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Strategy Shift In The Air For Microsoft 439

Posted by timothy
from the look-out-that-carrot's-loaded dept.
mrdaveb writes "In the face of a declining market for MS Windows and MS Office, Microsoft's recent statements and acquisitions point to a future in which .NET is a key driver behind a strategy which will see Windows CE devices taking the limelight. This article explores the problems which Microsoft face in maintaining their stranglehold, and their likely route to keeping Windows on top."
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Strategy Shift In The Air For Microsoft

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  • Wear & Tear (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fembots (753724) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:03PM (#11623104) Homepage
    What Microsoft really needs is some way of ensuring that software wears out at a similar speed to hardware

    It gets me wondering why consumer is willing to pay $4999 for a Plasma TV that has a specific (say 20,000 hours) lifespan, but can't stand paying a $49 software that has an expiry date.

    Hardware used to last for 10-20 years (like old radios), but hardly live past 3 years nowadays, yet consumers are rushing out buying and replacing gadgets every day.

    I guess the main influence is Open Source and freeware, which sort of prevent major software makers to gang up on consumers.

    Wear & Tear on hardware is by nature, Wear & Tear on software is by design, and people can choose against that design, but not many people can break nature's monopoly.
    • Wear & Tear on hardware is by nature, Wear & Tear on software is by design

      On hardware? By nature? You certainly never heard of programmed obsolescence...
      • Re:Wear & Tear (Score:4, Insightful)

        by WesG (589258) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:18PM (#11623298)
        In the face of a declining market for MS Windows...

        Declining market for MS Windows??? Show me some facts that says the market is declining for MS Windows! Microsoft just posted record profits for the quarter. How is MS Windows declining???

        • Re:Wear & Tear (Score:3, Insightful)

          by spectre_240sx (720999)
          "Changing" might have been a better term to describe the current Windows market. The fact that the nature of personal computing is changing is hard to disagree with. Apple is definately making new inroads now that OS X is seen as a stable operating system. Internet Explorer is losing marketshare for the first time in... 5 years? People seem to be waking up and realizing that there are options out there that don't include having their comptuters full of spyware. Although the number of people buying windows a
        • by KiltedKnight (171132) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:38PM (#11623493) Homepage Journal
          Actually, while Microsoft may have posted record profits, they've also noted that their sales of Windows have actually declined. Their entire profit increase was more due to cost cuts and sales of Halo 2.

          Read about it here [bloomberg.com]

          • Sales GROWTH has slowed to 5.6% - the sales did not decline at all, in fact sales increased by 5.6% for Windows / Office

            How can the OSS community accuse MS of spreading FUD when the article was not only FUD but making a totally untrue statement - "In the face of a declining market for MS Windows" - a 5.6% increase is not a decline.

            Im no MS fan but it really gets me when the /. crowd just pulls fanciful ideas out of the air and claim them to be facts to support their view of the world.

            OK, Ill beat you all
        • Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but to quote the average troll/AC, I must point you to the traditional Slashdot meme:

          Netcraft confirms it: Windows is dying.
    • Re:Wear & Tear (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Valdrax (32670) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:12PM (#11623210)
      There's a difference between the physical limits of hardware and designed-in product failure. People simply don't like it when a company deliberately breaks their product to soak more money out of them when they could've given people a better product that they wanted in the first place. $49 software with an expiry date is software that could've lasted you for life for $49. People resent being treated that way.
      • "$49 software with an expiry date is software that could've lasted you for life for $49. People resent being treated that way."

        *Cough*Valve*Cough*.
      • Re:Wear & Tear (Score:3, Interesting)

        by StikyPad (445176)
        People resent being treated that way.

        Well, sure, but they only resent it if they know about it. Obviously if software had started out as a subscription, it would be easier for people to accept that business model (although it's hard to imagine other companies wouldn't compete by coming up with the idea of buying the software once and -- dare I say it? -- owning it). But I don't think you can really compare software and a TV. A computer and a TV would be a little more analogous, and it's obvious that pe
    • Re:Wear & Tear (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jxyama (821091)
      >I guess the main influence is Open Source and freeware, which sort of prevent major software makers to gang up on consumers.

      yeah, right, wishful thinking. "consumers" buying plasma TVs and other "gadgets" you are talking about hardly know about open source software.

      i think it's mostly because it's not "physical." unlike TV, software feels so... not real. it's just something that runs on the computer - why is it "worth" so much money?

    • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:17PM (#11623279)
      When a consumer is buying a plasma at Best Buy (for example), I don't think in fact they are buying a TV with a life of 20,000 hours. I think they have no idea that is the case, and as far as they are concerned that TV should last for years and years.

      I do not think that yet people are fully bought into the notion of device failure in a year rather than ten. After all, people are used to the TV's they had before which did last perhaps ten years or so (that was the case for my last TV, even really a bit longer than ten years).

      People still get refrigerators that last for a while, and other appliances they probably plan to keep as long as the house.

      I think also there's a function of money where people expect for hosuehold electronics/appliances to last longer as the cost increases. Certainly a lot of people expect this of cars, preferring to keep a car ten years or longer and assuming it will hold up.
      • My current TV is also my first TV: a great, hulking monster in a solid oak case from 1979. My parents bought it when cable was the hot new thing, they gave it to me when I moved out in the mid '90s, and I expect to give it to my kids. It's like the cast iron pan heirloom of the electronics world.

        It weighs a TON, too. I'd like to see some thief crack his back open trying to lift *my* television while we're on vacation...
    • Actually some consumers are richer and more stupid than others.

      In the real world, many people are still running Win95 because that is what they are used to, and they don't want to run something new.

      Many others are not connected to the internet, and live hundreds of miles from a phone socket.

      Some parts of the world are not even American (yet).

    • Re:Wear & Tear (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ecalkin (468811) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:20PM (#11623327)
      Because so far the consumer entertainment industry has made products that were better *enough* (and *cheaper*) that 3-5 years later, people are motivated to replace rather than repair

      a lot of people can see an 3 year improvement on tvs stereos, pvrs, etc. a lot of people couldn't tell you what got better in office xp over office 2000.

      • by PMJ2kx (828679) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:24PM (#11623361) Journal
        a lot of people couldn't tell you what got better in office xp over office 2000.

        They got rid of that damn paperclip!
      • It's good that you're modded insightful -- you're spot-on.

        My old Sony TV, which was approximately seven years old, was finally replaced not because it broke (it didn't), but because I found something better (27" to 36" and standard 480i to 1080i/480p);

        My Yamaha RX-V995 that I've had for nigh on six years is going to be replaced this month or next with an RX-V1500 not because there are any problems with it (there aren't), but because the new model gives me significant improvements (component input/output,
    • Re:Wear & Tear (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shalda (560388)
      Nice troll, but I'll bite.

      The consumer is wiling to pay for the Plasma TV that has a specific lifespan because the technology doesn't exist to make a plasma TV that lasts longer. Also, hardware (whether TV, Radio, computer, whatever) often is obsolete before it wears out.

      There is no reason to buy software with an expiration date. You mention Open Source and Freeware as influences that prevent major software makers from ganging up, but that's bogus. Other than Office and Windows, there's sufficient
    • Re:Wear & Tear (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tonyr60 (32153)
      Only a relatively small number of consumers are prepared to pay $4999 for a Plasma TV. Microsoft's market would be 1000's times larger. Also, a plasma TV has some "excitement" attached to it, it can be shown off to the neighbors etc. Software has long ago lost that "excitement", at least amongst your average consumers.

      Which is Microsoft's big problem. Can you imagine asking your neighbours over to look at an update to an OS, or word processor?

      There are only so many /.'s around....
    • Re:Wear & Tear (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RealAlaskan (576404) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:48PM (#11623622) Homepage Journal
      It gets me wondering why consumer is willing to pay $4999 for a Plasma TV that has a specific (say 20,000 hours) lifespan, ...

      If you watch TV 8 hours a day, five days a week, that translates to a 10 year lifespan. I realize that you probably picked that figure out of the air, but here's a site that says 30,000 hours [plasmatvbuyingguide.com].

      Hardware used to last for 10-20 years (like old radios), but hardly live past 3 years nowadays, ...

      A 10 to 15 year lifespan isn't too terrible for hardware, which naturally wears out. Plasma TVs seem to be about as long-lasting as cars.

      ... but can't stand paying a $49 software that has an expiry date.

      As another post mentioned, most folks are willing to accept the idea that hardware naturally wears out, even if well made. In contrast, the idea of paying for something that is made to die before it wears out, just to make you pay for it again, rubs most of us the wrong way.

      • Re:Wear & Tear (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kashif Shaikh (575991)
        My father used to work for Inglis - an appliance maker. One of the problems Inglis saw was that people weren't buying new appliances as the old "versions" were working perfectly fine for the past 10-20 years. Why buy a new one if the old one ain't broke? Now Inglis manufactures things like washing machines such as one part inside is _designed_ to fail _after_ the warranty period and the whole product is only designed to last for at most 5 years. Also the whole cost cutting approach(trying to use plastic,
  • by nizo (81281) * on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:04PM (#11623113) Homepage Journal
    Strategy Shift In The Air For Microsoft

    Here is a sneak peek at Microsoft's latest offering: cans of MicrosoftAir(tm). Tired of the same old boring air? With new MicrosoftAir(tm), there is a cornucopia of smells in every butterfly festooned can! Order a case for only $368.00 today!

    Note: Microsoft is not responsible if sniffing MicrosoftAir(tm) makes the user more likely to catch a virus. Not compatible with any other kind of air. Due to licensing agreement, once you have used product, you will be never be able to breath regular air again. Void where prohibited by law.

    • Consumer mindset (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fembots (753724)
      The fact that this post is modded informative shows there are people out there who will buy anything a company sells.
      • When that happens I always assume someone is doing it to be humorous or is trying to help my karma (since you don't get any karma from humorous posts. Well at least not slashdot karma, I like to think I get good real life karma that way :-) ). However maybe I should hurry and go register a website and start selling this product just in case.
  • Strategy? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Ahkorishaan (774757)
    Microsoft will never change their strategy.... It's always going to be keep the markets cornered, and allow as little interoperability as possible.
    • Re:Strategy? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by chris09876 (643289) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:06PM (#11623143)
      I disagree. They're a big corporation, and although they've done bad (and even some stupid) things, their goal is still to make money for their shareholders. If that goal requires that they be 'clever' and try and change their business model/strategy, I'm guessing they're going to do something. It might take them some time (more time than others), but I'm sure that Microsoft is not going to disappear. They're going to adapt to whatever market conditions present.
      • Re:Strategy? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by temojen (678985) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:13PM (#11623224) Journal
        s/shareholders/board members & institutional investors/ . They're publicly traded; individual shareholders have little to no power or share of the profits.
      • Re:Strategy? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:17PM (#11623278)
        If Microsoft is capable of adapting to changing market conditions, they may adapt.

        But they may not be capable. The book "The Innovator's Dilemma" explores cases where corporations were not capable of adapting to changes in the market space caused by "low-end" competitors moving upward into the formerly plush (well-controlled) market.

        Open source has the potential for doing this to Microsoft, IMHO.
    • Re:Strategy? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ackthpt (218170) * on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:13PM (#11623229) Homepage Journal
      Microsoft will never change their strategy.... It's always going to be keep the markets cornered, and allow as little interoperability as possible.

      Most of Microsoft's success can be chalked up to two failures by one other company...

      IBM allows Bill Gates to own and sell MS-DOS under his own company's name, as IBM doesn't take the PC seriously.

      IBM fails to protect their PC design, not taking PC's seriously, and clones flourish providing a ready market for MS-DOS

      Most of everything else Microsoft has profited wildly from is centered around these two items. Microsoft has demonstrated that they are not a very inventive company by buying up lots of technology companies and immitating others. Where they have attempted to innovate in new markets they have usually fallen flat on their face and lost hundreds of millions of $. If it weren't for the O/S, Office and Server divisions Microsoft wouldn't be able to sputter so frequently.

    • Bill's pet project (Score:5, Interesting)

      by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:18PM (#11623297)
      You can bet that MS corporate strategy will follow Bill's pet projects. Bill is seriously into the handheld device, so you can be sure that MS effort will be put into that.

      MS has screwed up so many times in the handheld arena, but now the technology is getting to the point where maybe they can get their bloatware to work: i. mobile devices are getting powerful enough and cheap enough; ii. 3G and effective wireless netweorking are getting to the stage where they are reasonable as mobile data carriers.

      MS has been losing money in mobile for many years. This might give them an edge in the future.

    • Re:Strategy? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by brian.glanz (849625)

      I agree, who wouldn't, that MS' historic stance was against inter-op in so far as inter-op harmed their business model. I see this as the primary reason they got Googled and that they are getting out-Fire Foxed. They tried to have it both ways with their approach to the Internet, but could not bend it sufficiently to the anti-inter-op will which worked for them so well, for so long.

      Not only the natural trends in technology driven by human behavior and the Net's architecture, but also the courts have certai

  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:05PM (#11623126) Homepage Journal

    See what everyone else is doing.

    Copy it, tying it to your own IP, proprietary architecture and co-opting it to erode better strategies and make it your own.

    Bundle it.

    ???

    Fail to Profit!!!

  • They want as much software as possible to be distributed in potentially multi-architecture .NET, so they can try again at NT for Alpha, and this time, actually have two or three third-party applications to run...
    j/k
  • It doesn't matter (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfr ... t ['om.' in gap]> on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:08PM (#11623161) Homepage Journal
    I think we can all safely say that no matter how successful, or not, microsoft will be in the years ahead, the millions of users trained from birth to believe that windows id the worlds only operating system are unlikely to move en masse to the alternatives.
  • by MBraynard (653724) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:08PM (#11623164) Journal
    MS's is natural. They are having to innovate to keep their market lead. Just like US Oil having to do everything they could to cut the price of oil. You may not like the method (making things more propriatory to raise transition costs) - and these methods may backfire (seems like they may be already), but they are one way or another trying to make their product more attractive than the next guys.

    Now enter the US postal service. You try setting up a small time mail service in your city and go to jail. You try using FedEx for what the Postal Inspectors deem regular mail, and you go to jail. Similarly, if you try to stop paying into the government retirement system and start your own with higher returns.... guess what happens? Or what if you try to open your own liquir store in Virginia or Pennsylvania across from a state run ABC. Jail.

    We throw this monopoly term around way to much without acknowledging the difference between a natural, earned monopoly and a violent, coercive one.

    • You try setting up a small time mail service in your city and go to jail.

      How do you mean? Do you have examples?

      Courier services, or even inter-city FedEx/UPS would all seem to be examples of "setting up a small-time mail service". Yet they get by.

      I don't understand when the Post Office has ever strong-armed anyone who was doing something similar, though I am open to the possibiliy if you have a link or two.
      • "Courier services, or even inter-city FedEx/UPS would all seem to be examples of "setting up a small-time mail service"."

        But they are not allowed to carry standard, first-class mail. And they are not legally allowed to put stuff in your mailbox.

        "I don't understand when the Post Office has ever strong-armed anyone who was doing something similar, though I am open to the possibiliy if you have a link or two."

        Here's a blurb from a page that discusses the USPS monopoly:

        "The most controversial business was
        • First of all, what is considered standard first class mail? It seems like FedEx and other companies have letter-sized cases for just this sort of mail.

          The point about the mailboxes is a really good one, though aren't other companies allowed to use mail slots? It seems like that only matters for personal mail.

          The last blurb was rather interesting, though at the end it would seem to argue against what you are saying with the ending "other mail companies--more intent on making a profit than making a point-
          • "The last blurb was rather interesting, though at the end it would seem to argue against what you are saying with the ending "other mail companies--more intent on making a profit than making a point--kept a low profile and flourished.". What other companies are they talking about here? It seems kid of like that one guy basically was out to shut down the post office, and that in turn caused him problems he might not have had otherwise. I'm not saying that was right at all or that perhaps he was basically ill
    • by kfg (145172) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:22PM (#11623349)
      And yet, Microsoft was not found guilty of being a monopoly, but of employing that natural monopoly power in a criminally coercive manner in an attempt to leverage into an unnatural one.

      In effect they behave as does orginized crime.

      What was it that Argentinian minister said? Oh yes, that they do business like a drug dealer.

      KFG
    • Microsoft's not coercive, but the USPS is? And violent, too? Please.

      Incidentally, I just did a Google search for post office pynchon [google.com], and the search results include the term "postal service," bolded. Is Google smarter than it lets on?
    • by temojen (678985) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:40PM (#11623516) Journal
      A natural monopoly is an industry where the most efficient production is through a monopoly. This means Municipal water supply, electricity distribution, local telephone service, public postal services, etc.

      Microsoft's monopoly came about mostly by their exclusive contracts with hardware vendors, agressive bundling, and buying up competitors. This is the antithesis of a natural monopoly.
      • Well, you only got a 'C' on your explanation. :)

        A natural monopoly occurs when a company (not an industry... that suggests 'several' companies) can only become efficient once it reaches a certain size, meaning that they only become profitable once a certain economy of scale is reached. These are companies with high fixed costs, and anybody that's had some business training know that if you spread out the fixed costs over more units of production there is less fixed cost attached to each unit. In a natur
    • Without touching your "violent, coercive" monopoly categorizations, most people's problem with Microsoft isn't so much that they are a monopoly, but that they use their monopoly in one market to (illegally!) lock out the competition in separate markets. Being a monopoly isn't illegal; leveraging a monopoly across markets is.
    • "Natural monopoly" is an economics term that, while it probably describes Microsoft and any other dominant software maker, doesn't really have anything to do with what you're talking about.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_monopoly

      Also, if Microsoft carries out their software patent threats, that will make Microsoft a coercive monopoly as well. Hell, I guess breaking your competitor's legs is just another way of trying to make their product more attractive than the next guys.

  • Nohing new... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PincheGab (640283) * on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:10PM (#11623180)
    Is it just me or does this article state nothing new?

    - Microsoft has had the Office no-upgrade problem for a long time...

    - .NET was specifically developed to (appear to) run multi-platform (or was this an accident on the part of microsoft?)

    - The first full release of .NET was in 2002... The beta period was long before that...

    - Of course MS wants development for WinCE/PocketPC to be as easy as developing for the deskptop... Perhaps that's why you can write a PocketPC/WinCE program right on MS Developer Studio?

    - Yes, Microsoft would want everyone to rent out Office instead of buy a perpetual license. Every app developer wants that. Remember ASPs (Application Service Providers)?

    This article sounds like its written by someone who just got into computers and is just finding out what's gone on for the last 5 years...

  • Do something well. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by paithuk (766069) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:11PM (#11623192) Homepage
    Personally I would just like to see Microsoft do something really well for the first time. They seem to take the approach I use at University: Do it as quickly as possible and put effort in where it can be seen. This is not what I would expect when it comes to a commercial product, and only works for proof on concepts. Now 21 years later, it's pretty clear Windows isn't a POC, so buck up and give us something we can really love. (For more information, visit www.apple.com)
    • by Stick_Fig (740331)
      It's not a POC (proof of concept), but it is a POC (piece of crap). That's what you get when you keep building layers upon layers like an onion -- except, instead, the onion's rotting from the inside.
  • umm..... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by djfray (803421)
    What makes the article's author think that alternative Operating Systems are putting a stranglehold on Microsoft? Seriously, could someone give a link to these numbers, because I didn't see any in the article, and without it I have a bit of trouble believing the assertion.
    • Umm... where does it say that? It doesn't. "This article explores the problems which Microsoft face in maintaining their stranglehold" means just that - MS are doing the strangling. RTFA. Or at least read the summary
  • Strategic retreat... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the_skywise (189793) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:12PM (#11623209)
    I've been wondering about this for awhile. Microsoft's overall strategy has always been to be the mediator between your computer/data and you. At the beginning this was DOS, then it became Windows on top of DOS. Then Office to get to your business data, etc; Netscape was a major threat because they could usurp that position and allow you to get to your data through the web browser on a PC without needing a MS product. .NET is the ultimate implementation of this strategy. If they can really make it run anywhere: PCs running Windows, OSX or Linux on various hardware flavors AND on palms, consumer electronics devices, etc; Then they'll have succeeded in making a standardized "glue" layer between you and the hardware.

    Next port Office to .NET and you have practically the same scenario as you have today except now Windows(.NET) runs anywhere.

    Linux? OSX? Windows? Bah, who cares, so long as you're running a .NET license...
    • ...or the next front (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BeerCat (685972) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:30PM (#11623409) Homepage
      .NET has been around for a while, but it finally might be beginning to pick up. The w3schools stats [w3schools.com] for February* have included .NET as an OS platform, with a small, but rising share. Perhaps MS are looking for the same (initially slow) take up of IE6 or XP.



      Of course, the real news is that Firefox has hit 20%, with other non-IE taking the total to over 25%. Yeah, I know, "lies, damn lies and statistics, and all that", but it should mean the end of IE only sites, when it can be shown that they are turning away 1 out every 4 site visitors.
  • by sunspot42 (455706) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:14PM (#11623246)

    Win CE devices are going to continue dropping in price as they become more common. There's no way Microsoft is going to be able to earn anywhere near the margins they make in the PC business on a $100 cell phone, and there's no reason why hardware makers in the competitive electronics marketplace won't switch to open source (i.e. free) alternatives in the not too distant future in order to make their products more competitive. It's not like there's a huge inventory of Win CE software out there that absolutely must be run on these portable devices.

    If MS is betting the future on CE devices, dump your MS stock right now while it's still worth something. MS remains a one trick pony, and their one trick is their OS monopoly in the PC marketplace. In spite of their billions, they've never been able to dominate any other industry and they never will because they're incapable of innovation. Their entire culture involves around theft, acquisition and intimidation. Expecting Microsoft to compete in a more open marketplace and win would be like expecting the Mafia to get into the automobile manufacturing business and compete with Toyota. They aren't structured for that kind of business, have no aptitude for it, and their strong-arm techniques only alienate customers and potential partners.
    • yes, but I think the point is that Microsoft sees that embedded electronics are taking off at a rapid pace. if home automation/convergence ever takes off, the embedded OS market will be HUGE.

      consumers only have one pc (usually. maybe two)

      however, I've also got a
      cell phone
      music player (iPod)
      radio
      router
      stereo
      gaming console
      tv
      coffee maker
      fridge + other kitchen appliances
      digital camera

      You see, even if Microsoft charges $5 per license to run CE on some embedded device which has a $10 microcontroller, they're
  • FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by X43B (577258) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:15PM (#11623256) Journal
    "Microsoft's profit is currently focussed on two major products - MS Windows and MS Office. Both of these are in decline."

    Only on /. can one of the most profitable companies in the world with record profit and revenue for this past quarter be considered in decline. I'm not saying I approve of how they do it, but it is funny how FUD can go both ways.
    • From Microsoft 2004 annual report:

      11% growth in Windows XP/2000 revenue
      19% growth in server revenue (2003/SQL/Exchange)
      17% growth in Office/Project/Visio revenue

      Yea, I don't think the guy writing this article has a clue what he's talking about.
    • I agree that some people can take the "MS in decline!" mode way too far, but there is something there. Yes, they posted record profits this past quarter -- but that was accomplished mostly by slashing R&D costs. This gave them a short-term boost, but may bite them in the ass in the long run. It also shows that they needed to go to some lengths in order to maintain that bottom line. I still agree with you, though -- some people here take things way too far. MS certainly isn't going to fall apart any
    • Re:FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:58PM (#11623760)

      Only on /. can one of the most profitable companies in the world with record profit and revenue for this past quarter be considered in decline. I'm not saying I approve of how they do it, but it is funny how FUD can go both ways.

      Being the most profitable company in the world and being in decline are two separate statements that in no way contradict each other. Neither do record profits contradict decline, due to the rather ambigious nature of the word "decline".

      Consider a corporation that is steadily losing markets to other corporations (and yes, this is happening to Microsoft - Linux market share is growing, and since all market shares must add up to exactly 100%, someone else must be declining). If the total market is growing, that corporation could easily be making record profits (by growing its absolute sales) while still losing market share (declining).

      What makes it worse in Microsoft's case is that their business model is based on being the best known alternative. Windows and Office are so widely used that they are de facto standards. If Microsoft loses market share, this position is threatened, which will lead to further losses - applications will get ported to other operating systems and other file formats will be used for document exchange (and secretaries will learn to use other office programs), making Microsoft's programs seem worse and worse in comparison. So any decline in market share is very bad news for Microsoft. This might also tempt Microsoft to try and make it look like it was having record revenue, to imply that it had record sales and is therefore not going anywhere and therefore still the wise choice.

      Disclaimer: I haven't read the article, nor have I examined either market shares of various products or Microsoft Corporation in any detail. I'm just speculating how these seemingly contradictory claims could be true simultaneously.

  • I could have sworn the title said:
    "Stinky Shit In The Air At Microsoft"

    I need more caffeine.
  • this is doubtful...
  • by Valdrax (32670) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:19PM (#11623320)
    It's a nice conjecture, but I don't really see MS getting all that hyped about Cell when it's more likely that they see it as a competitor. After all, you don't have to be using WinCE to take advantage of the distributed architecture.

    Furthermore, Cell isn't a general purpose CPU. In fact, it may be slower for general purpose computing than today's CPUs. According to the Ars Technica article posted earlier today, they trimmed a lot of the out-of-order execution logic out of the main PowerPC component to make room for the SPEs and to let it be clocked faster. It also seems to only have a single FPU on it -- a logical move since the SPEs are vector FPUs primarily. Code not optimized for Cell (which is going to be a limited subset of multimedia applications) will run slower. The .NET VM isn't going to auto-parallelize code after all.

    Overall, I don't see MS trying to abandon x86 for Cell any time soon since x86 multimedia processing power is more than enough for most consumer applications. While Cell may take off for games, it's not going to make Office or Explorer run any faster.
  • Not many people need the latest and greatest computers. I still have 98 running on an AMD 64 bit 3000+. (I like fast but I don't really NEED it) I still use office 97. I can't see this computer industry ever reaching previous heights.

    We don't NEED a new bug ridden Microsoft OS or Office suite. Microsoft is starting to see what the rest of the computing world has been dealing with for the last couple years.

    The industry is stagnant and there are now tons of 1 ghz machines out there that will run any old o

  • I'd like to know why ths author thinks that these items are in decline. Check MSFT's last annual report.

    "For Microsoft, fiscal 2004 was a great year, marked by strong growth and development of exciting new technologies. All of our businesses grew during the year, increasing total revenue by $4.65 billion, or 14 percent, to $36.8 billion. Profit margins from continuing operations improved, particularly in our emerging businesses."

    "Our Information Worker (home of office) business continues to grow, with

  • by strider3700 (109874) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:22PM (#11623347)
    I'm in the middle of learning to create a program on a windows CE device. Since it's going to be used to aquire data I figured it would be nice to install some form of DB on it. Sure enough there is SQL 200 CE for the ce .net devices. So Here I am thinking this is great I'll install that and away we go. 1 day later I'm still working on that install.

    First I already have visual studio .Net installed and I really can't complain about it. Best IDE I've ever used hands down.

    Second I know that I need SQL server to replicate the DB's with so I head off to MSDN and grab it.
    500 or so meg later and I burn it to a CD(my media versions of the subscription haven't arrived yet) and start the install. Installation doesn't appear to do anything. After messing with it for a bit I remove it. Remove the desktop edition, and remove the old sql client tools. run the install again and it works. Fine I can live with that.
    So I install sql 2000 CE It tells me that I need sql 2000 SP1 installed. I assumed that the newest version on MSDN would have the service pack installed already but I would be wrong.

    So 430 meg later I have downloaded SP2 (sp1 is rolled into it) and another 120 or so meg and I have SP3. Install those. Reinstall sql CE. I get further but I now need to install IIS so that the two can comunicate. It didn't come preinstalled on this XP pro SP2 PC so I get to track the program down, set it up then get the database installed then I can get back to the 20 minute tutorial I was following. .Net on CE devices may work nicely but the hours of hoops to jump through just to get started is a real pain in the ass. By far the best part of this exercise has been visual studio. I added the necessary parts as a reference and away it goes.

    Deploying programs to the device is trivial. If all the rest of the software was at the same level as visual studio I wouldn't be using linux as my desktop at home.
  • by javaxman (705658) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:23PM (#11623357) Journal
    I've heard this explaination as to why Microsoft bought Connectix ( and thus Virtual PC ) before, but never quite so successfully explained.

    Basically, they bought VirtualPC so their future customers, running on some non-x86 processor, can run legacy x86 Windows programs along side their .NET-based programs. The detail being that of course, the .NET-based apps are running in a ( licensed ) Microsoft operating system environment. As an added bonus, the OS used in VPC is yet another licensed MS operating system! Even _more_ software sales for M$!!

    It's just the M$ way of _not_ betting the farm on x86... which is the true point of .NET, at least according to this guy.

    Hey, they're not stupid at M$, they just like *MONEY*!!!

    • Seems to make some sense, but not so much from a $$$ angle. Mac OS X, for example, uses an emulator to run Mac OS 9 apps on OS X, which was necessary since the new system is not backwards compatible with the old one at all.

      Microsoft seems to be looking to use Longhorn as an opportunity to break free from the backwards compatibility that affords them little room for flexibility in how they can implement changes, and now they can do so via the same emulation idea Apple succeeded with in their transition to
    • I'm still thinking it's far more likely that they did it so have a support path for people with DOS and win3/9x apps, then drop problematic legacy support in their current OS. VirtualPC does give them security against changing from x86 too though, so there's no penalty anyway.

      As a side note, the NT 4 kernel also ran on Alpha, and I recall it could emulate x86 WinNT apps already.
  • It doesn't seem like a new strategy to me, I think the heralding of it as an official strategy is when Office is ported to .Net. I don't recall seeing signs of that though...

    One interesting aspect is that it seems to me the whole support for unsafe code and for differnet languages is perhaps all to make it easier to port Office to .Net. Still seems like it would be a bother to port, and additionally if it has too much native code you've not really gained any benefits.

    The funny thing is that other compan
  • by ShatteredDream (636520) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:31PM (#11623421) Homepage
    About Longhorn. It was supposed to be the Great Leap Forward for Microsoft and yet most of the cool features have either been pulled for future releases or being backported to XP. This will probably be the first version of Windows where there is very little incentive to upgrade from the previous version for most of Microsoft's users.

    The absolute worst thing that could happen to Microsoft would be for Windows to lag in sales. So much of their company rides on the success of Windows and Office that if one of those gets badly damaged it would have very damaging results for the entire company.
    • This will probably be the first version of Windows where there is very little incentive to upgrade from the previous version for most of Microsoft's users.

      IMHO, that honour falls to the Win2000 --> WinXP upgrade. You're right, though, that there may be even *less* incentive for XP --> Longhorn.

  • Google! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LesPaul75 (571752) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:35PM (#11623464) Journal
    I (still) say that Microsoft is being forced into changing their application delivery model by Google. What choice do they have? What happens when Google rolls out a word processor, spreadsheet, and a dozen other "Office-like" apps all of which run right in your web browser, and they offer it all at a really, really competitive price per user (especially to businesses), and Microsoft is still selling clunky old CDs?

    Look at it this way... Which would you rather have: this [microsoft.com] or this [google.com]? One of them comes on a CD, and becomes outdated very quickly unless you continously patch and upgrade it. The other is just a URL that you type into a browser, and you can let them (Google) worry about keeping it up to date.
  • .Net == .Not (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JPyObjC Dude (772176) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:35PM (#11623468)
    If I had two identically priced and featured products and one was running on .Net and the other JME, I would not even think twice about selecting latter.

    There are many in the world who have had enough of the instabilities and insecurity of microsoft software who will do just the same. Just look at the ratio of enterprise applications running on java vs .net. It seems that .net is for the little guy's who are too cheap to spend the money on an enterprise product.

    Time to buy those Options on Microsoft Stocks.

    JsD
    [karma=(moz+nix+ooo)-ms]
    • Re:.Net == .Not (Score:4, Informative)

      by blueberrry (719325) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @10:20PM (#11625573)
      Ignorance must not be modded as interesting.

      Have you ever tried .NET? This is not VB. .NET is very stable, in fact if all Microsoft applications were written in .NET they would be a lot more stable and secure. I'm really starting to get pissed off about people who haven't even used .NET and talk crap about it.

      Remove your tin foil hat and get the facts. I'm not pro-Microsoft, i'm happy not to use their products when I can. However, .NET is pretty rock-solid. I've used it for dozens of projects and I've had a better overall experience than Java (faster, more coherent, less bloat).

      Please give some examples to support your claims.

  • I wish I had time to RTFA but the post itself brings up an interesting question: If
    [A] Sun's reaction to Microsoft's ubiquity and its anticipation of declining market for its workstations and its earlier [than MS] grasp of what the WWW would do to the software world was to make java the languange and eventually J2EE the hardware independent platform.
    [B]And if, as the post suggests, .NET, Microsoft's one-up on Sun's old architectural coup, is now Redmond's repsonse to trends threatening its dominance
    Then
  • Uh...who cares? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WheelDweller (108946)

    This is just another PT Barnam special; it'll put more immature code onto the streets, require we buy new, bigger, faster computers, and still have viruses (or purchase of the latest companies would be meaningless) and it'll be the same old thing.

    Sure, it's pretty, and sure parts of it (like printing services) work very well. But it's still that same old plantation on which we all have lived. And those of us without courage to fight it will live there until they close, and beyond.

    Guys, don't think for

  • by Orne (144925) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:45PM (#11623576) Homepage
    Ok, so the whole article seemed to pivot around the notion that the biggest problem Microsoft has is that consumers are not upgrading their software fast enough to improve current market returns. Yes, "Many organisations are still using Office '97 - an 8 year old release - and see no compelling reason to upgrade."

    Organizations are using Microsoft products, and are not switching (to other Microsoft products). Sounds like a net zero change in market share to me.

    Yes, Linux is expected to close in [infoworld.com] on Windows in a couple of years. From a 90% dominance today, to a projected 58% dominence. Oh yeah, only if you count dominance on PDAs. You see, Microsoft has 48.1% [itfacts.biz] of the PDA market in Q3 2004, with Palm at #2 at 29.8%, and is expected to decline.

    In the browser usage stats [w3schools.com], Microsoft is dropping, with a 64.9% share, compared to up and coming FireFox at 20%. The problem is, FireFox looks like it hasnt gained any share since it peaked in Nov 2004. That's the best I could find for FireFox, since other studies put Microsoft's Internet Explorer at around 92.9 % dominance worldwide. Its very hard to get any two companies to agree on stats, because they're both approaching the question with different agendas.

    But desktops, well, the statistics for Microsoft and Linux are all over the place [technewsworld.com]. Last spring, Microsoft had 93% of the worldwide desktop market in their corner, but was still fighting (in Jan 2004) the business side to upgrade to the latest and greatest MS products. Microsoft really starts to cry in the server market, where IBM via Linux are barrelling through to win. Except Microsoft still has 59% of the server market, 3:1 today and 2:1 on projected Linux share. This was one [itfacts.biz] of the few business statistic sites that actually had hard numbers, and even there, desktop stats appear pretty stale.

    In conclusion, from browsing through Google, people have been making these same claims on market share dominance since 2001, "Linux is the up and comer, watch out!" and noone seems to ever back up their sides with hard numbers... nothing that actually shows a survey on how Windows:Linux ratios that actually shows Linux having a chance... every year, "we're coming to get you, this year is our year!" Maybe its because for all the talk, Linux really is a niche market after all...
  • Empire Strikes Back (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @07:39PM (#11624201) Homepage Journal
    The underlying story in that analysis, unaffected by its predictive likelihood, is that the WinTel cartel might be broken. The article makes much of the rise of the Cell CPU (IBM/Sony/Toshiba), and the ability of MS to produce new SW for it, rather than new Intel CPUs. .NET's CLR and some recent PPC cross-execution MS acquisitions all position MS to produce code that can run elsewhere, a direction MS hasn't moved since the NT/Alpha project was folded years ago.

    All that follows Intel's growth in the Linux market. Linux runs on many CPUs that aren't Intel, but most Linux installs are on Intel, thereby displacing copies of Windows and the rest of its lockin environment. The WinTel alliance, that for years fed each company on the other's monopoly, might be dysfunctional already past the point of no return. That in itself was such a powerful anticompetitive setup, that its loss might represent the greatest opportunity for Linux and other OS'es. Since Microsoft's strategy so far seems to be a cross-platform approach, and since .NET is already more interoperable on, say, Linux with, say, Mono, that kind of HW/SW lockin might be diappearing for good. The simple arrival of a Mac as preferred development platform for (PPC) Xbox shows that the hegemony game has changed. Next we await an escalating move from Intel, like a Linux (-only) kernel patch that actually lets us use our x86 hosts in massively parallel arrays across the Internet, preempting both the Cell PR and the .NET PR to that effect in this article and elsewhere. We might have followed the Force through the darkness, and into the light, after all.
  • by tekunokurato (531385) <jackphelps@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @08:02PM (#11624441) Homepage
    Declining market?? Typical linux bias! Maybe declining server market share or declining ability to automatically upsell versions, but not declining market in desktop windows or MS office. Not domestically, and especially not worldwide. This guy makes a big old logic jump based on his personal bias when he says that.
  • pure drivel (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jodka (520060) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @08:52PM (#11624922)
    The article states, as a central premise:

    "What Microsoft really needs is some way of ensuring that software wears out at a similar speed to hardware. Unfortunately for them, although fortunately for the consumer, it is quite hard to build planned obsolescence into software."

    WTF? That is utter nonsense. The Windows security model dates from before ubiquitous internet. It was not designed for a modern threat level and has NOT been adequately updated to deal with it. It does not get any more worn out than that.

    The article makes it out that Microsoft's problem is that there is no market for innovation in operating systems. Bullshit. There is a huge market for innovation. Just look at all the features Apple is adding to MacOS (quartz extreme, spotlight..) and look at how the Linux Kernel continues to improve (real time support, reentrent kernel, massive multi-CPU scaling and clustering, constant time scheduler, ever more platforms). Microsoft's real problem is that their Windows development operation has become so bloated and inept that they can not supply timely improvements. They have not kept up with the competition or with the hackers, and are only falling further behind. And most of the "innovative" features announced in Longhorn seem to be inspired by OS X.

    This does not seem to be a problem with Microsoft generally. They do execute well in other areas. IMHO Halo and the Xbox are good products, whatever their profitability. The .Net architecture seems like a sensible (more generality) and well-executed improvement over Java ideas.

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