back to article Microsoft holds Androids hostage in open source wars

For years Microsoft has raged — and whined — against the open source machine, once going so far as to castigate open source as being "un-American". Something must be wrong with a development model, as Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Jim Gray once lamented, that evaporates the possibility of profit in software sales. And yet …

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Headmaster

How exactly?

Yes it's a bitchy move by MS to ask for royalties from Asustek et al. for Android, but I think it is more to scare them into hedging their bets with proprietary software (i.e. MS Windows - not condoning it BTW).

And what you say all fine and well Matt, but why don't you lay out for us exactly how Microsoft is supposed to make money out of software? Because other than hand-waving I don't see anything concrete in your article.

Sell ads (i.e. sell out their user privacy), sell hardware or sell services?

Because all other competitors you mentioned are making money out of selling something to someone. So who do you propose should foot the bill here?

I love Ubuntu, but even you guys have to make money somehow. And you seem to be planning on doing it by selling services (are you also going to take a cut out of the software store?). Whatever, you are still a tiny player in the OS market.

I think the world needs a company like MS just like it needs companies like Google and Apple each servicing a different kind of consumer. For MS to follow the path of the others is for MS to drop their core-strength.

It also seems to me that Apple has clearly demonstrated that people don't mind paying for seamless integration through the roof.

So the only question is how is MS going to make their software/brand more/as much as desirable and fully integrated.

They've shown they can do it with Win Phone 7 and XBox I don't see why they can dig themselves out of the hole they're in.

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Gates Horns

They're not making money

"So the only question is how is MS going to make their software/brand more/as much as desirable and fully integrated."

The whole thing is about image, trying to prop up Windows in the eyes of people, like this BBC report today ... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11648532

I wanted to buy my netbook from Toshiba without playing a Windows tax, only to be told that Microsoft had subsidised the cost of the netbook. There .. surprise surprise ... wasn't a verison of the netbook that came with Linux ... it smelled to me like Microsoft were spending money to keep Linux out of the market.

Looks like this is their only tactic. Buy the market - if you can't buy it, act as if you could crush it.

Even though my netbook was very quickly replaced with Ubuntu, it still, unfortunately, counted towards a Microsoft Windows sale.

The whole thing is a statistics fudge.

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FAIL

It's not up to him

Remind me again when Matt had signed up to become Microsoft Lead Marketing Director?

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re: the world needs a company like MS

"For MS to follow the path of the others is for MS to drop their core-strength."

The problem for MS is that they're rather good at dominating (by various means which may not always be ethical or in the best interests of their users) a market which is losing relevance because of the different way in which our (both business and consumer) computer use is evolving. For the large user base that is mainly concerned with Internet use, or the PC as media player, the OS that appears before they get into their apps is largely irrelevant. Those who work with documents and data are increasingly aware of the importance of open standards, and the risk of proprietary lock-in. None of that suits the MS view of what we should be doing, or who we should be paying. Sure MS is trying to embrace (and extend?) the Cloud, but doesn't the company have a history of missing the point then playing catch-up with that sort of thing?

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Gates Horns

Did you buy your Toshiba in the U.S.?

I thought MS got slapped down for subsidizing the cost of PCs in the U.S. My reading is that doing so is a clear violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Of course, if you bought your netbook outside the U.S. then all you know about Sherman is that he is Mr. Peabody's boy......

BTW, way to go MS!!--let's increase your share of the mobile operating system market by alienating the hardware manufacturers with your per-device pricing! What could possibly go wrong with that strategy!?

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What?

The link you give just reports on Microsoft's record quarter results. What's that got to do with image?

Oh and please, this whole MS tax business is just lame bleating. Try buying an Apple Mac Book without OSX! If there was big demand for Linux, Toshiba would surely offer Netbooks with it on. But as we saw when netbooks were lauched primarily running Linux, Joe Public didn't want it, so manufacturers stopped offering it. And down the line, when you come to sell your Netbook, it will be worth more with a Windows licence, so you'll get your money back.

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Stop

stop illegal practices

The US Federal Courts decided (now beyond the appeal) that commingling the OS and IE was in fact illegal.

If Microsoft wants any respect from anyone they first need to operate legally. They do not.

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@Lewis Mettier 1 - try getting your facts straight!!

The early court decisions to which you are referring were superceded by a settlement with the Department of Justice which was ratified the US appeals court!

So presumably you also think that Apple should not be able to bundle Safari, and that Ubuntu should be barred from including Firefox!

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??MS subsidised notebook??

Get that in writing from Toshiba. If it is true, and not just some spotty sales kid trying to bamboozle you, MS + Toshiba could be put over a barrel for anti-competitive behaviour.

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Grenade

And?

Google does it better.

But a minor note, computers were sold with Windows for years because customers wanted a product that was supported, never mind the quality, and Apple sues everyone who installs their OS on another system.

Brownie points for MSFT on that one, off topic. Any platform and all.

It's only recently that *nix, and by *nix I mean Ubunutu, became available on computers. Companies have had to train up their entire support system from the ground up with a different set of products. That takes time and they'd rather not do that.

I'd actually argue that FOSS being commercialized ruins the very essence of FOSS. You're creating another software company, with many people now recognizing Linux as Ubuntu. Sure, for Canonical that's bloody brilliant. I'd commend them on that business strategy. But the whole idea behind FOSS, that you have a product that is intrinsically yours, complete freedom to run what you want, however you want. That's being taken away. Now there's a certain office application, a certain OS, a certain compiler. What's the difference between You Will Run This For Slightly Less Than Windows to You Will Run This But Have Access To All This?

For example, MSFT .Net supports quite a few languages, none of them theirs. Bar C# which was created by them then made F/OSS, but major *nix people will argue against that. Mainly because MSFT created it.

Picture a day when you turn on your computer and there's no Fedora/Red Hat (it's a thought experiment, go with it), no Slackware, no Unix to speak of, just Ubuntu. No office applications bar Open Office, no compiler suite bar Net Beans. A platform where you can't code in certain languages because the Ministry banned it. Where you can't open certain formats, can't say certain words because it was decreed heresy.

What was that dudes name who blasted Mono for implementing C#? There is quite a few FOSS sites I formerly respected who cried for the product to be discontinued and all copies destroyed. Intelligent people who will praise Apple for their "openess" and Google for their creation of web apps on any platform, ignoring the fact you can run Windows on an Apple PC but no Apple on any hardware but that approved by and sold by Apple. Can't run Flash apps on Apple products because Flash is evil. And hey, I hate coding in Flash, I'd rather code in assembly, makes more sense. But that should be seen as heresy by the FOSS community, not lauded on site after site. Google takes all information entered into their products, compiles a profile on you, then sells that to marketers. They're legal spammers. Hell, Google cars wardrive and flat out steal information off any wifi network they come across. They start a product, let the FOSS community build it, then commercialize it and charge everyone for the privilege.

And I'm ranting again. -.-

But don't make a world where FOSS is just another software company who's claim to fame is that they're better than MSFT. Take your computer, uninstall Windows and put the OS of your choice on. Then install the programs of your choice, go online and help out a struggling dev with their product. I'd recommend Firefox, since they stopped being good around IE5 when they decided they were better than the competition and have focused on random plugins ever since.

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Linux

Agree Michelle...

I did exactly the same as you here with Ubuntu going on straight away.

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No long article needed. It's not that complicated.

Did they or did they not steal intellectual properties of MS? That's the question in hand, not all this nonsense talk of "hostages." If Acer and Asus think there is no infringement, just tell that to the judge. Otherwise, just pay up like HTC did and become a fair player. Let's not over analyze this.

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Clue to the clueless

"using its patents in e-mail, multimedia and other functions"

It's about patents.

That's not something that can be "stolen".

It's an arbitrary area in the space of ideas into which some dickhead can suddenly declare that you strolled in unannounced (even though it wasn't marked) and then demand "royalties".

Sir Francis Drake would be proud.

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Pint

The Chinese business mindset is to follow path of least resistance to make money!

HTC likely is paying royalties to clear the clutter from the path to making a fortune. Likely they consulted with Google but made their own decision.

HTC doesn't want to waste time in a US court, it wants to get rich.

The real interesting court battle will be Apple defending patents that are obviously prior art involving multi-touch!

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WTF?

Not even free-as-in-beer

> Apple has already set the price of an operating system at $0.00

WTF?! can see Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard in the Apple Store listed at $29.00!

Oh, you meant iOS? How is that any more free-as-in-beer than other included-with-mobile-OS's like Android, Symbian or Windows 7 Phone 7 Mobile 7 OS?

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WTF?

Apple? What?

"Why? Because Apple has already set the price of an operating system at $0.00 (£0.00, €0.00, ¥000). No one pays an iOS license fee — well, no one is allowed to, but that's a separate matter. The salient point is that Google has simply conveyed this price to ODMs and OEMs."

Um, what? That argument just came straight out of left field and I've no idea what to do with it. How can you say Apple 'set the price of an operating system'? Users don't pay up front for phone operating systems whether there's a charge at some point in the chain or not, and since Apple's phone chain is completely owned by Apple I don't see how they can be said, in any way that makes any sense at all, to have 'set the price of an operating system'. I just have no idea what you mean by that.

People buying a phone look at the subsidised price of the phone, and there's room for a lot of play in that number even if someone somewhere is paying someone else a $10 license fee for the OS. I don't really see anything in your post that contradicts this. I'm really struggling to get any kind of a handle on your argument.

The contention that somehow Microsoft won't be able to enforce a patent suit against Android because no-one pays Apple for iOS, even given its basic problems with coherence, seems silly on the face of it; it's hardly something a court is going to take into consideration. If a court decides Android violates Microsoft's patents then the choices are to quit implementing the patented functionality or pay up; the court's not going to go around considering the effective market price of other operating systems, or whatever the heck it is you're proposing exactly.

Am I the only one all at sea with this analysis? Does everyone else get where Matt's coming from?

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The most sense I've been able to make of it

To iPhone and iPad owners (and, now, I think iPod Touch owners), all new releases of iOS are free. This contrasts with the desktop where new OS releases often cost money. The argument is that Apple are first to promote the idea that people can expect their phone OS to be updated several times in its lifetime, with each update provided to everyone from a widely available source for free. This also contrasts with the previous model for phones where you didn't expect updates, which is also what many of the Android licensees seem to be trying to promote as the ongoing model for their handsets — you get the OS it comes with, and that's your fill.

From Microsoft's point of view, that means that they can't expect the emerging category of smartphones and tablets to provide the same sort of revenue stream as they get from PCs. They have to cut off all retail sales.

Now, I've no idea if that's a significant proportion or if I've even fully understood the thrust of the article.

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Where can I download iOS?

So, iOS is free? Costs €0.00? Where can I download my copy? Better yet, is there a USB installer like for *buntu (etc) so I can just clicky a few options and let it get on with the task?

Oh... wait... hang on? I need to buy an Apple for this? Well, that's not exactly free then is it? So you aren't the only one who read that and thought "huh?".

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Anonymous Coward

Open source is not for profit

I don't often agree with statements from Microsoft, but they are quite right in saying there is no profit in open source. I don't believe you can even make a living from it. All major open source projects have funding from companies that profit from other sources.

Google doesn't profit from open source either. Its core business (and source of profits) is advertising. All its software development can run at up huge losses on the back of that, hence Googles ability to buy the rights to VP8 and give it away. If its core business was hardware or software, they would be bankrupted by that kind of activity.

What business model is proposed for Microsoft based on open source? That it should invest huge amounts of money developing software, give it away, and then be paid for... what? That's Microsoft's core business, and its finished without it. I don't see any logic in this proposal - should we also tell film studios to give away movies (open source them) and point to the profits of advertisers as a reason for doing so?

Is it valid to make comparisons between companies like Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, etc and Google? The former all make and sell things, but Google is an advertising company. Their business models have to be fundamentally different

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you can't be that silly, can you?

"All major open source projects have funding from companies that profit from other sources."

No, this just isn't true.

I'd write a long explanation of various open source business models, but happily, other people have been doing it for ten years, so I don't have to. Just Google it. Here's a good one:

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/11-open-source-business-models/5371

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Anonymous Coward

That's a good example?

@Adam Williamson 1: "'d write a long explanation of various open source business models, but happily, other people have been doing it for ten years, so I don't have to. Just Google it. Here's a good one:

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/11-open-source-business-models/5371"

That seems like a very poor article to me. It starts with the knee-jerk premise that any business not based on open source treats its customers like this:

Quote: "Give me money. Now go away. It doesn’t work? Go away. You want your money back? Read your EULA, and go away. You want to see the software? Go away"

There was almost no point reading on, but I persevered. Many of the proposed business models had no specific connection to open source at all, i.e. a closed-source project could operate in the same way. In fact, one of them (2. Product Ware) seems more relevant to Apple than Android. It also didn't seem apparent to me that Zoho Office is an open source project (5. SaaS Ware) - where can I get the source from? And I'd like some examples of businesses that have paid IBM huge amounts of money to develop something and then allowed it to be given to its competitors through open source (4. Project Ware). And the remainder could be reduced to pretty much what I said above - become an advertising agent like Google (6. Ad Ware), or get someone else to fund your activity (7. Sugar Daddy Ware, 8. Foundation Ware, 9. Beg Ware, 11. Let’s Make a Deal Ware). And "Tchotchke Ware"? Are you kidding?

This all sounds like idealism to me. Source code represents the tools of our trade, and expensive ones at that. Having done the hard work building up a collection, you don't turn around and give it to a competitor for free.

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Anonymous Coward

And that's what makes Google dangerous

They can afford to come in and destroy entire markets because it doesn't matter to them, their money comes from elsewhere. They spend some money and give stuff away for free and push other companies out that depended on that market for their existence.

In Google's world, only Google is allowed to make money.

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Gates Horns

Actually

"They can afford to come in and destroy entire markets because it doesn't matter to them, their money comes from elsewhere."

The same can be said about Microsoft.

Go ask the folks at Netscape, Stacker and i4i if you don't believe me.

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WTF?

Re: "And that's what makes Google dangerous"

Well, well, that is how Microsoft destroyed (I have forgotten the name) bye delivering IE for "free".

Microsoft was then using one monopoly (Windows) to create a new one. And that is not allowed in the law.

(In Microsoft's world, only Microsoft is allowed to make money.)

I am sure Google has to be careful about stepping on laws relating to monopolies, if not in the USA, but at least in the EU.

But Google's business is search and there is no monopoly in cell phones or cell phone operation systems, much to Microsoft's despair (so to say).

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Anonymous Coward

I'm well aware that Microsoft has done exactly this sort of thing before

And they got in all kinds of trouble because of it. The problem with Google is that they probably don't fit the legal definition of a monopoly, so they will continue to get away with such behaviour for a while yet.

In practical terms though it doesn't really matter whether they are a monopoly or not, they keep raking in the cash and if they choose to focus on your industry then expect to be put out of business. Their latest such act (that I'm aware of) is trying to buy the company that supplies all the flight info to Expedia, Travelocity etc. How are these companies supposed to compete when the biggest search company in the world also own all the flight data?

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Specific connection?

"Many of the proposed business models had no specific connection to open source at all, i.e. a closed-source project could operate in the same way."

Who said they needed a 'specific connection'? The OP seemed to be under the impression that it was impossible to make money in relation to open source code. I did a lazy Google and picked one of the first links that does a half-decent job of explaining why this isn't true. There's no need for the business models in question to be *exclusive* to open source software to show the flaw in what he said. They just have to *work* for open source software.

If you'd prefer a different example, I can give you one. It's called 'my bank account', into which Red Hat deposits my reasonably generous salary with cheerful regularity. I'm sure making out okay out of open source.

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Dead Vulture

An utterly flawed article....

...Ok I accept the arguements against open source, but the writer keeps mentioning a FULLY CLOSED platform i.e Apple.

So in one sentance he berates MS for suing makers for infringments and then holds Apple (who sue just as much if not more) as a shining example of how to get things right.

If you are going to show how MS shoudl do things, don't use two utterly opposing examples.

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Except that Apple aren't a fully closed shop

See WebKit, which is there's originally and to which they are still a major contributor. If you want, see it embedded in the default browser on your Android phone. Or on the desktop in the Google Chrome browser.

If you don't like that, maybe Apple's contributions to GCC are more to your liking? Actually that's a bit fusty, but they're pretty much bankrolling Clang on their own and making substantial contributions to LLVM. Their desktop kernel is also open source, though nobody much uses it. And they drafted the OpenCL specification before submitting it and handing full control to Kronos.

Per their own site, 200+ open source projects ship with OS X, but I'm completely unable to tell you which others, if any, they've contributed to.

You'd be hard pressed to argue they're more open than closed or even close to parity, but I'd dispute 'fully' (especially when written in all caps).

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Boffin

Re: Except that Apple aren't a fully closed shop [but they wanted to be]

In fact, WebKit was a KDE's KHTML fork and worked on by Apple. There were issues backporting Apple's code into the original KHTML version, but it worked nonetheless. This thanks to the LGPL.

Regarding GCC and Apple, they wanted to release Objective-C as a binary-only object file to be linked with GCC, like nVidia's proprietary driver on Linux. But thanks to the GPL, it is free software.

Note that I'm not a GPL fanboi, just showing the facts.

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#Closed Shop

>See WebKit ......... see it embedded in the default browser on your Android phone. Or on the desktop in the Google Chrome browser.

..... or see it in the latest release of Adobe AIR - if you actually believe Apple are pleased about this you are dreaming.

Apple are all about closed in every aspect of their business. For them, WebKit was a major mistake and not one which they are likely to repeat - for Google, Adobe and the rest of us its a joy on so many levels.

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@AC, Renalto

Your points would appear to be contradicted by Apple's ongoing employment of Chris Lattner to construct Clang and LLVM — a new compiler system designed to replace GCC on the basis that it's now an extremely convoluted and difficult codebase. Or, rather, LLVM was a research project designed to work as a back-end to GCC that was open source already and came with Chris Lattner when he gained employment at Apple. During his time at Apple, manifold issues with the GCC front end have led to the development and open source release of Clang, a purely Apple-originated codebase that they have voluntarily released as open source software and which is likely to cross pollinate to other platforms and targets. And this is all since the launch of the iPhone.

You can easily argue that Apple are an overall negative force without having to deny them any positive effect on anything.

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Dead Vulture

Um, can you spell?

Could we have a reprise, hopefully this time in legible words? Thanks ;-)

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FAIL

More closed and controlling than open.

On my PC, I can of Windows of course and I can also easily dual boot or virtualise Linux. Can I run OSx as well? No not legally, I have to have an Apple Mac for that and pay over the odds for the 'privelege'.. But I can run Windows and Linux on a Mac. Conclusion: OSx is the most 'closed' OS of the three.

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Stop

Microsoft also blackmailing HTC to make WinMo7 phones

They offer them protection from Android lawsuits in exchange for making Windows7 mobiles for them.

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2010/apr10/04-27mshtcpr.mspx

It's a protection racket, but the US Government clearly are too scared to tackle the problem.

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HMMMM neutrality?

An article singing the praise of open source written by: Matt Asay is chief operating officer of Ubuntu commercial operation Canonical.

>> Shouldnt this be classified as an advert?

Sure you can buy development support but aren't you then paying to make use of your software? Isnt that the same as Microsoft does?

I dunno open source means free and totally free... so no fees for dev support... Ain't gonna happen right?

Reality check all them Linux and Unix and OS fans have many valid points but when you want support for production systems you will have to fork out for support... just the same as paying for a license for your software

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Big Brother

Not the same at all...

As for the last 20 years, people can't get their head around *free as in beer* and *free as in freedom*. So, once again:

You have to pay for a license and you have to pay for support.

vs. You may consider paying for support

You have to stay outside of the compiled code when debugging.

vs. You may stay outside of the compiled code when debugging.

You cannot add features to your licensed code.

vs. You can add features to your licensed code.

You cannot reverse-engineer.

vs. You do not need to reverse-engineer.

Of course once state and rent-seeking companies come in:

You may have to lube up for patent lawyers

vs. You may have to lube up for patent lawyers

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Ignoring the 800lb gorrilla

Funny how MS is going for "device manufacturers' use of Google's open source mobile platform, Android" rather than tackling Google head-on?

Maybe it is Google has a lot more money to throw at lawyers?

Maybe they hope the US court is going to side with MS as the "American" side, rather then against those pesky foreigners?

Sad really, if all they can do to 'compete' is attempt to use patent laws (and in particular the broken US system) to defend their old spot in a changing world. I really hope Acer and Asustek tell MS where to stuff it, and Google weighs in to force an open trial of just what is covered by which patents so they can be revoked, or worked around.

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Gates Halo

How Suprising

COO of some crappy linux distro whines about microsoft making money. What a suprise. If they learned a few lessons from microsoft they might make some cash as well.

Canonical are truly a non-profit orginistion.

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Linux

@GatesFanbois

Err, you did read the article, didn't you?

The complaint is not about MS making money, but the methods used by MS to make money. Threatening manufacturers to pay up "$10 to $15 dollars per device" for some rather unspecified patents. Where are the details of the patents that always talk FUD about Linux, why the secrecy over them?

Even assuming there are one or two patents involved, why such a big fee? After all, an OS like windows has millions of lines of code and sells for around the £100 mark (depending on version, deal etc). How much might be represented by said patents, a few hundred lines of code? By my reckoning that comes to around £0.01 for the patented portion.

Now before you jump up about 'great inventions' and superior value of patents, look closely at most of them. What do you see? In most cases, bugger all innovation, but small steps that are often needed for basic interoperability (e.g. the MS FAT patent seems to revolve around their particular work-around for their originally bad design of a file system).

If MS make a good product, a large number of people will gladly pay for it (I did for VisualC, for example). This is about their bullying of others who decide not to choose them, but go with other (and often better) OS choices.

Tux, as he and thousands of other penguin lovers are marching forward and not throwing thier toys out of the pram.

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Gates Halo

blah blah blah

"The complaint is not about MS making money, but the methods used by MS to make money. "

Yeah microsoft trying to get money for patents that they hold that is outrageous. If MS patents aren't valid then the manufacturers don't have to pay if they are valid then they should pay. If they don't want to pay what MS want then they should leave out the functionality or work around it.

Notably the manufacturers haven't commented on it; instead it is the COO of a company, that would appear to not have a clue how to make money, who seems to have taken offense at what MS are doing. While MS have successfully monetised and made profitable their PC operating system this COO would appear to still be trying to figure how to do this. Given his lack of success so far why would anyone want to listen to his commercial advice ? least of all the company that built a monopoly supplying this very product.

One of these days linux fanbois will actually realise that the average consumer doesn't want their product, the fact that you can't give it away for free to anyone except a bunch of furry toothed sys admins is a clue to how good your product actually is.

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blah blah

"Yeah microsoft trying to get money for patents that they hold that is outrageous."

I doubt this is their sole aim at all, the most likely reason is to scare smaller companies away from android for fear of being sued. I've not looked too deeply into the patents, but they seem your bog standard blindingly obvious with years of prior examples.

It's a legal protection racket, simple as that, pay us for the patents/use our OS or we sue as we are bigger and can afford more/better lawyers.

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@GatesFanbois

"If MS patents aren't valid then the manufacturers don't have to pay if they are valid then they should pay"

Which, in principle, is correct, at least for those that MS will actually name. But we have two issues here:

Firstly are the patents indeed valid (i.e. should they have been granted in the first place). There is a *lot* of US patents, and software ones in particular, that should not have been granted as they are pretty obvious, or way too wide. Sadly, the US model seems to be "grant it at cursory glance, let lawyers fight it out later".

Secondly we have the question of the 'value' to consider. They are not worth anything like $10-20 so the real motivation of MS appears to be anti-competitive, i.e. to block competition through minor legal points by pricing them far beyond the 'value' they add to, for example, MS Windows.

"One of these days linux fanbois will actually realise that the average consumer doesn't want their product"

Fine by me, and my friends & family. We can sit smugly while you bask in the glory of your popularity with 99.4+% of malware[1] that targets for your system.

[1] See page 8 of http://www.gdatasoftware.co.uk/uploads/media/GData_MalwareReport_2010_1_6_EN.pdf for the figures. And I am being generous by counting non-native *ix malare as a threat to the penguin.

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Go

doug39a@yahoo.com

Hitting the nail on the head is always painful when you're the nail, i.e. the freetards.

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Unfortunately..,

...I think the only time Microsoft will learn, is when the bankruptcy lawyers come knocking.

Not going to happen for a while though, and that happy eventuality is even further away if people keep bending over and grabbing their ankles every time Microsoft tells them to.

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"Because Apple has already set the price of an operating system at $0.00"

You could say that Commodore and Atari did the same, yet somehow Microsoft managed to sell DOS and Windows for PCs.

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Small difference..

..between an 8 bit home microcomputer that you plug into the telly and enjoy blur-o-vision games with, and a honking great PC with its own high-resolution monitor, even in them days.

People bought c64s and speccies for the home, and PCs for work. Of course, these days it's PCs all over.. and people now seem to think that "PC" == "Microcomputer".

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Title

I was referring to the Amiga and ST, they did have a role in businesses and models aimed at businesses.

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somehow Microsoft managed to sell DOS and Windows for PCs.

In practice, though, they gave them away. DOS and Windows 3.1 were so easy to copy that few people bothered to buy them, even if they could find a shop that sold them. Companies, on the other hand, bought PCs with DOS and 3.1 on them already, and were provided with a manual and set of floppies for every machine. These sat unopened on a shelf, I wonder how many went home with the staff's empty lunch boxes?

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As Mark Twain said ...

"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated"

For years we have heard that Microsoft is dying, soon to be dead, usurped by the new kids on the block. They've had their rough times but they are still here. They never did well beyond the desktop and could suffer more in future as people buy into alternatives but they likely will have those destops. Not all of us see the demise of desktops as others do.

Comparing with Google and Apple is an interesting thing to do. "Free" and "Open" does seem to have some magical power to awe but people are coming to realise that in reality these can be mere words; to many it's becoming increasingly obvious they are simply exchanging one flavour of 'evil' for another.

"Free" can come with the price of losing your privacy completely, while "Open" may mean being locked to what a manufacturer allows. It's not unreasonable to ask, if it is truly "Open"; how come I have to hack it, jailbreak it and re-flash it to do what I want?

The thing which seems to be repeatedly forgotten is that with Microsoft, if you can write an application, then anyone with desktop Windows can likely run it, and Microsoft gives away some quite credible development environments to create such applications. To many that is an "Open" and "Free" they are entirely happy with.

There are some changes which can be seen on the horizon but preparing the funeral cortège for Microsoft is premature.

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Not really disagreeing but two points in response...

"For years we have heard that Microsoft is dying, soon to be dead, usurped by the new kids on the block."

Microsoft's problem isn't that they're dying, yet at least, it's that they're stagnant... and to Ozzie's point, even when they get the vision right (UMPC's for example) their execution is abysmal. Name one *successful* product they've put out in the last 10 years that wasn't an evolution of their own product (Win7) or a me-too of someone else's product (XBox)?

"The thing which seems to be repeatedly forgotten is that with Microsoft, if you can write an application, then anyone with desktop Windows can likely run it"

Very true, but that's also the author's (and Ozzie's from my reading of it) point... you can also write a web app that can run on any Windows/Mac/Mobile device. Local apps are still pertinent, don't get me wrong, but they're not the only game in town anymore... just as the desktop isn't the be-all/end-all of computing anymore. If Microsoft wants to grow and remain relevant in the future like they have been in the past and mostly still are today, they should worry about executing better and winning market share the way they did with Windows and Office.

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