back to article How Microsoft blew its own RIA invention

Cast your mind back to the year 2000. Microsoft has just announced its .NET Framework, complete with a new language called C# - that was in July, at the Orlando Professional Developers Conference. A couple of months later, Mark Anders and Scott Guthrie from Microsoft's ASP+ team turned up at the Wrox Web Developer Conference …


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  1. Thomas Silver badge

    "As your binding..."

    Are you sure Anders didn't say "As you're binding to code within one of those components that comes down in the browser, if it's not present on the machine it will be downloaded"?

  2. Andy
    Dead Vulture

    Homonym corner

    "As your binding to code". Surely you're.


  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Really interesting piece

    That's a really interesting piece - learnt a great deal about the early days of .Net - many thanks for that.

  4. Roger Greenwood

    Just confirms

    what many already knew or suspected :- engineers at microsoft are (and have been) really, really clever, and managers at microsoft are (have been?) really, really greedy. When will they learn ? Don't do evil!

    /stands back after lighting blue touchpaper.

  5. yeah, right.

    Alternative conclusion

    Could it be that Microsoft did not use its own invention because they can't recognize internal innovation even when it kicks them in the teeth?

    They are like pirates, waiting for others to build the ships before they pounce on them and claim it as their own. From DOS itself (purchased QDOS) to every component of Microsoft Office, to almost everything attributed to Microsoft, with very few exceptions it was outsiders who did it first, and Microsoft who came in and either took over, or "embraced, extended, and extinguished" it.

    Me? I've been fighting their substandard crap since 1982. But they keep proving that it's not what you know (or how you do it), it's who you know (or who you can bribe).

  6. ratfox Silver badge

    There are two ways to see this

    1) For once, Microsoft brought us something really nice

    2) Thank God, they lost interest before screwing it up

    Considering the quantity of stuff that Microsoft are said to have bastardized or mutilated to the point it was unusable crap, I guess it was for the best...

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Incredible insights

    It's a shame it is oh so 5-years late.

    Ah well...

  8. Herby Silver badge

    Microsoft Innovation

    Just another oxymoron. The managers (as said before) don't understand the process, only the money (and lots of it!).

    Then again, there is the exception: Microsoft Bob! (Why didn't they call it Bill, it would have been more appropriate!).

  9. Geoff Mackenzie

    @yeah, right, WRT QDOS

    ... and QDOS wasn't even original (Quick and Dirty Operating System - transparently a CP/M clone).

  10. Chris


    My recollection is that it was who first really demonstrated the potential of AJAX. Their BrainMatter spreadsheet was in beta in 2000, they followed this up with a presentation package.

    HalfBrain was stunning - the apps were indistinguishable from Google or Zoho today. HalfBrain merged with AlphaBlox - an IBM business I think - and has not been heard of since.

    However, any users of Yahoo Mail can trace some direct lineage - two ex HalfBrain staff founded OddPost who had the first (to my knowledge) true AJAX based email client. Yahoo bought OddPost and so the legacy lives on.

    One final note. People always overlook the fact that Netscape had the x-multipart-replace MIME type in version 1.1. This allowed primitive AJAX style apps - for a while there were a bunch of chat/webcam clients built using this.

  11. Keith Doyle
    Gates Horns

    We've seen this before...

    It's their modus operandi. The NT OS core was a bastard stepchild for years in favor of W95/98 until finally the fact that it was actually a better designed OS (don't laugh, we're comparing it to W95/98 here, remember) forced them kicking and screaming into using it for their flagship products. Read "Barbarians led by Bill Gates," for a somewhat biased history (as if there's any view of Microsoft that isn't biased) of the development processes at that time.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Microsoft? Following on its own innovations?

    Microsoft? Following on its own innovations? I nearly chocked on my breakfast on this one.

    Microsoft innovates only until it has achieved market dominance in a particular segment. After that the funds are directed elsewhere.

    Example - IE - innovation until Netscape is squashed (IE3 to IE 5 is a quantum leap), after that sitting on laurels and doing nothing for 5-odd years until the Firefox and Safari market share triggered a knee jerk reaction from managers to approve new development.

    Example:Outlook - innovation until Pegasus and Eudora were driven to sub-5% market share (calendaring, ui, integration, etc) and doing nothing since.

    Example:Microsoft Media Streaming/ASF - innovation until integrated media player killed off realplayer, after that doing nothing until adobe ate their shorts.

    Example: SQL server - Microsoft continues to work in this area because it has lots of healthy competition.

    Microsoft "innovation" record is the one of those things that show that competition laws are good for the industry.

  13. Danny Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    hmm, maybe not so stoopid

    Remember at the time though, M$ was being hauled through the courts over their IE integration. Why build a platform on IE if they would be forced to remove IE (then ironically being forced to develop for other browsers properly). Obviously it was supposed to be browser agnostic but we all know it rarely works like that.

    so they develop for integration in windows which fails, dont get forced to remove IE therefore develop silverlight et al.

    Paris, she doesnt need forcing to integrate

  14. James Pickett
    Gates Horns


    "not following up more quickly"

    Plus ca change. MS turns up late to the party, but tries to compensate by bringing lots of beer. Not sure it will work this time, though.

    Significant, perhaps, that Anders left to work elsewhere. It must be tough being a programmer at MS - you do brilliant stuff and it either gets ignored or bastardised, and on the odd occasion something gets through, Ballmer takes all the credit!

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Some facts


    ..."Few people realised the significance of the feature, until Google started using it for GMail and then Google Maps"...

    Google was/still is using JSON which is still used and was used long time before they started using also AJAX.

    JSON unlike AJAX web page can retrieve more JSON requests parallely for webpage, AJAX only one at time.. so much for asynch. JSON is faster but can not be scripted to receive and act based on partial data retrieval and has problems with com.error handling.

  16. Tom Silver badge

    Silverlight ??

    Silverlight is what Javascript would have been if MS and Adobe hadnt got involved in 'helping' the standards.

    The only innovation MS has ever done was to negate Moores law.

  17. Rex Alfie Lee

    Almost sad!

    I could almost cry but no! I'll contain my sorrow & wallow in the wonder that is M$ digging itself into a cavern of extreme depth. Goodbye M$, goodbye! It sounds so prophetic, so mournful, so .... who gives a toss?

    Bring on Google apps & Linux.

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  19. Hans Silver badge

    @ance P. Frickey

    I am a Sun fanboy, but please, please do not say Macs are less stable than Vista, you do not own a mac for sure! Does the sentence: "It simply works" ring a bell? Windows has always been plug'n'pray.

    I have used 2k, XP and Vista for quite some time (Vista 1 month, XP since 2004 and 2k since it came out in 2000), I have also used Macos 10.2 onwards as well as Solaris 9 and 10 ... Linux extensively since Suse 7.2 Pro and I can tell ya, I have even had some exposure to HP OpenVMS, Matt Bryant is gonna love this, LOL, I am sure he has never even heard of OpenVMS ... let alone seen it in action ... I have not used it a lot, so I cannot really tell and have not included it below, the reputation is really good, though ...

    From most stable to worst:

    1. (obviously, remember, me Sun fanboy) Solaris 10 never seen a kernel panic.

    2. second Mac OS X (I have experienced ONE kernel panic in Mac OS since 2001 (10.1), it was not even my system. Yes, I have seen one single kernel panic on a mac in 7 years)

    [...] various BSD's Linuces

    100. Windows 2000 (really reliable!!!, best OS MS brought out ever)

    101. Windows XP (crapware)

    102. Windows Vista (the bug)

    [many others]

    999. MacOS 9.22

    ∞. Windows 98

    ∞+1. Windows 95

    ∞+2. HP-UX (for Matt Bryant) ;-) - hardly used it, wouldn't know (to be honest)

    PS: The only HP-UX fanboy I have ever seen spent hours, yes litterally, in front of Solaris box trying to get the cd out ... he had never heard of "eject" before ... so much for HP-UX ....

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