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back to article Inside Microsoft's innovation crisis

The debate on how Microsoft is losing its innovative edge is as perennial and comfortable as how the summers were warmer and drier when you were growing up. In recent years, that debate was set in the context of the rise of the Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Phyton (LAMP), JavaScript and the web - specifically Google - that …

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Bronze badge

The answer is CLeaR

Microsoft needs to go back to its roots (the company that created Xenix), leave the siege mentality behind and allow the layers in its stack compete with other vertical offerings.

Windows Server is now strong enough to bare the competition from Unix / Linux, etc.

SQL/Server is now strong enough to bare competition from Oracle, DB2, etc.

Office has long been strong enough to compete.

.NET Common Language Infrastructure is as good as Java.

In a heterogeneous world MS puts itself at a disadvantage by vertically tying its stack together.

Most importantly they need to unbundle .NET from Windows to prepare the foundations to grow into a technology leader for the next millennium.

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Linux

Re : The answer is CLeaR

As far as I'm aware Xenix was marketed by Microsoft but actually ported by SCO - don't know if you'd call that innovation?

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Anonymous Coward

Sorry, what?

"SQL/Server is now strong enough to bare competition from Oracle, DB2, etc." No. No, it's not in the same league! MySQL perhaps...

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Happy

It's innovation..

.. but the Microsoft way..

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@Stephen Channell & @Keith Oldham

SC scrive: "(the company that created Xenix)"

KO contributes: "Xenix was marketed by Microsoft but actually ported by SCO"

Xenix was actually licensed by Microsoft from AT&T in the late 1970s. From what I remember it was the standard PDP11 Version 7 Unix. SCO ported it to the IBM PC's 8086/8088 in roughly 1983. Most of us yawned ... although looking back, it was a pretty good hack by SCO[1]!

Before SCO's port was released, there was a TRS-68000 version, a Zilog Z8001 port, and an Altos 8086 version (not necessarily in that order). Microsoft didn't write any of them, rather the companies in question did the coding. Seems to me I once saw an Apple Lisa running Xenix, not certain who did that port. Can anyone jog my memory?

Near as I can tell, Microsoft has never invented anything.

[1] Not today's iteration of SCO, for those of you who weren't born yet.

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Linux

I disagree.

Xenix was created by SCO. I have a Xenix box on my desk at work. It's loud and crashes.

My experience with servers is that Linux servers are always more reliable. One W2008 box can't even keep PostgreSQL running without failure, although a Linux box on a Pentium 4, and a Windows XP box running on a Pent. D runs fine. And I got a 111 day run time on this one workstation-turned-server, which Windows would like BSODing on (in case you're wondering, it shut down during the aftermath of an electrical storm power-outage - the UPS wasn't that good!).

No experience with MSSQL, but it'll have to do a lot to compete with Oracle, now that they've got some Sun hardware. And I prefer PostgreSQL over all - doesn't need a multi-hundred dollar server and software license to make a table for keeping computer records.

Office is Office. It will always be on top. It's hard wrenching people away from 2003/7 to OpenOffice - they're used to Office, and expect it's traditional niggles.

"Most importantly they need to unbundle .NET from Windows to prepare the foundations to grow into a technology leader for the next millennium." And use it on what? Linux? No. MS wouldn't let you do that.

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Linux

@jake

"Near as I can tell, Microsoft has never invented anything"

I had a 8K BASIC ( in 4 2K ROMS ) in a UK101 (~1980) which was by Microsoft - pity it had a severe bug in the garbage collector which was later corrected by a new EPROM

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Anonymous Coward

head in the sand...

obviously you havent looked at SQL Server for a while.... SQL Server does compare with Oracle, DB2 and Sybase. If you are talking SQL 7, 2000 then I would probably agree with you otherwise from SQL2005 and intro of x64 revolution onwards then they are comparable. Yes, Oracle may have more widgets but that doesnt make it in a diferent league. Even in my organisation as die hard Oracle fans for many years we have now move some of our most mission critical systems over to SQL FROM Oracle... and guess what... we love it.

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@Keith Oldham

Microsoft didn't invent BASIC ... in fact, Bill Gates was only 9 years old when it was invented. MS BASIC came out over a decade after the original.

I should add to my first post that according to one of my mentors[1] from back in the day, the Xenix name came about because MaBell wouldn't let MS use UNIX[tm], even though MS was licensing box-stock Version 7 UNIX[tm] to other Micro companies. MaBell didn't want to get into the micro-software business, so MS became the distributor. My mentor has no memory of what the terms of the MaBell/MS license were, even though he was attached to Bell Labs at the time.

Me, I was buried up to my neck in BSD at the time ... Xenix was a slightly psychotic curiosity as far as most of the BSD folks were concerned. But as I sad above, looking back, SCO's version was a pretty good hack. Hindsight's 20-20 & all that :-)

[1] He is a frequent visitor here at chez jake, my wife is teaching his grand daughters to ride ... He happened to drop by this afternoon, and I picked his brain a little over a homebrew :-)

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Gates Horns

But....

"One [Microsoft's] strengths...has been in taking an existing idea and making it work better"

But they *don't* make them work better. Microsoft produces mediochre clones of other peoples' innovation and uses its market dominance to force them into place. Was Office "better" than PerfectOffice? No, not really, but by secretly tying Office into Windows in a way no-one else could, they forced competitors out of the picture. That, despite, Bill Gates' never-ending proclamations, is not innovation.

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Flame

In these decades of micros~1 hegemony

I have never seen micros~1 come up with something truly new or earth-shattering. Once they had an unfairly large share of the market (by buying a rip-off of someone else's work, no less), they just redid and redid and redid. Vapourware to take on already working products already in the market, and worse. All they do is add their special mediocrity sauce and everybody who doesn't know better instantly likes it. In a very real sense they have created their own customer and are much better at marketing than at coding.

Even now, with that 9bn "research" budget, they only managed to come up with "micros~1 surface" (another arrogantly overly broad name) after several others did, including some no-budget tinkerers with a projector, a videocam and a laptop in a basement in Berlin.

The success of windows and office is not from how well they work; they're atrocious. It's from network effect through deployments throughout the fortune 500. No wonder that the internal "halt the presses! security problem!" committee can do exactly nothing without an official complaint from a fortune 500 company. This also tells me that there are a lot of entirely pointless jobs within those molochs. Apparently , people losing time rebooting windows and losing work to office leaves them with less time to wage office wars on each other. See there the success of micros~1.

The evidence tells me that their business model is destruction and co-opting of other people's ideas, anything as long as they can squeeze some blood out of it, but that overall they've been stiffling innovation and invention and were quite comfortable with it right until linux' momentum proved unstoppable with a few buy-outs and some vacuous threats by proxy.

Ever read dear billy boy's books? I couldn't. The back cover was already more tripe than I could stand. That's the essence of micros~1, right there. With their mediocre user base driven by mediocre eye candy ogling management, their mediocre products, they are a natural monopoly creating their very own ecosystem: survival of the mediocrest.

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WTF?

Atrocious?

In exactly what ways are Word and Excel atrocious? Compared to OpenOffice, say?

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Yes, Atrocious

How're Office apps atrocious, you ask? Try...

1. Bloated

2. Expensive

3. Needlessly difficult to use

4. Unwilling to play nicely with others

Not unlike a few people I've known. No wonder that I try to avoid them.

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Headmaster

Do the job I need them to

Excel is an excellent tool, there is no other spreadsheet that even comes close to its power; the Windows version that is, the current Mac version is horrible.

I am looking forward to the forthcoming 64-bit version and hope they've got more multi-threading functionality, that feature alone in Excel 2007 saves me hours every day. I even prefer the Ribbon interface, and hope they keep it too.

There are a few things they could improve: multi-threading, I use old-skool functions from pre pivot tables days and these are single-threaded in 2007; stats functions, at least they've fixed a few bugs in results but these functions could be better; new graph types, marimekko and proper bubble charts please; abandon the stupid PowerPoint charts are Excel sheets nonsense, please bring back MS Chart, I hate that if I have a tonne of analysis open in Excel and then try to create a chart in PowerPoint it opens a new workbook; in appropriate recalcs, if I recalc one workbook I don't need the other to recalc too, or if I open one (because PowerPoint did it) I don't want my other workbooks to recalc.; wwhy can't they just make the Mac version the same as the Windows version? I don't want a "Mac like" version, I want the full blown product I use on my Windows 7 box.

But even with flaws and room for improvement Excel is better, stronger, faster than competition.

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Sure

And OpenOffice clearly misses out on point 2. As for the other points - same old. Try creating a largish spreadsheet in OO and watch your CPU burn. Or cut-and-paste - oh how much fun THAT is from OO to or from nearly anything else. Import CSV-files? Laugh? I nearly started...

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Happy

Actually

CSV files are better to open in OO.org than Office.

I used OO.org to open | delimited file, with 4 columns of doubles and 15,000 lines, then made it into a graph. Nearly no lag, whatsoever. Not bad for 2GB of RAM, 2.1ghz Duo, and a free OS ;).

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Anonymous Coward

Getting from A to B

The difference is like driving the Hummer compared to an ordinary family sedan. The majority of users outside of the corporate arena or field where large spreadsheets are needed, do not need a Hummer-sized application.

Openoffice installs in 1/10 the time of MS Office. Besides, MS Office is hooked into Windows and optimized as such, giving it the advantage over other office suites.

However, even for some businesses Openoffice is sufficient and does what they need without paying the tons of $$$$$. As each MS product is hooked to Windows and their network system, their very existence as stand-alone products vying on their own merits is threatened by the ship carrying them all - Windows.

For the moment, MS has averted disaster with Win 7 - temporarily - with the initial flurry of enthusiasm. if for reasons of economy, being free to develop without being enslaved, people begin deserting the ship, the whole MS ecosystem is left behind. Many PC users are ignorant of their choices beyond MS, my sister being a good example.

The "danger" to MS does not lie in the present working generation but in the younger generation, as well as retirees, who do not need MS Office and subsequently Windows to do the things they want to do (other than playing ALL Windows games). A Linux desktop with the included software will suffice for browsing the Internet, playing online games, accessing Facebook, instant messaging, doing their online banking, assignments and projects for students, instant messaging (with just one IM software), watch video, listen to music, Skype and even Photoshop using Wine ... for free (except for Photoshop).

So, if MS's products are superior after copying and modifying, then they have nothing to fear to compete and still be able to sell against the likes of Openoffice and, at the same time, not have to worry about the next version of Windows.

So, for the moment, Windows is necessary for certain professional applications and the corporate world who are tied into the MS system (mainly on the desktop). So, by the next generation in 7 to 10 years, we will see what MS will do to maintain their grip like ancient empires that grew too big and arrogant ... to listen and change. Windows Mobile's problems stem from MS's unwieldy bigness. In the end though, it could still be too little and too late.

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Excel is better?

Excel is often used as a simple database, and it is a very poor database.

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Anonymous Coward

Microsoft "innovation"

Even this article bears out the underlying fact that most of Microsoft's "innovation" is fundamentally an attempt to replicate the successes of other companies. I appreciate that a certain amount of copying is both normal and healthy, but it has been a long time since I saw anything from MS that made me think, "wow - great idea", rather than, "that's just a knock-off of [Google/Sony/Adobe/Apple/etc]." It's very difficult to foster an innovative culture within a business - especially on the scale of Microsoft - and this is the logical outcome of a failure to do so.

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Gates Horns

new ideas?

A custom cloud architecture (yeah, like no-one else has got one of *those* already), a browser-cum-OS (Chrome) and a revamped search engine (Google without the traffic)?

Is playing catchup with Google the new definition of innovation?

(No idea what Midori is or whether it's genuinely innovative but, even if so, 1/4 is still well into "see me after class" territory.)

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Linux

Point of order

OK, I hate Microsoft as much as the next guy, but I do have to give credit to Microsoft Research, which to be clear is a separate entity from Microsoft proper. There's some really great work going on in Microsoft Research, including the work by people like Simon Peyton-Jones. Now, near as I can tell Microsoft hasn't got a clue what kind of things are going on in their own R&D labs, or if they do they seem hellbent on insuring the only bits of it that see the light of day are the boring and mediocre pieces. Remember all the cool features that were supposed to be in Vista but somehow got left on the floor? Microsofts biggest problem is that they're own momentum insures that anything interesting will die long before it reaches market because it will invariable threaten existing products, or break backwards compatibility. So, MS continues at their usual glacial pace, playing catchup with the rest of the industry while some truly talented individuals produce great work in their R&D labs that's practically guaranteed to never see the light of day, at least not in a MS product.

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FAIL

Huh?

"Remember all the cool features that were supposed to be in Vista but somehow got left on the floor? "

Actually, no. What were they? Oh, you are talking about Longhorn, which was scrapped in its entirety due to insurmountable technical difficulties to be replaced by a slapdash, pushed-out-the-door rehash of XP. What did Vista add to the mix? UAE and a glossy facelift?

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Bing? innovative?

You mean by ignoring robots.txt ??? Other than that... Probably the most innovative solution to search would be Yacy. A distributed p2p system.

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Dead Vulture

new ideas? #2

As TeeCee points out your examples of MS innovation are pretty crocked

* Silverlight -> Adobe Flex

* WPF -> Mozilla XUL

* And if you read The Register you'll know that Bing is a copy not only of Google http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/06/25/bing_travel_kayak/

9B UD$ catch-up.... oh, and those funky touch tables!

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Search engines

> "And if you read The Register you'll know that Bing is a copy not only of Google"

I know it's probably not what you meant, but I wish people wouldn't conflate "Google" and "search engine": they were far from the first. I'm not sure what was, but DEC's AltaVista was one of several that predated them. And I wilt whenever I hear Usenet/newsfroups/whatever being referred to as Google Groups.

There's nothing new under the sun, but some are more tenacious than others at sticking their brand name on it nonetheless.

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I did mean Google specifically...

@Ned: Agree with your point in general, and FYI I still use AltaVista every now and then to get some curve ball "pure indexed" results....

but I meant that Bing in terms of Results and Look & feel is imitating a specifc target.

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Bronze badge

I wish, I wish

I wish that Microsoft would spend time on developing good products, products that make one go 'wow' and want to make one upgrade. Since 1994 I've only really seen 2 so far — Windows 2000 and SQL Server 2005.

I wish that Microsoft would spend a decent amount of time, say, 5 years, and develop something to which there is no question but to upgrade (and for positive reasons). Windows Longhorn could have been brilliant if they had just given it time [1]. We don't need a new version of Office every 3 years. I know many still using Office 2000 and Office 2003. We don't need new versions of SQL Server every 3 years. We don't new versions of Visual Studio every 3 years.

oh well.

[1] I realise that Vista was the result of 5 years of, em, innovation, although I wonder, if MS had set out with Longhorn and given it a 5 year timeplan, whether it would have given us Vista.

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Gates Horns

we don't need...?

microsoft's products are not for us, the consumers, they are for microsoft - microsoft needs the financial boots that comes from the biannual software churn. Vista was for microsoft and the entertainment industry - consumer needs were too low down on the product plan

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We do need VS

Visual Studio 2010 Beta beats 08 hands down. So it's not all bad.

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2 makes a habit

So with iPhone and iPod, Jobs now has a habit of taking the banal and making it great? How about the Newton, how'd that fare? The correspondent is merely phoning this article in, making the usual whine about MS and taking the requisite pokes at Apple.

Possibly the reason MS fails is Powerpoint. PP encourages the reduction of everything to bullet points and arrows to no where. I was once watching an interview with David Patraeus, now commander over U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. He repeated said that, "if Microsoft will allow, blah, blah, blah..." I couldn't understand the repeated references to Microsoft. I also noted one slide he repeatedly came back to because it had several meaningless arrows on it. Then he finally let us in on the little secret, MS had a staff person assigned to make the presentation for him. That would explain the arrows to no where.

Reliance on PP has destroyed innovation in MS and the will to live among those of us who must put up with yet another PP to no where.

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Re: 2 makes a habit

"How about the Newton, how'd that fare?"

Jobs had nothing to do with the Newton, aside from killing it off when he returned to Apple. Might want to more thoroughly think through your comments next time, eh?

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But they don't compete...

"Microsoft is just like any other 30-something tech giant, trying to diversify."

I think that's right - they are trying to diversify, but they still have this monopolist culture, so it's use their stuff or stuff off. If they truly competed, they may not have monopolist control of the various markets, but they could be major players. They're too polarised.

It's very frustrating because these days it's hard to remember what a breath of fresh air MS was in the early 90s when faced with similar behaviour to their current behaviour from the likes of Lotus with 123, Novell with Netware etc.

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IT Angle

@ TeeCee

Midori

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midori_(operating_system)

Singularity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singularity_(operating_system)

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Badgers

Third time lucky..

What have I done to earn the ire of the wonderful Ms Bee?

Would chocolates suffice to placate you, oh mighty Moderatrix?

Anyway. $9bn on "researching" ideas that everyone else has already done. What ARE they spending it on exactly?

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Anonymous Coward

stunningly arrogant management

Is probably the subtitle on Ballmer's CV.

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WTF?

So which OS do you guys all use?

Linux? That well-known MINIX clone which has spent the best part of the last 19 years failing to be better than the "mediocre" Windows, even though the GNU / FSF / FOSS communities have such a ridiculously vociferous fanbase?

OS X? The OS which implemented all the features Microsoft (stupidly) gave away when they initially announced the sequel to Windows XP? (That Microsoft was late delivering the flawed Windows Vista isn't the point: the point is that they *came up with the ideas first* and said they were going to build them.) The reason Vista flopped is because OS X had managed to implement all those headline features earlier and Apple had spent the intervening time refining their implementation—a process Microsoft achieved by producing Windows 7.

If the general public really wanted genuine innovation in IT, why isn't everyone using the Commodore Amiga today? A computer which came, out of the box, with digital audio support, and a full-colour, hardware-accelerated, muilti-tasking GUI.

Released in 1985.

Microsoft Office isn't "mediocre". It seems bloated to consumers because it does so much more than *we* need it to, but it isn't *aimed* at us. It's aimed at corporates. How programmable is Open Office? What about PerfectOffice or AbiWord? Even now, none of MS Office's rivals offer a *fully-customisable*, well-documented package that comes anywhere near close. Merely offering the source code and saying, "Here, do what thou willst" isn't anything like the same thing. You need to provide all the hooks to external sources and applications, in a *standard* way. (Hence Windows' success, as well as the .NET technologies.)

Microsoft's had some bloody useless managers and the company is arguably far too big, with all the bureaucracy that creates. A formal split of the company may actually be the best thing that ever happens to it, but it doesn't seem likely to happen any time soon.

But to piss and moan about their "mediocrity" when all anyone can offer as a counterexample is a f*cking overrated MINIX clone is just idiotic. (Microsoft's key innovations have always been under the hood: their .NET tools are genuinely innovative and not just some lightweight copy of Java as the ignorant commentards like to suggest.)

Please: do point out what *your* preferred company / group / pseudo-religion has done that's so bloody amazing. So far, the only company I can think of that's done anything genuinely innovative in the IT field—albeit primarily in the related fields of product design and interface design—is Apple. A company which has managed to do in ten years what the Almighty Church of GNU hasn't managed to come close to achieving in *twenty*.

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And here I was, thinking...

...that the reason Vista flopped was its massive bloat, huge hardware upgrade/replacement requirements, the inability to copy a small file in under 30 minutes and fact that XP was working quite fine for everyone. My mistake, I guess.

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FAIL

So many points, and almost all of them wrong

First of all, Linux isn't a clone of MINIX, Linus just used MINIX when he was writing Linux and used some of its POSIX documentation as a base for writing the POSIX layer in Linux. A lot of the early ideas in Linux are borrowed from MINIX, but just as many aren't, and the current versions of Linux and MINIX are completely different architecturally. If anything, Linux borrowed more heavily from UNIX than it did MINIX. Shall we next perhaps discuss how Microsoft borrowed most of its GUI from Apple, who in turn borrowed most of their GUI from Xerox (implemented on top of UNIX naturally)?

On the topic of OS X to even suggest that it stole ideas from Vista is ludicrous. There's nothing in OS X (barring maybe expose) that hasn't been around for years in UNIX/Linux, so if anything they copied from Linux (or UNIX or Solaris, at the application layer it's really all the same for the most part). OS X never claimed (to my knowledge anyway) that any of its features were new or particularly innovative, but in typical fashion Apple delivered a lot of existing concepts in a very clean and consistent finished package, something Microsoft still fails to achieve with astonishing regularity. Apple has a long history of taking other peoples ideas, polishing them up, and combining them in interesting ways to make finished products that provide a very nice end user experience. Microsoft on the other hand has a long history of taking other peoples ideas, using nasty marketing tactics to drive competition out of business and to jack up the price of their offerings, and then delivering a hastily slapped together beta^h^h^h^h finished product that quite often doesn't even make it through the install process without running into problems. There's a reason the industry standard for Microsoft products is to wait to buy anything till at least service pack 1 is released.

On the topic of MS Office, all I'm going to say is that I've never seen a genuine need for anything they have to offer, as everything Office does can be done better by other tools. MS Office is the MS Paint of the working world. It's finger-painting for middle managers.

.NET is not in fact a lightweight copy of Java, I'll give you that. It's a complete heavy weight re-implementation of Java with a couple new features of questionable merit tacked on. As such, all the things that Java gets regularly bashed for are equally applicable to .NET. There is nothing in .NET that hasn't been done as good or better in other languages, so the claim that it's genuinely innovative is absurd. Actually, to be clear we really should be comparing .NET to the JVM, and C# to Java. C# brings nothing to the table that's better than Java in any meaningful way. As for the implementation of .NET and the JVM I haven't seen that either one is particularly better than the other.

If I was going to point out genuine innovation, I'd point to in no particular order: L4, Singularity (MS Research, which is not the same as MS proper), Haskell, Scala, the original inventor of multitouch (no it wasn't Apple or anyone you've likely heard of), and LLVM. This is of course by no means a complete list and new and interesting things are being created all the time, this is just what I could pull off the top of my head in short order.

As a final point, Windows success has nothing to do with standard anything, it has to do with network effect, shrewd marketing, ruthless business decisions, and some very lucky timing.

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Earth calling.

The "so what do you use" thing is a red herring, and a piss-poor one at that. This should not require further explanation.

Also, while you're busy pointing out clones, how about the time Microsoft hired one of the top architects of VMS to write the NT kernel?

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FAIL

Cool! Time travel

"OS X? The OS which implemented all the features Microsoft (stupidly) gave away when they initially announced the sequel to Windows XP?"

OSX release date March 24, 2001 (10.0)

XP release date August 24, 2001 (to manufacturing)

XP release date October 25, 2001 (to general public)

So OSX was out BEFORE XP AND it took the features that Microsoft put in Vista? No wonder Stevey Job is doing so well - he has a Tartus. (He does sort of look like Dr Who.)

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@Captain Thyratron

"Also, while you're busy pointing out clones, how about the time Microsoft hired one of the top architects of VMS to write the NT kernel?"

Indeed. It's a shame MS's internal politics completely buggered up NT. It could have become a really, really good, long lived OS, along the lines of IBM's BigIron line.

The last Microsoft machine here at Chez Jake runs Windows2000, first installed (by me) on February 16th, 2000. It is now airgapped, but has been used nearly daily in those ten years, although not so much these last several months. It has rarely been powered off, has never crashed, never been affected by malware, and I never had to reinstall the OS. I was going to archive the hard-drive on the 16th of this month, after ten years, and reclaim the hardware for something else ... but my Wife has convinced me to let the ol' gal keep going. It'll be interesting to see how long we can keep her going.

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Linux

Hahahahaha

"Linux? That well-known MINIX clone which has spent the best part of the last 19 years failing to be better than the "mediocre" Windows"

Actually, mine is doing fine. I'm running lag-free and can do more than what my Windows would let me. My Windows 7/Ubuntu dualboot only ever finds itself booting into Windows to sync with my iPhone, and that's it.

"If the general public really wanted genuine innovation in IT, why isn't everyone using the Commodore Amiga today? A computer which came, out of the box, with digital audio support, and a full-colour, hardware-accelerated, muilti-tasking GUI."

As a kid I had one of those. Loved it. The only reason I stopped using it was when the floppy drive broke and I got a (2nd hand) IBM laptop. Unfortunately the Amiga wasn't portable.

"Please: do point out what *your* preferred company / group / pseudo-religion has done that's so bloody amazing."

Created the tools and the kernel that your beloved Apple uses in their OS X and iPhone OS. Go on, get the versions of coreutils - most likely they'll contain a GNU copyright notice.

(By the kernel - the kernel is part BSD, and is released under an Open Source license. I like GNU, and the BSD guys as well.)

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J 3
Troll

@ So which OS do you guys all use?

Wow, what took the MS' bitches so long to show up in this thread?

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Atrocious - OO has to be

Open Office tries to emulate MS Office.

Neither product should be on a modern computer but the sheeple like to write to each other about what they would do if they knew how to use a computer or could get those boys in the IT dept to do for them rather than laughing hysterically and rolling on the floor every time they ask for a left handed document mallet like that bloke in graphics has on his Apple.

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Unhappy

The company that people love to hate

The Microsoft is incompetent/losing it's grip mentality has been going around almost since day one, and it's almost impossible for some people to acknowledge or accept that the company is capable of doing anything even semi-usable. Then you look outside and it's still largely a Windows world. Go figure.

However, change is finally catching up, as the world is getting to the point the two core products, Office and Windows, really aren't all that necessary anymore. I'm not jumping on the cloud computing bandwagon, but the age of a desktop or laptop PC as the only way people can use a computer is largely over.

What Microsoft can do is a few simple things:

1. Lower prices and ease restrictions. People use Windows because of the convenience and all the software that works on it. Adding in Product Activation and all the other stupid things they've done has made many people look at alternatives, including me. How many people have really liked Vista or 7 "Home Premium" so much they did the anytime upgrade to Ultimate?

2. Microsoft's worst competitor is their own legacy products. What they should do is build on what works, and don't monkey things around assuming people will have to buy into it and therefore obsolete all the old copies of Windows and Office out there. Case in point the screwed up Vista interface, the Office ribbon, and the Docx format.

3. Actually cooperate and build to standards than take some idea or concept and turn it into Microsoft's wholly owned and controlled product. A good example is Silverlight or DirectX. Imagine the fun we could have had if all games were OpenGL.

4, Show some style or taste. Most of what Apple does is showmanship and flash, buying Apple is a lifestyle, buying MIcrosoft is a kitchen appliance.

However none of this will be done and it'll keep on with business as usual.

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Pirate

Real innovation?

The only "Microsoft innovation" that has genuinely improved our lives, that I don't know to have been bought / ripped off from elsewhere, is the mouse wheel.

(Well I heard it came from Microsoft. If anyone can can prove this wrong I would find it hilarious.)

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Happy

Start laughing!

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scroll_wheel

The scroll wheel was invented in 1995 for the Genius EasyScroll mouse made by Taiwanese company KYE Systems.

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FAIL

Never one to avoid an oportunity to have a dig....

A classic example of microsoft's lack of innovation and commercial development of new product lines would be the canning of the team behind Flight Simulator.

At the time they were wound down, FS11 was mid development, the latest version of Train Simulator was about to ship, and they had just started to branch out into the government and military simulation sector and serious gaming. Most importantly, they were by all accounts actually making a good amount of money.

But it seemed that as a team, their products were not exciting and hip enough, compared to say, Zune :(

Their current attempts at innovation are extremely mixed. Thankfully Azure appears to have improved it's website since I last looked, although various things I want easy access to are still hard to find. Midori is actually quite exciting, but it's a very long way away from being a production operating system.

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Joke

freezing cold

dick brass monkey boy

hmmm this is going to take more than wielding equipment to sort out

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Anonymous Coward

Product Activation\WGA

I don't understand the hatred for WGA and product activation.

you buy a copy of it, you activate it, no problem.

surely the only people who have a problem with activating a product (any product) are the people who use it without paying for it?

What's the big deal?

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