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Is Microsoft An Innovator? - The Winer-Scoble Debate 365

Posted by Zonk
from the i've-got-the-popcorn dept.
Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Bloggers Robert Scoble (a former Microsoft 'technical evangelist') and Dave Winer (longtime Microsoft critic) debate whether Microsoft is driving innovation or playing catch-up, in an email conversation published on WSJ.com. Winer writes, 'Microsoft isn't an innovator, and never was. They are always playing catch-up, by design. That's their M.O. They describe their development approach as "chasing tail lights." They aren't interested in markets until they're worth billions, so they let others develop the markets, and have been content to catch-up.' Scoble responds that Microsoft's innovation can be found in the little things: 'I remember when they improved the error messages you get in Internet Explorer, or when they improved fonts in Windows with ClearType technology. That improved our lives in a very tiny way. Not one that you usually read about, or probably even notice. Is Microsoft done innovating in those small ways? Absolutely not. Office 2007 lets me do some things (like cool looking charts) in seconds that used to take many minutes, maybe even hours for some people to do.'"
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Is Microsoft An Innovator? - The Winer-Scoble Debate

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:27AM (#17064742)
    If Microsoft are "chasing tail lights" could someone please brake suddenly.
  • by jimstapleton (999106) on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:27AM (#17064744) Journal
    OK, they make small improvements to things, btu yeah, the big changes are definetly taken (purchased or copied) from others.

    Still, they have a habit of taking crap and actually making it pretty decent. At least to my experience.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cepayne (998850)
      They have become a Venture Capital investor, buying up other peoples
      technologies, and then enforcing their non-standards onto the
      computing world.

      If it weren't for their portfolio of IP (intellectual property)
      patents, they wouldn't be relavent anymore in todays computing
      world.

      Just my $0.02 worth.

    • by geekoid (135745)
      "Still, they have a habit of taking crap and actually making it pretty decent."
      only compared to the crap it was.
      Which is the real secret to their success.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Still, they have a habit of taking crap and actually making it pretty decent.

      And then sometimes, they take a pretty decent product, make a less usable version of it and then crowd out the better product, by bundling their version with the OS.

    • by chthon (580889)

      Even that mode is copied, because the Japanese industry worked in that mode in the seventies and eighties.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by vertinox (846076)
      Still, they have a habit of taking crap and actually making it pretty decent. At least to my experience.

      Are you talking about Microsoft's crap or other people's crap?
      I mean if we are talking about the transition from Win95 to Win2000, I would say that is true but let us take a look at some examples when we compare other companies vs Microsoft:

      1. Apache vs IIS

      Apache crap? I don't think so. Ever had to admin IIS 4 or 5? Gah! I don't know about newer versions though, but I have a hunch there are still issues g
      • So you are saying Microsoft bought Apache, Oracle, Apple, Sony, Nintendo, Novel and a few other companys that you listed there.

        Last I check, Microsoft didt take or use any of those products you in making their own products. Try reading comprehension some time, it helps out a lot.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by man_of_mr_e (217855)
      I think the problem here is the definition of the word "innovation". By the definition that everyone seems to apply to Microsoft, *NOTHING* in the computer industry in the last 10 years has been "innovative". Nothing. Everything can be traced back to some other technique that appeared before.

      I don't think that's particularly useful.

      Instead, we should consider that "innovation" is "standing on the shoulders of giants". Creating a new way to do something, possibly based on an old technique, but still diff
  • Give me a break (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gentimjs (930934) on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:27AM (#17064746) Journal
    Stuff like UI-isms (paperclips, ribbons, hiding the file menu, etc) isnt "innovation" .... Stuff like Dtrace , TCP/IP, xml, .. THAT is innovation. Lets have MS give us some real innovation, you know - stuff that wont just change "the way things are done" inside of thier own software ecosystem.
    • Re:Give me a break (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dysk (621566) on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:34AM (#17064852)
      [quote]Stuff like UI-isms (paperclips, ribbons, hiding the file menu, etc) isnt "innovation" .... Stuff like Dtrace , TCP/IP, xml, .. THAT is innovation. Lets have MS give us some real innovation, you know - stuff that wont just change "the way things are done" inside of thier own software ecosystem.[/quote] Tell that to your grandma. Computers are made to be used, not to be repositories for acronyms.
    • Re:Give me a break (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Slithe (894946) on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:39AM (#17064918) Homepage Journal
      Stuff like Dtrace , TCP/IP, xml, .. THAT is innovation.

      Don't get me wrong; DTrace does sound like a very useful application, but real-time debugging was available on Genera [wikipedia.org]. Clinical debugging (as opposed to mortician-style debugging) has been around for quite some time.

      I agree that TCP/IP was innovative.

      XML is just a simplified subset of SGML; while XML is useful, it is hardly innovative. If you want to see innovative, you should look at Project Xanadu [wikipedia.org]. .l
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 0xABADC0DA (867955)

        If you want to see innovative, you should look at Project Xanadu.

        Uh, yeah conceived in 1960 and finally implemented in 1998. Yeah that's innovation alright. Meanwhile around 1960 Douglas Englebart basically invented and demoing everything we use today: the mouse, GUIs, hypertext links (aka the web), email, groupware, video confrencing, etc in the "mother of all demos" [wikipedia.org].

        Watch for yourself [google.com]. What they dont have a computer history class anymore??

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by optimus2861 (760680)

      Stuff like UI-isms (paperclips, ribbons, hiding the file menu, etc) isnt "innovation"....Stuff like Dtrace , TCP/IP, xml, .. THAT is innovation.

      An innovative UI is no less innovative then technical jargon, it's just a different field of innovation. Apple, anybody? And a non-innovative UI can ruin what might otherwise be a fine application -- I'm looking at you, GIMP. Whether Microsoft's ribbon concept will prove to be a leap forward or a laughingstock is anyone's guess at this point, but to dismiss it

  • MSFT is too big and bloated to be nimble and innovative. For the last ten years their product execution has been horrible. They show up late to the party with a buggy product and treat their customers like criminals.

    Time for Ballmer to go. As long as he's in charge at MSFT nothing is going to change.

  • Out of proportion (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Qamelian (714680)
    Scoble says "I remember when they improved the error messages you get in Internet Explorer, or when they improved fonts in Windows with ClearType technology. That improved our lives in a very tiny way." Sorry, but ClearType is not something I consider life-improving. A cure for diabetes is life-improving.
    • Re:Out of proportion (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:33AM (#17064836)
      Not only that, but Cleartype is mearly a marketing name for sub-pixel antialiasing, which is something Microsoft did not invent. So where is the innovation? "Friendly" error messages in Internet Explorer are also hardly an innovation, unless you're going to set the bar extremely low. Most developers and sysadmins hate the things anyway.
    • by 0racle (667029)
      When you work on a computer all day every day, little things that make that experience better are by definition life-improving. A cure for diabetes does not improve my life at all. It's not a question of proportion but perspective. Besides, if those programmers hadn't spent their time doing ClearType or fixed error messages do you really think they would have solved all of life's problems?
    • by epiphani (254981) <epiphani&dal,net> on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:46AM (#17065022)
      Thank you Microsoft, for improving the error messages you get in Internet Explorer. Now my QA team always gives "Cannot find server or DNS error" as the error message, leaving me with very little to work with.

      Bucketing all errors to prompt one page is not improvement - its obfuscation, its stupidity, its annoyance. It makes troubleshooting a problem exponentially harder.

      If thats what microsoft thinks is innovation, they should have their product development team strung up by their short and curleys.
    • A trivial search on the net shows that the 'ClearType' [desktoppub...gforum.com] is nothing more that a rehash of the same generic fonts available to all. I guess I am the only person that thinks Microsoft's perpetuation of "Proud Ignorance" is troubling.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Haeleth (414428)
        A trivial search on the net shows that the 'ClearType' is nothing more that a rehash of the same generic fonts available to all.

        It would be nice if the link you included actually supported your claim in any way whatsoever. Unfortunately it doesn't.

        The link you included is to a discussion of the (admittedly confusingly-named) Cleartype fonts, which are a set of original typefaces that will be shipped with Vista. The name comes from the fact that they were designed specifically to take advantage of Cleartype
        • Re:Out of proportion (Score:4, Informative)

          by KozmoStevnNaut (630146) <henrikstevn@gm a i l .com> on Friday December 01, 2006 @12:04PM (#17066412)
          Oddly enough, my sub-pixel anti-aliased fonts (Bitstream Vera Sans, for example) look quite a bit better on KDE (with "hinting" set to "slight") than Cleartype fonts do on XP, on the very same LCD. The X.org implementation is simply superior to Cleartype, which I find makes the text way too fuzzy. If I wanted fuzzy text, I would have gotten a CRT instead.

          Even if I use the unsupported Cleartype tuning applet, it simply cannot look as good as the fonts on my KDE desktop.
        • Re:Out of proportion (Score:5, Informative)

          by Vitriol+Angst (458300) on Friday December 01, 2006 @01:19PM (#17068002)
          e.g. Apple ripped it off in OS X 10.2, most Linux desktops now use a very poor imitation of it, Adobe has their own ripoff, etc.

          >> NO, I think Apple was "ripping off" Display Postscript, which was from Adobe. The NeXT boxes used display postscript to render everything -- but even THAT I think, came from a NeXT innovation in conjunction with Adobe's postscript printing language that they were trying to bring to the screen, but Adobe had the patents on Postscript so tight, they had to collaborate. DP was very resource intensive, and required NeXT to shell out real bucks for every computer that used it to Adobe -- hence, it didn't have much appeal to them when Apple bought NeXT (and was then taken over by NeXT). So it took some time to reproduce all of that in Quartz on MacOSX but this prompted an even bigger innovation by Apple to move these processes to the graphics card (though, AMIGA did all this right years before anyone by breaking down all sorts of CPU-bound functions into specialized components -- but I digress).

          Anyway, anti-aliasing to the screen has been around a lot longer than you suggest. The "ripp-off" of clearer font display on OS X, was just the growing pains of Apple trying to re-invent what they had done years before in their previous OS, and also with NeXT computers.

          The "Clear-type" technology, cannot compare at all to the quality of Display postscript. It basically rasterized all the vector data to the screen as though "printing" to it. Clear-type just used an efficient anti-aliasing technique that works better "in some situations." And people are confused by the issue because OS X did it wrong for a few years -- whereas NeXT had it PERFECT years before that.

          And then there might be some SGI fans who will chime in that NeXT might not have been the first to market with Display Postscript.

          "I guess I am the only person that thinks Microsoft's perpetuation of "Proud Ignorance" is troubling.

          I find it rather ironic that this was posted by someone who appears to be proud of his own ignorance."


          That is really, really Ironic. I'm guessing the previous poster meant; "Proud Ignorance" to mean that; "people think Microsoft Innovates all the time, because they don't know the real history."

          They didn't invent DOS -- it was a knock-off of CP/M.

          They totally ripped off VisiCalc from a man who didn't understand the need for lawyers to create Excel.

          Word from MacWrite.

          Etc.

          >> Anyway, this is an old, old debate. MS doesn't have the "Pioneer" business model -- and that I can understand and I don't fault them for that. I think this discussion should really be; "Does Microsoft hurt real innovation" and I would have to say; Yes, more than any other company in the computer field.

          But hey, I'm much more worried about politics in the US over the past few years to even have worries about Microsoft on my radar anymore.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SEMW (967629)
        What the hell are you on about? The page you linked to is about 6 new fonts that will ship with Vista & Office 2007. They obviously are designed to work well will work with Cleartype, but they're not what Cleartype is. Cleartype is a method of subpixel font antialiasing, which works with any (truetype/opentype) font.

        Oh, and if you think all new fonts are "rehashes of the same generic fonts available to all", you're just ignorant. There's a hell of a lot to good font designing.
  • by PingSpike (947548) on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:29AM (#17064762)
    ...Scoble responds that Microsoft's innovation can be found in the little things: 'I remember when they improved the error messages you get in Internet Explorer, or when they improved fonts in Windows with ClearType technology. That improved our lives in a very tiny way. Not one that you usually read about, or probably even notice. Is Microsoft done innovating in those small ways? Absolutely not. Office 2007 lets me do some things (like cool looking charts) in seconds that used to take many minutes, maybe even hours for some people to do.'"
    Wow. Improved error messages in Internet Explorer. Which side of the argument is this guy on again?
  • by clickety6 (141178) on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:29AM (#17064764)
    ... but they make such a mess of it!

    ActiveX - why not let others use your computer resources too
    MicrosoftBOB - bwahahahahahahaha
    Clippy - bwahahahahahahaha x 200
    MP3 player with WiFi (crippled beyond belief)
    Brown Mp3 players (my god - who told them brown was the in colour?)
    PlaysForSure - but not on our player

  • ClearType (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KiloByte (825081) on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:29AM (#17064768)
    'I remember when they improved the error messages you get in Internet Explorer, or when they improved fonts in Windows with ClearType technology.
    Improving error messages can't really be called a new invention. ClearType is nothing but a marketing name for sub-pixel antialiasing, something that has been done before. So, if their examples for Microsoft's innovations are in fact counterexamples, this is quite telling.
  • um (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rucs_hack (784150) on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:29AM (#17064778)
    we are supposed to all shout NO!. But they innovated in one critical way. When the Unix wars were in full swing, they came up with a remarkable new business model that utterly crushed all competition and set them as the worlds main desktop and office OS.

    Is that innovation? You may argue not, was it nice, nope, but they managed it, and business was so desperate for someone to get of their fat corporate arse and solve their newborn IT problem, that they loved everything microsoft did.

    If only it hadn't been them that did it /sigh...
    • by ookaze (227977)
      But they innovated in one critical way. When the Unix wars were in full swing, they came up with a remarkable new business model that utterly crushed all competition and set them as the worlds main desktop and office OS

      Excuse me ?
      Using IBM's name and money to build an OS where there were none before, for brand new standard of compatible personal computers that didn't exist before, is not exactly innovation. The innovation was from IBM then : the IBM PC. Their business model was basically screwing IBM with t
      • Re:um (Score:5, Insightful)

        by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:11AM (#17065470) Homepage Journal
        Not only that, the business model itself was also perfected by IBM in the 70s. No innovation here, just a tried and true strategy, executed very, very well.
      • Re:um (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rucs_hack (784150) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:14AM (#17065522)
        yes indeed, don't you see that was my point? There were already operating systems, tens of the buggers. The problem was they lacked focus, chasing after each other and trying to trap customers. Go read about the Unix wars, you're history knowledge needs improving.

        Vendor lock in was what the Unix wars were all about. Microsoft didn't invent that, they just said 'hey, we have new stuff that's cheaper, and it runs on any pc' They never claimed that other software makers could do better, that didn't make sense back then, co-operation was for losers..

        Before microsoft you would buy your computing solution, the software would be custom written for that hardware only, and you were locked completelly to one vendor for both hardware and software, they could and did charge what they liked, and if the software was crap? tough. Microsofts greatest hit was not being tied to a specific hardware set, they could sell their stuff to any computer manufacturer they pleased.

        Yes microsoft has software vendor lock in. They emerged in an era where this was an improvement. Besides, all businesses cared about was that it worked, and would be compatible with what other companies were using. This was another problem in the unix wars.

        You're making the mistake of taking current events and extrapolating back 20 years, that doesn't work. Yes microsoft aren't so nice now, but have you had a look at what IBM used to get up to? They make microsoft look soft, I'm telling you.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by SWPadnos (191329)

          yes indeed, don't you see that was my point? There were already operating systems, tens of the buggers. The problem was they lacked focus, chasing after each other and trying to trap customers. Go read about the Unix wars, you're history knowledge needs improving.

          Well, that's not entirely true. There was CP/M, which ran on computers from several vendors (including several different processor families), and provided a common set of OS tools to the programmer. I'm not sure how great that was for end users, but it couldn't have been all that bad.

          Vendor lock in was what the Unix wars were all about. Microsoft didn't invent that, they just said 'hey, we have new stuff that's cheaper, and it runs on any pc' They never claimed that other software makers could do better, that didn't make sense back then, co-operation was for losers..

          That was true for "large computers", but not for "small computers". Of course it's true that there was a very small market for home computers at the time: Commodore PET, Tandy TRS-80, Atari, Apple, and several smaller pla

  • Really, most of us have fallen for the big lie. It doesn't matter whether or not Microsoft is innovative, everyone is innovative. It's inventive we should care about? I can rearrange the paperclips in my drawer and that qualifies as innovative. It's a work that means nothing. That's why Microsoft made it a key feature of their advertising campaigns, it's a technical sounding word that only requires that Microsoft copy other companies.
  • yawn (Score:2, Funny)

    by iadude1010 (966243)
    yawn
  • Innovation, huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by scdeimos (632778) on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:33AM (#17064830)
    Scoble responds that Microsoft's innovation can be found in the little things: 'I remember when they improved the error messages you get in Internet Explorer, or when they improved fonts in Windows with ClearType technology.
    How quickly they forget that ClearType, the method as Microsoft describes it, is a direct rip-off of the font smoothing technology Apple came up with for using Apple II's on (comparatively) lo-res colour television displays in the mid-1980's.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ed Avis (5917)
      According to this article [cnn.com], Microsoft's ClearType does seem to be a new thing and not a copy of the anti-aliasing used on the Apple II. The tone of the article makes it sound as though ClearType is nothing new, but if you read the details you see that Apple's anti-aliasing uses neighbouring grey pixels to smooth the boundary between black and white (something used in many font systems since), but Microsoft's thing goes a step further and uses the separate R,G,B pixel layout of an LCD to fill in one-third or
      • The tone of the article makes it sound as though ClearType is nothing new, but if you read the details you see that Apple's anti-aliasing uses neighbouring grey pixels to smooth the boundary between black and white (something used in many font systems since), but Microsoft's thing goes a step further and uses the separate R,G,B pixel layout of an LCD to fill in one-third or two-thirds of a pixel horizontally. This wouldn't work with colour televisions or CRT monitors, even if they have a Trinitron-like hori

  • I think the MS evangelist is missing the point. What drives Microsoft to make those small improvements? I have heard from other recent articles, such as the 9-choice Vista shutdown menu fiasco, that the development team supposedly has Macintosh computers around as "good examples". I'd say that's playing catch-up. Of course, it completely makes sense that anyone wanting to dominate has a much shorter road to use a 90+% install base as a copycat platform rather than risk an innovation that doesn't work...
  • News?.. not really (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sassinak (150422) <sassinak@nOsPam.sdf.lonestar.org> on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:35AM (#17064866) Homepage
    Lets see... MS took an existing Operating system, repackaged it, and sold it to IBM. And thus an empire was born.

    MS innovates in their marketing and licensing schemes, but is that really what you want from a TECHNOLOGY firm?.. Sure, their lawyers are smart.. ("Lets see how we can gouge you today, AND not have you realize until your bleeding").

    Everything else they have done as been, as many have pointed out, been based on someone else's work, that they have taken to market with their leverage. Again, nothing I can respect from a TECHNOLOGY firm. Microsoft should just cut the crap and call themselves what they are. a Terriffic marketing firm. They are NOT and have never been a technology firm.
    • creating new markets.

      They are not the same.

      Innovating is creating something new or different.

      So Zune is innovation. Is it a new market? no. Is it new or different? yes.

      No I am not a MS 'fanboi' but lets use the correct definition.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:36AM (#17064870) Homepage Journal
    innovation /nven/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[in-uh-vey-shuhn] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
    -noun
    1. something new or different introduced: numerous innovations in the high-school curriculum.
    2. the act of innovating; introduction of new things or methods.

    From dictionary.com

    So, I guess technically MS does innovate, but they don't create new markets.
    • by jimicus (737525)
      Yes, I'd agree with that definition. With every major software release, Microsoft innovates at least a dozen ways for the IT industry to tear its hair out and scream in frustration.
    • by Mr2cents (323101)

      "It's not a bug, it's.. uhm.. Innovation! That's it!"
  • Not a pleasant position to be in :-(

    Microsoft are more pleasant to interact with, in my experience.
  • Okay, so where's the Apple icon that would seem to go with this story by implication? And what does the Hardware icon have to do with this? Or have the topic icons started making sense all of a sudden...except not?

    Triv

  • Most of Microsoft's most commercially successful products "borrowed" heavily from other applications on the market, at least to start with. But I think that culture is starting to change. Microsoft PowerShell is the most impressive operating system shell that's been released in a long time, an innovative, object-oriented departure from the old Unix shell paradigm.

    If you need absolute proof that innovation lives at Microsoft, take a look at their experimental operating system: Singularity [wikipedia.org].

    • by ettlz (639203)
      But hasn't the idea behind Singularity been in academic labs years before?
  • It was and continues to be. They have their ups and their downs. Just like other companies, Apple included. Its fun to remember their screwups. They get noticed more because they are so big they attract enough "haters" to make a community.

    Office was a great idea when it came out and has steadily improved. For some of us its entirely too much but it does the basics as well as enough fancy stuff to keep most business needs covered.

    Xbox Live is probably their last great innovation. Everyone talks about o
  • I remember when they improved the error messages you get in Internet Explorer, or when they improved fonts in Windows with ClearType technology.

    The little things are important, but not THAT important. Those are improvements, not innovations.

  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:46AM (#17065028) Journal

    Scoble tacitly supports Winer's argument by pointing to what would be normal "improvement" of products and technology citing that as innovation.

    Come on! Every product is iterated! Scoble's claim this is innovation is specious. If any vendors out there didn't iterate on their own products with "small" improvements, they wouldn't stay in the business.

    So, basically Scoble cedes the argument -- Microsoft really does lie in wait until the market is huge enough for predatory action, and jumps in with "small improvements". Innovation? Hardly.

  • "I remember when they improved the error messages you get in Internet Explorer"

    Don't make me laugh. The error messages in Explorer are pitiful, and haven't gotten any better, just more verbose. IE is not alone in this however. To illustrate the point, exactly the same goes for Oracle messages such as ORA-00942 "View or table does not exist"

    So *which* view or table does not exist? The message can be made more verbose:

    "The view or table that you tried to access does not exist. Check if the specified view exis
  • "Scoble responds that Microsoft's innovation can be found in the little things: 'I remember when they improved the error messages you get in Internet Explorer, or when they improved fonts in Windows with ClearType technology."

    These are NOT innovations, in *any* way, shape or form. They are product polishing. It seems that the only way MS have innovated is by creating their own definition of "innovation" to suit themselves (hmm.. this seems to be a recurring thing with them), and brainwashed the media to mak
    • These are NOT innovations, in *any* way, shape or form. They are product polishing.

      OK, so what is the last desktop app that you've seen that is innovative by those standards?

      Not to sound trollish nor to apologize for MS bringing little new to the table but it's a tired argument that if someone takes something old, puts a new spin to it and finds acceptance than that person has created anything new, but rather stole from others.

      It's like the music debate where a bunch of Zeppelin fans constantly go on an
  • by soxos (614545)
    Isn't innovation, by definition, creating products that are so new that they create markets? The small things that help are only making new technologies more useful, not inspiring new generations.

    I'll make my case as such. Microsoft did come up with the XMLHttpRequest object, but it took people outside MS to turn that into AJAX.
    • by Aladrin (926209)

      I dunno, why don't we look it up:

      http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=innova t ion Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.0.1) - Cite This Source innovation /nven/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[in-uh-vey-shuhn] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation -noun 1. something new or different introduced: numerous innovations in the high-school curriculum. 2. the act of innovating; introduction of new things or methods. [Origin: 1540-50;

      Nope, nothing about markets. Lots about 'new' and a little

  • Worst "debate" ever (Score:5, Interesting)

    by illuminatedwax (537131) <stdrange AT alumni DOT uchicago DOT edu> on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:48AM (#17065076) Journal
    FTFA:
    It was a fun debate.

    No. It was a bloody awful debate, full of contradictory statements and non sequiturs.:
    Guy 1: Microsoft doesn't innovate.
    Guy 2: Yes they do! They innovate by improving their own software! So clearly they are more innovative than themselves!
    Guy 1: Apple doesn't innovate either.
    Guy 2: Ah, but what about Halo??
    Guy 1: Um, Microsoft bought the company that made Halo.
    Guy 2: That's just how they innovate: buying people who do! Um, I guess that's not innovation, so.... remember how much more Apple innovated in 1989, but then Microsoft made more money than them? That proves that Microsoft can innovate in this new horrible way that I just made up!
    Guy 1: No, that doesn't make sense and you know it. I think Google is the top software company now because I use their products.
    Guy 2: Well, Google shut down one of the things they do, and I like how Microsoft ranks my blog better than how Google does it! That's the kind of thing that makes Microsoft innovative: providing a better search result for a single query. Vista has an RSS aggregator. Is that innovative? Oh...no but it's cool. Also the XBox is popular.
    Guy 1: Big corporations are all assholes and none of them innovate.
    Guy 2: A friend of mine that works at Microsoft says he's happy that Google is innovating, because that means he gets to work on his projects to play catch-up...I mean innovate. Here's a bunch of random stuff Microsoft did that has nothing to do with innovation.

    This uninformed waste of time brought to you by the Wall Street Journal.
  • What the poop is a "technical evangelist"?
  • The dictionary definition (according to m-w.com) of "innovate" is "to introduce as or as if new". Microsoft has certainly introduced a lot of things _as if_ they were new (even though they weren't, since Unix, Linux, and/or Apple had them years before). Therefore Microsoft is innovative.
  • by AslanTheMentat (896280) on Friday December 01, 2006 @10:50AM (#17065100) Homepage
    Wow... Where do I begin...

    And the viruses and malware problem is significantly less since Windows XP Service Pack 2.
    Huh... I seem to remember seeing an article purporting that at least half of the spam-zombies perpetuating these stock pump-and-dump schemes are Win XP SP2 boxen...

    Apple will come out with iTV next year, after Microsoft has been doing Media Center for more than two years. I bet Apple will get credit for their "innovation" first, though, cause it's not fun to give Microsoft credit for innovation.
    Maybe that's because Apple did more than cobble together a rank-ass Media Center version of Windows and slap a nice TV-video card in a tower enclosure. I mean seriously, where the hell are you supposed to put M$'s media center PC that will make it suitable as a Media Center AND a workstation? They completely missed the boat. Apple will most likely do it better, smaller, cheaper, faster, and with more quality. (I'm not a Mac fanboi so much as a MS Loather...)

    [Winer]: You have to create things they don't teach in school. If you can take a college class about it, it ain't innovation.
    True dat, BUT they really should be teaching security more these days. I can't say it really ever came up in my classes way back when, but then, it was a different day and age. PC's didn't get "mugged" the minute they stepped onto the internet then either.

    Ahh, have you ever played Halo? That's from Microsoft too.
    And here we have the crux of the problem... I believe Bungie had been working on Halo before Microsoft devoured them... In fact, it was Bungie who made many wonderful games for the Mac. Pathways out of Darkness? Marathon? Hello? Then suddenly, MS pwned them, and now they make crappy back ports to their "original" OS... *sigh* More importantly though, how is Bungie's Halo a Microsoft innovation again?

    Yes, and there's always room for a company that innovates through acquisitions.
    Forgive me, but being innovative does not involve buying other people's work and calling it your own, and furthermore not giving credit where credit's due, as above. That's called evil.

    Would YouTube have gotten purchased for more than a billion if Microsoft wasn't threatening Google? I doubt it.
    Isn't that the other way around? I mean, MS is kinda king-of-the-hill. Seems like Google poses more of a threat to MS... Where is Microsoft's innovative "video site"? Oh yeah, they are playing catch-up trying to cobble together their own...

    No... most of MS's innovation is sadly in their relatively nasty and harmful business practices like "Embrace and Extend". Honestly, this is the kind of innovation we wish they would just shelve somewhere....
  • Office 2007 lets me do some things (like cool looking charts) in seconds

    And this is meant as a demonstration of how Microsoft is innovating. I remember when I last got excited about making "cool looking charts in seconds", it was using a program called Harvard Graphics in about 1991.

    It's 2007 and he's talking about "cool looking charts". To me this just demonstrates the extent to which Microsoft is holding back innovation...

  • Adobe Type Manager, with font smoothing, was out on Macs in 1991, long before ClearType, which was touted as one of XP's new features when it shipped in 2002. ATM was even available as an add-on to Windows by 1993, nine years ahead of ClearType. Furthermore, Mac OS 8.5 shipped with Apple's own built-in font smoothing in 1998. Whether or not M$ has done much innovating, that example doesn't exactly help his case.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gEvil (beta) (945888)
      FYI, font anti-aliasing is not the same as sub-pixel rendering. However, they both give you smoother edges for screen fonts.
  • I'm not an MS fanboy and I only run Windows when I have to. My desktop has been Redhat since 6.1. And I'll agree that MS's applications are rarely innovative. But there are other areas for innovation. For example, in spreadsheets, Excel beat Lotus 123 because Excel was ready for mice and windows while Excel was still trying to make the transition from key-press menus. That's a user interface innovation, though rather antique at this point (but Winer says MS "never was" an innovator). BTW, this MS pres
  • When microsoft develops something new, it's called "ignoring the standard" or "anticompetitive behavior." When they adopt the standard, it's called "muscling out the competition."

    The fact is that microsoft does a lot of cool, innovative things.

    1. DirectX
    2. Xbox Live
    3. ASP
    4. Powerpoint
    5. Optical mice

    How about the most innovative thing of all, getting people onto commodity hardware and out of the clutches of the clutches of the tyrannical interated systems of the 1980s.

  • Which part of Microsoft are you looking at. You would be hard pushed to find much innovation of value in Vista (Search, gadgets, GPU accelerated UI, UAC...where have I seen these implemented better?), Office (ribbon bar is lipstick on a pig) or Zune (I don't consider wireless DRM a useful innovation) - but LINQ, XAML, ATLAS, POWERSHELL and their marketing of a monopoly certainly show innovative ideas.
  • Well, duh. First of all, there is obviously no single yes or no answer. MS innovates some, so yeah, obviously you can't literally say they never innovate, but good God, look at the examples Scoble gives--freaking "friendly" error messages (which suck ass) and ClearType [grc.com] are the best he can come up with as counter-examples? Everybody borrows from everyone else and builds on the work of others, but anybody who has been paying attention to the industry for the last couple decades knows that MS has not been doin
  • That another way Microsoft innovated was by paying a blogger (Scoble) tons and tons of money to speak on their behalf.
  • There has been very little innovation in computer and information technology in the last 10 years. Lost of smoke and very little fire. Lots of light but little actual heat.

    Vista is XP with some minor changes and a cpu/gpu hungry graphics engine. XP is 98 with some minor security improvements and Playskool theme.

    The two major changes at Apple have been the move to intel and the move to a *nix based OS.

    Linux has been more of the same. Adding in functionality seen in other *nixes, more distros, more hardware s
  • by owlnation (858981) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:05AM (#17065352)
    The concept of allowing others to invent and develop an idea and waiting for the right business moment to launch your own version of it, while predatory, is certainly one used by many corporations and small businesses everywhere. So MS can't be singled out for that, it does make business sense.

    What is sad however, is that it is still possible to allow other to invent and then innovate to improve the original product. MS did indeed used to do that. They don't appear to now.

    For example, Word, though possibly technically inferior to Word Perfect, was considerably easier to use. Word allowed everyone to use a word processor, rather than just those who had the arcane knowledge of what that cardboard shortcut list stuck on top of the function keys meant. Word provided most people with exactly they needed and empowered many more. Seriously, if you're old enough to remember those times you know that Word Perfect deserved to die the slow and painful death it did.

    Similarly true with IE versus Netscape. IE was a good free thing compared with the performance of the paid-for Netscape.

    Now MS seems to be in the middle. There are more innovative companies ahead of them and behind them (Firefox, as one example). It would be great if they can regain some of that innovation that they once had. There are still many targets for improvement. Photoshop being one that comes to mind immediately - powerful and the best available but preposterously expensive, arcane and unintuitive. I use it every day, and though it's take me years to get proficient with it, I'd gladly dump it right now for a better more intuitive and user focused interface.
  • Monad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by IDIIAMOTS (553790)
    I think the Monad cmdline shell is innovative in its use of rich objects rather than text as output. Exchange 2007 adopted it heavily for their administration tools finaly giving decent cmdline access to that product. Hopefully more server products will follow that trend.
  • A chart is only cool if it presents data in a way that allows it to be understood. "Cool looking charts" rarely do that. In recent months I've had to ask people why they put 3D on simple bar charts (the "3d" lumps at the end distort the apparent size of the items), why they use pie charts for an ordered set (a circle presented at an apparent angle to the plane has no order around its circumference, every point is equivalent), and why auto-generated bar charts have no logic in the sequence of colours for the
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:17AM (#17065568) Homepage Journal
    That improved our lives in a very tiny way. Not one that you usually read about, or probably even notice. Is Microsoft done innovating in those small ways? Absolutely not. Office 2007 lets me do some things (like cool looking charts) in seconds that used to take many minutes, maybe even hours for some people to do.


    Yeah, they improved on Microsoft's bad old way by copying someone else's good new way.

    That clown Scoble's head is so far up Microsoft's monopoly that he thinks "innovation" means "new to Microsoft", even when they're copying tech from elsewhere. That the standard of comparison is the other people damned to working entirely inside MS monopoly so that they can't even tell something exists until MS gives it to them. Until which time they're crippled, though the rest of the world is stepping large and laughing easy.

    Only the Wall Street Journal (and its fascist ilk) could pretend that such a debate is "fair and balanced": reason balanced by retarded corporatism.
  • by eno2001 (527078) on Friday December 01, 2006 @11:25AM (#17065680) Homepage Journal
    Is he fucking high?! Oddly enough I was complaining about Microsoft's poor decision to change over to those "user friendly" (in reality EVERYONE HOSTILE) messages just yesterday. Mainly because I had a branch computer tech call and tell me that the branch's WiFi was "down". Since I don't deal directly with helpdesk issues anymore I made the cardinal mistake of taking her word for it. I spent about 20 minutes looking at the Cisco APs via their web admin interfaces and they showed the right number of clients connected and the proper VLANs. After all that it finally occurred to me that I should ask her EXACTLY what is or isn't happening. Her answer? "The internet is down because the WiFi is down". Seriously, that was her answer. Digging back to my heldesk days I knew this meant something more specific was going on. I asked her, "did they log into Windows OK"? She said, "Yeah. Windows if fine. It's the internet that's not working anymore. So that means the WiFi must not be working. I rebooted the network but they still don't work". So I asked her, "How do you know the internet is down"? She said, "Because the program said it is". I asked her, "What program"? She said, "Umm... Microsoft word. No. Um.. The blue E program. You know! The internet"! At this point I kept from flipping out and said, "What does it tell you that indicates the internet is down"? She said, "It shows that screen that says to contact the administrator. It said something about the home page not being there I think". I then asked her if she had tried to go to any sites other than the default "home page". She said, "Um... no. Should I go try that". Me: "Yes". She took off and then came back to the phone and said, "Oh. It looks like out home page isn't working. I guess I'll need to call the people who host it"? I said, "Sounds like it".

    The problem illustrated above is that Microsoft's thinking that providing a "friendly" error is useful is untrue. They SHOULD have added a button to click on called "Technical Detail" or some such that would reveal the real error as presented by the web server itself. This has been one of my gripes about IE ever since they went that route. Fortunately my desktop isn't polluted with MS crap. It's a Linux box and I use Firefox. So when there is a problem (like there was yesterday) with a web site, I CAN see the REAL error message as presented by the server. I know you can configure the IE browser to NOT use the friendly messages, but to be honest it should be a default that the friendly message displays WITH the option to see the real message.

    Innovation my ass. As a second example of their failings in terms of being up on technology that is important, it took them until Windows XP to have proper MIDI support. And I'm not talking the crap MIDI that's on your soundblaster card. Having been a professional composer in a past life (1990s) I was faced with the decision of getting a Mac (which had proper MIDI support since 1987) or getting a PC. I couldn't afford the Mac, so I was stuck with getting a DOS/Win3.1 PC. To say the MIDI support was lacking is an understatement. There wasn't much hardware for professional outboard gear on the Windows side, and what little there was was REALLY backwards. But this was mainly due to MS not really giving a crap about a very important piece of musical technology at that time. The reason? Windows was a business OS at the time. It wasn't an OS for creative people. And Microsoft didn't really truly start paying attention to the creative people until Windows XP. Windows XP finally had a real 32-bit MIDI driver and supported 256 MIDI ports vs. 16 in the previous 16-bit driver that lived on through Windows 98. This was one of the main reasons I abandoned Windows as soon as I could. And here's the thing that REALLY burns me up. Back in the late 80s I was doing TONS of MIDI and audio work on an Atari ST that was pro level stuff. People were using Macs in the same way. MS didn't give a shit. Back then we were called musicians and it w
  • by NullProg (70833) on Friday December 01, 2006 @03:10PM (#17070120) Homepage Journal
    We are being way to harsh on Microsoft when it comes to orginal ideas. Lets list some truly orginal Microsoft innovations.

    1) Secure Audio Path in Vista. No other O/S will block what those pesky users want to do with thier music.
    2) Tying the O/S to the BIOS/Computer. Why would a user want to move thier hard drive?
    3) Universal Music fee for every media player sold. Only thieves buy music players.
    4) Software Assurance. Lets get users to pay for nothing.
    5) OEM license fees. Lets get users to pay us even when a computer ships with no O/S.

    I'm pretty sure Microsoft is the only company thats done any of these things. Did I forget anything?

    Enjoy,

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