who don't really care what's on the computer. If it was OSX they'd learn to do the three things they do there and go on with their day. Microsoft themselves are irrelevant to most of their customers because most of their users do not dream about computer operating systems. Coincidentally, this is also why the Linux desktop battle will not be waged in any overt way. The choice between them is simply not interesting enough for anybody who would do the choosing, somewhat akin to preferring to change the channel using the up key vs. the down key.

Windows is intuitive? (0)

mangu (126918) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996074)

the biggest thing I ever hear Mac/*nix guys say about the actual Windows GUI is that you have to press the "Start" button to shut down


Well, that's a minor point. Much worse is the menu that pops up when you click the "start" button. In Windows the menu tree is weird, to play a game I must click on the "Electronic Arts" submenu, WTF? I don't think playing games is an "art", that submenu should be for painting, drawing, composing music, etc. And then another game appeared under a "Firaxis" submenu. What the hell is a "firaxis"?


OTOH, on the Linux K-menu, once you get over the fact that the menu is labeled "K" instead of "Start", everything is pretty much intuitive. The submenus are labeled "Development", "Games", "Office", "Science and Math", "Internet", "Multimedia", "Graphics", "System Settings", etc. Following those submenus, let's say for instance the "Internet", one gets items labeled "Web Browser", "eMail", "Download Manager", "3d Planet Viewer (Google Earth)", etc.


Oh, wait, now I get it. You say Windows is "intuitive" in the same sense that you click the "start" button to stop the computer, right? Words have the opposite meaning in Windows, I see.

Re:Windows is intuitive? (1)

Plaid Phantom (818438) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996338)

"Electronic Arts" is a company. So is Firaxis. It's not entirely Microsoft's fault other companies are morons.

Re:Stories like this are perennial. (2, Funny)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996234)

You forgot the upheaval to make security a top priority.

Instead of luck, they'd need to compete (4, Interesting)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995312)

Thing is, their success with Windows was being at the right place at the right time, utilizing ruthless business tactics and just being plain lucky.

They could get away for a decade worth of half-assed technical side and marketing because of their monopoly. Thing is, whenever they tried to enter another market, it raised the question why. When looking at their attempts, many people drew the conclusion, that they wanted to compete at any price and that's why they threw their sometimes failing products out there. In retrospect I think we can say that they tried to perform their usual strategy, but without the backing of the monopoly they fell flat on their face. Of course, the notable exception is the Xbox 360. It might be luck, or that the Xbox division independent enough from the core MS that it can make itself work.

Microsoft is not reinventing itself, at least not yet. Zune is an utter failure and I can't think of any single successful product apart from Xbox 360, Windows and Office that was a success. The last two wells are drying up.

Re:Instead of luck, they'd need to compete (1)

Slithe (894946) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995406)

I can't think of any single successful product apart from Xbox 360, Windows and Office that was a success (sic: redundant).
They make some decent mice and keyboards, and those seem to be selling. MediaCentre PCs also seem to be selling, but Apple might blow MS out of the water.

Re:Instead of luck, they'd need to compete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16995452)

Microsoft's OS and office software are obviously still brining in huge revenue for the company. But you had to be joking about the Xbox stuff. The first Xbox was a four to five billion dollar marketplace disaster - no matter how hard people from Microsoft try to retro-spin it as 'a good first try' Sony came into the market with no previous consoles and absolutely obliterated the competition and made huge amounts of money in the process. And the 360 is selling worse than the first Xbox after a year on the market - and the console has fallen off the radar like the Dreamcast did back when the PS2 launched. And even worse is the fact that the break even point for the 360 hardware has been pushed back to at least 2008 as stated by Ballmer in a recent interview.

With the massive red ink and nothing to show for it, the Xbox stuff is unlikely to be around much longer. The third pillar for Microsoft, at least hopefully according to them, will be search/advertising. That at least has a chance to turn into an actual major revenue source for the company.

Re:Instead of luck, they'd need to compete (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995878)

Windows and Office make obscene profits.
Xbox loses money.

Re:Instead of luck, they'd need to compete (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16995880)

Microsoft always was, is and always will be about mediocrity forced down people's throats. They never innovated a single thing.

Injecting them with fresh blood doesn't help anything. All it does is taint the fresh blood.

Re:Instead of luck, they'd need to compete (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996042)

They never innovated a single thing.

But Microsoft has preached about the freedom to innovate. So they make huge investments in patent engineers and buying other property rights. They want the freedom to take our innovation.

Re:Instead of luck, they'd need to compete (1)

Surur (694693) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996292)

Windows Mobile has pretty much erased PalmOS from the world map, have recently made their first full year profit, and has revenue growing >40% quarterly YoY for the last 8 quarters, and have made companies like HTC rich.

Windows Mobile certainly qualifies as a successful entry into a market formerly dominated by another company (Palm). The fight has now moved to the smartphone arena, and they are again very far behind Symbian, but MS likes being motivated by a challenge.

BTW, regarding the XBox 360, MS makes $75 on the hardware of each premium system, Sony loses $350 on each PS3. Guess which company is laughing these days.

Maybe Microsoft's other division needs to make $$ (1)

mveloso (325617) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996400)

Microsoft Home & Entertainment has lost over $5 billion dollars from 2002-2005. That's not thinking different, that's spending your competition into the ground.

Now, as a strategy, they're bribing content providers by allocating product revenue to those providers [MS is giving a record company a cut of Zune hardware revenues].

How is that competition? Only a monopoly with large cross-subsidies could afford to do anything like that.

If MS H&E were a private comapny, they'd be six feet under years ago.

The Soul of A New Microsoft (0, Offtopic)

albert28 (977914) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995336)

yes, but does satan have to pay for the license of this one too? or is it a free update for him?

Re:The Soul of A New Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16995450)

I'll just wait until it's been cracked

Lucifer

Re:The Soul of A New Microsoft (1)

mkiwala (1031830) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995822)

Probably worth noting here that the article's title is a pun on the title of a classic(?) book by Tracy Kidder, The Soul of a New Machine.

I have an idea for Microsoft... (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995380)

New business models are emerging--from low-cost "open-source" software to advertising-supported Web services--that threaten Microsoft's core business like never before.
...And my idea is...

With more close to a billion Windows machines out there, ranging from hand-helds to desktops, to laptops and servers, Microsoft should advertise on the desktops themselves. It should be done this way:

Whenever any of these systems accesses the internet, an update to which advertisers get to the desktop interface is done. It should be in relation to what is done on the internet and where the device is. Everything should be transparent to the user.

I can see advertisers lining up to pay big bucks. How about that?

Re:I have an idea for Microsoft... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995494)

With more close to a billion Windows machines out there, ranging from hand-helds to desktops, to laptops and servers, Microsoft should advertise on the desktops themselves.

Replace the BSOD with ads. They'll make billions!

"Would you like a coupon with your next crash? [Yes/No]"
       

Re:I have an idea for Microsoft... (1)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996260)

"Replace the BSOD with ads. They'll make billions!" Comments like that make me wonder if you ever use XP day to day. funny thing... i have only received 2 BSOD's since picking up XP when it was released. Both were related to a crap-ola generic geforce 6600 gt i installed. Sent it back, got a PNY and no more problems. I throw a lot of crap at it and it never hiccups. I'm using the RTM version of Vista Ultimate right now and it's stable as hell. If only splinter cell: double agent were so good. buggiest POS software i've ever had the misfortune to install. and that was before i went to Vista.

Re:I have an idea for Microsoft... (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995534)

Microsoft should advertise on the desktops themselves

No thanks. I'm sick of Microsoft assuming they own my bloody computer! It's mine, not theirs! The way IE7 is foisted on us whether we like it or not - that's just plain arrogant. Microsoft doesn't get this either - it's MY BLOODY COMPUTER!

Actually I use a Mac, so I'm only empathising with those who suffer from this, like most of my colleagues at work, who are now trying to clean up after the mess left by IE7's crappy and unwanted install. This is another reason that Macs suck much less - Apple don't assume they own your machine.

Re:I have an idea for Microsoft... (3, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995606)

No thanks. I'm sick of Microsoft assuming they own my bloody computer! It's mine, not theirs! The way IE7 is foisted on us whether we like it or not - that's just plain arrogant. Microsoft doesn't get this either - it's MY BLOODY COMPUTER!

But it's Microsoft's Operating System. You are just a licensee! And Microsoft could choose to withdraw its license at anytime. Microsoft could argue that it has a right to to the "necessary" with its software. After all you agreed to its licensing terms when you installed it.

Re:I have an idea for Microsoft... (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995784)

>But it's Microsoft's Operating System. You are just a licensee! And Microsoft could choose to withdraw its license at anytime. Microsoft could argue that it has a right to to the "necessary" with its software. After all you agreed to its licensing terms when you installed it.

Maybe this is a big part of what is wrong with MS. With no other consumer product would people put up with this. New car sir? Certainly - just sign here to say you agree that GM can install speed restrictor "upgrades" at any time, or remove the engine if they wish. Passengers? You need to sign these extra "per seat" licenses... oh, and don't mind us if you get in your car one morning and overnight the entire dashboard and controls have been completely redesigned and repositioned so you don't know how to use your own car, and when you do figure it out it only goes at 30mph. Why do people accept that this is normal for computers?

Re:I have an idea for Microsoft... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16995960)

I have no clue what drones mod such crap Informative. You know there are other countries than the US of fucking A? Countries where customers are actually protected by law from greedy corporations, imagine that!

But it's Microsoft's Operating System.
No, I bought a copy. It's mine.

You are just a licensee!
No. I'm the owner of a box of software with the inherent right to use it however the hell I like to.

And Microsoft could choose to withdraw its license at anytime.
No. They'd tamper with my property and my right to use their software. I'd be eligible for payment of damages.

After all you agreed to its licensing terms when you installed it.
I had to in order to use the software I bought. Ergo, whatever I agreed to is null and void.

Dude, you're living in the wrong country if you let corporations fuck you over as they like. Get your laws changed or something.

Re:I have an idea for Microsoft... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16995994)

So keep your eyes open and uncheck the IE7 update when Windows Update prompts you.

So, I bought a 360.. (1)

windex (92715) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995384)

...last week, due to Sony and Nintendo's failures, and uh, if Microsoft had been a console developer and had none of this other baggage, I'm pretty sure we'd be giving them much more love than we do here on Slashdot.

This is pretty much just a diversion until I can find a PS3/Wii, but, it's not been as terrible as I had convinced myself to expect.

"At least they tried." (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995396)

What kind of an excuse is that? Why do we want Microsoft entering new markets that it is not good at? And how is this something new? Microsoft have always tried to embrace and extend themselves into new areas they suck at. It's what they've always done, and it's pathetic. How about actuallly focusing on users and existing products for once?

Re:"At least they tried." (1)

suckmysav (763172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995874)

"How about actuallly focusing on users and existing products for once?"

Because the writing is on the wall. Their OS cashcow won't live forever and they know it. They need a new source of revenue already up and running at the time that the Windows cow dies. It's that simple.

Tip to Microsoft, Sony and the media industry (3, Insightful)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995400)

Tip to Microsoft, Sony and the media industry: Stop trying to control things absolutely and bullying anyone who doesn't play ball. These are actions of spoiled children and do everything to alienate the customer. The fact you still have customers is a testiment that many people don't realise how badly you are screwing them. The companies that end up getting the most support are those who have good balance of trying to be successful and appealing to the customers interests. Respect is earned not inforced.

Factoid (5, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995416)

Factoid: Microsoft owns the domains www. anti zune.com / net / org. But they do not own www.zune.com.

Re:Factoid (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16996334)

antizune.com:

Registrant:
      Domains by Proxy, Inc.
      DomainsByProxy.com
      15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
      Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
      United States

      Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
      Domain Name: ANTIZUNE.COM
            Created on: 30-Aug-06
            Expires on: 30-Aug-07
            Last Updated on: 30-Aug-06

      Administrative Contact:
            Private, Registration ANTIZUNE.COM@domainsbyproxy.com
            Domains by Proxy, Inc.
            DomainsByProxy.com
            15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
            Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
            United States
            (480) 624-2599 Fax -- (480) 624-2599

      Technical Contact:
            Private, Registration ANTIZUNE.COM@domainsbyproxy.com
            Domains by Proxy, Inc.
            DomainsByProxy.com
            15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
            Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
            United States
            (480) 624-2599 Fax -- (480) 624-2599

      Domain servers in listed order:
            PARK27.SECURESERVER.NET
            PARK28.SECURESERVER.NET

antizune.net:

Registrant:
      Abdulrahman Mashabi
      P.O.Box 3382
      Al-Khobar, N/A 31952
      Saudi Arabia

      Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
      Domain Name: ANTIZUNE.NET
            Created on: 30-Aug-06
            Expires on: 30-Aug-07
            Last Updated on: 30-Aug-06

      Administrative Contact:
            Mashabi, Abdulrahman zune@crystalsat.com
            P.O.Box 3382
            Al-Khobar, N/A 31952
            Saudi Arabia
            966506400464 Fax -- 966 3 8059555

      Technical Contact:
            Mashabi, Abdulrahman zune@crystalsat.com
            P.O.Box 3382
            Al-Khobar, N/A 31952
            Saudi Arabia
            966506400464 Fax -- 966 3 8059555

      Domain servers in listed order:
            PARK27.SECURESERVER.NET
            PARK28.SECURESERVER.NET

antizune.org:

Domain ID:D128059941-LROR
Domain Name:ANTIZUNE.ORG
Created On:30-Aug-2006 16:40:10 UTC
Last Updated On:30-Oct-2006 03:46:45 UTC
Expiration Date:30-Aug-2007 16:40:10 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:Go Daddy Software, Inc. (R91-LROR)
Status:CLIENT DELETE PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT RENEW PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT UPDATE PROHIBITED
Registrant ID:GODA-022994137
Registrant Name:Abdulrahman Mashabi
Registrant Street1:P.O.Box 3382
Registrant Street2:
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City:Al-Khobar
Registrant State/Province:N/A
Registrant Postal Code:31952
Registrant Country:SA
Registrant Phone:+966.966506400464
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX:+966.96638059555
Registrant FAX Ext.:
Registrant Email:zune@crystalsat.com
Admin ID:GODA-222994137
Admin Name:Abdulrahman Mashabi
Admin Street1:P.O.Box 3382
Admin Street2:
Admin Street3:
Admin City:Al-Khobar
Admin State/Province:N/A
Admin Postal Code:31952
Admin Country:SA
Admin Phone:+966.966506400464
Admin Phone Ext.:
Admin FAX:+966.96638059555
Admin FAX Ext.:
Admin Email:zune@crystalsat.com
Tech ID:GODA-122994137
Tech Name:Abdulrahman Mashabi
Tech Street1:P.O.Box 3382
Tech Street2:
Tech Street3:
Tech City:Al-Khobar
Tech State/Province:N/A
Tech Postal Code:31952
Tech Country:SA
Tech Phone:+966.966506400464
Tech Phone Ext.:
Tech FAX:+966.96638059555
Tech FAX Ext.:
Tech Email:zune@crystalsat.com
Name Server:PARK27.SECURESERVER.NET
Name Server:PARK28.SECURESERVER.NET

(edited for some brevity)

Winstuck (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995436)

They've been trying to look "beyond Windows" for years. This is nothing new. The problem is that all their ventures get C-minuses. Did they finally grow business lobes this time, and if so, where is the proof?

If it was not for their monopoly manipulation, they would be eaten alive. Based on their track record, I would not buy stock in MS if it did not have same bully power. It only won the DOS deal because CPM was playing hooky in his airplane.
       

What The?!? (2, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995456)

I would think the Zune, which requires the use of its own piss poor (and proprietary) music format, it's crapload of DRM, and it's incompatability with EVERYTHING that came before it would indicate they are going in the exact same direction as always. The major problem with Ipod is DRM which doesn't allow me to do stuff I should legally have the right to do. Is Microsoft getting rusty and not even able to know WHAT to copy anymore. Anyway, I guess Zune is bed with the so-called "Music Industry" anyway, automatically meaning it is a product that faces backward and not forward.

Re:What The?!? (2, Insightful)

ericdano (113424) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995608)

"The major problem with Ipod is DRM which doesn't allow me to do stuff I should legally have the right to do."

Such as? Lets see, you can burn your purchases to CD. You can have them on multiple computers and iPods. What do you, legally, have the right to do with the songs that you cannot do?

Re:What The?!? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996372)

From my understanding, you don't legally have the right to burn a CD of the music unless allowed by the copyright holder. So if anything Apple's DRM allows you to do MORE than the law requires. I'd love to see evidence otherwise.

Re:What The?!? (1)

ericdano (113424) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996396)

Well, Apple has let you burn Audio CDs of purchases off the iTunes store since the beginning. I don't know where you came up with the idea that you cannot burn a CD.

Open source isn't a business model (3, Insightful)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995482)

It's a concept someone found a way to profit off of. It can exist just fine without business, so MS are pretty much screwed if they try competing with it.

Re:Open source isn't a business model (2, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995602)

That's because the people that write these articles are just like Microsoft... they see computers as money making machines and only the computer's ability to improve people's lives secondarily or if all.

Everything related to computers has to be "business" to these people... it has nothing to do with providing good products or changing the world in any sort of good way.

And, and it's a common theme around here, the population is too dumb to know any difference...

You can draw comparisons with another company... (4, Interesting)

Aphrika (756248) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995484)

Apple.

Seriously, in 1997 Apple was on the brink of extermination. It had a stale product line, and abortive OS update (Copland) begun in 1994 which was eventually canned, it's replacement to appear a massive 7 years later as OS X. And you think MS's handling of Vista was bad...

Them boom! Jobs is back, the iMac appears, OS X appears, the iPod appears, switches to Intel, Apple reinvents itself again - successfully. You could argue that Jobs is pretty much the heart and soul of Apple.

Microsoft don't have anyone like that. You could argue that Bill Gates is, but most of the projects he's personally championed have been niche markets. Sure, they've had their successful market areas; Windows Mobile, Xbox, Windows Mediacenter, Auto PCs, but you kind of wish they'd look again at what people want.

Apple get it; get a person iTunes, an iPod and a Mac and they're sorted for most of their entertainment needs. Want it around the house? Get an Airtunes adaptor.

Sony don't get it; PSP speaks to PS3, and um... ATRAC? Minidisc? Er... Memory Stick slots? Their idea of a digital home doesn't incorporate other vendors and isn't feature-complete. On its own, Sony stuff doesn't make you go 'wow'.

Microsoft desperately need to get it and the thing they have going in their favour is - ironically - interoperability. Apple and Sony are stuck in lock-in land - our kit, our standards, our profit. If Microsoft took their head out of the sand for a moment and realised this, bit their lip and went with something a bit more open-minded, then they could really make a difference. However, like Sony and Apple, I think they'll be putting their bottom line/market share first, and what consumers want second. It's nice that we're seeing a change though and that they're having a shot at trying new stuff with the Xbox 360 (definitely a great console, no matter how you cut it) and Zune (average first try), but they need to try a bit harder...

You forgot ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16995944)

...one minor detail about Apple's amazing comeback. In 1997, Microsoft gave Apple 150 million dollars in return for...well, not much. I'm sure that nice hunk of cash helped out Apple quite a bit.

Re:You can draw comparisons with another company.. (4, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995952)

Them boom! Jobs is back, the iMac appears, OS X appears, the iPod appears, switches to Intel, Apple reinvents itself again - successfully. You could argue that Jobs is pretty much the heart and soul of Apple.

Which goes to show how good Apple's marketing really is. Apple has exactly one undebatably successful product: the iPod. The Mac's marketshare is (still) microscopic and irrelevent, and not even growing significantly (in fact, I think marketshare may have fallen, but I'm not up on recent stats). You could possibly argue iTunes is a success, but again, their marketshare of music in general is nothing.

Jobs' real genius is in -- I hate to say it -- lying. He can twist facts around to convince people of nearly the opposite (this is infamously called the "reality distortion field" by the employees, though to be fair, his salesmanship can also be inspiring as well). He's basically a high-level slick used-car salesman.

Re:You can draw comparisons with another company.. (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996300)

The Mac's marketshare is (still) microscopic and irrelevent
But it's overpriced so Apple still gains profit on it.

Contradict much? (1)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995982)

You complain, "Apple and Sony are stuck in lock-in land - our kit, our standards, our profit," and then go on to laud Microsoft for the coming up with the Zune, which is Microsoft doing the lock-in thing a la iPod/iTunes.

I also question your assertion that Microsoft has interoperability going for it. Interoperability with other Microsoft products, maybe, but people like myself who have to deal with getting and keeping non-Microsoft systems talking to a Microsoft-based world see it differently.

~Philly

Did this surprise anyone else? (1)

sedyn (880034) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995486)

"Allard works on an Apple G5 computer, next to an obviously less frequently used pc."

So, Microsoft's new hope uses a Mac... That caught me off guard.

Am I the only one getting mixed messages? (4, Insightful)

MMaestro (585010) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995614)

Its shares, which soared 9,560% throughout the 1990s, sunk 63% in 2000 when the Internet bubble burst, and they have yet to fully recover.

So Microsoft's stock flies to Mars in the 90's and then comes back to the moon in 2000 after the .com bubble? Someone wanna tell me why Microsoft should take its eyes off the OS market? Sounds like they're not the uber juggernaut they once were, but they're not exactly going to declare bankruptcy anytime soon.

Re:Am I the only one getting mixed messages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16996078)

but they're not exactly going to declare bankruptcy anytime soon.

just wait till joe sixpack gets a hold of linux! an office with 12 PCs switched recently. the revolution is on!

Re:Am I the only one getting mixed messages? (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996274)

Well, you see that the up and down figures have a different size. Almost all the bubble hapened during the 90's, so it is not just a matter of bad interval.

And it is really hard to tell if MS is near bankrupt or not, because they use stock options a lot and their spending is anything but simple to classify.

Management Shakeup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16995628)

At least a) Bryan Valentine abandoned ship recently, and b) Jim Allchin is leaving soon. The company is struggling (unsuccesfully) to deal with the mounting complexity of modern software projects, and these guys were not helping at all. A little fresh blood can only improve the situation.

The Soul of a new Microsoft? (0, Redundant)

thewiz (24994) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995782)

Since when did evil have a soul?

Re:The Soul of a new Microsoft? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16995790)

Fuck off you Linus dick sucking faggot. fucking bitch,.

Microsoft has zigged when it shouild have zagged (1)

stoicio (710327) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995820)

I remember reading a book by Bill Gates called "The Road Ahead"
(or something like that). In this book I remember him writing about
'Wang Computers' and how advanced they were for the times and then
how they declined because of a series bad choices in focus.

Microsoft is the latest Wang Computers. Many will follow.
The problem with Microsoft is an unwillingness to let go
of the past (ie: Balmer should have retired WITH Gates).

In order to have new ideas you need new blood. You need
young people on the ground floor making decisions about product,
not people in the ivory tower from 3 generations ago.

If Microsoft wants new product they need to loosen the
reins and invite ingenuity and creativity. Linear
thinking is tantamount to extinction.

My 2 bits...

Re:Microsoft has zigged when it shouild have zagge (1)

kbox (980541) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996014)

Microsoft has zigged when it should have zagged
And it "zuned" when it should have not tried to break into the portable media player device market..

I love.. (1)

jvagner (104817) | more than 7 years ago | (#16995934)

..how far off the cover presentation of the article is from the content of the article. J Allard, the edgy thinker at Microsoft? He couldn't save the Zune launch, he's had his chance. Getting rid of guys like him, and the kinds of binds that Sony has trouble shaking is gonna be the baseline requirement for Microsoft to find its way. They can't engineer their way out of anti-consumer corporate shackles.

Microsoft needs to find what it hasn't got (1)

Graabein (96715) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996030)

> "The point is that Microsoft needs to find its un-Vista."

Or, said differently, Microsoft needs to find its Apple.

Not gonna happen any time soon. ;-)

How the Zune Compares (2, Interesting)

ProfessionalCookie (673314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996282)

Here's some insight [google.com] on how they holidays are looking so far. I know the scale is terrible so here's another that shows how things haven't changed [google.com] much after the original (notice that the Sansa didn't even have that much excitment) announcement- not even for the release date. Also notice the lack of recent news releases for Zune- Google conspiracy? I think Not.

Finally, something a little more objective [google.com] .

As far as Windows goes, if MS wants to make real progress they'd break binary compatibility (san virtualization per "Classic"), get rid of legacy hardware support and depreciate/destroy old APIs. 'Course my theory is that Microsoft isn't interested in progress. That said, I'm bit jealous of Picasa and the Filmstrip view.

Zune exposes the true heart of Microsoft (3, Insightful)

hmbcarol (937668) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996356)

While the Zune hardware is not bad, the execution of the whole package lays bare the heart of Microsoft.

Having DRM I can deal with because I can choose to not purchase music from their store. I can obtain it elsewhere. But the fact they send money to Universal Music just from selling the hardware exposes whose side they are on. Even if I never buy from the RIAA they get their pound of flesh. Buyers are forced to pay the "music thief" tax.

Buy a Zune and send money to the people who will sue you or some old lady next year.

I also find it astounding people fall for their "point" scheme. Buy points now and leave a few dozen on the table each time you buy music. They make interest from all those points and mock you with it. It's anti-consumer like 10 hotdogs in a package versus 8 buns in a pack. It forces you to buy more than you want.

The faux-cool of the "it's got wifi and it's not an iPod" crowd astounds me. They are so eager to be "so cool they can't sell out by owning an iPod" are the very same people causing money to go to the RIAA and buying into the very vender who will enslave their music and hardware later.

Make no mistake. The reason MS sends money to Universal Music is to make it harder for all of the other hardware venders to avoid it. It sets up MS as the only people who will be able to do this. To borrow a bad line, "in the future all MP3 players are Microsoft".

BTW, and who thought of the "squirting music" to a Brown Zune bit? Probably the same one who thought "Welcome to the Social" was as sophisticated as the Dr Scholls "I'm Gelli'n, are you Gelli'n" ads. Ecch.

The only one who deserves a Brown Zune for Christmas is Bill Gates.
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