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Microsoft is the Industry's Most Innovative Company?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the even-if-it-doesn't-work-vista-is-awful-pretty dept.

Microsoft 421

mjasay writes "According to a recent analysis by IEEE, Microsoft's patent portfolio tops the industry in terms of overall quality of its patents. And while Microsoft came in second to IBM in The Patent Board's 2006 survey, its upcoming 2007 report has Microsoft besting IBM (and even its 2006 report had Microsoft #1 in terms of the "scientific strength" of its patent portfolio). All of which begs the question: Just where is all this innovation going? To Clippy? Consumers and business users don't buy patents. They buy products that make their lives easier or more productive, yet Microsoft doesn't seem to be able to turn its patent portfolio into much more than life support for its existing Office and Windows monopolies. In sum, if Microsoft is so innovative, why can't we get something better than the Zune?"

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Prediction for this thread: (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21769522)

265 comments making "humorous observations" about Microsoft and innovation being used in the same sentence. 0 that contain any actual humor.

Just call it a hunch...

IT RAISES THE QUESTION (3, Insightful)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769614)

Just call it a hunch...

Yes, but does that hunch beg the question, or raise the question? Inquiring minds want to know.

Re:Prediction for this thread: (4, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769652)

265 comments making "humorous observations" about Microsoft and innovation being used in the same sentence. 0 that contain any actual humor.

Just call it a hunch...
Damn, my mod points just expired moments before trying to mod you Insightful, AC.

Re:Prediction for this thread: (0, Offtopic)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770066)

Damn, my mod points just expired moments before trying to mod you Insightful, AC.

Doesn't matter, I'm invited to metamoderate several times a day and you would have lost karma for bad modding. The post showed no insight whatever, added nothing to the discussion, and backhandedly insulted slashdot's readers. In short, it was flamebait. And I still havent caught up on my sleep after the night before last.

First, he could have waited until someone actually commented before trying to predict the future, especially since a quick scan of the comments so far shows that his crystal balls are shooting blanks. At least he didn't say anything about Frosty the Yellow Snowman.

Second, he seems to have a problem with anyone making jokes about Microsoft.

Third, he thinks such jokes wouldn't be funny.

Fourth, funny is in the mind of the beholder.

I have a hunch if I were at MS HQ right now I'd be dodging chairs.

FIRST POST! ...at least, first post with a bad Ballmer chair joke. So I'm fulfilling the AC's lame prophesy. Lets see, what else can I come up with?

Imagine a beowold cluster of flying chairs (damn that was lame. ok... try again...)

In soviet USSR, microsoft innovates YOU! No?

Um, something about MS patenting Natalie Portman and her pony named Hot Grits?

Sorry, I got nothin. Tough room.

Re:Prediction for this thread: (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770126)

> making "humorous observations" about Microsoft and innovation

Who needs comments with a submission like that? Patents and innovation are unrelated and Microsoft are a prime example. Perhaps if MSFT execs stopped screaming "innovation" so desperately, they wouldn't be (rightfully) derided for it?

My only guess is that it is the handheld OS!! (1)

richardkelleher (1184251) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769526)

It must all be going into the handheld OS or maybe into the game console. Those are about the only MS items I don't deal with on a regular basis. I do have to admit that the latest SQL server has some nice things in it.

Re:My only guess is that it is the handheld OS!! (5, Insightful)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769554)

I do have to admit that the latest SQL server has some nice things in it.
How about a LIMIT keyword. Yeah that'd be nice.

Re:My only guess is that it is the handheld OS!! (1)

omeomi (675045) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769720)

Is there really not a LIMIT? That's insane...

Research! (1)

SparkleMotion88 (1013083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769896)

I don't know if this figures into the decision that MS is the "most innovative company", but you should check out what Microsoft Research is doing before you dismiss them as not doing anything innovative. Sure, they're not Bell Labs or PARC, but in the age of dwindling coporate research budgets, MS is one of the few companies left who seems to have a lot of research activity going on. I mostly pay attention to theoretical areas like programming languages and automated reasoning, and MS has made significant contributions in those fields over the last few years.

Did they include... (5, Interesting)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769528)

I wonder if they included Microsoft patents such as their Virtual Desktop Pager patent? (http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&p=1&p=1&S1=(Microsoft.ASNM.+AND+%22Virtual+desktop+manager%22)&OS=AN/Microsoft+and+ [uspto.gov] ) Honestly, a vast portion of Microsoft's patents are complete bullshit that should NEVER have been awarded. Remove cases of OBVIOUS prior art (Linux has had virtual desktop pagers as described in that patent forever, and when they received this patent Microsoft had never used such a thing), and Microsoft's patent portfolio is shit. ~nog_lorp

Re:Did they include... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21769780)

Call the whaaaaaaaaaaaaaambulance.

Some 'facts' for yah:
I can get a patent for something I have never used, or heck, doesn't even exist yet. This is the nature of the system. I am protecting my concept or idea. The point that MS didn't actually use this when they got the patent has a high b!tch and moan factor but absolutely no pertinance factor.

Xnix did not patent this. Microsoft did. Now, here we go, explain to me how they are evil because they have some common sense and foresight and actually comprehend how the world beyond 0 and 1 works...

Re:Did they include... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769970)

Because it is theft.

It is theft with the state as accomplice.

Patents are meant to encourage people to disclose useful ideas. It's not intended to a state granted monopoly or corporate welfare or some sort of cash cow.

Patents are supposed to be NEW things.

Re:Did they include... (2, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770120)

Patents are meant to encourage people to disclose useful ideas. It's not intended to a state granted monopoly or corporate welfare or some sort of cash cow.


Read up on patents. A state granted monopoly (temporary) is EXACTLY what a patent provides. Without them, there would be no incentive to publish the patent. It is a payment/compensation deal.

Make sure everyone knows about it, in exchange, no one can use it without your permission until the patent expires. Once the patent expires, it's fair game.

Re:Did they include... (1)

allcar (1111567) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770030)

Xnix did not patent this. Microsoft did.
IANAL, but that's not the point. If it was already in use, that's prior art and the patent should not have been granted.

Re:Did they include... (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770072)

Exactly. Patent-farming to stop competition is just flagrant abuse of the patent system, albeit legal. Patent farming by patenting others' technology that you have no right to is flagrant ILLEGAL abuse of the patent system, and whatever lazy ass/bribed patent officers who granted it should be imprisoned.

Re:Did they include... (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770054)

(1) the patent was filed in 2002, while they didn't have anything out then, I've been using the microsoft power toy that patent describes since around 2005.
(2) Read the patent. It's not patenting virtual dessktops, it's patenting accurate thumbnails of virtual desktops and using those to swich between the desktop (as previews). I'm not sure I've seen anything remotely as described before beryl on a *nix system. Is there anything that had this feature prior to 2002?

And (-1, Offtopic)

homey of my owney (975234) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769548)

I'm Santa Claus

Re:And (Boy am I glad I finally found you...) (1)

richardkelleher (1184251) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769616)

I want a pony and a red truck and a Mac and... :) Happy holidays.

Re:And (Boy am I glad I finally found you...) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21769634)

omg ponies!

Re:And (Yes a Pony) (1)

richardkelleher (1184251) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769658)

65' Mustang

Re:And (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769684)

So what? You're not Batman!

Re:And (1)

KiltedKnight (171132) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769798)

Maybe he's Rick James, instead...

Re:And (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770136)

I'm Santa Claus

Oddly enough, so am I! Just ask my daughters, they'll tell you who Santa Clause really is.

I'm thinking they probably have patents on Bob, Clippy, stuff like that. I remember reading about a lawyer who filed a patent for his kid on swinging on a swingset and the Patent Office granted it.

I remember something about some lame online bookstore patenting one-click shopping. Microsoft holding a shipload of patents? That doesn't surprise me. Innovative? Having a shipload of patents doesn't mean you're innovative. Does anyone really think Amazon's one-click patent was innovative?

Just goes to show... (4, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769552)

...that patents have jack all to do with innovation. Thanks for the great example!

Re:Just goes to show... (4, Insightful)

OECD (639690) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769858)

...patents have jack all to do with innovation

Exactly. Invention != Innovation.

The iPod is a good counter-example. There was nothing particularly inventive about it, but it was quite innovative.

Re:Just goes to show... (4, Insightful)

lurker4hire (449306) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769874)

While S/W patents are ... ahem... problematic, patents themselves are a pretty good indicator that a particular person or organization is at least thinking about new and innovative ways to use technology.

Microsoft's problem isn't R&D, it isn't that they don't have smart, cool or interesting people (although I imagine it's getting harder and harder to find new smart/cool/innovative ones)... their problem is the business management.

The management of Microsoft (based purely on my outsider observations) desperately wants to extend their monopoly as long as possible, by any means necessary. Their basic playbook, and it's getting kinda worn by now, is to make (or buy) neat tech and then force you to use their existing tech to use the neat tech. The problem with this approach is that the existing tech (Win & Office) is basically a frankenstein monster at this point and by crippling their new tech to force use of the old tech they ruin the good ideas. All this takes place well after the innovative thinking takes place.

MS shareholders need to do something about the state of that company, otherwise they're just going to continue to piss money away and eventually find themselves just like IBM in the early 90's.

l4h

the innovation is going to vista techs that no one (2, Interesting)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769556)

the innovation is going to vista techs that no one seems to want like there crappy DRM system that mess up networking when you are playing a .mp3

Innovation (2, Insightful)

SaintOfAllChucks (1200371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769570)

Does not mean making products. It is in regards to what they are doing with their money and what they are developing. Nowhere in there does it say "worthwhile" or "what people want" Hurrah for flaimbait.

Why bother? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769580)

if Microsoft is so innovative, why can't we get something better than the Zune?"
They're coining it in from their monopoly position, they don't need to do dick.

 

Innovation (5, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769596)

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

Re:Innovation (1)

futurekill (745161) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769774)

My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father prepare to die.

Patently obvious (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769600)

That's the phrase to describe Microsoft. They patent the obvious, the things that have existed for decades purely to get one up on their rivals and to be able to say Linux stole their idea.

Also having a good idea doesn't mean you can make it a product.

Innovation Right-thinking (1)

VoxMagis (1036530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769604)

I couldn't argue (much) against them being the most innovative company, but I see much of what they do as coming up along the lines of cloning.

It CAN be done, but SHOULD it be done? And in that way?

Innovation != Good (4, Insightful)

PianoComp81 (589011) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769608)

Just because someone comes up with a patentable idea, doesn't mean it's a GOOD idea.

Re:Innovation != Good (2, Interesting)

mpe (36238) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769674)

Just because someone comes up with a patentable idea, doesn't mean it's a GOOD idea.

Similarly there may well be plenty of good ideas which arn't patentable.

Call me skeptical (5, Insightful)

Cleon (471197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769618)

The article, I notice, is rather light on details about what sort of patents they're talking about. As the OP says, people don't buy patents--they buy products. So concretely, what sort of innovation is Microsoft involved in? The article doesn't really go into that.

Frankly, I think the patent system hasn't been a good gauge of innovation in many, many years. Patents are issued for everything from BS "perpetual motion machines" to the grilled cheese sandwich [patentstorm.us] are granted routinely.

Slanted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21769620)

Wow, it seems like the OP's view of microsoft is completely informed by Slashdot. Perhaps she ought to do a little more research. Microsoft has a slew of other products (http://support.microsoft.com/select/?target=hub [microsoft.com] ) and seems to be doing better than keeping Office on life support (http://finance.google.com/finance?chdnp=1&chdd=1&chds=1&chdv=1&chvs=maximized&chdeh=0&chfdeh=0&chdet=1198184400000&chddm=492269&q=NASDAQ:MSFT [google.com] ).

I don't think that means what you think it means (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769626)

I'm sure that there are lots of "innovative" patents in MS's portfolio, though I'm certain that many were purchased elsewhere rather than developed in house. Also, just because they are producing "innovative" patents, does not necessarily mean that their enduser products are. They seem to fall hopelessly short of the basics in reaching for the new and flashy. Example: wouldn't you think that an automated troubleshooting wizard for internet connectivity problems would flag a blank entry for the gateway? I recently found that it did not.

Here's a recommendation for MS: when you create a troubleshooting wizard, perhaps you should sit an IT expert down and watch them trouble shoot a problem and record the steps. It would probably help a great deal more than asking if the toaster is plugged in and then declaring the problem unsolvable.

Zune? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21769628)

Of course, the submitter wasn't able to suppress his need to supply us with inflammatory comments. The Zune is probably as innovative as it gets when it comes to MP3 players. Does the iPod come with wifi?
Maybe the execution wasn't terrific, but yes, this certainly is innovative enough.
As I've seen that people are more likely to get heard when they add a disclaimer that they use linux while saying something positive about an MS product, I'll do the same:
My UserAgent is Opera/9.50 (X11; Linux i686; U; en), and I'm proud of it.

Re:Zune? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21769956)

Yeah,the Zune is innovative... two way encrypted handshakes to ensure only MS's software can do anything with it.

Had Microsoft made it driverless, or using the generic MTP that MS had as a standard spec, it would be different.

At least you can find software to use ipods on Linux.

MS does have some valuable patents (2, Insightful)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769630)

People dont like to admit it but MS actually does have patents on some fairly innovative things (example: ClearType) that are pretty clever. Whether its good or bad that you can patent a lot of these things is debatable but at least they are producing some useful stuff as opposed to just using patents as a money grab like a lot of patent troll companies.

Re:MS does have some valuable patents (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21769914)

A word on Microsoft's ClearType "innovation":
http://www.grc.com/ctwho.htm [grc.com]

Re:MS does have some valuable patents (1)

sparkhead (589134) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769994)

You picked a terrible example. Apple, IBM and a number of other companies had subpixel rendering long before MS. But as is their standard practice, MS claimed something existing elsewhere as new and innovative and went for a patent.

ClearType cannot be read by anyone (4, Informative)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770018)

innovative things (example: ClearType)

I have extreme difficulty to read ClearType text. I think this is related to the way the eyes of some people work and that other people also have similar problems.

I always thought that everyone was seeing the same things as me (fuzzy text hidden in an abyss of colours) and I thought well, maybe the whole world turned crazy or what, until I told what I were seeing to some other people and I asked them what they were seeing and they said "soft black letters", and then I read about the issue a bit and confirmed that yes, I am one of these people who can't read this stuff.

One would assume that the purpose of text is to be read rather than to look pretty. In this regard, ClearType creates difficulties for some people whose eyes can discern colour in more "resolution" than other people (ie it penalises people who have better eyes).

Re:MS does have some valuable patents (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770138)

People dont like to admit it but MS actually does have patents on some fairly innovative things (example: ClearType) that are pretty clever.

How is applying anti-aliasing to text innovative or clever? If they had invented anti-aliasing, that would be innovative. But Cleartype is just an obvious combination of things that already existed.

Vista (1)

deweycheetham (1124655) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769636)

What more can I say...

Re:Vista (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21769936)

Sucks!

They said innovation, not WHINE (1, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769638)

In sum, if Microsoft is so innovative, why can't we get something better than the Zune?

Because you're busy complaining? Please, enlighten me as to how much more would get done if people who do ACTUAL WORK had OpenOffice to use on a daily basis. I am not a Microsoft apologist, it's just pretty damn low when you try to set up the Zune as the pinnacle of their accomplishments. Open your eyes.

Re:They said innovation, not WHINE (1)

tcc3 (958644) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770114)

And on top of that the Zune's not all bad. The device itself is very nice and competes very well with the equivalent ipod.

I cant say the same for the software unfortunately. And they're a *software company.*

I thought this was obvious... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769642)

Microsoft makes innovative software that causes the super-fast multi-core CPUs to slow down to hide the fact that programmers can't create innovative software to keep up with the hardware. :P

What are you guys talking about? (1)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769644)

All of which begs the question: Just where is all this innovation going? To Clippy?

Microsoft has turned the business of chair throwing into an art. Nobody does it better than them. Why just a few short years ago, we were lucky to launch chairs more than a few meters. Even then they usually ended in a destructive fireball. Then came that luminary Ballmer. He changed everything. Next time you stand in awe of perfect chair-to-low-earth-orbit (CLEO, another MS patent), you thank Microsoft.

Where does the innovation go?! PFFF!

Re:What are you guys talking about? (2, Insightful)

callmetheraven (711291) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769870)

Microsoft's business is profit, fueled not by innovation, but from quashing competition, customer lock-in, bribery, intimidation, and FUD.

Microsoft has never been in the business of making innovative anything. Customer happiness is not even on their radar screen.

More Anti-MS FUD (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769650)

Life support? For a monopoly?
Life support not mentioned anywhere in the linked article.

Oh /. ...

Innovation vs Management? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21769672)

Microsoft is a Ginormous company and at each level innovation can prosper or languish due to management. Microsofties are by all accounts some of the smartest people in the field, so lack of innovation isn't because of the individual contributers.

patents, innovation? (1)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769704)

The blog entry looks like some roundabout way to try to plant the (erroneous) idea that patents equal innovation. The number of patents a tech company obtains depends mostly on how much money they are willing to spend on patents, nothing more. Microsoft made it their goal to get lots of patents to fight open source a few years ago, they have the money to do it, and they are following through. They are no more innovative now than they were a few years ago.

Microsoft Research is awesome (5, Interesting)

Lank (19922) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769714)

Microsoft Research [microsoft.com] is really cool. They crank out cool stuff all the time! Take a look! The problem is that most of their stuff never sees the light of day. MS just gets the patent then bury it and move on. WinFS and other neat things came out of there. They hire a lot of PhDs, too... James Larus, the guy that wrote SPIM (MIPS simulator) works there now...

Re:Microsoft Research is awesome (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769948)

So just to clarify your statement into easy, understandable list format:

1. Spend money on research
2. Obtain patent to guaruntee monopoly on fruits of research
3. Bury technology while patent expires
4. ???
5. PROFIT!

I can't figure 4 out, but I'm going to guess that they patented the business process including 4 and then applied the same process to itself.

it's only a department (2, Insightful)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770096)

If I pay a few millions and buy or even build an innovative R&D lab and let the PhDs there crank out super ideas every day and I never use them, I am not an innovative company. One department does not represent the whole company.

Are we done yet? (2, Insightful)

davmoo (63521) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769730)

Just where is all this innovation going? To Clippy?

Clippy has been gone for so many years now that when ever I see someone bring him/it up, it automatically diminishes my respect for the author. The only thing more lame than dragging out Clippy would be dragging out Bob, or the hoax/cliche phrase "640k is enough for anyone" crap.

Re:Are we done yet? (3, Funny)

rk (6314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769904)

640k is enough for anyone, especially Bob and Clippy.

Re:Are we done yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770112)

Next thing you know they'll mentioned the old school Dr. Watson as well :)

Goddamnit (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21769744)

http://begthequestion.info/ [begthequestion.info]

Title is misleading (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769746)

The article only mentions innovation once. At best, MS is very good at making sure their ideas are covered in terms of legal paperwork. That does not mean that they are innovative or inventive. Like IBM and other tech companies, how many of their patents are defensive in nature given the state of Intellectual Property today? True innovation means more than patents.

Just where is all this innovation going? (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769748)

Monopoly maintenance.

Patents are not equal to innovation (1)

bit01 (644603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769750)

Microsoft's patent portfolio tops the industry

...

Just where is all this innovation going?

Repeat after me: Patents != Innovation.

Patents are just a PTO bureaucrat's way of faking being a scientist who has spent a lifetime learning and extending a narrow field of knowledge.

---

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair

Patents != Innovation (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769758)

TFA says Microsoft has a bunch of patents - but then infers that this means Microsoft is innovative, which any Slashdotter knows to be false.

Innovation is a product of bright engineers, who are doing it for the love of engineering. Patents are a product of lawyers, who are doing it for the money.

As a software development professional (1, Funny)

Malevolent Tester (1201209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769762)

I'm deeply indebted to Microsoft innovations.

For example, source control. Sure, Subversion, CVS etc all have their good points, but only VSS will randomly corrupt various setup scripts, thus giving me a free afternoon reading facebook while the the developers and DBAs try to fix our QA environments.
SQL Server. Can MySQL offer the same guaranteed crash every time I haven't saved my foreign key scripts? Can it bollocks. Restore from live, please.
Does Firefox have the ability to collect enough spyware that I can derive malicious pleasure from getting an underling to spend the entire morning reproducing a bug that was actually caused by some toolbar he'd inadvertantly installed? No

Fuck open source. Microsoft is the only thing standing between me and actually having to work to earn my paycheck.

Fixed that for you (1)

VEGETA_GT (255721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769770)

Microsoft BUYS the Industry's Most Innovative Company

Zune? (2, Interesting)

wicka (985217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769824)

What the hell is wrong with the Zune 2? The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive and it beats the hell out of the iPod classic.

Re:Zune? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770004)

it beats the hell out of the iPod classic.
Well done on that; it might be able to capture a share of the nostalgia market. Meanwhile, back in the mainstream...

I do know where they get them from (1)

DJ Jones (997846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769832)

This is old news if anyone here has read "The world is flat" by Thomas Friedman (highly recommended). He had a chapter in there in which he speaks about his visit to one of Microsoft's research facilities in China. Every well educated 18 year old across the country competes for a few highly prized non-paying internship slots in these facilities. On top of each intern's cube were little toy cars which one intern explained they get as gifts from the company anytime a piece of their research led to a patent claim in the U.S. And you wonder why the U.S. is falling behind globally...

Tag article as Flamebait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21769838)

Yes, because everyone on Slashdot hates Microsoft. So just vent it all out bois. A large, successful, multi-billion dollar, international company, like Microsoft couldn't possibly have any good ideas or products that anyone would want to buy. How else could they get so rich and powerful? Sheesh.

it's going into "Innovation analysis" (1)

wardk (3037) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769860)

it's a new science dedicated to proving ones innovation lead

The Answer Is Simple (1)

Luscious868 (679143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769862)

It's pretty simple really, Microsoft has grown to large to truly innovate in the way that leaner companies with less of an internal bureaucracy can. Changes to code have to go through so many levels of approval that it's maddening.

One only has to look at the length of time it took them to produce Vista to realize that.

Re:The Answer Is Simple (3, Insightful)

chriscorbell (1093363) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769932)

An even more terse equivalent: "entropy". Most of the energy at Microsoft is no longer available to do work.

Many ways to fail (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769864)

There are many ways to fail, to suck, or to do something wrong, and only a few ways to do something successfully, well, or right. I think, with this in mind, there's no need for further investigation into the size of Microsoft's patent portfolio.

Software Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21769884)

Why is the IEEE giving cred to software patents?

They have some amazing new technology... (5, Interesting)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769890)

Things that I have either heard of or seen coming from Redmond:

  1. Analysis of a video feed to generate a 3D model of the scene being filmed.
  2. That minority space wall, but without a special glove and working.
  3. Network LOD for fast-paced games that let one server drive hunrderds of clients.
  4. 2D neural-net based code that learned to drive a car (still only in the simulation phase.).

Any of which could have had multiple patents. A lot of what they do is impractical as a product now (the wall for instance), but is an investment in the future. Like in the early 90's when they purchased tons of digital rights. And some, like the Network LOD, are designed for developers to tie them into MS products.

But Microsoft, like AT&T when it had too much money, take a bunch of academics, give them money, and tell them to do cool things. After all, the whole deparment will pay for itself with a couple of nifty inventions.

Hmm (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769900)

The summary cleverly shifts the subject to Microsoft is Evil, steering away from the real issue of software patents. Nice troll

Patents Ain't What They Used To Be (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769908)

I wish once in a while people would note, at least parenthetically, that the U.S. Patent Office has become something of a joke under Bush. It's even been known to ignore its own rules from time to time.

Could I be forgiven for wondering if this might explain Microsoft's preeminence?

Unsurprising. (1)

MartinG (52587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769910)

The software companies that amass the most patents these days, are typically those who do not innovate. This is a perfect example of that.

I'm astonished that there is still any real belief that number of patents filed is any kind of measure of innovation. It's pretty much orthogonal as far as I can see.

Just because the patent systems original intended purpose was to stimulate innovation, doesn't mean that that's what it's actually used for.

C# and Dotnet (2, Insightful)

belloc1 (1118477) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769912)

I think since Anders came on board there have been dome great innovations at least on the development side at Microsoft. With the addition of Visual Studio 2008 and LINQ it could revolutionize the way a developer creates applications to take advantage of multiple cores.

Re:C# and Dotnet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21769972)

Yes because .Net makes everything from handhelds to mainframes run better.

Who are you, Super Troll?

They are inventing their destroyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21769930)

They are inventing the technology that will put them out of business.

It is the nature of disruptive technology http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_technology [wikipedia.org] that the company that invents it can't make money on it. Someone else takes it, develops it and puts the inventing company out of business. It has happened time after time.

The guy who has studied this most is Clayton Christensen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clayton_M._Christensen [wikipedia.org] . In his book 'The Innovator's Dilemma' he cites many cases where large companies are killed by disruptive technologies even though they were aware of them and tried to take advantage of them. I'm guessing that the same thing will happen to Microsoft. Its best hope is to learn from IBM and re-invent itself.

So what (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769952)

According to a recent analysis by IEEE, Microsoft's patent portfolio tops the industry in terms of overall quality of its patents.
If you throw a million darts, odds are you will hit a hundred bulleyes.

Of course.... (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769958)

We CAN get something better than the zune... its called an iPod

Quality, not quantity (4, Insightful)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21769996)

It just goes to show that the relationship of {number of patents : innovation} is a similar one to number of {number of security patches : security of the system}. It's not how many {patents/patches} you have, it's what they do for you. Apple, for example, is in the process of building another $10 billion/year business out of the multitouch patents that it has. One idea, a few patents to ring-fence and expand it, 10 billion dollars. That's a *good* idea. Microsoft has clever patents too, (eg: cleartype), but all that leads to is an argument over whether the alternative is "blurry" or "accurate", and whether cleartype text is "clear" or "anaemic". In other words, they gained support on their own platform, but they didn't managed to leverage it too much elsewhere.

Microsoft is *not* that innovative a company - it's bread and butter (80% of profits or so, I believe) come from corporations (not people), and corporations generally like "more of the same, please". There's nothing wrong with serving that demand, and [insert deity] knows they have clever people working there - the conclusion is that they don't *want* to be an innovative company - they're happy with the status quo, because it brings in gazillions of dollars for them. Sure, they'll have the occasional exciting new thing (how could they not, given their staff ?), but that's not the *company* focus.

In comparison, Steve is fond of saying he likes to run Apple as a small company, with the resources of a large company. That the cash-in-the-bank at Apple is because they *do* take risks, they *do* push the envelope that little bit farther, and that having a large wad of cash to fall back on is very useful, you know, just in case... Apple is ~1/5th the size of Microsoft (I think) in terms of staff, that's a lot of people, but they're spread pretty thin ("small company", "siege mentality", "more productive"), considering they produce computers, consumer devices, a major OS, several consumer apps, several pro-apps, as well as design their own hardware, operate a chain of retail shops (where most of the staff are), etc. etc.

Bottom line: Bill Gates said that Microsoft were one innovation away from being made irrelevant, and they work to protect their monopoly because of that. Apple's focus is more on the 'next big thing'. They take risks, and to do that you have to execute on new ideas. Apple is innovative, and its customers are people. Microsoft is protective, and its customers are corporations.

Simon.

Big Company Does Lots of Things. Film at 11. (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770000)

Really, all the article manages to say is that IBM and Microsoft patent a ton of shit, which is news to no one since they're enormous tech companies. The news post probably should be flagged flamebait or troll.

All that aside, I could buy Microsoft being one of the companies that generates the most innovative ideas each year. That's more a statement of just how much different crap the company is into than any innotation per capita assessment. For example, I'd say the Wii shows more innovation than the 360, but video game console stuff is about all of what Nintendo does but it's only a fraction of what Microsoft does.

Well, duh (4, Interesting)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770008)

That's because innovation isn't measurable by the number of patents you produce. Let me tell you my patent story.

I used to work at a company that made a widget. Details left out because of possible NDA/lawsuit goodness.

There were 3 or 4 other players in this widget space. There are about 3 or 4 useful functions any of these widgets can do.

One of the other players decides to patent "feature A from this widget, combined with feature B from this other widget". A multi function widget, merely taking two functions from two widgets and combining them. In other words, peanut butter is ok, and jelly is ok, but putting peanut butter with jelly is *hugely innovative* and deserves a patent.

We held meetings and began to file patents too. They were all equally insane.

There was NO INNOVATION going on in these meetings. Just carving up the widget patent space - that has existed for years - with each of these little companies nit-picking each other to death with patent suits and royalty fees.

Patents do not equal innovation.

Could someone please show me... (1)

TofuMatt (1105351) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770020)

...where "innovation" is on this page:

http://thesaurus.reference.com/browse/patent

?

Hoplessly biased summary (1)

tempestdata (457317) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770022)

I know this is slashdot and all, but the person who wrote this summary is so hopelessly biased against Microsoft its not even funny... What ever you say, think or believe about microsoft. They are an extremely successful company. Your summary makes it sound like Microsoft is crumbling and worthless, but Microsoft is as dominant as it ever was, and there are NO signs of that changing any time soon. Yes there are competing products popping up here and there, and thats really a good thing.. but not one of those competing products has yet been able to overthrow Microsoft's dominance in its core fields.

Microsoft doesn't release more innovative products, because it simply doesn't need to. Its not trying to gain the upper edge on anyone.. When Microsoft saw Java becoming an issue to its dominance, it came out with .NET. When it saw Netscape becoming an issue to its dominance, it came out with IE.

When you're in first place, you dont really have to run harder to increase the distance between you and second place.. you just have to run hard enough so that second place doesn't take over your first place. Instead you just conserve your energy, and use it when its necessary.. Just because microsoft CAN do more, doesn't mean it needs to. In fact, its in the companies best interests not to crush all its competitors.

Monopolies and Innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770026)

Microsoft does have a lot of smart people working for it - the problem is that those smart people are not in charge of designing and delivering products. Instead, these ideas are usually lost to the broken corporate model.

Why did MS make the Zune? Was it because smart people were running the show? No, it was due to ego. Microsoft wanted to be in a "hot market" corporate-wise - not culture-wise. Same thing with the XBox. Microsoft isn't about innovation - their innovation is just a happenstance of wanting to build a huge patent portfolio with their huge sums of cash.

Instead, Microsoft's corporate culture revolves around delivering boring retail products into an existing market in hopes to build a new monopoly.

AT&T was in a similar position. There was no doubt that AT&T's innovation was very high - hell, I know lots of people who totally wanted to work at Bell Labs and do the coolest stuff (like mistakenly discover the Big Bang, for example). Then again, from their customer's perspective, AT&T was the company that made and rented out the 500-series desk telephone for like 25 years without any change in technology - for $1.21 per month.

Taking away AT&T's monopoly position resulted in a ton of practical innovative products hitting the market... an innovative market that gets far stronger every year.

The typical conversation goes like this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770028)

The typical conversation between the ivory tower academic and the front line engineer goes like this:

Academic: I've got this great idea <blah> which *might* be incredibly popular with your customers. Here's a spit and bailing wire prototype that we lashed together.
Engineer: Looks very promising. When will you have something that's ready for production use?
Academic: Well, it will take another twenty million dollars and two years of effort to get it to that stage. But isn't it so cool?
Engineer: It sure is. However, I don't have that kind of resources to risk on a "might be". Plus the release schedule is already set in stone and we're already cutting features frantically to make it. But call us back when you've got something in a more advanced stage of development. <click>
Academic: Shortsighted @%$&)@$ fools.

Best-used-before-this-date (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770036)

To Clippy? Consumers and business users don't buy patents. They buy products that make their lives easier or more productive, yet Microsoft doesn't seem to be able to turn its patent portfolio into much more than life support for its existing Office and Windows monopolies

"Clippy?"

The Geek never learns to retire a joke that was never particurlarly true or funny to begin with.

Slashdot will probably be still using the Borg icon for Bill Gates when the Gates Foundation wins him the Nobel Peace Prize for the fight against Malaria.

"Life support" for Windows and Office?

The OfficeMax gift special is an $800 widescreen Vista Premium HP laptop, dual core AMD CPU and 2 GB RAM, bundled with an HP multifunction printer, and a 6.2 megapixel HP digital camera.

MS Office dominates retail software sales. If OfficeMax has a lick of sense, Office Home will be positioned to leave the store in the same cart as those $800 laptops.

Microsoft took off like a rocket in its first quarter and doesn't show any signs of slowing down in the second.

Number of Patents an Indicator of Innovation? (1)

kungfoolery (1022787) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770056)

Unfortunate that this is used towards quantifying this as it's probably only good to gauge how well funded your army of lawyers is.

Same as Xerox (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770078)

Lost in the Bureaucracy

Word Count (5, Funny)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770090)

Words describing the article: 61

Words bashing Microsoft: 74

end of line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21770132)

that microsoft still exists means humanity has failed any acid test

sober individuals are tools of the corpo...

sorry, wrong meeting

"SUCK SATAN'S COCK!" - bill hicks

CD in a shoebox (3, Interesting)

Nexus7 (2919) | more than 6 years ago | (#21770146)

Well, they got people to pay hundreds for a box with a 300 page book that nobody read and a CD.

They practically invented the EULA for the masses.

They entered new markets by simply buying companies and their portfolios.

They probably weren't the first in any of these, but they perfected integrating these into a government-proof business strategy.

So yeah, they're pretty innovative.
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