I just got the following comment on gapingvoid:
Since you’re rubbing elbows with the Blue Monster, maybe you could ask him who talked him into slowing computers to a crawl by loading Vista with DRM and those bizarre and tortuous security protocols.
I know two people who have bought new computers lately. One, the president of my company, bought a Vista equipped computer for home use. As a result, our company will hang on to our old computers as long as possible and then consider switching to Linux. True, it’s only one small company, but I imagine this same scene is being played out everywhere.
Another friend bought a Linux machine for multi-media. He raves about the speed he gets from it because of the reduced clutter in the operating system.
Is marketing a conversation? Who the hell was the Blue Monster listening to when he dreamed up Vista?
Though one could easily interpret this as “negative”, I’m starting to really like comments like this one. Why? Because the guy is certainly entitled to opinion, and perhaps just as importantly, I know for a fact people inside Microsoft will see it the comment eventually, and that it will be discussed internally. And then slowly but surely, good things will start to happen.
In other words, I see these type of comments simply as a symptom of something much larger going on, which my friend JP Rangaswami nailed down superbly last March:
People want Microsoft to change. That is the essence of what made the Blue Monster such a hit, it was a way of people outside Microsoft telling people in Microsoft of the intense need for change.
JP then goes on to explain the importance of bloggers in the whole equation:
When a company achieves critical mass in terms of “external” bloggers, there is no longer an inside or an outside. Blogs do not support hierarchies or vertical silos, they tend to be lateral and networked and and all-over-the-place. Blogs are not respecters of walls, whether inside the firm or at the firm’s boundaries.
Not having an inside or an outside. That’s how tomorrow’s customers will figure which of today’s companies to bless.
Amen. Hence the Porous Membrane etc.
From some of the recent talks I’ve had with Microsoft, I’m starting to see more and more people internally beginning to believe a simple truth: That if Microsoft wishes to change the world, then changing themselves is also, most definitely, a big part of the equation.
And yes, that last sentence will also apply to any other company, large or small.
[Addendum:] Recent remark from an older techie friend of mine:
“People who hate Microsoft are either clueless or naive about what running a business was actually like, before they were around.”
[Related:] Interesting post by JP Rangaswami about why Microsoft is buying minority stakes in companies, as opposed to buying them outright, like they used to be in the habit of etc.
ista is causing me a general headache in terms of supporting customer networks. I upgraded my laptop to Vista and had more service packs, hot fixes and work arounds to do just to get it to talk to Small Business Server.
The reality is at Vista was designed for Windows Server 2008, which, is obviously not out yet. Consequently, it is a general nightmare to accessnetwork resources.
On a seperate issue, I resell Live Meeting and use Live Meeting for all desktop support issues to immediately gain access to a desktop for support. The Vista security pop ups make desktop sharing in Live Meeting impossible. I have to get the end user to make the steps as Live Meeting keeps getting locked out by Vista security. Hugely hoping this issue has been addressed by Live Meeting 2007 or I’ll be going back to VNC for support.
People who hate Microsoft are either clueless or naive about what running a business was actually like, before they were around.”
From another older techie…Sorry but, that’s pretty clueless and naive in itself. Microsoft spent many years running it’s business ruthlessly and building up it’s well earned reputation. It will probably take them an equal number of years trying to change it, if they in fact can. I have my doubts.
Perhaps the monster’s slogan should be:
“The World of Microsoft. Change it or go home.”
After all, isn’t MSFT’s claim that it already has changed the world? And of course it has…
(So, people who aren’t MSFT fans are clueless, naive and too young to remember what this business used to be like? Funny, I could swear I remember what the computing business was in 1995. And in 1985. And in 1975. And a few years before that. What a gratuitous ad hominem.)
@Chris: MSFT is vigorously hostile to remote desktop access, screen sharing and virtualization schemes, I suspect because they wreak havok on a per-seat pricing business model, and Software-as-a-Service is not getting a warm reception among the customer base. The only reason there *is* Remote Desktop and NetMeeting/LiveMeeting is that VNC and webinar use was spreading so rapidly.
Oh…one other thing:
“I know for a fact people inside Microsoft will see it the comment eventually, and that it will be discussed internally. And then slowly but surely, good things will start to happen.”
That sounds wonderful. But…have no people inside MSFT ever heard such a comment before? Have they never discussed it internally? What has changed to make you so confident that slowly but surely change will happen?
Since your “older techie friend” holds up the past as prologue, let’s look at the *last* overweening monopoly power in computing: IBM from the mid 1960’s through mid-1980’s. They *did* change fundamentally, become agile and start listening to their cutomers…but it took having their clocks completely cleaned by MSFT to get their attention.
Vista is a highly polished turd. My next upgrade will be Ubuntu.
Maggie, you missed the point completely. My friend wasn’t talking about the computing business 😉
Re: “People who hate Microsoft are either clueless or naive about what running a business was actually like, before they were around.”
That’s just plain silly. Yes, I am sufficiently a fogey to remember life before Microsoft. Yes, Microsoft AT THE TIME was a fine upstanding upstart. Certainly MS-DOS and Windows were improvements over TRS-DOS, AppleDOS, and the like.
But your comment suggests that once upstanding, always upstanding. That’s preposterous, as divorce rates on both sides of the pond would illustrate. Just because we applaud what Microsoft did in its early years doesn’t mean we must applaud what Microsoft has done afterwards.
Maggie, in answer to your IBM analogy, yeah, in terms of massive re-invention at large companies, I have two main models. IBM and General Electric.
IBM only re-invented themselves out of crisis, GE’s re-invention was not due to crisis, but via the leadership of Jack Welsh.
Hugh, I thought he was talking about the business of computing…of handing information. What kind of “running a business” was he talking about that did not involve handling information “before Microsoft was around”? A newsstand?
One of my first paying jobs was running an 64k IBM mainframe and operating punched card equipment for a small savings bank (remeber “savings banks”?) It sure looked like a business to me. After that I worked for a pharamceutical house on managing their raw materials and finished product inventory. This bore an astounding resemblence to a business too.
Perhaps your friend is thinking about front-office business operations like bookeeping and document preparation, (which in the “Dan Rather Bush Memo” days was done on typewriters — the memos forged on MS Word were easy to spot; they were too good).
But MSFT didn’t invent document processing software or spreadsheets. They didn’t invent low-cost small computers, or business applications for them. They didn’t invent small, fast, high-quality printers. They didn’t invent inexpensive data storage media, or data management sofware to utilize it. They didn’t invent low-cost data communications. They didn’t invent computer networking. They weren’t innovators in making all these things work together.
They simply became ruthlessly efficient at establishing and maintaining market share by controlling technology and its users…a crown formerly held by IBM, but taken away from them by a company that was listening better.
We’ve seen these cycles before: IBM itself grew up by taking the business away from NCR in the 1920’s…at the hand of an ex-NCR executive who’d just gotten out of jail on antitrust charges.
“This has all happened before…this will all happen again.” -BSG
back the original comment here, I guess you’d expect me to say this but Vista works beautifully for me. Why? I think a big part of it is that i built my own machine from scratch. granted I dont’ expect everyone (or anyone) to have to do that but you’d be amazed how much slicker Vista is without all of the stuff you typically get with a new PC. Trials of this toolbar or that, trials of every AV sofwtare under the sun. You should run msconfig on your system and check how much stuff (that you don’t need) is in the startup group. You’d think that many PC’s were booting up the entire Internet.
My advice – go to the Control Panel and have a look at the Uninstall section. Consider what you *really* need from that list. Likewise, check the msconfig startup list. Do you really need Acrobat, QuickTime, all to run themselves at boot time? Perhaps not…
SP1 will address some of the issues Chris talks about as network file transfer performance is one key focus but trust me, clean your machine down and you’ll have a WAY better experience. Hats off to Dell with their Vostro line that lets you order a PC without all of this additional software installed.
check out http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9017206 for more independent analysis on this
People who “hate” anything need therapy!
It is a well known truth that when you change the inside you manifest intentions externally. This is true of individuals and of any organized entity. Law of attraction, etc;
Some of your ideas are really inspired- I quote the porous membrane regularly, for example, but it is time for some tough love on this Blue Monster thing:
1. It comes across as you trying desperately to get a Scoble-shaped gig with MS by leveraging the trust of your blog readers/followers. Not nice.
2. It is essentially a form of trolling – i.e. saying calculatedly provocative statements that you may or may not believe in order to start an argument. Not nice.
3. As you are undoubtedly aware, MS is the single biggest obstacle (deliberately so) to much needed innovation and change inside companies. I work with these companies day in and day out and there is absolutely nothing positive to say about the way MS exploits its virtual monopoly position to breed FUD about IT change and keep millions of people in the personal computing stone age. Not nice.
As for MS’s Paris announcement (the future is ….. advertising – ta da!) I could not believe that after all your Madison Avenue schtick you would think MS going after the ad agencies is a good thing. I mean, c’mon! You surely don’t think this is a revolutionary idea?!?
I sincerely hope you get the gig, but you might be in danger of trading in all of your social capital and reputation to get there.
I still love you but I no longer want to have your children 😉
People who hate Microsoft are either clueless or naive about what running a business was actually like, before they were around.”
When did the words “trust in a fellow human being” turn into the same meaning as ” clueless and naïve”?
Twenty years ago we trusted teenage kids to deliver newspapers and mow our lawns. Today we are no longer clueless that young people are willing, able, reliable, to do good work or not get hurt or show up every week to get the work done. OR, they have too much work to do in school and shouldn’t be doing child labor or learning about businesses. We let bonded adult companies do this work or companies who employ migrant workers. We trust them.
“HMMMPH! Young kids these days. Lazy and always at their computer screens playing games.”
“But wait what about the Zuckerberg kid?” “We can all be like Mike, I mean Mark.” and you get rich lots quicker, right?
I don’t hate Microsoft, but I’ll waste no love on them either. In short, they do not polarise people. They follow the curve, they do not jump it. (Yes, I read Guy’s blog too).
As for business before Microsoft – irrelevant, and misdirecting. The real question is what was business like before the internet? And as well documented in “Barbarians Led by Bill Gates” they totally missed the boat (unless you subscribe to revisionist history).
If I was running Microsoft I’d develop Ozzie’s Groove into next generation F&P so that businesses could concentrate on doing business and not supporting Microsoft tosh.
Hey Lee, no worries, our children would be butt ugly, anyway 😉
I think your “Hugh’s just trying to get a gig at MSFT” is VERY simplistic.
You’ve known me long enough. Step back a pace or two and think about what my motivations really are 😉
My company (not a MegaCorp, but definately a BigCorp) released a corporate edict that no-one will be upgrading to Vista for the foreseeable future. I doubt there’ll be a Linux revolution (I’m not that lucky), but considering that we’ll still buying PCs (just with XP), I’m not surprised by the recent announcement that XP will be available another six months.
How can you ‘know’ that change will happen? You don’t know any more than anyone else. Many people thought Ray Ozzie’s elevation would do the trick – hasn’t happened.
When you’ve got a salesman who doesn’t read blogs but loves to milk cash cows running a development business – what do you expect?
On Jack Welch – you might want to ask some of the people working inside that company just how much they enjoyed Six Sigma management. I mean the survivors not the dropouts.
To Steve Clayton’s point about Vista – “i built my own machine from scratch” – I thought we’d left that behind c.1995. I know I did and I can’t believe for one minute that corporates would stomach that as a buying proposition.
As an aside – at Future of Web Apps: 2/3-3/4 of the audience on Mac? Busiest stand by a country mile = xBox 360. What does that tell ya?
You – and your friend – don’t get it.
We’re not talking about whether they made the 1990s and 1980s more productive (which they did) we’re talking about how clueless they are in the current software industry.
You can talk about the “Blue Monster” until you yourself are blue in the face, it won’t change the underlying problems.
For a developer right now, choosing a job is a bit like being a college grad and having a choice between becoming an entrepreneur or working in a merchant bank.
Both routes have their advantages, their perks, their interesting bits and their horrible bits.
All the interesting stuff right now is happening in the “entrepreneur” channel in software. Going and working for Microsoft (or increasingly, Google) is like working for the merchant bank: dull, large, faceless.
Developers WANT to change the World. Software runs civilisation, and we KNOW we can change the way it works, how it communicates, how people spend their lives. We are literally the masters of the fricking Universe.
We *really* don’t need to be told that for the millionth time. We studied this stuff because we wanted to change the World, not because we wanted to automate trivial crap.
But you only get to do that World-changing work if you are edgy, risky, doing things nobody else would ever allow you to do. You don’t get to do that in the merchant banks of the software industry.
Microsoft can talk about changing their attitude but they will never, ever, ever do it. It is a black hole attracting suits and mediocrity like nothing else on Earth. They can’t talk about innovation, but as far as they’ll get is changing a few UI components and hoping “that’ll do” whilst waiting for their options to vest.
They can’t do edgy. They can’t do risky. They’re not *allowed*. Not by their shareholders, not even by themselves.
They talk about innovation and entrepreneurship and then they try it and they tank: look at Zune, look at Vista, in fact look at anything they’ve produced in the last few years.
They don’t understand 2007. They don’t understand the World they’re in *at all*. They don’t know how to move around in it with the agility of a smaller company. In terms of one of your cartoons, they are the dinosaur you shouldn’t discuss meteorites with.
They can’t innovate any more. The reasons are deep, complex and to do with the size of the business and the security of their revenue stream.
They can’t be fixed by a cartoon.
This isn’t “Microsoft sux0rz!” stuff, this is real spiky industry stuff, and I’m afraid you and your friend just don’t understand where the industry is well enough to grok what we’re all talking about.
Well Hugh – there’s motivations and then there’s motivations. I don’t think your goal is money or power, so I am not imputing entirely selfish motives, but the idea that MS can be a force for good in its current form is so utterly delusional that you are on the wrong track whatever the motives.
The old adage of follow the money will tell you exactly why it is impossible for MS to let go of its exploitative cash cows in favour of what the ‘good’ people inside would like to do.
But the question remains – why do you care? What’s your goal?
I agree with Lee. I attended the Expression launch, and going after Ad agencies is not going to re-invent anything, so thats a non-starter. At the core, I see the issue MS dealing with is product quality in three areas:
1) the base systems, Windows, Office, Sharepoint have been over-engineered to the point of annoying people now, rather than address the relatively simple needs of users, whether corporate or personal.
2) The proprietary nature of the products that was previously a corporate advantage has reached such complexity, that it is now a disadvantage, particularly backward compatibility.
3) Browsers. Ask an Microsoft developer their opinion about MS Internet Explorer. General view is that it is lacking and has fallen behind, and is restricting development of other products
The reason people move to Linux is not ease of use, because it has its quirks. The reason, is because it is an operating system. It allows me to turn my computer on, runs for days/ weeks, and doesn’t crash or slow down and grind the way Windows does.
Change the world by getting back to basics, and product quality.
Every time I see an anti Microsoft comment with a reference to DRM in it it shouts “Pig ignorant bigot”.
Media comes with DRM or it doesn’t. Does built in Media Center use limit what I can play my TV recordings ? No. When Media Player rips CDs does it limit what I can do with them ? No (unless I ask it to). DRM is totally dormant on my PC. Of course if the BBC wants to send out media with limitations on it because that’s the only thing that works with their contacts, the support is there and where’s Linux ? Whining that all intellectual property is theft as per usual.
Why do these people always complain about DRM ? Because it’s the one thing that you can’t open source. Ever. So DRM *MUST* be evil. To hear them talk you’d think every file in Vista was DRMd.
I am very supportive of the executive decision made by the president of the company by a recent poster that they will consider downgrading to Linux instead of upgrading their existing Microsoft based hardware/software. No telling what they will use to communicate without Word, Excel and so on.
We need businesses to cut off their relationship with Microsoft software, go out to the edge of survival, and die off in an agonizing way because they cannot interact with the rest of the business world. Darwin was right. This helps to underscore the point that Microsoft Rules. Goodbye Fools. Get with the program or get off the bus.
Of course I mean this in a very light hearted spirited way.
Best Wishes Sucker…
“People who hate Microsoft are either clueless or naive about what running a business was actually like, before they were around.”
At the beginning, Microsoft products were revolutionary. They lost the momentum under their own weight somewhere along the way – the blue monster was a product of their success.
Microsoft stopped listening and started dictating. Microsoft’s idea of progress was Vista. c’mon! If that’s listening, I’m queen elizabeth.
Well, one might very well think every file in Vista is DRMed…because they are. In Vista, DRM doesn’t just apply to music and movies, it applies to the operating system itself, and to applications like Office, too.
You can imagine how customers must have clamored to have this feature to “enhance their computing experience”. And how thrilled they were in August and October when the “Windows Genuine Advantage” servers broke, and copies of Vista started erroneously declaring themselves stolen.
Dennis – did you miss the bit where I said I don’t expect people to build their machines from scratch?
As for FOWA, is that really a representative demographic?
And Ozzie? We’ll see…I’ve heard the future and this is a man who keeps his powder dry til he’s ready to deliver. Personally think it’ll be worth the wait.
@ Dave Armstrong:
If you really think business communicate with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, you’re clearly not a very good communicator.
They communicate with phone calls, meetings and e-mail. None of these need Microsoft. You might feel they could be enhanced by Microsoft, but they’re now late to the party as hundreds of start-ups are innovating better and gaining market share.
I agree they could probably do it better. So far their answer is to produce a pinnacle of mediocrity and “hope it’ll do” in the form of Exchange Server (proprietary technology overlying the most open standard on the planet) or SharePoint (don’t even get me started).
Even if you want a standard for spreadsheets or documents, open source tools now handle most Office documents just fine, and increasingly Microsoft is having to allow others inside their proprietary document formats: do you really want all of your local Government’s documents to be unreadable 100 years from now? The citzens of Munich don’t.
But the *real* issue is not about market dominance the way you see it.
The fact that Microsoft is the World’s largest software company is not helping them. It’s exactly their size which is killing them.
Large organisations struggle to adapt, change and understand. MS is skilled at understanding the shift in technologies around them (cf. their adoption of the Internet in the late 1990s), but they are absolutely *awful* at understanding innovation in licensing, software economics or shifts in the underlying industry business models.
They do not understand the modern software business. They’re not alone – Oracle, SAP and many others don’t either. IBM are starting to get it and Google aren’t too bad (but have other problems related to their size), but bizarrely the real pioneers right now are – get this! – Amazon. Yeah, the bookshop! Who could have predicted *that*?
Just because a gazillion offices around the World use MS products, it doesn’t mean they’re being innovative, shaking the industry up or “changing the World”. It means they are the large white whale, and they haven’t realised there are tens of thousands of Captain Ahabs out there hunting them down.
It’s not about DRM, or open source, or document formats, or market dominance or installed desktops – it’s about it being almost 2008 and not 1978.
And no cartoon is ever going to fix that for them, nor is any comment on this blog.
Very nice press release
Hugh, I have another business that recycled used computers. I’ve been following the XP vs Vista arguement for some time. One of my clients bought three identicle laptops, two with Windoes XP and one with Vista. The Vista machine runs 30 to 50 percent slower. As it stands, we have a lot of folks rushing to buy used laptops and desktops from because they don’t like Vista. The big blue monster better listen up and fast because people vote with their dollars and their feet, and their Linux competition is only a download away with no major out of pocket expense to load up and go. Anyone need a few latops and desktops preloaded with Ubantu? Call me.
Thanks for letting all of us vent.
I’m glad to see at least one of the Blue Minions is listening, but build my own machine? Is that progress? I was working on my XP machine 15 minutes after taking it out of the box (well, okay, maybe 20). If I’m going to have to build my own machine and re-construct the OS, why am I paying all that money to the Blue Monster? And, is there a quick and easy way to delete the DRM components, since I don’t need or want them either?
Pig? Sure. Ignorant? Probably. Bigot? Never.
Tell me James, what is the benefit to me of having DRM restrictions on my computer? All of the things you say I can do WITH DRM restrictions are things I can do just fine on my XP machine WITHOUT DRM restrictions. Why is the Blue Monster taking away MY legal fair use rights on MY computer? Perhaps the Blue Monster could take DRM restrictions out of the operating system and put them in a separate application. Those of you, James, who are willing to give away your fair use rights and give the B.M. the right to decide what hardware you can attach to your computer could simply download the DRM application. That would work for me, how about you?
The Office Suite works fine with Linux. But, let me be clear about this, I do NOT want to switch to Linux. I like the idea of getting automatic updates from the army of very smart Blue Minions working to constantly tweak the system. What I DO want is software that allows me to be more productive. What I won’t stand for is software that makes me less efficient.
I don’t hate the Blue Monster. I hear Apple makes the best computers. I wouldn’t know. I could never afford their products. As far as I am concerned, Apple invented the PC, but Microsoft brought the price down where I could afford one. I just hope Mr. Monster will listen to those of us who spend our days using his products.
And as if to make my point for me, Microsoft basically admits they don’t “do” innovation:
You need to start complaining about XP then because it is IDENTICAL to Vista
Nothing in the Vista OS is DRM’d. You can play DRM’d media on Vista like you can on XP. I can tell you from the CD’s I’ve ripped on Vista and the TV I’ve recorded on it the OS takes no stance on what your rights are.
In fact where XP shipped with a version of media player which had “DRM files I RIP” switched on, and made you promise you understood what it meant to turn it off, in Vista it defaults to off.
What’s this bollocks about “Controlling what hardware you can attach” ? If you remove enough bits of hardware which were attached to your machine when you installed and replace them with different ones you have to re-activate the OS.
Best case your PC says “oops this looks different I’ll go on line and re-activate”. In the worst case this means making a phone call. I have had to do this with non Microsoft application software if I reinstall my PC. Why not with the OS. ?
Vista (and XP SP-2) have anti-piracy built in which spots if a copy of the OS is running on a computer it didn’t start life on.
Yes, this is inconvenient to legitimate customers and people who want to steal one more copy of the OS can do so by lying to the phone operators. But the large scale pirates can’t lie over, and over and over.
Just to be pedantic, the Anti-Piracy, is not DRM in the accepted sense of the word. DRM is encrypted content which is licensed to you and decrypted on each use. In my case that only means Word documents and E-mails, not media. If you don’t like DRM don’t buy DRM’d media or install the rights management bits for office documents. If you object to having something which could handle DRM on your computer the EU has given you the option to install without it. I don’t know if the -N version of business and home are offered when you enter the license key, but they’re there on the disk.
See above. DRM and anti-piracy are different things. And if we screw-up on AP then we deserve what we get.
Anti-piracy takes a fraction of a second on boot. The original imbecile Hugh quoted talked of
“slowing computers to a crawl by loading Vista with DRM”.
There’s no important difference between DRM and “anti-piracy”. DRM stands for “Digital Rights Management”, a weasel-worded euphemism that tries to make what we used to call “copy protection” sound desirable. If it hadn’t gotten such a (deservedly) bad reputation, it wouldn’t have been necessary to rename it.
All DRM schemes attempt to sell you a copy of some data while restricting your ability to use it, preserving the ability to get paid again for its use in a different way, at a different time, or by a different person.
Remember that the deep insight of the Von Neumann architecture used by almost all modern computers is that programs are data too. Your distinction is beyond pedantic; it’s just wrong.
Looks like you’ve become the lighting rod for the AnitMS crowd =p
I run Vista and I’m quite happy with it. I build my home PC and spec’d my work PC to a custom build as well. (Paid a few extra $$ to have them certify all parts were Vista ready). No pre-installed bloatware (like HP/Dell love) installed and things run great. I can’t say the price is perfect but it is an improvement over XP.
I find it ironic people expect MS to fight DRM for them while as a consumer they roll over and accept it. Don’t like DRM? Then quit buying it… trust me, do that and it will go away. BTW, Apple plays the DRM / lock-in card far more the MS ever has, yet they get barely 1% of the same heat for it. Also, neither Apple nor MS can be given credit for the Graphical OS, but then who cares? If the ultimate OS just sits on a PC in Xerox’s basement it’s worthless.
Anit-Piracy has draw backs and MS knows this. When you have entire countries pirating your stuff however you tend to accept the risks of consumer issues. And don’t forget each call to support to fix a locked legit Vista PC does cost money as well. For the record – I have been locked out of my copy of Vista because of a driver install over windows update.
Does this mean I will now swear a blood oath against MS and never again use any of it’s products and encourage all people of the world to join me? No, I’m a normal rational fellow who doesn’t feel a need to strike at lighting rods.
Heh. Michael Neel, the HARDCORE anti-MS crowd don’t phase me too much. If they were better at answering the question, “What would you do differently” or “What would you have done differently” [Maggie Leber’s last comment about DRM was a fine example of this; criticism is easy etc.], maybe that would change.
But if someone has issues with MSFT, that’s perfectly valid. I myself use a Mac. Why?
1. Rebooting took forever on my last PC.
2. PC viruses.
3. Wireless seems to work a lot better on a Mac than my last PC.
4. I’m a sucker for good industrial design.
5. My needs for a computer are pretty limited, so Mac’s relatively closed shop isn’t a problem for me.
That being said, I’d be utterly lost careerwise without my Tablet PC, which I occasionally use for drawing.
Hugh, the question isn’t what I would have done differently. Hell, I was *there* at the time. Mooting about hypotheticals involving “what Maggie would have done differently” is only valuable when attempting to impeach my opinion, one of your favorite sports these days.
The important questiona today aren’t about “what would Maggie have done?”; that ship has sailed. The important questions are about what we–all of us, since we are all users of these technologies–will do *now*.
Now that we know how much the world has indeed changed…because that change includes a clearer (although still *very* incomplete) understanding of the economic, social and ethical implications of the technological changes of the last thirty years or so.
Those changes have mutated beyond recognition business models and other paradigms that attempt to embrace the new economy in digital information as if that information were a tangible thing, like a hammer, a pound of flour, or a wool shirt. It isn’t, and we distort our thinking beyond the realm of sanity when we try to continue pretending that it is.
In digital form, a computer program, a movie or a musical recording is in very important ways fundamentally unlike those more prosaic objects, and we ignore that difference at our collective peril. One is reminded of Orwell: “[Language] becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” Or perhaps Richard Mitchell, when he said “Who speaks reason to his fellow man bestows it upon them; who mouths inanity disorders thought for all who listen.”
In fact I don’t know all the answers to these new questions. I don’t even know most of them. But I do know that the old answers clearly are not working, and that no reasonable answer involves surrendering the amount of control over my interests and resources that companies like MSFT (although certainly not *just* MSFT) think they are entitled to.
Copy protection (in all its forms)– is like absolute commercial control of key engineering specifications in a marketplace. It is the marketeer’s holy grail: arranging for a single purchase decision to ensure a perpetual revenue stream.
Perhaps you are comfortable signing that blank a check. Not everyone is.
Good response, Maggie, thanks for that.
What’s interesting to me is, even if you qualify the question I asked with “If money, time and intellectual capital were no object, what would you do/what would you have done/what are you going to do differently”, I still never receive a clear answer. I get plenty of idealism and untested theory, though.
That’s not because my detractors are bad people, or clueless people, any more than MSFT is “evil”. It goes deeper than that, as my next paragraph will explain.
DRM exists for one reason only: Because different people have different ideas about what should be paid for, and what should be free. And yeah, we live in a world where the lines that separate the two will become increasingly blurred, with advocates on both sides becoming increasing polarized [and even increasingly hostile]. For all the debate I’ve seen on both sides in the last decade or so, I don’t think we’re any closer to an answer.
@john – just want to reiterate I’m not advocating that everyone builds a clean PC but trust me, with a *cleaner* PC Vista can be a very different OS. Michael Neel has seen this and I’ve just kicked off my own thread on “cleaning your Vista machine” on my blog. Getting some good additional tips myself…
I *have* answered “what I’m doing/going to do differently”. (Bear in mind you get clearer answers if you ask clearer questions…and preferably one at a time. 🙂 )
But here it is again: I’m going to minimize my dependence on and exposure to technology from sources that insist on too much control over what I do with it. Especially when that control appears to be designed to operate against my interests.
This would include things like “copy protection” in all it’s guises. Packaging designed to impede reverse engineering. (We’re already past the point where “funny fasteners” like Torx wrenches have any real effect.) Stuff that “phones home” in ways the user does not control, especially if when the “phoning home” fails, the stuff stops working. Things deliberately built from proprietary parts that are single-sourced. X-Box and Zune and Vista may be pinnacles of this sort of thing in the MSFT world.
On the Apple side, iPod and iTunes have some similar problems albeit not in such severe forms. If you want to form an extreme contrast, compare an iPhone to a Palm Treo sometime. They do the same kinds of things, but from very different points of view designwise.
I’m half convinced this kind of “phone-home” engineering is a result of too much marketing influence over engineering.
This used to be justified by claiming that “engineers don’t care enough about the user”, and posing marketing folks as a kind of ombudsman to protect the poor user from the nasty geek people. There once was a lot of truth to that. But over time I think some marketers have lost track of “what the user wants” and replaced it with “what we we force the user to buy”…and dictated product requirements to that end.
That approach may appear to work over a short term, producing a nice pulse in quarterly sales, but longer-term, people begin to realize that the company they’ve been buying from–despite piles of soothing “we care about you” words from its public mouth–actually holds them in contempt. The attitude is reflected in the carnival workers slang term for a customer: “a mark”. It shares some of the feel of “trick” when used by a hooker or a pimp.
It causes products like “Bob” and “Clippy”. And schemes like “Windows Activation” and DVD region coding.
But I disagree with your thought that “we’re no closer to an answer”. In fact we *are* closer to answers; we’re beginning to invent new ways of dealing with near-zero-unit-cost information goods that actually make sense.
But unless you’re tapped into the right information streams today, you may not be aware of what those new answers are and how they operate. One set of them is found in the various open source software movements. Another is efforts around the Creative Commons forms of IP licensing.
For some examples, look at the writing of Cory Doctorow (I frequently find his politics distasteful in the extreme, but he’s a bright and talented writer nonetheless). Look at the music of Jonathan Coulton. Look at the piles of useful open-source-licensed Java software (do try to overlook the somewhat bigger pile of not-so-useful abandonware; the real cost of using Open Source code is not plopping down for a licence fee and ongoing maintenance charges, it’s figuring out what’s worthwhile to you and what’s dreck…or having somebody you trust to do that for you. Linux distros are an example of this; you are trusting the builder of the distro to figure out what is worthwhile having in the core of the distro, and what’s worth having easily available in a package repository.)
We are evolving reputation based schemes to assist us with this winnowing in other areas; for example: you don’t have to look through millions of crappy videos on YouTube; your chances of finding something really funny or interesting are greatly enhanced when someone you trust to not waste your time refers you to it.
So I can’t tell you chapter-and-verse what the final solutions will be; I suspect they will continue to evolve and be invented at accelerating speed long after I’m dead and gone.
And if MSFT comes to understand and internalize these ideas, they won’t have to figure out how “tell a different story”. Their story will *be* different, no matter who’s telling it.
I can’t write a prescription for how to do that, that’s their job to do, or to fail at. They have some very addictive, nasty habits ingrained in their culture that are undoubtedly extremely difficult to break. But they could do worse than starting by admitting that it needs to be done, and look at how IBM reinvented itself for some valuable lessons.
Maggie, I would disagree that you have DONE much that differently- besides the aforementioned idealism and untested theory thing [No shareholders to please, or payroll to meet- Hurrah!].
But good luck to you anyway…
Um…all the “untested theory” examples I cited are real-world things that are functioning today.
And try telling Google or IBM or Sun or Red Hat how lucky they are to not have to please shareholders. Yet every one of those four enterprises has a better grip on how to survive in the world of future tech than MSFT’s current behavior suggests it does.
I think maybe you’ve been listening to your marketing friends just a little too much…and I think I’ve heard that kind of patronising “you kids are just playing and don’t understand the Real Business World” attitude before. It was coming from an IBM SE guy in the mid-1980’s who was telling me how the Micro Channel Architecture were going to regain control of the PC hardware market for Big Blue.
Remember MCA? If you don’t, you’re not alone…
“if microsoft wishes to change the world, then changing themselves is also, most definitely, a big part of the equation”
I’ve worked with MS products for about 13 years. Most of the products work and work well.
However, a common trait that I’ve notice among 85% of the MS folks I’ve worked with and met, is that they have ATTITUDES in spades. They’re the biggest and have the most market share and they don’t have to listen to anybody. They’ll set the “standard” and everybody else will follow.
Just try giving the average MS evangelist or development manager or program manager or TAG/TAM/etc a simple suggestion for why you would like a feature added or explain how your customers want to do business and see how much pushback you get before they’re willing to LISTEN to ANYTHING or even contemplate that they don’t already have all the answers.
If it won’t help them sell another copy of their current products like Office 2007 or Sharepoint or MSDN unlimited, they’re not interested.
In the early days Microsoft was the cute upstart overthrowing the establishment (PCs for the masses). Now it in turn has become a monopolist and the establishment. For a techie working for a technology monopolist is a huge embarrassment, it’s not what you are meant to do – your peers will laugh at you. Nowadays no company thinks Microsoft is going to out-innovate them (Microsoft was always better at marketing than technology) but they do think that Microsoft will use it’s financial muscle to crush them and the Blue Monster image reinforces that.
Ultimately the best thing that could have happened to Microsoft would have been to be split up into baby-softs. It would have stripped them of their monopoly power, got rid of the dead wood, and forced them to start to compete again. Now though they will fade to the point down the line where, like IBM were, they are forced to reinvent themselves. However that revolution is a long way.
I really think Microsoft biggest Problem is that they don’t even see the light at the end of the tunnel so before starting and buying innovations like facebook for example they have to change otherwise the will ruin the innovations anyway!
I notice your “Blue Monster” drawing doesn’t include a note advising that the “Microsoft” name is a trademark. Aren’t you afraid Gates & Co will sue you for trademark infringement? Wouldn’t you like someone to put a program on your computer to keep you from ever typing the word “Microsoft” just to make sure you never violate Microsoft’s trademark?
Hugh may be safe from harassment as long as the owner of that “intellectual property” likes what he’s saying. After all, it’s “fair use”…isn’t it?
But then you never know…some folk’s default style is FUD:
You know what they say: “You’re not a bad person, not really, but telling the truth at your current company tends to get people fired…”
If MSFT can’t/won’t fairly compete in the marketplace, the marketplace owes them nothing – much less nostalgia about what business was like before MSFT. Look at MSFT’s gross revenue, they get enough worldly tribute whether they deserve it or not.
“People who hate Microsoft are either clueless or naive about what running a business was actually like, before they were around.”
Originally, Microsoft licensed Lattice C. Eventually, they wrote their own compiler. When they did that, however, they changed the return value of int86() and int86x().
There’s no reason to change the definition of a function. No reason at all. If you don’t like what the old function does, you write a new function, and give it a new name.
The only reason why a company would deliberately do something like that is to fuck up every company that was using their compiler. The smaller the company, the higher the cost, in relative terms, to find this little bit of vandalism, the higher the cost, relatively speaking, to develop a new function to do what the old function did, and the higher the cost, relatively speaking, to replace calls to the old function in your body of code to calls to the new function.
Microsoft doesn’t consider it sufficient to make a lot of software, and sell the tools that are used by companies that may one day become their competitor. They want to be the ONLY company in the industry, period.
At the time Microsoft pulled this shit, I was in deep financial waters because my wife was dying of a terminal disease, and this crap cost me almost two weeks of labor. I couldn’t afford it, I couldn’t afford the medical care that my wife needed, and Microsoft hastened my wife’s death because of this crap.
A one-time event? No. In the decades since, I’ve seen them do the same thing over and over and over again. What’s Microsoft’s is Microsoft’s, and everything else is subject to negotiation.
I don’t just dislike Microsoft. I want to see the company as dead, dead, dead, as cold in the ground as my late wife, and the sooner, the better.
I was running a business before Bill Gates was. The customer isn’t always right, but the customer is always the customer, by George.
You need a new business plan, a new wife (if she can take the abuse and anger) and a new outlook. Or …
” I don’t just dislike Microsoft. I want to see the company as dead, dead, dead, as cold in the ground as my late wife, and the sooner, the better. ”
Actually typical of the ms basher. This level of hate is a) quite typical and b) more about dad than it is about MS.
I meet a lot of this (btw I first booted linux in 1993 and can program in every significant language, on every platform worth booting including MITS so f–k you too). The anti ms hate is scary bad stuff because at root it’s irrational crazy stuff, not critique. There IS a critique but the “Bill is bad, I want to kill, kill, kill Bill” stuff is looney. And widespread.