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 …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Adam Williamson 1

    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?

    1. ThomH

      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.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      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?".

  2. Ralph B

    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?

  3. Mike OReilly

    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.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      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.

    2. JaitcH

      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!

  4. It Wasn't Me, I Swear.

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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 ...

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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!?

      2. serendipity


        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.

      3. Charles Manning

        ??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.

      4. Newt


        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.

      5. Rex Alfie Lee

        Agree Michelle...

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

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      It's not up to him

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

    3. Anonymous Coward

      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?

    4. Lewis Mettler 1

      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.

      1. serendipity

        @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!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    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

    1. Adam Williamson 1

      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:

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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:"

        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.

        1. Adam Williamson 1

          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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Goat Jam
        Gates Horns


        "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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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?

      2. Lars Silver badge

        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).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. ThomH

      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).

      1. Renato

        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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        #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.

        1. ThomH

          @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.

      3. serendipity

        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.

    2. nomsfpartner
      Dead Vulture

      Um, can you spell?

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

  7. Prodigal Rebel
    Thumb Down

    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

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      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

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft also blackmailing HTC to make WinMo7 phones

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

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

  9. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    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.

  10. Dan 55 Silver badge

    "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.

    1. M Gale

      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".

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge


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

    2. Andy Goss

      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?

  11. M Gale


    ...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.

  12. GatesFanbois
    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.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge


      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.

      1. GatesFanbois
        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.

        1. vic 4
          Thumb Down

          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.

        2. Paul Crawford Silver badge


          "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 for the figures. And I am being generous by counting non-native *ix malare as a threat to the penguin.

    2. Doug Glass

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

  13. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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.

      1. Newt

        Do some research

        Oh come on.

        "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)?"

        Everything is a "me-too" of someone else's product. Hell, HTC released a touch phone, working better than anything else, months before Apple released their iPhone. Linux is a copy of Unix. Etc.

        Have some standards. The Xbox was a good product, it was powerful, and it had some great games on it. It had a different shape to other products, even the controllers were different. I'm one of those people who liked their controllers too, never owned an Xbox, and I don't have big hands, but the PS2 controllers seemed small. Yes, it was a gaming platform, but that isn't in and of itself enough to make it a "me-too" product.

        "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."

        Lies, Java and Flash are meant to be able to do that, but Java has been rewritten enough times so that's a fail. And Flash isn't supported on an iPhone. So define "web app"? If you mean a bit of JS, HTML and CSS, then.. Wait, not all standards are supported by all browsers, Firefox for example. So this isn't just a rant against Apple.

        MSFT can't win market share, they're not allowed to. :P Which is their main problem. If they make a product, people will hate it, then go buy an identical (worse from a sys spec point of view but like that counts for anything) product from someone else a few months later. MSFT have several problems.

        One: Everyone hates them

        Two: See one

        Three: If they gain too large a market share, IE for example, then they start getting anti-trust lawsuits

        Four: Google is pushing cloud computing. No country has the features in place for it to work, but that isn't stopping them. And MSFT is still primarily not cloud. Desktop/Server. Business and home, not cloud

        Five: They're a software company. That's a big problem. Because they don't control every part of the manufacturing process for the hardware their products are installed on, they can't maximize their products efficiency. They let web devs do whatever they want, make dodgy as HTML markup and it would still run. Hence why IE got such a big market share. But as Google is finding, broadening out has it's downsides. Android is installed on how many phones? Quite a few last I checked. And there's what.. 3 main versions difference? So an Android phone isn't an Android phone, it's a phone that has some form of Android on it yes. But it isn't as advertised by Google. Not all phones have the same functionality, not all phones are released on the same day, not all phones are updated. And that contributed massively to consumers disliking Android phones. It wasn't the phones fault, the user just thought they'd get a different phone than what they got.

        Six: They have a problem with their reputation, as per one and two, but more specifically they have a problem with security. Browsers like Firefox and Safari are getting attacked more nowadays, OS's like Apple's OS* and random *nix distro's are getting attacked more than Windows, and patched less, but they still have that reputation. Why? Because it's cool to hate MSFT.

        They're definitely not dying, businesses will always use a Windows computer more than an Apple computer assuming current standards hold because Windows is cheaper, is established, and unlike Apple pays attention to security. Same goes for FOSS, which actually isn't F, and isn't OS, just S with a hippy reputation. MSFT will guarantee their software, MSFT Server failed? Call them up, they'll walk you through fixing it, or if that fails then there''ll be a techy to swing by in an hour. "Open source" won't do that. I know, I know, you can buy support for X $ and that's how open source stays in business, but it isn't included. And techies know MSFT, we grow up on it, we can make it do whatever we want. We don't know every single *nix distro and product.

        Off topic here, open source can't compete with MSFT till there's one product for each category, one OS, one DB, one GUI, etc. Till then there's no standards so businesses will hate you. Canonical is trying to take over with Linux Equals Ubuntu messages everywhere, but they've got a ways to go yet.

        So the problem with MSFT is that it's MSFT. They can't win simply because it's them trying. I've had the same experience with friends, I recommend a product which would suit them perfectly, they ignore me, another person recommends it, they go on and on about how much it's just _them_. And that isn't fixable. Fortunately MSFT has the business world to tide them over. And Xbox, good product. Also Windows, you can't game on any other product no matter what you hear. Mac is using Nvidia cards that went out of production on Windows gear years ago, also Intel procs. Which makes them an expensive PC with the entire markup due to the OS. And *nix.. What can I say, come back in ten years with working graphics and sound. :D

        Heh, long rant and I don't even like MSFT. I liked Vista Ultimate, and 7 isn't too bad. I like IE, but only because it doesn't crash randomly on me like Opera and gets less drivebys than Firefox. I like Office, but only because the competitors are freaking terrible. Open Office was.. I last tried it a year ago, it took 5mn to load, the scripting kept crashing, it was.. Really terrible. Not at all polished, and I like polished. I like working. I also like it when I can hit open and 30 seconds later I'm typing. May have changed, I'm due for updates on all my random *nix gear. And Slackware needs some sort of application on it. If only so I don't need to boot Windows.


        MSFT has good products but is hated because it's MSFT. But is far from dead for the same reasons. It has good products and it's MSFT. Business like standards, gamers like working components.

        Apple PC's use Intel procs, Nvidia graphics. Same build as a Windows PC, with two differences. That being the sys specs are much lower, and there's a stupidly high markup. Which is due to.. Take a wild guess.

        Hint, it's the OS.

        No fee for it... In your wildest dreams :P

        All that time defending a company I dislike.. I need to go shower -.-

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Do your own research!

          "OS's like Apple's OS* and random *nix distro's are getting attacked more than Windows, and patched less, but they still have that reputation. Why? Because it's cool to hate MSFT."

          Not true, look at the numbers of windows-only malware versus Linuix/MacOS malware in this report, page 8 of

          win32 = 1,001,902 new in 1st half 2010

          *ix = 226 new in 1st half 2010

          While the increase in *ix as a percentage is much bigger compared to last year, the actual number is only 0.023% of Windows-only, so quite where do you get the "attacked more" part?

          "I like Office, but only because the competitors are freaking terrible. Open Office was.. I last tried it a year ago, it took 5mn to load, the scripting kept crashing, it was.. Really terrible. Not at all polished, and I like polished. I like working. I also like it when I can hit open and 30 seconds later I'm typing."

          OK, I have my reservations about OO, but are you comparing speeds on the same PC? My copy of OO under Linux on my home PC (2 years old AMD AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ with 2GB RAM) takes about 10-20 seconds to bring up the word processor.

          And also have you allowed for MS pre-loading MSOffice in to RAM at Windows long boot time to give the *impression* it loads fast?

          You did do some research before posting, didn't you?

        2. Chemist

          "it took 5mn to load.."

          OpenOffice takes ~ 10 secs to load & load a quite large spreadsheet from a network drive on my system even using an old celeron laptop. So something's wrong

          OpenSUSE 11.2 and OO

          Yes, OO is not quite as good as Office and indeed using v large spreadsheets it's too slow but for most people it's fine

        3. Rex Alfie Lee
          Thumb Down

          Rubbish - all personal conjecture...

          What a load of crap!!

  14. mikebartnz

    The past

    It makes me wonder why Ray Ozzie is leaving. Is it because of bumbling Balmer and his lack of vision for the future so he tries to cling to the past.

    As far as I'm concerned MS have been full of piss and wind accusing Linux of infringing their patents and yet doing nothing apart from being a big bully and not pointing out the patents being infringed.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd have to disagree with one statement at least

    "And yet open source has marched on, eventually claiming mainstream acceptance as it helped highly capitalistic companies such as Google create hugely profitable businesses."

    Google made it's money on advertising derived mostly from it's search engine. The Google search engine is most definitely NOT open source.

    1. Adam Williamson 1

      er, whut?

      Basic reading comprehension fail there, I'm afraid. The post says that open source 'helped' Google make money, which is perfectly true. If I'm selling lemonade, an efficient lemon press is certainly going to help me make money, even if it's not a direct revenue earner in itself.

      1. Newt

        Open source definitely helped Google

        Same with Apple, they take an open source product, change it around a bit them commercialize it. They're still doing it, although instead of taking an open source product, Google is buying the creators and then implementing it, so it's no longer open source.

        They also launch an open source product, let the community build it, then commercialize that. It's on par with Apple for ultimate evil. But the FOSS world doesn't hate them. 'shrugs'

        1. Rex Alfie Lee

          Actually, we do...

          We generally dislike Apple as much as Microsoft but they haven't been an issue until the last few years. They are also based on Unix so they have something going for them. Also Unix-based OSes have been around since the 60s & are much harder to break through having had the stuffing kicked out of them 30 years ago for lack of security. Also the structure is based on networking so protecting it was a far more efficient process. Breaking into UNIX software is much harder thing to do than breaking Windows because of this, a major reason why so few viruses are made to sting Apple & Linux.

          You've made many broad statements, few based on fact, if any. What do you actually know?

  16. Mountford D

    Egocentricity is the root of all evil

    I find it amazing that in this day and age where global events move faster than ever, organisations and individuals still adhere to the outdated business model where size and tyrannical control is all that matters. That model takes the egocentric view that by building a strong defence base, one is invulnerable - much like living in an impenetrable castle ruled by a bully.

    Unfortunately for those that still adhere to that thought, they will simply be swamped by the passing tide much like King Canute trying to hold back the waves. The way forward surely is to constantly adapt and going with the flow... or die. The old model works fine with a captive market but the world in 2010 is made up of a too many fragments to be held captive - even by Microsoft.

    1. Andy Goss

      King Canute trying to hold back the waves

      Actually he was demonstrating that it wouldn't work.

  17. TeeCee Gold badge
    Dead Vulture

    About that complete cobblers on iOS.

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

    Bollocks. There's a big difference between not setting a price and setting one at zero.

    "No one pays an iOS license fee — well, no one is allowed to, but that's a separate matter."

    No, that is not a seperate matter, it's the whole point. Who's to say how much of the price of your stonkingly expensive iOS device is the software license / upgrade assurance and how much is the hardware? Only Apple know and they're not saying, but there's a software license in the box with the thing and it's part of what you paid for. It's quite possible that some of that went on third-party licenses. The only thing missing here is the transparency.

    The price per unit of iOS may be zero on their internal books, but I'd be prepared to bet a stack of cash a foot thick that it bloody well isn't.

    1. Tzael
      Thumb Up

      Re: About that complete cobblers on iOS.

      Ah, thank you! You saved me from having to type something almost identical :)

    2. vic 4

      iOS Price

      "No, that is not a seperate matter, it's the whole point. Who's to say how much of the price of your stonkingly expensive iOS device is the software license / upgrade assurance and how much is the hardware"

      I had to pay for iOS 3 for my ipod touch. I'm genuinely impressed apple are giving the away upgrades for free and not trying to get a few extra quid of us. (Of course that is the only thing Apple have done for ages that has impressed me, plenty to p*ss me off though).

    3. Dom 1

      You missed a bit....

      The part where Mr Jobs would be breaking the sound barrier whilst heading for Apple's legal dept if YOU DARED put Linux (or Windows) on Mac hardware - that's directly on the system, not in Boot Camp.

      Remember, you might be able to buy iOS (eg Leopard etc) in the shops, but it's T&C's only allow you to install it on Apple hardware. So to use Apple iOS in this article is completely pointless, unless you could actually buy an iMac WITHOUT an OS.

      1. Renato

        Boot Camp

        Boot Camp is just a tool to ease partitioning to the common folk. I did install Linux and Windows without using it. It's a matter of reading man files to resize the HFS+ partition, using a real EFI bootloader (rEFIt) which gives you a nice console and rebooting the machine to install the OS of your choice.

        Same x86 processor, same EFI firmware, same HDD interface, etc of your PC box.

        And actually the MacOS X they sell is a licence for a upgrade only. Even if technically it is a full installation.

        Remember, you can install any OS on your device. You could install Linux on your iPhone if you wanted to. The device is yours, you own it. You just don't own the OS/firmware/whatever. The same happens with Linux, *BSD, Windows et al.

    4. Alastair 7

      No, the point

      is that OS upgrades are free. Which add a huge amount of functionality to a phone. That never used to be the case- you'd have to fight tooth and nail for an operator to even release a bug fix. What you bought was what you got.

      1. Dom 1

        Yes, but..

        The ORIGINAL OS (iOS) is NOT free. The cost is built into the price of the phone. To make an M$ comparison, if you buy a copy of Windoze, the updates are free!

        As for Operators releasing bug fixes, that was true of all Phone OSs, until (admittedly) the iPhone (the noteable exception being some versions of WM5/WM6). And, it is up to the Operator to release the bug fix, not the original writer of the OS. Especially as many customise the OS for their own purposes. So really, your argument is with the Operator, not the OS manufacturer.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Anyone reminded of SCO?

  19. John 158
    Jobs Horns

    iOS is not free

    iOS is not free, to think so is to be fooled by apple's cloak and dagger pricing model.

    The costs of the original iOS and almost certainly the upgrades are inbuilt into the overpriced cost of the phone itself.

    Add to that the willingness to lock yourself into the apple eco-system and thus give apple a cut of every app you buy, and being encouraged to further lock yourself in, by buying apples other physical products, in order to get that extra piece of functionality.

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge


      Last time I looked the price of the HTC Desire HD was around £500. Much the same as an iPhone 4 16GB.

      So even if an iPhone 4 is £20-30 overpriced it is worth it to get at least two years of iOS updates. The hardware in phones is improving, but not all that fast. So much so that a two year old phone is still going to be 3G and have a reasonable spec now.

      Contrast that with HTC where you're lucky to get more than a year of updates, largely due to the number of different devices they produce (ie. too many).

      As for Microsoft, how do they think that suing or twisting the arm of OEMs to pay them some money is going to make them friends in the industry?

  20. Lars Silver badge

    Microsoft can do better

    Perhaps, but then again, if they cannot, I will not suffer.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Possibly this is heretical, but:

    If MS are charging large companies license fees for use of their patented technologies which are in FOSS, and these companies are paying: Do MS have legitimate patents? (Accepting that software patents are generally not viewed as a good thing.)

    The companies that they are targeting are large enough to defend themselves against MS, but don't seem to be doing so, this leads me to think that MS may have a point.

    I would be nice if we knew what the patents were for.

    1. Volker Hett

      Yes and no.

      With the US legal system and patent system defending yourself against a patent suit costs a lot of money. Money you'll lose in any case.

      So it might be cheaper to bite the bullet an pay a license fee for nothing.

      Especially when you have to keep business relations with the other part, imagine Acer and Asustek wouldn't get early access to new Windows versions, but HP and Dell did and Acer and Asustek had to wait for a general release of Windows 8 to find out how to support it with hardware when HP and Dell have theirs on shelfs everywhere?

      TomTom settled with Microsoft for certain unnamed patents for navigation systems, I had a very early predecessor of TomTom, then Palmtop, on a Psion Series V in 1998. Microsoft just started with Windows CE on handhelds then and there was no navigation software from them. So what patents can they have? Patents valid outside the US?

      I exclude the long filename patent, although I have my doubts about that, too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re Tom Tom

        The recent spat between MS and TomTom was due to TomTom's use of parts of the FAT filesystem which belong to MS.

        MS bought Autoroute, the first journey routeplanner software, so they've probably got a lot of IP in that area.

  22. AGI_CSL

    The Tide is Changing

    For a few years now, MS have been losing their grip as people begin to realise more and more that reasonable alternatives exist to their software.

    Alternatives which, in some cases, are cheaper and/or more reliable.

    With windows 7/phone 7, it's encouraging to see that they are realising they need to up their game if they want customers to stick around but I wonder if they can or will change quickly enough to keep pace with the competition.

    Only time will tell but they certainly can't dictate the standards like they used to.

  23. Jim 59


    Microsoft cannot just "do a Sun" and open source its operating system. The company would die. On the other hand, common software - operating systems, office suites, even databases and ecosystems - have become a commodity in recent years, a *free* commodity. MS cannot continue to offer paid-for alternatives in the long term.

    But the World is not black and white. Open source is staggeringly successful in some areas, eg. embedded devices, just middlin' in others, eg. desktop, while it has almost no presence in gaming, the biggest part of the software business and one where MS and its X box are doing pretty well.

    On some evidence, the paid-for software business model is alive and kicking. Oracle is based on it and continues to dominate, apparently unaffected by the open source avalanche. MS might do well to follow suit and indulge in a spot of acquisition. It's got the cash to purchase companies in its target area - whaterever that is - and to move gradually away from the desktop license stream that has sustained it for 3 decades.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      It's entirely possible that MS can't open source their software because it's got licensed code from other companies in it. Possibly still some technology from IBM (although probably re-written by now) certainly some bits from Veritas Foundation Suite (they wrote the disk subsystem in 2k.)

      etc. etc.

      Although you can get hold of the source code if you are a company that they trust and sign a non-disclosure agreement.

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Do instead of sue

      Maybe the point is that Microsoft should employ more developers and people in product development or R&D instead of so many lawyers?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: Giles

        I think that sums up the author's point pretty nicely. That's what I took out of it at least

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        MS lawyer must have down voted this...

        absolutely no reason for anyone else would. Well, I guess a patent lawyer could have.

  24. jubtastic1
    Thumb Down


    MS will do just fine threatening OEM's that sell Linux based products with infringement licences until someone pays to find out just what the infringement is, can't see that happening any time soon.

    Pretty sick of all this Open and Closed bullshit.

  25. billium


    "Microsoft has always struggled to compete effectively with free, .."

    Microsoft has always struggled to compete with fair.

    @ It Wasn't Me, I Swear how about decent products at a decent price.

  26. Nigel 11

    Salary premium

    There are two reasons why a job may command a salary premium.

    #1 the number of vacancies is growing faster than the number of people with the skillset.

    #2 the job is so crap that people with the skillset choose to do something else unless paid extra.

    Nuff said.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Create a separate "open economy"

    1. Establish a separate company that doesn't operate in or sell it's products in patent-encumbered markets.

    2. Make products with similar or better features and quality.

    3. Ignore threats from MS, Apple & friends.

    4. Destroy the royalties-encumbered competition in the target markets.

    5. profit ;-)

    This is already happening in Asian markets. US companies could theoretically retaliate by pulling out of such countries, but are unable to find competitive manufacturing capacity elsewhere.

  28. Tom 38

    Well, not quite

    Lots of comments here pointing out that the cost of iOS is not zero, it is included in the cost of the phone. That may be accurate, but what isn't obvious is that once you have bought it, all future upgrades are free.

    For instance, my iphone 3G came with iOS 2, and I could freely upgrade to iOS 3 and 4, and gain the features of that version that are supported on my hardware.

    You can upgrade windows mobile 5 to windows mobile 6 on _some_ phones, depending upon whether the manufacturer has forked out to Redmond to allow that. That is where iOS differs, and is 'free'.

    1. Michael Pellegrin

      Still not 'free'

      The price paid for iOS is spread out from the time you buy the first iOS device until the time you leave the Apple ecosystem. Any time you buy an app, see an ad, or purchase something from iTunes you are paying a little bit towards the development of iOS. Apple devices are merely a vehicle for content where Apple gets to wet their beak. I'm not saying this is a bad mechanism...continuing to be able to get money for ever advancing apps requires Apple to constantly advance their OS, which allows developers to write applications with more features.

      If you look at the new WP7 app market, it looks like Microsoft is picking up (ok, full-on copying) this model. They will get a cut of the sales for apps, the Zune store is a pretty nice way to find new media, and in return Microsoft says that, like iOS, the WP7 will be updated regularly, for free, and in a way that limits the delay in carrier distribution.

      1. Arctic fox

        MS has indeed learnt something

        One thing that it has learnt is that many customers with Android phones get very pissed off with having to wait whilst the producer first pisses around with the new version of the os and then having to wait whilst the carrier pisses around with the already pissed around version.... and so it goes. I speak as a Wildfire owner, very pleased with the phone but _very_ pissed off with the fact that HTC still has not upgraded full-price owners. When I decide the time has come to go for a high-end model I can absolutely guarantee that it will not be Android or (for other reasons) iOS. Not because of anything in principle against the operating systems concerned, just the attitude of the producers towards their customers. I shall wait a while and see how WP7 matures and whether or not a Nokia with meego may be worth considering.

  29. Aaron 10


    Double-jointed Russian gymnast...

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Not what you think

      Matt was possibly thinking about these Speznatz dudes hitting dummies with an axe throw while doing backflips over barbed wire.

  30. Martin Usher

    They had their chance and they blew it

    Microsoft pretty much had the mobile market sewn up for years but their lack of vision, their insistence that the mobile is just a proxy for some desktop, meant that the units were anemic. Windows CE was potentially a usable OS but it had the bloat ---size and performance -- that made it a non-contender for serious embedded work.

    Microsoft just can't get away from the "one person / one keyboard / one display ==> one user" model of computing. This combined with their habit of putting proprietary spin on everything, no matter how ordinary, makes for an eclectic bunch of oddball tools and technologies. These take a lot of investment of time to learn so its not surprising that developers are still needed --- businesses don't change quickly.....but when they do there's no going back.

  31. Captain DaFt


    Keep on playing like you're playing, Microsoft; it's a dangerous game!

  32. Mikel

    The retention problem explained

    Microsoft is having a brain drain problem at the top. They've lost many top executives over the past few years. Why? Options. This article about Apple executive options has some stunning numbers:

    $125M will buy a lot of beers at the corner pub. Microsoft executives used to pull down that kind of confetti with their stock options, in the '90s. But with the stock mired at more than 1/2 off its peak over a decade ago the options extravaganza just isn't there. The really good executives know they can launch a startup and get bought out a heck of a lot faster than they can turn Microsoft into the Street's favored child again. So they go - because farming dinosaurs is fun and all, but they have personal goals too.

  33. jai
    Gates Horns

    again and again

    "Microsoft must change if it is to regain relevance"

    doesn't someone say that every two or three years? and they never do, they just keep on getting worse and worse. face it, they're not listening and they're never going to learn

  34. Francis Irving

    WebKit wasn't Apple's originally

    @ThomH said "See WebKit, which is there's originally"

    Not quite. WebKit was originally made by the KDE people - it's a fork of KHTML.

    Yes, Apple gave it the name WebKit, have done lots of great work on it, and made first commercial use of it. But it was already an incredibly good, well written, debugged for the real world, HTML engine before Apple got to it.

    I don't think the KDE people get enough credit for this. Their web browser is on every fashionable mobile phone. Everyone thought I was quirky when I used Konqueror back in 2001...

  35. nomsfpartner

    Matt - ouch!

    Yes, a very telling article that goes a long way in celebrating the new order. Refreshing to read a cogent piece of cynical (but accurate) journalism that shows Microsoft in it's replete disorder.

    I think of a really old Orca or such like, once resplendent in its youth and vitality, able to innovate, hunt and find new feeding grounds. Now, slow, dejected, angry and un-fulfilled.

    Microsoft gave up the innovation game years ago as Bill left the building. Steve B is just a sales guy - he reverted the company to type. There's nothing wrong in that, just the opportunities are not getting any bigger and protectionism becomes the watchword. Whilst it's ugly, adjunct with patents and such, it's just corporate jack doing his thing.

    What I do find strange is that anyone with a pinch of common sense would have seen that digging into the bedrock for your crop is a limiting exercise. Windows and the PC are dead...well kind of. The PC and even maybe the laptop have lost their relevance as *the* OS platform. Both Microsoft and apple will see this over coming years. The clear difference for me is that Apple is adaptive, yet Microsoft is repetitive.

    There will always be room for Microsoft Windows as an institutionalised nuisance that everyone whinges about over the constitutional. I would say that until OpenOffice becomes mainline, Steve B's best bet is to focus on the business desktop for profits (a good bet). Elsewhere I see meagre pickings; Server sales are going south to RHEL, Consumer Desktops are dis-appearing, iPad and Phone sales rise inexorably.

    Sorry, what was that? Windows 7 phone? Oh, so who wants that, then? Yes, no-body I'm afraid - Microsoft have got in to the bad habit of 'me-too' creating something that no-one knows, cares, or even needs of. 3 years ago I was told (as an employee) that Microsoft virtualisation would rule the (virtualisation) planet in 3 years' time. So here we are and Microsoft are still on planet zog (virtually, as it were), whilst VMWare cough politely.

    Microsoft allegedly held a 'wake' for the iPhone up to the launch of W7M (or whatever the correct 'bois' term is). But it's snerky with wireless, apparently lots of other issues too. Apple too had its waterloo with iPhone 4, but handled it *delightfully*. Sure, as I ride the train in the coming weeks, Windows 7 Mobile will become everything that I need, yet nothing that I want. The wake in itself goes to show that Microsoft, on the whole, have manufactured their own space-time continuum.

    At the root cause are the die-hard old school high up on the hill in Bellevue or Redmond - "make sure it was 'MS' or 'Windows' in the name!!". As if this has any relevance any more. Microsoft as a brand is slipping down the scale of the universal soldier. Once sought as 'cool' and 'against the establishment' (which it was until about 2003), it's now seen as the lame and embarrassing uncle who insists on your coming to the disco to see him dance (and in Mr Ballmer's case, quite literally in some respects).

    When a brand dies, the company dies OR re-brands. See most of corporate America and Europe. It's Microsoft's senior leadership who have the opportunity to produce a brand without shouting the company name. In some way, X-Box has achieved this, but I fear not with the market penetration and (again) copying a format into an existing market with no friendly allies.

    Lastly, there's nothing new on the horizon. Kin was a disaster, Vista was a disaster, Windows 7 is...a moderate success, I suppose. But Windows 7 mobile (which is the company's ticket for the future) will be a disaster. If you're wondering why I say that, wait until the HP slate comes to market with that wonderful format and lots of buttons and good stuff (that you *need*).

    What's my point? I believe you're taking a knife out of the corpse here. I don't really think that any more finger pointing or otherwise will affect the decline of this lonely old Orca. He has no friends left to turn to.

  36. Bob 18

    Is MS Irrelevant?

    I agree with many posters, MS is not well positioned to make money from open source software. But that doesn't mean it can continue to make money with traditional business model either. MS might just be slipping into irrelevance --- and it wouldn't be the first tech company that this has happened to. But you also have to remember, even an "irrelevant" MS still sells a LOT of Windows and Office licenses, and that's not changing any time soon.

    Whatever the prospects are of MS going forward, "suing Open Source" has never been a good business strategy. Remember the farce known as SCO? That story would be funny, except that this is a company that pissed away all its time and money on a legal case it could not win. In doing so, it missed its opportunity to re-invent itself and survive.

    MS does not sound so different, just bigger and (currently) with more time to live. I hope they aren't so dumb as to emulate SCO.

    The fact is, no business model or revenue stream is permanent. They all have a finite lifetime, you always have to figure out new ways to provide value.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft can do better...?

    "Microsoft can do better" - no they can't. That's why they're issuing threats.

  38. Rex Alfie Lee

    The Business Model...

    Thinking about the way MS works they couldn't really follow the Apple or Google methodologies because it would undermine their legal ability to sue the other software infrastructures like Android & iOS. They would lose all credibility if they went on to do the same thing as the others teams but reverted to litigation on the basis of someone copying their software.

    How could they hold their position legally if they were copying the litigious party's business model? Not only would they be a laughing stock it would provide the litigious one an open & shut recourse litigation putting MS on the back foot. Therefore MS has no other choices here.

    They're not good enough at designing stuff anymore & so they will resort to litigious suck-holing in a court. They're doomed I tell you, DOOMED!!!

    ...because not everybody has been through Paris in France...

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like