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back to article In defence of defenestration: Microsoft MUST hurl Gates from the Windows

Microsoft's investors are apparently sharpening their knives for company chairman Bill Gates. Three of the top 20 shareholders are said to be upset that Gates - tasked with picking the new CEO to replace Steve Ballmer - has too much influence over the Windows 8 giant despite only holding a 4.5 per cent stake. It was one thing …

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Linux

To paraphrase The Matrix

Do not try and change the Act - that's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth.

There is no Act II.

Then you will see that it is not the Act that changes, it is only yourself.

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Re: To paraphrase The Matrix

There could be an act two. They are one of the few companies with enough cash to actually do the right thing and go back to basics and learn from their (many) mistakes and rebuild all their software from the bottom up - the way it should be using modern software management techniques. That's probably 300 of their top engineers spending the next 10 years building the foundation of the next 100 or so.

They could do that - and it would be brilliant.

But there will be no act II - act I has pretty much ruined the theatre for now.

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Re: To paraphrase The Matrix

As fun as MS-bashing is, I think you're probably right. The heyday of IT making massive new improvements to corporate functions is probably over. From now on, its incremental - hence the scramble to subscription services to prop up revenue. It's no longer viable to continue to spend the vast amounts on new IT when most functions are already there in some form.

Yes, MS missed some new markets which Apple took, but as new features tail off in the phone market, we'll see a plateau that we've seen in desktops. The saving grace for phone companies is people's clumsiness. However, my guess is that even if MS managed to take the market, the profits Apple made are already gone. MS' TIFKAM fiasco is basically a rear-guard action to prevent Android/linux becoming ubiquitous thin-clients which may become fat clients later.

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kb
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Re: To paraphrase The Matrix

If the rumors are true the best answer is NOT to replace Ballmer at all, its to break up MSFT and put Sinofsky (who the rumor says was fired for telling Ballmer that sticking a cellphone UI on the desktop was just as dumb as sticking a desktop UI on a cellphone) in charge of Windows/Office and put Elop in charge of WinMo and finally a third division for consumer electronics and gaming.

Its pretty obvious that the problem has been trying to force windows to be something it is not, a "one size fits all" solution to all their problems, along with the higher ups trying to force tie ins where they simply made no sense. I'm reminded of the former inventor of WinAmp talking about why he hated and quit AOL "It was ALL about the service (dialup AOL) and they didn't care about anything else or even if bundling would be smart or a disaster, it was about nothing but pushing the service above all and I could see it would end up with WinAmp trashed as WinAmp users didn't want AOL dialup" and the same is happened with MSFT, they keep trying to force things under the WinFlag, even when they make no sense.

Splitting the company would let each group focus on their target, stop the idiot attempts at making one size fit all, and allow each to focus on their core customers and making them happy instead of trying to do everything under a single banner. if they stick to the current course and merely put Elop in to continue forcing windows to be a cellphone? Stick a fork, sell the stock, its toast. Both Google and Apple have shown that mobile and desktop are different beasts, trying to make it all under one banner just makes messes.

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Re: To paraphrase The Matrix

Splitting the co might save it. But when has MS ever cared about making customers happy? Customer happiness is nowhere in the DNA.

Even after a split, I wouldn't expect that to change.

It's more likely MS will continue to be a cash-cow zombie co, shambling across tech land until it runs out of brains and dies twitching in a gutter.

Maybe IBM will buy whatever's left.

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@TheOtherHobbes (Re: To paraphrase The Matrix)

Maybe then they could finally get rid of the single event queue in OS/2. Progress!

Hey, where'd everyone go?

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Act II - Sue

Lawsuits seem to be the order of the day among tech companies.

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This post has been deleted by its author

FAIL

Re: To paraphrase The Matrix

I think you might be onto something here, "mobile and desktop are different beasts, trying to make it all under one banner just makes messes". I have contemplated this in the past many times myself , desktop is just that, a desktop somewhere in a quiet room for doing the heavy lifting like it does in the shop. Meanwhile mobile is totally different. I think if Ubuntu eventually comes through on their promise, the mobile phone will be replaced by a PC the size of Zippo lighter. Had N900 in the past and connecting it to the projector and to mouse and keyboard via Bluetooth made it a real computer. But a desktop workstation will always be around, even more powerful than ever for the heavy lifting. So no, the mobile to desktop will likely never happen but the other direction is where that is going, scaling down the desktop so it can be used efficiently while on the move. And Ballmer is a fool for not realizing and executing on it properly.

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Re: To paraphrase The Matrix

Its pretty obvious that the problem has been trying to force windows to be something it is not, a "one size fits all" solution to all their problems

Now now, it's not "one size fits all" -- the official Microsoftspeek is "ONE EXPERIENCE"

You're not allowed to talk about Microsoft products without including the word "experience." Bonus points for using it several times in a row.

And yes, the not-Metro UI "experience" -- bad as it is on a touch screen -- is practically unusable on a computer with an upright screen and a mouse+keyboard. Elements of that UI have even crept into Office, making those programs unusable even if you run them on Windows 7.

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Coat

Re: To paraphrase The Matrix

You mean, like, "experience, experience, experience, experience..."

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Re: To paraphrase The Matrix

You could use the same engine for desktop and mobile; but the user interface needs to be completely different for the different uses. A desktop assumes a separate keyboard and pointing device; and the mobile is usually driven with just the screen; so you need to tailor the interface to the device it's being used on. A halfway house interface is no good to fucking anybody...you need the right interface for the right job.

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Trollface

Re: To paraphrase The Matrix

"And yes, the not-Metro UI "experience" -- bad as it is on a touch screen"

You heretic! You are supposed to be "super excited" about it. Haven't you got the memo?

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Re: To paraphrase The Matrix

What seems not to occur to most people is that there's no good reason why Microsoft (or any company for that matter) should to continue to dominate. We've kind of done the "PC with Windows" thing, and of course it will linger on for a long time, but it's not where the really exciting things are happening any more. The talented people who worked there should go find jobs at other companies who are doing more interesting things.

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Re: To paraphrase The Matrix

> And yes, the not-Metro UI "experience" -- bad as it is on a touch screen --

> is practically unusable on a computer with an upright screen and

> a mouse+keyboard

And it's interesting that an open-source project, one of that family of products that MS and other proprietary companies claim is incapable of such innovation, has actuallt gotten the concept right. In KDE, they can actually *CHANGE* the interface you're using to fit the type of hardware you're using. You have a desktop, you can use the Plasma Desktop Workspace. You have a netbook or tablet, they have the Plasma Netbook Workspace. Yet the underlying system is much the same between them. So why couldn't the highly-paid geniuses at MS figure out the same thing?

http://kde.org/workspaces/

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It seems to me that what this move is really all about is for the 'capital reallocation' set to gain control of MS, kill off investment in the future of the company and its various franchises and then drain the body of blood in the form of fat dividends for shareholders.

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FAIL

So much apocalyptic imagery. But what does it actually mean? Nothing.

Except that the author maybe thinks that shareholders aren't entitled to dividends, fat or not?

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sold for parts?

It seems to me that what this move is really all about is for the 'capital reallocation' set to gain control of MS, kill off investment in the future of the company and its various franchises and then drain the body of blood in the form of fat dividends for shareholders.

Drain its cash and let it languish? Good. (Accompany this with a photo of Grumpy Cat.) Microsoft has been a parasite on the technology world for way too long. Removing the abusive monopolist from the picture will allow innovation to happen faster and better.

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"Neither company now exists having both being gobbled up by Oracle."

(*cough. cough ... a company run by its founder *cough)

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>a company run by its founder

Sometimes.

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I've got the rescue plan for MS

1) Open source Windows

2) Flog it to Oracle

3) Fork it and make Open Windows / Libre Fenetres

4) ...

5) Profit!

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Pirate

Always a PC

Well, according to yesterday's article about aging XP machines (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/10/01/six_months_end_xp_support/), there's still 1.6 billion PCs out there, so I'm guessing that's still a bigger market than smart phones or tablets. Nothing wrong with selling 1.6 billion Windows licenses at what, $30 a pop, every few years. That's good money. Too bad their current version of Windows is such rubbish. And that's why MS should stop worrying about this "Act II". They've got a huge user base that isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and trying to merge the tablet/phone world with the PC world is obviously something they have no demonstrable skills or talent at. They should focus on the PC and make that their Crown Jewel again. If they want to do tablets or phones, fine, they've got plenty of money to spin out child companies to take care of that.

Even if they stop "growing" and just maintain current revenue for the next ten years, they are still making a shitpot full of money every 5 seconds.

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Re: Always a PC

"Even if they stop "growing" and just maintain current revenue for the next ten years, they are still making a shitpot full of money every 5 seconds."

That's what the boards of Nokia and Blackberry reckoned. And the board of HP are currently on the same hymn sheet. In tech, when people realise a company is in decline, they flee like passengers on a stricken cruise liner, and soon that incredible cash flow is waning, nobody wants to do business with you, and soon your yesterday's FT/WSJ headline.

In the corporate IT space, MS have a monopoly largely because nobody clever and agile challenged them. But I wouldn't want to be as MS shareholder if Google really meant business in enterprise, for example. Or even Apple. In the corporate space iPhones and iPads have cracked open the door. What if they got off their fat-margined bottoms, and started looking at what would make a secure, reliable enterprise client? MS are still hide-bound by the need to milk the cash cow. The company that defeats them won't be playing by the same rules.

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Happy

Re: Always a PC

In the corporate IT space, MS have a monopoly largely because nobody clever and agile challenged them.

Well, actually Microsoft has irresistible momentum. My company literally RUNS on SharePoint and Outlook 2010, as do my suppliers and customers. Everyone uses it for messaging each other, scheduling, project planning, you name it. And to their credit Microsoft is very aggressive in soliciting feedback and new feature suggestions.

To move from Office 2010 would be the equivalent of changing which side of the road we all drive on, including relocating the steering wheel. Everyone would have to change at the same time, including all our equipment. It's just not going to happen.

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Re: Always a PC

"Well, according to yesterday's article about aging XP machines, there's still 1.6 billion PCs out there...Nothing wrong with selling 1.6 billion Windows licenses at what, $30 a pop, every few years."

Go back and read that article again, because it documents Microsoft's dilemma quite well, namely, that almost a third of those PCs are still running Windows XP. In other words, they haven't upgraded in over a decade and even the impending withdrawal of support is not moving many users off the platform.

The fact is, Operating Systems (and, for that matter, Productivity Suites) are just not sexy. We used to upgrade every few years in the hope of getting a stable platform (and some more powerful hardware). With XP and a couple of service packs we finally got there and the OS should have faded into the background. But by that time, Microsoft had become addicted to the upgrade cycle and kept pushing new versions even though there was no compelling reason for them.

As far as I'm concerned, the same is true for Office. I haven't seen any new feature since Office '97 that would make me want to fork out for a new version. Not that there haven't been new features, there just haven't been any that really justify the price of an upgrade.

In fact, some of Microsoft's recent moves have been counterproductive, taking a familiar product and turning it on its head (TIFKAM, ribbon-bar). And for little reason that I can see beyond "see! it's different! That must be better." I know TIFKAM was a response to the advent of touch, but throwing out the entire start menu interface for everybody, touchscreen or not, really does feel like just one more desperate pull on the upgrade pipe.

Can Microsoft have a second act? Apple certainly did it, going from near bankrupcy to the most talked about Technology company in the world. IBM did a pretty good job of reinventing itself once Microsoft stole its business computing thunder. Microsoft just needs to accept that the old PC upgrade cycle is dying and move on.

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Re: Always a PC

Sure, but corporate lifetime is less than 20 years these days, and all the new corporates are likely to be using Open Office w/ DropBox or Google Docs...

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WTF?

@BillG Re: Always a PC

To move from Office 2010 would be the equivalent of changing which side of the road we all drive on, including relocating the steering wheel. Everyone would have to change at the same time, including all our equipment.

Really?!?

You'd have to change "all your equipment" to install a standard POP3 or IMAP server? All your PC's would have to be shit-canned to install a standard mail client like Thunderbird? You can't exchange mail between Office XXXX and POP3/IMAP servers and clients? (Hint: I do it all the time...).

Of course a wholesale change between Office and something else would be disruptive -- probably just as disruptive as the change from the Windows interfaces we're all familiar with to Win-TIFKAM (which I'm sure your enterprise is all ready to do, right?). That said, I don't know what flavor of Kool-Aid you're drinking out there, but please don't bring any of it around here...I'm not a fan of bitter almonds.

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Re: Always a PC

"SharePoint and Outlook 2010 . . . Office 2010"

Never used them. Despite having loads of windows PCs, we either stuck with older versions or found alternative ways of doing things, more reliable and cheaper.

There was simply no compelling reason to upgrade (with associated pain), based on the amount asked for, when the existing solutions worked.

MS were much too late coming up with a subscription system, at a reasonable price.

MS had better have a killer app up their sleeve or we won't be using them at all in less than 5 years.

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Re: Always a PC

And yet...

People are changing. City governments, Police departments ...

They are finding the Microsoft is just too expensive - and the updates cause a loss of historical data, and too much makework to translate all the historical data for every update.

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Anonymous Coward

@BillG - Re: Always a PC

Don't count on that! It already happened with small cars here and there. And if your company managed to lock itself in to Microsoft technologies this doesn't mean every other company is also eager to get shackled.

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Re: Always a PC

Vector,

I can't disagree with any of your points, other than the trifle of saying "well, that's still possibly 1+ billion PC licenses on the upgrade treadmill"

Microsoft has always been its own worst disruptive technology. Call me a fool, but I thought DOS was a pretty decent OS for what it did - load programs on underpowered, memory limited machines, and manage files. But MS killed DOS once they realized Windows 3.x was getting popular, and they didn't even have the courtesy of throwing a wake. They went straight into poor-mouthing it (as we say here in the States). That lasted, eh, 3 or 4 years before MS decided to sacrifice Win3.x on the altar of Windows 95. Win95 was shit, but it was prettier shit than Win3.x. Win98SE fixed some of those problems, so then it was time to throw 95 under the bus. Then Win2k came out and was so much more reliable and secure than Win98, which was important in the age of high-speed Internet Porn, so Win98 had to get the boot. And when XP came out, you'd have thought Jehovah himself had coded it and ordained it as THE OS for PCs, because Windows 2000 was suddenly the worst OS ever written in history. PERIOD. Why we didn't hear about these massive holes in Win2k before 2003, well, I'll never understand.

MS did misstep badly with Millenium, but luckily not many people cared since Win2k was there to take up the slack. And the second misstep with Vista was tolerable only because XP was still in its glory days.

For Office, I still use 2000 because it does all I need it to do. Sure, I could upgrade to whatever the latest version is, but that's all crap in my book. And I'm on a volume license, so it wouldn't cost me a dime - other than lost productivity due to the Ribbon.

The big problem with a Microsoft second act is that I don't know if they have the "style" to put together a second act. They don't have enough sense to realize that even if they did find a "killer app" or "killer device", they shouldn't burden it down with trying to make it a clone of a PC running Windows and Office. They've done well with Xbox, but that's still tiny compared to the PC market. Apple got big again because they had bling, and they were focused (IMHO) on actually finding out how people used an MP3 player, then making one that was worth buying. They didn't try to make it look or act like a tiny Mac. The iPhone just ramped that up even further, and the iPad sent the whole thing through the stratosphere. I don't think MS has the "people" knowledge to pull off a similar stunt - to them everything looks like a PC running Windows and Office.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Always a PC

All very well down-voting the guy who reckons he's stuck on Windows platform but this is a fact of life in a lot of industries. Have you supposedly clued-in down-voters actually spoken to middle-managers in most firms? Obviously not else you'd know it's easier to get Miley Cyrus to put her clothes back on than get middle-managers to start looking at alternatives.

I work in a shop where 90% of managers and a lot of techies still refer to FOSS as "shareware"! "Oh no we're not going to install any of that shareware open-source stuff. What happens if the trades stop running and I have to explain to ( next manager up the chain ) that we used something we didn't fully understand?". After a few attempts over several years, we gave up trying. You can get the odd Apache, maybe bit of Python or Perl in the door but anything else and you'll get severely beaten with the Win7/Win8/Win2k8/Sharepoint/Office stick until you learn to fall in line!

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@Pirate Dave RE: Always a PC

The point I was making with the 500 million XP systems out there is that the wheels are falling off the upgrade treadmill. Many companies which would, at one time, have just automatically moved to the next version of Windows are now examining their options and I believe that trend will just accelerate, particularly now that successor platforms are becoming more common.

On the evolution of MS operating systems, most up until XP were steps along a path. Windows up through 3.1(1) was just a shell on top of DOS, but it was a start at a graphic interface which definitely where the industry was going. Microsoft tried next to make the move to NT, but the change was too jarring, since all the applications at the time wouldn't run on NT without a major rewrite. To mitigate this, they came up with Win 95 (which was again just a shell on top of DOS but with NT libraries as well). 95, 98 and millennium were transitional steps which gave developers a chance to move their applications to NT, since those OSes could run both legacy and modern applications, even if they ran somewhat poorly. Win 2000 was the first "unification" OS bringing NT to the general desktop population but it was targeted only at business users (I'm discounting NT workstation because it was really somewhat of an outlier).

Windows XP was the OS that finally brought NT to the consumer. Add a couple of service packs and Microsoft had finally accomplished the goal started all the way back with Windows 95. But, as I said before, by that time, they'd gotten so used to the upgrade cycle and the piles of cash that went with it that they couldn't stop.

Customers, on the other hand, could stop and many did, having grown tired of the time and cost associated with the upgrades when they finally had an OS that seemed to be stable and usable.

As far as remaking themselves, you seem to assume that they would have to follow Apple's path into consumer electronics and mobile. I would argue that, with their continued strength in the data center (for good or ill), they would be better served to follow IBM's path into enterprise services.

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MJI
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Re: Always a PC

Our home PC

Quad core, lots of RAM, BD burner, 2TB of HDD, rebuilt from a P4 during Vista so uses XP Pro of course and MS Office 2003 (The last file edit one).

Now I just cannot get on with ribbon menus so that tops out MS Office at 2003. The PC is pretty fast, it does what I need, I still run a couple of MS Dos programmes, which won't run on anything newer.

In our office we have to keep two XP machines around for things we cannot do on anything newer.

if MS did not remove features some of us would go to a newer version.

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Re: @Pirate Dave RE: Always a PC

Nervousness about FOSS is entirely justifiable. Where would a company go which had fully committed to Gnome have been when the developers chucked away the Gnome 2 interface because they were bored with it? How would a company feel if it had committed to OpenOffice just before most of the developers threw their toys out of the pram and decided to do LibreOffice instead?

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Re: @BillG Always a PC

Err, that is rather simplistic....

In the enterprise Outlook is far more than an email client.

What about corporate calendaring, scheduling, tasks.

Then there are the miriad of applications that expect Outlook to be installed just to provide integration.

Outlook is the front end to Exchange, proabbly the single most important and used service in any organsiation. Then there is the AD that provides authentication and authorisation, what do you propose replacing that with?

Thunderbird et-al are just a client, nothing more. Without a back end they are comnpletely useless.

The orignal post is correct, to take MS out of the corporate space is currently next to impossible as there simply are no other alternatves.

Why has Novell died?

Arguably, eDirectory & NSS are far superior to AD, GroupWise provides the same functionality & if you have actually used the recent versions, is proabbly better than Exchange.

There simply isn't the integration and MS have almost total monopoly on the back end infrastructure. They are more than Office and a Windows desktop.

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Re: Always a PC @ MJI

Quite. The ribbon would have been just fine if MS had given us the option of turning it off. New users for those that didn't care would have used it, maybe even the old die-hard would start to use it if it wasn't a hated non-option. Same with TAFKAM, have it there by default but let us turn off and it would have been fine. I'd have probably bought win8 for my ageing XP laptop instead of trying linux. Ho-hum. As someone else said earlier, why do they always have to trash the old way just because they've come up with a new way?

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Re: @Pirate Dave RE: Always a PC

Where would a company go which had fully committed to Gnome have been when the developers chucked away the Gnome 2 interface because they were bored with it?

This is a good example for FOSS not against it!

Firstly, in the short term there's absolutely no reason to change what you've got on any particular near-future drop-dead date. Those of us running RHEL5, RHEL6 or the Centos or Scientific Linux free derivatives still have a fully maintained Gnome 2 environment, with guaranteed support for five years after RHEL7 ships.

Secondly, within six months of Gnome 3 hitting the decks, the horde of disgruntled Gnome users had fixed the problem in two ways. They forked Gnome 2 into a new project called MATE - the reactionary route. And they developed Cinnamon, a new UI overlay on Gnome 3 that was far less unfriendly to Gnome 2 fans - the progressive route. I'm happy to move to Cinnamon if / when my platform of choice (Scientific Linux) moves to Gnome 3. I've tried MATE and it works. I've stopped grousing about Gnome devs flouting OSS conventions (ie you do NOT forcibly tear up your user's old way of working, you DO fork a new project and find a maintainer for the old one), because it's gone from a huge annoyance to an irrelevance in under a year.

Thirdly, there were and are are other alternatives. KDE. XFCE. Many other other alternatives. Compare Microsoft's one and only one UI, that they tear up at a whim every few years. (Win 7 was a tear-up, Win 8 a shredder).

Finally, you have the source code. If the above hadn't happened because you were a tiny minority, you could still have maintained your chosen interface for ever, or paid someone to do that, provided your pockets were deep enough. You can't do that with Windows XP. Microsoft has the secret sauce and intends to burn it.

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Re: there simply are no other alternatves

That you know of.

Active Directory is not the only authentication tool available. The biggest network on the planet is called the Internet, it runs fine and Active Directory is not part of it. Check out the technologies that allow the Internet to work and you will find that Microsoft is not the one-stop shop you think it is.

As for calendaring and scheduling, well I have to agree that Outlook has the market pretty much sewn up, but there are actually alternatives now, for those who don't have MS blinkers on, and there will be more in the future because, like it or not, FOSS is here to stay.

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Re: Always a PC

Well, actually Microsoft has irresistible momentum. My company literally RUNS on SharePoint and Outlook 2010, as do my suppliers and customers. Everyone uses it for messaging each other, scheduling, project planning, you name it.

Well, actually IBM has irresistible momentum. My company literally RUNS on CICS and TSO 1980, as do my suppliers and customers. Everyone uses it for messaging each other, scheduling, project planning, you name it.

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LDS
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Re: there simply are no other alternatves

The Internet is not a company network. Inside a company network you ned far more control and management (and ease of use) than on the Internet. Some of the technologies that still make the Internet work are old and inherently unsecure - think about SMTP.

FOSS is here to stay - but MS too - you may like it or not because there are also people who wear FOSS blinkers, but it is true.

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Re: Always a PC

The difference between Microsoft and companies like Nokia and Blackberry is highlighted by the "500 million PCs on XP" story from the other day.

The lifetime of the investment for those PCs was around a decade, but how many people are using a 10 year old phone? The companies that have invested in Microsoft desktop and server operating systems as well as server applications like Exchange aren't going to jump ship to anything that doesn't offer similar levels of support, so Microsoft have got a longer timescale to develop "Act II". Also, Microsoft is still profitable, so there isn't the impeteus to start throwing out bathwater, along with any useful babies, that some other tech companies have. OK, so the shareholders may feel that MS should have been more profitable, but that's just in 20-20 hindsight.

Apple has no track record in servers, server applications or any of the underlying technology; I know it's a bit dull compared to Angry Birds, but all aspects of logistics, inventory control, manufacturing, accounting and financial services rely on relational databases and the systems based on them. Apple hasn't got one, neither has HP. IBM have several, Oracle has a couple and even Microsoft has one. Yes there are some great FOSS databases, but they've not made a great impression on the market (I'm not counting MySQL as it's effectively owned by Oracle now).

Microsoft's main challenger is likely to be Google; they're a company that understands servers and server applications and they have client operating systems ready to sit on desktops or in pockets. Google's main problem is convincing business that cloud services are reliable enough to bet the farm on.

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Re: Always a PC

"they are still making a shitpot full of money every 5 seconds."

That is true my friend.

The thing is, for the capitalist psychopaths that run Microsoft, it's not enough.

Greed always ends up eating itself. Its fun to watch, too.

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Re: @BillG Always a PC

@Hoola - "Arguably, eDirectory & NSS are far superior to AD, GroupWise provides the same functionality & if you have actually used the recent versions, is proabbly better than Exchange. There simply isn't the integration and MS have almost total monopoly on the back end infrastructure. They are more than Office and a Windows desktop."

I'm a Novell admin, there is no "arguably" to it - eDirectory is far superior to AD. Very stable and you only need 2 tools to fix most problems - dstrace and dsrepair. Groupwise vs Outhouse/Exchange is a tough one though. I've never used Outhouse in my 20+ years in IT (yeah, amazing, I know), and I do (mostly) like Groupwise as client and server. The client is good for mail, and folks who use it for calenders are OK with it. The GW server (at least on Netware) is freakin awesome - lots and lots of self-healing abilities that the admin only knows kicked off when he gets the Post Office Maintenance email saying the problem was fixed. Oh, and single-storage for attachments, something the new versions of Exchange lack. My users generally don't like Groupwise though, because NOTHING ON THE PLANET integrates with it without 3PO's or other strange tweaks - it doesn't "just work" with stuff like Outhouse does. And there are a few spots in GW that I wish Novell had tweaked (like letting the admin set proxy access or rules for a user).

But your last sentence nailed it - it's the integration, or lack thereof, that's finally moving us off of eDir/GW to AD/Outhouse. It's pretty dead simple to setup RADIUS on Windows so that an Aruba Mobility Controller can use it for user authentication. Not so with eDirectory - you either have to pay through the nose for something like SteelBelted, or bung around with FreeRADIUS until you finally find the magic combination that makes it work (hint: it takes a liberal dosing of pixie dust, three virgins, and the pre-compiled radiusd that ships with SLES. Don't EVER try to compile your own). On the Groupwise side, my users have been bellyaching for years that they can't buy off-the-shelf software and use it to do mail merges. So we have special-purpose desktops running Outlook that relay through our GWIA just for this. But we are leaving all that behind over the next 4-5 months and moving to AD and Office365 (yikes, that part wasn't my idea...) where things will "just work" and my users can finally feel like they're modern and up-to-date.

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Re: @Someone Else Always a PC

You'd have to change "all your equipment" to install a standard POP3 or IMAP server? All your PC's would have to be shit-canned to install a standard mail client like Thunderbird? You can't exchange mail between Office XXXX and POP3/IMAP servers and clients?

Much like a neutered dog, you don't get it. This is waaaaaay beyond using email.

Office 2010 and SharePoint is used for scheduling, task management, document approval and workflow, meeting requests, manage the schedules of thousands of people at the same time, project management, and a whole lot more. If you haven't used Outlook 2010 or SharePoint then you don't understand how it's built-in functions are used for workplace collaboration and coordination of complex projects. I can receive an outside email from a customer that integrates with my project planning on SharePoint and update project status with that and all other related projects.

If all my clients, customers, and suppliers are using Office, I damn well better be so I can interface with them.

If you are actually uneducated enough to think that this is only about POP3 email, then I suggest that you take a few IT classes and upgrade your knowledge.

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Re: Always a PC

Unless a sizeable share of companies still running XP / Office '97 decides to either completely switch to a different OS / Productivity Suite (which is time/money consuming) or to give up entirely on getting support from Microsoft by not upgrading (which is risky and potentially expensive from a security point of view), Microsoft still has THAT potential population of users to get upgrade money from. So financially Microsoft still has a captive audience which (willingly or not) is likely to spend money on their products. Maybe some will not upgrade but companies are scared of losing application support and/or spending money re-training users on new systems so a majority will. Whether said products actually improve the business is sadly irrelevant once a client is stuck in the upgrade-because-of-obsolecence cycle...

While this is a lucrative cycle to be stuck in for MS, they haven't been able to ring-fence another market just as well or leverage their desktop advantage into other areas: they've lost the lead pretty much in anything else they attempted to breach in and that is what makes investors uneasy. While they can afford to mess up in the short term because of their deep pockets, they seem to have lost the technological lead and that could cost them dearly in the next 5 years. They may not fade away as quickly as RIM-Blackberry, but Microsoft seem to be quite a dysfunctional entity nowadays (and not just because of Ballmer / Gates) so they would need to be successful in "something else" than just desktop to satisfy their shareholders and guarantee their long term survival.

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Re: Always a PC

Don't think it will happen, but if Microsoft does not get over its VMware ( we will kill you off like we did with Novell ) current obsession, it will surely be finished off.

VMware shrinks + Google Acquisition of VMware = End of Microsoft.

MS works with VMware + MS concentrate on Office, Exchange = Microsoft survival

Along with Linux survival.

Easy maths :-)

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Re: Always a PC

"They've got a huge user base that isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and trying to merge the tablet/phone world with the PC world is obviously something they have no demonstrable skills or talent at. They should focus on the PC and make that their Crown Jewel again."

That is fine so long as the PC remains dominant. (I have not been seduced by the various tablets) If, as frequently reported, smartphones and tablets are munching and devouring the PC market then Microsoft will have to pull a rabbit from the hat.

It seems as if the initial onslaught has stalled, Apple/Android have held firm. WinRT may severely wounded for tablets.

Microsoft do have Nokia, good hardware and an improved Windows for phone may give the Redmond Cabal the impetus to move forward.

Sticking with Windows for Desktop/Server/Enterprise and polishing each previous version to make it shiny will lead to a death by 1000 cuts.

Microsoft NEED something new

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Re: @Someone Else Always a PC

Actually I think its about the non-sequitir that you'd have to change "all your equipment" to support a different environment. And I think that its about the false assertion that there are no worthy alternatives to Sharepoint and/or LookOut. No amount of ad hominem invective is going to improve those two falacies presented as fact.

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Re: @BillG Always a PC

And what would you do with a POP3 server? That's an outdated protocol which lacks basic functionalities when you access your email from more than one machine. IMAP4 is better, but it still lacks features compared to Exchange. Have you ever administered an Exchange server? Download a trial, and spend some time to understand what it can do. You will be surprised.

If all you can do is a basic mail server, IMAP/SMTP will do. If your needs are more sophisticated, believe me, they won't. That's why Notes first and then Exchange got so much market despite the availability of free IMAP/SMTP servers.

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