back to article Dear Dell and Microsoft: You're not Apple

Dell has always been a first-class choice for budget-minded CIOs. The company grew to prominence by shaving everything – including R&D costs – from the bill of materials for its utilitarian, corporate machines. Today, despite four years of attempts to invigorate its brand with consumers, Dell remains a consumer-computing laggard …


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  1. Andres
    Thumb Down


    "And why is a company that has in the past built a truly great browsing experience allowed its internet expertise to languish?"

    I was already sceptical about this article but this just made me stop and give up. I think it was referring to Microsoft.

    1. Allicorn

      Title schmitle

      Agreed this is crazy talk.

      The only sense in which MS ever won over other browsers was in number of installs.

      1. SuccessCase

        Yes they were never that great, but

        That's a little like saying "the only sense in which they were successful as a company was in having the biggest market share" - doesn't really damn them does it.

      2. Giles Jones Gold badge

        Erm Netscape

        I think you need to go back and use some of the old alternatives to IE.

        Netscape was a bloated clunky pile of junk. Only Opera provided a truly compelling alternative, but it was £30 or so to buy at that point and didn't work with all sites.

        IE was fast and stable in comparison, it just had a lot of quirks when sticking to standards.

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Giles is right!

          while from a developer perspective writing web apps for ie 6 meant non-standard markup, from a consumer perspective that doesn't mean anything.

          If using ie was as horrible an experience as these comments state the internet wouldn't have got this popular.....

          1. ed 8


            Even with a desktop monopoly you don't get to 90+% market share unless you have the best all round product at the time. In reality apart from that EU browse choice screen MS still has the monopolistic advantage but user have proven themselves capable of seeking out the alternatives like FF and Chrome etc. This is worth doing because they are better.

            It was only a while after IE6 had become established that mozilla and others got their act together by concentrating on standards, speed and of course being free/OSS which helps.

        2. CD001


          I LIKED Netscape Navigator 4...

          1. TheDude


            I always favoured Netscape over IE. IE pissed me off every time, right up until today when I'm forced to use IE8 on my corporate desktop. It still force closes itself and stops responding with no explanation.

        3. JEDIDIAH

          Don't try to BS those of us that were actually there.

          > I think you need to go back and use some of the old alternatives to IE.

          I did at the time.

          I had absolutely no desire to flee to the allegedly "superior" IE.

          Opera was fast and stable by comparison. IE was not.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            Opera wasn't free, so it isn't comparable really.

            If you're old enough to remember, you know that for the better part of 10 years IE was the best free browser available on the internet.

            1. maclovinz

              Miss it on Mac, cuz of banks....

              "for the better part of 10 years IE was the best free browser available on the internet."

              ....even on a Mac

              Though, Communicator 4.5-7 is a soft spot for me, as I used to use it constantly for the browsing and Composer back then!!! Ahh, to be 14 again.

              Even though it's not well known, iCab on OS 8.5-6/9.x performed very well. And, if you think nobody knows about it NOW...... XD

    2. noboard

      dell made it by shaving costs!

      I agree, forgetting dell made it by being subsidised by intel was bad enough, but going on to say MS gave us a great browsing experiance really showed the writer as a complete idiot.

      Next up Sony leads the world in secure systems

  2. RegGuy

    "No, enterprise software is not sexy"

    No they are not. Think Lotus Notes.

    1. maclovinz


      That is all...

  3. M Gale

    Internet Explorer? On Linux?

    Just not in their DNA.

  4. Keith T
    Gates Halo

    Microsoft and Dell Need To Open Communications With Hobbiests

    If they want to do better in the SOHO, home and hobby marketplace, Microsoft and Dell need to open communications with computer hobbiests and amateur enthusiasts.

    They both need to stop depending on (often obnoxious) semi-blind amateurs helping blind amateurs in forums for consumer support and feedback.

    They need to get actual employees talking to at least some regular home computer users, and they need to do this in places culturally different than just California and New York.

    Listen to all types of consumers.

    1. John Aislabie

      Engage with computer hobbiests??

      What - both of them?

      This is company trying to sustain billions of dollars of sales. Neither of the "hobbiests" has that kind of dough.

    2. CD001

      MS DO support hobbiests

      MS actually support hobbiests far better than many other companies (games houses excluded) - look at any of the Visual Studio Express editions. OK, they're just trying to suck developers into their platform so that, in the workplace, they'll choose the paid-for version of Visual Studio - but if you just want to knock up a quick Windows app (a tool for modding data files in a game for instance) Visual C# Express is fantastic.

      I don't remember seeing anything like that for Logic Studio (a rather good Mac music program) or Adobe Photoshop.

  5. Keith T

    Windows success in the home is why it is a success at the office

    Windows success in the home is the primary reason it is a success at the office.

    You can hire people for any kind of position and they'll very likely be familiar with Windows already from using it at home.

    I can't think of bigger reason why we use Windows instead of Linux.

    It is the same with Office. So many more potential hires already know Office than know WordPerfect. And people usually have Office on their home computers already, so they can take work home.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Arse about face...

      Not at all. Not even close. Windows success in the SOHO market is completely down to the fact it was what most people used at work. As a result schools and universities started mainly using Windows and Office because that is what the students were likely to encounter in the workplace. Computing, remember, started before 1995! Windows in the home is why it's successful in the office? Fuck me! Kid's today...

      1. Mark 65


        Agreed. In the office you are a prisoner. You have a set routine and you are using their productivity suite day-in day-out. What do you do at home? You go one of two ways - you get something else because you don't want to pay and/or just want something else, or you get what's familiar to you which can now be had for cheap by piggy-backing your home license on your workplace one. It's not the greatest deal in the World but it's a pretty smart move.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It's a cycle so you're both right, depending on which bit you're looking at

        "Windows success in the SOHO market is completely down to the fact it was what most people used at work". Very true. When you were far more likely to encounter a computer on a daily basis at work than at home, people's working experiences with MS stuff played a large part in influencing what they bought personally when having an (IBM-compatible) PC in the home started to become the norm. If using a PC was a requirement of your job, training would follow and those skills were carried back to the shiny new 286 or similar in the living room.

        Since that point, a new generation have grown up with access to a Windows-powered machine and entered the workplace with those basic skills ready to use. Training budgets are now focused far more on specific tasks or applications and it isn't expected that a new hire is going to spend their first month trying to figure out how to use their computer instead of learning their job role. It's now reached the point where the scales have tipped entirely the other way and a lot of companies (who's IT involvement is purely out of necessity rather than their core business) are locked into MS primarily because that is all they can expect any new employees to be able to use.

        The way out of the cycle is to re-train them to be as comfortable with an alternative (likely cheaper, more secure and arguably better) OS than Windows, which will ultimately change which OS the new generation of kids will be comfortable using. As that takes a significant investment of time and money in their employees, very few companies do.

        I reckon Keith T's opening line should have read "Windows success in the home is the primary reason it is STILL a success at the office".


      No. It was DOS vs. MacOS.

      > Windows success in the home is the primary reason it is a success at the office.

      What? Were you just born yesterday?

      DOS was a success in the office before Windows even existed.

      The dominance of Windows is an extension of the dominance of MS-DOS in the workplace, not the other way around.

      1. maclovinz

        I'm just wondering....

        WHICH US school corporations these people visited in the 90s. Every one I went to anywhere around the entire Midwest had a much larger number of Macs than they did DOS/WIN boxes.

        Some still DO!!! XD

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          And so do they everywhere else in the world! Take you fanboy glasses off, stop trolling and look at the facts. It's mactards like you who give the rest of us a bad name.

          1. maclovinz

            Wow, not trolling at all...

            In fact, I was merely expressing my experience....

            ...and I don't wear glasses...

            And with the name calling....sounds like someone's annoyed by what I stated to be my own personal experience. Oh, and I never said anything outside of the Midwest, did I? At any point. I'm pretty sure you are showing your colors a bit more than I.

            In fact, I am extremely at odds with Apple in the direction SJ has taken them. I long for the days of true innovation and vision that Woz brought to the table. SJ is just more about screwing others with lawsuits and keeping everything under his ultimate control. not to mention the big FUCK YOU they threw to the enterprise users by dumping XServe.

            Thanks for playing!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Completely agree...

    certainly with the point that Microsoft don't get consumers. The thing is that no matter how hard they try, they just aren't cool and like it or not, cool matters to consumers. The XBox team should really be the driving force behind consumer products for Microsoft and perhaps given a degree of autonomy. Dell on the other hand should just give up! Snap-on covers are so 1998.

    1. Lars Silver badge

      I much agree with you and AnotherNetNarcissist

      And I quite appreciate articles bye Matt Asay but there are some things to remember.

      The Personal Computer was never meant to be a business computer, it was designed to be

      a personal home device.

      The fact that it was adopted bye business is the most expensive failure to have happened

      to business.

      Gates is truly a guy who was looking for the mass market. When Windows did well he had a look at the Fortune 500 and realized that there where other mass market devices too, like music players, game consoles and cell phones. That we can do too, he said, and I will become the Chief Architect because I invented the computer.

      Even the Xbox is a failure, money wise, as it has probably not made any profit yet, considering its development costs.

      It is a bit hard to compare Apple and Microsoft. Apple has always done both the OS and the design. Jobs does have a clue about design, also he was wise enough to adopt a *nix* OS.

      Also he was there when inventions happened while Gates was there more or less bye accident

      (an accident bye IBM).

      Dell a hardware producer like so many others. Do they produce anything in the US any more.

      1. Jim in Hayward

        GATES sucks.

        Yes. Billy made his money by lying and cheating. Then he made SERIOUS buck as a result of that lying and cheating.

        The fact the the OS materialized, got better, sold better, .... whatever.... is all fouled with the fact the Billy lied and cheated his way to that position.

        Microsoft must die as a company. I don't spend a dime on them or there property. More and more folks are doing the same. Can't wait for the day that MS declares BK!

        1. Mark Serlin

          Re: Gates sucks

          Oh come on. Find me the head of a massive corporation who got there by being nice and cuddly. Mark Zuckerberg? Fred The Shred? Larry Ellison? Grow up, dude, it's a big bad world out there.

          1. Mark 65

            @Mark Serlin

            In fact I would go as far as to say if you aren't a self-centred stubborn prick you don't stand a chance.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Help Please

          I don't know if I should give the thumbs up or down this. Is it sarcasm or a foam lipped rant.

          Any suggestions?

      2. JEDIDIAH

        It's just another Turing Machine. Really...

        > The Personal Computer was never meant to be a business computer, it was designed to be

        You're kidding right?

        The PC was specifically designed as a business machine. It was designed as a business machine to keep the up and coming home computer company at the time from invading IBM's turf.

        The PC was designed by IBM to sell to businesses so they wouldn't be tempted by the likes of Apple.

        1. Lars Silver badge


          No, I am not kidding. At the time the Micro Computer had arrived. There was Radio Shack and Apple and others. So they had to do something, very reluctantly.

          The PC, bye IBM was downgraded internally as there was in fact people within IBM who where afraid that that Home Computer would be a threat against their minicomputers.

          Originally they wanted a decent processor too (Motorola) but then downgraded to Intel.

          The book "Inside Intel" is a very readable book, with a lot of inside information about all of this.

          One very interesting part is where the people from Intel wanted to help the Microsoft programmers to use the processor in a better and more advanced manner.

          The Microsoft programmers response to that was - that does not matter, all that matters is features.

    2. Jim in Hayward

      ~LOL~ I so agree!

      Snap on covers are soooo 1998! LOL!

  7. BoldMan

    do what?

    >a company that has in the past built a truly great browsing experience

    Which company is that you are talking about coz it certainly ain't Microsoft!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Well, being fair

      At the time IE6 was released the other browsers were pretty crap so

      * At the time

      * Compared to other browsers

      I suppose you could call it a 'truly great browsing experience' (although I agree that is pushing it a bit)

      I think that is what the author meant

    2. Doug Glass


      ... an early Mosaic lately? Old enough to remember it and Gopher?

      1. defiler

        Although to be fair

        Internet Explorer didn't exist when early Mosaic was kicking about. And yes, I remember it (when it wouldn't display pictures in the browser), and gopher too.

        I do agree with you in principle though - Internet Explorer first appeared at version 2, and was rubbish. v3 was actually not bad compared to its peers (namely Netscape 2 and 3), and even though IE5.5 was an abomination for developing to, it was rather nice to use (again, compared to the bloated struggling mess that was Netscape 4).

        Just because Microsoft declared the internet finished with IE6, and let everyone else actually do the job of making browsers conform to the standards, their browsers have *generally* been quite nice to use. That said, I can't remember when I last loaded IE on this machine - I'm using Firefox 4, and rather liking it.

      2. Mike Flugennock

        re: Tried...

        Scarily, I _am_ old enough to remember Mosaic and Gopher. Aughh.

        Seriously, though... now that you mention it, I've often had a curious urge to dig out my old copy of Mosaic -- yeah, it's still buried in a pile of backed-up stuff on an old Zip cartridge someplace -- fire up my old G3 Mac running OS 8.x (still sitting around the studio, believe it or not), and see how many current sites it can load without imploding.

  8. Anonymous Coward


    Can't think of a better title. Some of the author's views on Dell seem reasonable. But his views on Microsoft are just plain wrong. Microsoft has had huge successes in the consumer market. The entire Windows 95 product line was focused primarily at the home user. The fact that until very recently PC games were generally only available for Windows is another pointer towards this. This was one of the key reasons Microsoft went out and created the XBox. They could see Sony making a lot of money with the playstation, and figured that they could easily create a gaming console using DirectX and Windows under the hood. Xbox 360 and Kinect have been hugely popular.

    Windows still has a massive market share (according to StatOWL for example, Windows has over 85% of residential market share). Both in consumer and business land, Windows is by far and away the most popular OS. By many measures Vista has more market share alone than OSX, and remember Vista was almost completely untouched by businesses:

    If Microsoft decided to concentrate on business at the expense of consumer, they would make a lot less money. Microsoft have been successful because of a synergy between the 2 markets. All your corporate software works on Windows so you get it at home, but also all the games and media stuff you want at home also works, so you are happy paying for it at home.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Hell Dell

    Hello HP

    Here we are together

    I'll just leave the room so you two can get to know each other better - a lot, lot better yes?

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Both are right

    Windows is successful because it is used in the home

    Windows is successful because it is used in the office

    In summary windows is successful because normal people (that is not you and I) aren't really aware that there is anything else.

    1. Goat Jam
      Gates Horns


      Windows is successful because you can hardly buy a PC without it.

      If every car from every manufacturer came with wooden wheels then it would be incorrect to say that wooden wheels are successful because everybody had cars with wooden wheels.

      Well, it would actually, but not because wooden wheels are popular or better, but just because people don't have much of a choice in the matter.

      It doesn't help that they already have that special wheel changing tool that only works on wooden wheels and sort of know how to use it. A bit. So what if they get a bunch of splinters and the wheel often breaks whenever they have to rotate their tyres? They're used to that happening and probably think they'd have the same problem with alloys anyway so why bother changing?

      So yes, say that Windows is successful because of Microsofts strong-arm bully boy behaviour but don't point to the number of people who use Windows and try and tell me that they are all using it by choice.

      1. Davidoff
        Thumb Down

        Windows is successful because you can hardly buy a PC without it

        "Windows is successful because you can hardly buy a PC without it."

        I'm really getting sick and tired of this nonsense. Just by repeating it doesn't become true.

        There really are plenty of PCs available without Windows, both from plain assemblers and big brand names like HP or Dell. This of course is over the widespread availability of generic components to build your own PC.

        If you really believe that you can hardly buy a PC without Windows I would suggest to sometimes lift your butt from that couch and open your eyes.

      2. Mark 65

        @Goat Jam

        I think the problem is that we're now past the point where the bundling matters. It served it's purpose to the point that if you ship a machine to the general public (not the Reg readership) that has linux installed they will likely come back asking for windows. Not because it's better, not because they cannot do what they want to, but because it's bloody everywhere. This means that finding someone to demonstrate how to do things is easy, getting add-ons that work is easy (plug in, insert disk). Familiarity is there. Oh, and the apps for those that need them. The fact that for years you've had to run performance crippling AV software on Windows, or reinstall the OS every 18 months (XP), or constantly update the bastard really hasn't dented the desire for the OS. That should give an indication of what any other OS is up against. I have to use it at work and don't in general at home, but respect the stranglehold that it has.

        Think Stockholm Syndrome for operating systems. People are using it by choice in a kind of fucked up way.

        1. Goat Jam

          @Mark 65

          I agree, to a point.

          I also wonder whether at point of purchase, if people were asked "and what OS would you like for that $500 PC sir? Windows @ $249* or Ubuntu for free?"

          If people actually knew what percentage of their PC purchase was made up by the windows tax + av subscription I'm sure that a significant number would be willing to give the free option a go. If more people did that then momentum would build and we could maybe break out of the stranglehold that MS currently has on the general public.

          The bottom line is that MS should NOT be allowed to force Windows onto every PC and the cost of purchasing it with a PC should be a line item on the invoice. The real problem here is that MS have social engineered the entire population into believing that somehow they get Windows for free when they purchase a PC so Free Linux is in effect competing with free Windows and has no hope in such a battle.

          Here, have a free beer


        2. Fred Tourette
          Thumb Up


          "Think Stockholm Syndrome for operating systems."

          That's perfect. Windows (and Office, and IE) is the definitive "devil you know."

    2. Mike Flugennock

      Windows is successful because...

      Windows is successful in the office because, as the old saying goes, nobody ever got fired for buying Windows.

  11. McBeese

    Dell's Roots Are In Consumer!

    Dell built itself from the ground up as a consumer company. Remember Dell was the first to offer great value on customized mail-order PCs. Enterprise came later.

  12. famousringo

    Lots of contradictions

    Asay seems to want to sort these companies into neat little boxes, then dismiss when a company successfully climbs out of the cage he's built.

    Microsoft can't do consumer products... Oh, but they have the Xbox and that Kinect thing.

    Apple doesn't do mass market products... Except for the iPod (and the iPad?).

    Maybe the real world just doesn't fit into your tidy little boxes.

  13. oneillci

    Try Zune, seriously

    "That's why there's often something missing from Microsoft's consumer-facing products such as the Zune: they first have to run the gauntlet of the Office and Windows product managers. They have to "look like" Microsoft's past successes."

    This sounds like someone that has never used the Zune software. Zune could not be more different from other Microsoft products if it tried and is my media player of choice due to great UI and fantastic speed compared to ITunes, WMP or Winamp. If I could sync/,anage my iPhone from it I would never look at iTunes again.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Your reading comprehension is severely lacking.

      The author is saying that if the Zune software HAD looked like typical Microsoft software it would have been more successful. As you confirmed, the software didn't look very similar. Thus "Microsoft customers" would theoretically be confused by it.

  14. Jeff 11

    Did I just read that? Oh wait, it's Matt Asay time...

    Microsoft "should start by building a truly great browsing experience"?

    They've tried, you know. We're up to the 9th iteration.

    And they're still lagging behind EVERY SINGLE ONE of their competitors in making it work well, and adopting standards and features. I suggest that Microsoft should instead focus on the things it's actually good at, and which create profit for the company.

    All of those things are NOT Internet Explorer.

    1. Michael 47

      @Jeff 11

      "...And they're still lagging behind EVERY SINGLE ONE of their competitors in making it work well, and adopting standards and features..."

      While im not a huge Microsoft supporter, and Chrome is my browser of choice, I dont think thats really accurate any more. Certainly it once was, when sites had to be twice, once 'properly' and once the 'IE compliant version'. IE9 however is far better is terms of standards and compliance and all things considered is not actually a bad browser at all.

      1. Mark Serlin

        @Jeff 11

        and i'd happily run IE9 on my MAC if I could. Safari is "kind of OK", Firefox still gets weighed down by its addons and Chrome lacks functionality - or can someone tell me how to "send a link to this page in email"?

        1. M Gale

          Send a link to this page in email.

          I went and searched for this function, simply because I've never, ever used it in any browser.

          You're right, Chrome doesn't have it, yet. There's a whole thread about it as a feature request on one of Google's forums. Some people are referring to it as a "minimum requirement", though I really don't know why. It's like people have never heard of CTRL+C/CTRL+V. Personally I'd hate a button I end up accidentally clicking and having to go "OH FUCK OFF EVOLUTION/OUTLOOK/THUNDERBIRD/WHATEVER".

          I'm sure if enough people complain though, Google will write one line of Javascript and embed it into a permanent bookmark for you. Until then, bookmark this:


          Taken from

  15. tempemeaty
    Big Brother

    MS is definately not a consumer friendly company.... any consumer who's had to deal with the "activation" jackassery in MS's Windows OS can attest to.

  16. Turtle

    There was a time...

    Evidently none of the contributors to this thread remember Internet Explorer vs Netscape Navigator. I used Netscape, but when they released that Netscape Communicator thing, or whatever it was called, I immediately switched back to Internet Explorer, because that Netscape Communicator thing was really, truly awful. Now, it might have been a long time ago that this occurred, but one can make that case that Netscape's total failure to put out a worthwhile product while Microsoft released what was really a pretty good product enabled Microsoft to decisively wrest the market from Netscape, which in turn allowed Microsoft to rest on its laurels and let Internet Explorer languish - which in its turn allowed Firefox to enter the market and quickly eat up market share. But that was a consequence of Microsoft's success.

    1. Doug Glass

      Most readers...

      ...are simply too young to have any real experience with, oh...Mosaic, Gopher and others. Probably explains the lack of votes on your post. Funny as all hell to me; constant entertainment really.

    2. Magnus_Pym

      Netscape Communicator

      as far as I was aware the whole bloatiness of of the Netscape communicator package was due to Netscape panicking about their inability to compete with Microsoft's (allegedly?) underhand IE campaign. They weren't having any luck giving away a browser so thought an all-in-one package might do better.

  17. Peter 39

    problem looming

    One problem that Microsoft has with the "everyone uses it at home" scenario is that around 50% of college students are choosing Macs.

    This, and the "iPhone + iPod halo", will have a serious and long-lasting impact on the Windows-at-work hegemony.

    1. Doug Glass

      Total Market Share ..

      ... is what counts.

      1. Ted Treen


        So BMW, Jaguar, Bentley, Ferrarri & Rolls-Royce are all failures 'cos they shift fewer units than Ford/Vauxhall/Peugeot?


        1. JEDIDIAH

          Apple is no BMW

          Apple is no BMW.

          It's more like Mercury. That's a Ford with some extra superficial bits.

      2. ed 8

        No its not

        Growth is what counts. Thats what corporations care about, Growth in revenue, Growth in market share, growth in profits. Sure there are plenty of ways to drive growth other than market share but market share is the best because it proves you are outpacing the competition with innovation and quality. Apple making inrodes into MS's market share especially now more and more of a users' attention is on web based apps rather than desktop ones that tie you to the windows platform is a serious problem. Apple or some other competitor need only create a month on month trend of falling market share at MS to really upset the apple cart, especially if MS are not capable of reversing it.

  18. Head


    I think Matt Asay has been smoking the grass way too much.

    Having worked at Dells Pro Support department before (not in the US), as well as having used HP hardware extensively, Dells PCs, notebooks and monitors were far superior in terms of quality, reliability, performance and features.

    The server side is still lacking though, but Dell is making a lot of ground quickly.

    As for their consumer devices, i have a Dell mini 9 as well as an inspiron M101z (first inspiron i have ever had). The mini 9 was nothing short of a godsend. Super handy, compact, reliable and completely silent, it rules all other netbooks. The M101z is a dual core AMD based small notebook with a large notebook sized GPU. Professional build, very reliable and great at watching high def movies or doing anything on.

    I just wish MS made a business centric OS again, like Win 2000 or XP.

    1. Davidoff
      Thumb Down

      Dell vs HP

      "Having worked at Dells Pro Support department before (not in the US), as well as having used HP hardware extensively, Dells PCs, notebooks and monitors were far superior in terms of quality, reliability, performance and features."

      If you look at their respective consumer lines (HP Presario/Pavilion, Dell Dimension/XPS/Inspiron) then this might be true, but having worked with tons of HP and Dell business PCs and workstations in the last 10+ years I wholeheartly have to disagree.

      For example, Dell has produced the Precision 690 with two different mobos of which only one can work with quadcore processors. To find out if a 690 is actually upgradeable one has to open up the case and remove parts to check the mobo p/n because from outside there is no marking etc. telling you what mobo is inside. Dell does this quite often with many systems, just because one Dell model ABC works with a certain component doesn't mean another model ABC does the same. With HP, I know that all xw8400 (the predecessor to the Precision 690) works with quadcores, and while HP does use different mobo revisions I always know that they support exactly the same features.

      Ever tried to get a replacement housing part (i.e. a side cover) for a Dell computer? Probably not, because it's not available (at least that was what I was told by Dells Pro support on various occasions). Want to know the p/n for a specific part? With Dell, unless you have the old part and the partnumber is readable you're lost. With HP, I just go to and search for the part I need. It also tells me alternative partnumbers, and of course also housing parts for most HP computers are available as spare.

      Or lets talk about the lack of even very simple things. For years I can update a HP computer's BIOS by just putting the ROM file on a USB flash drive (doesn't need to be bootable) and then use the flash program that is integrated in the BIOS. With Dell I still have to flash from Windows or another OS.

      or we could talk about BIOS support in general, like the non-working Speedstep support in the Precision 690 (which still remains unfixed). BTW: I know these machines are old, but intel has recently discovered a potentially critical flaw in the old Xeon 51xx/53xx processors and releases a microcode update. Guess what, HP has provided an updated BIOS for the now around 5 year old xw8400 (as it has for other HP computers using these processors). Dell did nothing, and according to their support they won't do anything.

      Then the exterior. Just look at the older Optiplexes (or the older Precisions up to the 670) which had very cheap housings (thin metal covered with plastics panels) which showed a lot of flexing. HP's counterparts are worlds apart in terms of build quality.

      Don't get me wrong, I like my Dell machines, but in terms of quality, reliability, features and performance HP beats them anytime. Not that reliability with Dell is bad, in my experience it's just a bit better with HP.

      And you won't get something like a z800 from Dell.

  19. Randall Shimizu

    Depends on how one defines consumer

    Both MS & Dell sell a lot of products to the consumer. But MS is much stronger at selling non-traditional PC devices to consumers. I personally think that MS could be doing much more to leverage the Microsoft stores. Dell can be successful, but it's efforts have to very focused on specific targets and markets.

  20. Tim Bates

    Dell would sell more if...

    Dell would sell far more consumer products if they got out of the box and started letting resellers in real bricks and morter shops sell them. That's where 90% of consumers still go to when they want a new computer. And when they walk in, they see HP, Lenovo, Asus, Toshiba, etc... And not a Dell in sight (except for a few select models in the 1 or 2 super-chain stores that have a deal with Dell).

    We love Dell here at our shop. We direct business customers to buy Dell servers, and don't even look at other brands. But when it comes to selling laptops and desktops, we can't even mention Dell (or we'll lose a sale). Yet for our own needs, we choose Dell laptops almost always... Sad really.

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      Hardly Normal

      's funny that, I was in a "major high street" brand 2 weeks ago looking a (potential) new laptop, when I was shown the dell brand I merely replied that I did not want a dell because of the way they pulled out of Limerick (Ireland) and moved manufacturing to Poland.

      "I'm hearing that a lot" replied the sales person. Strange thing consumer sentiment isn't it.

  21. Jamie Carpenter
    Gates Halo


    I still to this day don't understand why there is so much hatred for Microsoft. Can someone elaborate? Why is IE9 so bad?

    I've been in I.T. a fairly long time, I'm not the old skool, but I'm hardly new either. I'm an infrastucture engineer, and my company is a Microsoft house.

    I've used Linux, OSX, and Microsoft products. In the business, trying to keep things lean, easy to fix, and managable, and we haven't had any reason to think Microsoft isn't right for us.

    Is it just because they are big? Is it anti-corporationalism? I really don't understand why there is this massive fanboi base for apple, and all Linux lovers seem to love hating anything mainstream!

    And we're also a Dell house, we're very happy with them. No one can get us spare disks, raid cards, CPU's etc faster than Dell. WE call up with failed SAS disk, 20 mins later the new one is in my hand. Can't moan at that!

    1. TonyJ

      To Jamie


      Microsoft had some pretty underhanded business practices in the past - the IE vs Netscape is a fairly good example.

      When MS wanted in on the browser market, they bought a piece of code* (Mozilla) and developed it into IE.

      They then proceeded to give IE away for free, whereas at the time the leading browser (mostly accepted to be Netscape from the number of users) became rapidly defunct. Yes, it's arguable they helped that process with things like the communicator product, but in essence MS ripped their market out from under them.

      There are stories of Bill Gates effectively shouting at, and bullying, senior managers to support Windows and to develop drivers etc.

      And then there were the anti trust cases where Bill Gates came across as a complete kn*b - refusing to answer simple questions and posturing with complete arrogance to the point he just simply annoyed those asking the questions, and a lot of supporters and press.

      Plus arguing that since Win 98, IE was fundamentally built into the OS and couldn't be removed.

      So for those of us that've been around for enough years, we remember some of their (MS's) tactics.

      Then there's a reasonable argument that MS hasn't really innovated much on anything for the last decade or so. Even Windows 95 (a huge step change from DOS) was pretty much a copy of what Apple were doing in terms of a GUI.

      Add to that, their abortive attempt to deliver Vista and that alone pushed a lot of people into the arms of Apple because of a couple of reasons - they already had an iPod/iPhone etc and wanted something that "just worked".

      And of course, you will always get people who will argue for one platform blindly and vociferously regardless of valid counter arguments just for the sake of it. The so called "Fanboi" or "Hater" breed.

      Microsoft also got burned with their security - or more precisely the lack of it. But again, it's easy to criticise in hindsight about how poor the security of NT4 or Windows 2000 was out of the box, but even MS themselves will admit they built their software for use in a LAN environment and the internet took them by surprise. And that's important - you can't build a system with the security for the web if you don't realise the web is happening.

      But arguably, they make some decent products now (subjective point of view, I know) - for example, I found the ribbon in Office 2007 a breath of fresh air. Suddenly I could (personally, again) find the things I needed and wanted far more easily than ever before. Die hards hated it of course.

      And they do seem to be trying to listen and behave a little better in some cases - look at how they're reacting to the news that the latest XBox update may snafu some consoles - they're proactively sending out replacements free of charge (taking note here, Sony?)

      So yes - MS (and others) have made some poor choices and behaved in some silly ways over the years, but the hate and loathing seems, most of the time, to be way, way, overboard.

      *I think they licenses the code from Mozilla - it was some time ago?

      1. The First Dave


        Actually they bought the IE code from NCSA Mosaic, but your point remains valid - they were only able to get their so-called 'market share' by giving it away for free. Had IE been sold in the same way as Netscape was, it would not have done so well.

        "No one knows personal productivity software better than Microsoft" - Excuse me? If this is true, then why do they continue to do such a piss-poor job with the millions of dollars that they throw at it every year?

        OpenOffice may lack polish, but it shows a far better return on the relatively small investment that has been made.

      2. Jamie Carpenter


        Thanks for explaining, if that's why the majority of people think. You seem unbiased and fair so that's a good case.

        I too remember the IE / Netscape battle, and the anti-trust cases. However from my personal point of view, isn't that like hating Germans because of WW2? Or the french for our past wars?

        In the modern era, I see Microsoft making some good products, I think (again personally, don't shoot me!) better than the competition. XP and W7, Server 2003 and 2008 R2, yea Vista and 'ME' were terrible.

        I don't see them doing anything differently to any other corporations, yeah the practices might not be good, but I don't beleive that Ford don't steal ideas from Seat, or that Bosch don't steal ideas from Makita etc etc.. so for that reason, I can't really hate them! I like thier products, and I find accepting Microsoft and Dell for who they are and what they do, makes my job so much easier and something less to stress about each day! Here come the tumbs down :-p

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Jamie

          One additional comment from an infrastructure guy - and I don't know if 15 years makes me Old Skool or not - but I'd tend to say that there are more than a few folks like me in the Enterprise space that have a serious chip on our shoulder about Windows servers.

          In 1997, we were pushing 2,000 seats of F&P on a single Novell server. It took expertise to install and manage, and it was expensive... but holy crap it was stable. When Wintel came on the scene we went from a respectable number of big, stable headless boxes and replaced them with - no lie - an order of magnitude more small and, in comparison, unstable GUI boxes. It wasn't until maybe Windows Server 2003 that we were even in the same ballpark again in terms of scale and directory capability to where I had already been in 1997... and we're still not even close in terms of uptime (stability has improved but the patch cycle on Windows compared to anything else in the server world is pretty insane - we have *nix boxes up for years at a time while most Wintel boxes get cycled monthly).

          I mean... seriously... why in holy hell do we have servers with IE on them? IE that has to be patched, just about every damn month. It's insane. Why do Wintel servers go tits up on a video driver problem? It's a server damnit - not a desktop! I'm halfway surprised 2008 didn't ship with Aero desktop on it - I'm not even joking.

          I don't have a problem with Windows on the desktop, never really have, and like Tony there are plenty of other reasons to dislike (their tendency to stick knives into their business partner's back) *and* like them (I have friends that work for them, and the company I work for is probably their biggest business partner)... but their entrance into the server world has been a step backwards IMHO and I do have a chip on my shoulder on that one.

          I also think these types of open conversations are constructive. Cheers

          1. TonyJ

            I don't dislike MS

            I don't dislike Microsoft. Hell, I've worked for them. I was trying to give a balanced reply to Jamie's question about why there is such loathing by giving specific examples.

            If you don't like having IE etc on your servers then put core on. Not everything requires a full GUI or IE: Try doing some research into what will or will nor work for you rather than looking like an archetype of those who seem to proudly declare themselves "Old Skool" whilst seemingly managing to come across ill informed and angry and very bitter about something.

            And for the record, I cannot remember the last time I saw a server blue screen because of a driver issue...but again, perhaps that's because the enterprises I've helped design have proper patching testing processes rather than lazily relying on Windows Update.

            WSUS anyone?

            1. Anonymous Coward

              Re: TonyJ

              Did you even read what I wrote?

              "Netware is a footnote now and were pretty much dead when the internet took off and I believe that Linux should be patched, as well as the various applications"

              - Did I say that Netware was better or even imply that it was good at anything other than File and Print in the context of 1997 and where in the holy hell did I ever imply that you should not patch your apps or Linux? You do know that kernel updates with Linux don't even require reboots anymore right? Hell, the only time I remember our AIX boxes being taken offline were for OS upgrades. Having servers running for years at a time in the *nix world does not mean they're unpatched.

              "I don't dislike Microsoft. Hell, I've worked for them. I was trying to give... specific examples"

              - A little touchy aren't we? I wasn't trying to imply otherwise.

              "If you don't like having IE etc on your servers then put core on."

              - OK, seriously... have you *ever* seen anyone actually use that? When MS makes their core distro their only distro, then that will be something. It's a move in the right direction, sure, but it's only supported in specific roles so I wouldn't exactly call case closed on that one - not by a long shot.

              "[rant] proudly declare themselves "Old Skool" whilst [rant]"

              - I never claimed to be old school, just that I've been in the Enterprise space for 15 years. If you want to hear some opinionated curmudgeons go talk to the old mainframe guys... and while you're at it you might actually learn something. I have my opinions and you, quite obviously, do to. Normally I'd say vive la différence as long as someone isn't taking me out of context and throwing cheap shots.

              "perhaps that's because the enterprises I've helped design have proper patching testing processes rather than lazily relying on Windows Update."

              - Seriously, where the hell do you get off implying - again - that the Fortune 100 companies I work for "lazily rely on Windows Update" or otherwise don't do proper security? The more you run your mouth the more you make it blatantly clear that you've never worked on anything other than Wintel and have no basis for being able to understand or appreciate the differences between different server platforms. I wasn't even talking about updating drivers FFS.

          2. Jamie Carpenter

            TO AC 16:13

            Naa, not old skool, that would make me old skool too :-)

            In open converstation, yea we used to use netware too, but from what I remember, it wasn't doing anywhere near as many things as we push our modern windows servers to do? Much better for file and print services, lousy terminal server! :-)

            IE on servers, I would say that is on there, so you can download patches and updates for 3rd party software. I use it quite a bit on servers, especially if you have some things that detect the OS through the browser. I would say Microsoft did think of that, hence IE ESC. Microsoft don't know what roles you are going to use on a server, no IE on a Terminal server wouldn't be too good. Patching IE, well you can use WSUS or SCCM to manage those updates. Chances are that IE updates will come out the same time as other updates, so we install the lot in mainatance windows.

            Can't say I've ever seen video driver issues from Server 2000 until today. (NT4, another story!) But that might be because we use Dell, with the OpenMangle installer, and it puts the right drivers on from the start. Then use Dell Server update utility, so no rogue drivers can go on.

            I'm not saying if you cut me I bleed Microsoft, we've had some issues with some not so written sofware, DFS, and SCCM to name a couple. But I personally think that the current enterprise kit is great. We use 16 blades, with Terminal servers serving up to 100 users on each. Attached to iSCSI SANs. They give us hardly any issues these days, they just run like the old days! With remote app, app-v, hyper-v, I think things are getting better and better!

            And I think that back to the original point of this article, my above paragraph shows that MS aren't trying to be Apple. Enterprise is thier core.

            1. Anonymous Coward

              Re: Jamie

              Just to put any potential disagreements to bed:

              " I personally think that the current enterprise kit is great.... They give us hardly any issues these days, they just run like the old days! ...

     above paragraph shows that MS aren't trying to be Apple. Enterprise is their core."

              Microsoft servers are doing *a lot* better these days, I agree - my complaint was really more that the rush to go Wintel for everything in the late 90's and early 2000's was, again IMHO, a step backwards. Granted, the whole idea of Wintel servers back then was that they were cheap and easy to manage on a per-device basis (something along the lines of "so easy a desktop tech can do it"). That's all well and good for the SMB space, but for those of us that had to manage hundreds or even thousands of NT4 boxes, it was a damn nightmare. With 2008 I might say that we're starting to emerge from what I see as a sort of dark ages, but in the meantime those *other* server platforms have also been evolving - don't get me started on NTFS ; )

              More specific to my, I guess, foaming-at-the-mouth-rant about IE (I didn't really think it was *that* bad but anyway)... my complaint/concern with Wintel at some level, really gets down to trade-offs... like you mentioned, having IE on the server does present a certain amount of convenience when you're managing a given device (I've used it too - in particular, IMO, it's useful for troubleshooting performance issues on Wintel-based Web Servers) but the flip side of that is that you have to keep IE patched and up to date... which usually means monthly patching and reboots.

              Having a GUI on a given server is all well and good too, but when it's down in the kernel it means that any hiccup with it can crash the server (I can't even remember the exact details, but it was something like 2003 and maybe W2K where we had this one critical server crash really hard because of an issue with the video driver or card - what I do remember more clearly is the 6 hours of downtime during prime business hours that it caused due to data integrity checks)... and in general the more stuff you have running on the server the more potential there is for memory leaks and the more overhead you have in terms of CPU and memory... which means less memory and CPU available for whatever that server is really supposed to be doing.

              There is one app that we support, that is available on both Wintel and *nix variants... on comparable hardware (CPU, memory, chassis) we can get close to double the capacity (total seats, concurrent seats, production data, etc) on Linux than we can get on Wintel. Of course, in this case we get to do application level partitioning (i.e. running multiple instances of our application on a single server) while Wintel is really stuck with a 1:1 App to OS. To even try to get the same capacity on Wintel we'd have to go virtual and run multiple App-and-OS instances... which means *much* more overhead than a single instance of Linux OS and much more CPU, Memory, etc to even try and get in the same ballpark.

              Ultimately, from my POV, more "stuff" on the servers means more crap for us to manage, more exposure from a security standpoint, and - given that *many* (although this improving too, but again nowhere near caught up with the *nix world) of those patches require reboots - much more risk for things to go wrong (i.e. however small, there is always a risk that when you cycle a box it won't come back up and when you're talking about patching thousands of servers an occasional hang is part of the game... and that goes for both *nix and Wintel servers).

              Also, more OSs to manage *is* a big deal. All things being equal, I'd take have fewer bigger servers to manager vs. more smaller servers - any day!

              Of course, there are plenty of things that (like Citrix, Terminal servers, Exchange, SharePoint, etc) only run on Wintel. In that context all this crap I'm talking about is really just academic and we just have to make the best of it... which, again, is much better now with Wintel than it has been in the past.

              Just don't begrudge me the chip on my shoulder for the dark ages of NT4 and W2K... please :)

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. M Gale

          Best security?

          I still remember a friend of mine who had just convinced his boss to get BackOffice. That's basically NT4 with Exchange and IIS. Well, I told him to chop that damned web server off at the firewall, and he laughed at me. He said it's NT, it's secure!

          Yeah. So I went home, tapped in the IP address of his server along with a little bit of hand crafted unicode. I printed out the results, walked to his house and said "is this your hard drive? Is this your format c: command? Aren't you glad I didn't add the /y switch?"

          That web server was chopped within the hour. While we're at it, how many people in the Win9x days had their file shares open to the world due to Microsoft being stupid and enabling NetBIOS on the dial-up adapter? I've personally managed to send a message to someone's printer saying "DISABLE NETBIOS YOU PRAT". Hopefully they got the shock of their lives when the printer next to them spat that out.

          So yes, Microsoft has finally, at last, managed to get a semblance of somewhat, almost-security after a shitload of revisions. Even then, they only managed it by copying Linux, or do you think they invented UAC all by themselves?

          These are facts and they make Microsoft sad.

        2. TonyJ

          Best security?

          Sorry but from a historical perspective that's bull.

          IIS 5 was FULL of holes. IIS 6 out of the box, ditto - you had to harden it with the likes of URLScan.

          Yes, they have the market majority. Yes, they will always be the biggest target with the largest attack profile, BUT if your comments were true then why a few years ago did MS have to go back to basics and fundamentally change their coding practices to include things such as how they handle buffer overflows?

          And for balance - I have previously worked for Microsoft and indeed my entire career has been balanced around a number of their core server products so I can hardly be considered a "hater"

          As for the comments regarding the Novell boxes et al that have been running for years - Netware is a footnote now and were pretty much dead when the internet took off and I believe that Linux should be patched, as well as the various applications.

      4. Lars Silver badge


        I would like to add that considering Microsofts market share and "importance" for business they have never taken an equal share in trying to mend and fix the problems they have created.

        Some people seem to think that viruses are an "act of god". It is also the way the press started to look at it (assisted bye Microsoft, I think). In reality it is about rotten programming and nothing else.

        And there are more than one million for Windows.

        I remember that the US Army was complaining that they spend more money on defending against Windows viruses than they spend on Microsoft software and Windows.

        Nice, you pay for your car and suddenly keeping the car running costs more than the car originally.

        This has never disturbed the Microsoft way of doing business.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Be harsh but be realistic

    @Andres, @Allicorn and others: you can only rewrite history so far. Argubly the best browsing experiences (short of the delivery of the as yet unfinish HTML 5) have been delivered using Javascript for which none of the current browser vendors can claim any credit and AJAX. Ajax is a concept created by Microsoft for Outlook Web Access back in the late 1990's.

    If standards were not important to you (and bear in mind IE existed before many of the standards were finalized) would IE be a terrible experience? And if you could start again with today's infrastructure would you really create the modern web browser? I don't think so.

    It's hard to disagree with Matt over his view that the Office/Windows product management gauntlet is a significant impediment at Microsoft. It's lawyers are another significant restriction because Microsoft cannot afford to use unlicensed patented methods or they'll be sued. (Sure, Microsoft sues but it gets sued more). These restrictions limit Microsoft's ambitions killing ideas, let alone products at or before birth. But if your choice was to protect many billions of guaranteed revenue or risk it on unproven products what would you do? Really?

    However, in their space, the unsexy business world, they do a lot to make complex software accessible at a good price. The products themselves, with one or two notable exceptions, may not be great and may be there to raise the bar just enough to prevent new entrants but then in this market you have to compare them with Oracle, SAP, HP, IBM, etc.

    Microsoft also spends billions research all sorts of software possibilities - which is where Kinnect spent much of it's gestation.

    For what it's worth, I'm of the view that Microsoft could create good consumer products but sometimes it's too far ahead. Gates demo'd tablets 15 years ago. Some say the cause was running Windows but what else would he do? More realistically this was a time long before powerful but low power circuitry existed which tethered the device to the wall.

    But Microsoft is a mature company and like mature companies of the past, such as AT&T and IBM - both doyens of their day - it's glory days are behind it. We're seeing that transition now with Google. And Apple will eventually go the same way encumbered as it will be by less visionary leaders, the need to sustain shareholder expectations and also limit exposure to patent holder law suits.

    My regret is that while Apple may be better at consumer products, the underlying technology is not innovative at all. Someone will doubtless refute this point but I believe all of the technology is comparatively old. I was using touchscreens in the late 80's/early 90's. My laptop has a much higher pixel density than either of the Apple's product lines. The CPUs are old by any standard (OK, they may fabricated using more recent techniques but the designs are pretty ancient). Bear in mind Apple has a design patents on rounded rectangle form factors and is currently suing one of it's supplier over this. This is not innovation.

    But maybe the thing with consumer products is that the product should not be innovative because it has to work - and look like it's had someone polishing for a while. Meanwhile businesses want innovation because it may give them a slight edge. Maybe the two mindsets are not compatible.

    1. ThomH

      I agree and disagree

      Agreed: the important asynchronous fetch parts behind AJAX originated at Microsoft, IE6 didn't hit standards very well but it was an era before anybody did and before most of the standards it ended up living alongside, Microsoft's enterprise software — whatever else you may say — sets a high bar of entry for competitors, Gates was preaching the tablet before anyone actually wanted one and before the form factor really worked for technological reasons.

      Disagreed (but not refuted as these are just opinions): much of the Apple stuff. Innovation just means to make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products. So it's actually a really easy test to satisfy — taking a good idea from one field and transplanting it into another so as to change perceptions of the market would seem to be enough, so multitouch on phones will do. They also have some genuinely novel manufacturing processes that create very robust enclosures, and Thunderbolt is very interesting.

      On CPUs they use the latest Intel parts in the computers and design their own ARM-based silicon for the tablets, phones and MP3 players. Pixel densities are lagging on computers, but if pixel density were the test then you'd have to give them innovation for the latest iPhone, having jumped at least 50% ahead of the competition at launch and still being ahead almost a year later.

      The thing with consumer products is that it's artificial to separate hardware and software when trying to pinpoint innovation. Which is why comparing Apple to Dell and Microsoft separately is a little silly and I think that's part of the point the article was making.

      1. The First Dave


        "Gates was preaching the tablet before anyone actually wanted one"

        But only because he had seen the Newton that Apple was trying to sell, which only failed because it was a little too far ahead of its time.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          ""Gates was preaching the tablet before anyone actually wanted one"

          But only because he had seen the Newton that Apple was trying to sell, which only failed because it was a little too far ahead of its time."

          Yawn. Invented by Xerox, copied by Steve Jobs during one of the tours he was given of the facility.

          Microsoft may not be responsible for much "new" thought in the past 10-20 years, but Apple has been duplicating the work of others for far longer. The only thing Apple invented was 60% profit margins in the IT industry.

          1. RightPaddock

            bill & steve @ ParcPlace

            I have a recollection that Gates and Jobs visited Parc Place on the same "bus tours" on at least 2 occasions.

          2. JonHendry

            Check your facts

            >>>Gates was preaching the tablet before anyone actually wanted one

            >>But only because he had seen the Newton that Apple was trying to sell, which only failed because it was a little too far ahead of its time."

            >Yawn. Invented by Xerox, copied by Steve Jobs during one of the tours he was given of the facility.

            The Newton wasn't a Steve Jobs project, it was John Sculley, and didn't happen until after Jobs had left Apple and was busy with NeXT and Pixar.

            Being a Sculley project, I doubt it had anything to do with Xerox at all. Sculley wasn't at Apple during the famous/infamous PARC tours.

    2. JonHendry

      Eh what?

      " My laptop has a much higher pixel density than either of the Apple's product lines."

      I suspect that's a design decision, not a technological one. All the companies get their LCD panels from the same group of manufacturers. If Apple thought such high dpi in laptops was something they wanted to order, they could just order the panels. For whatever reason, Apple thinks 1920x1080 is too small for a 15" laptop. (If they can get 3200x2100 panels, they'd probably use them, with text and UI widgets scaled to the same size as on the 1600x1050 panels, but with better rendering. They're laying the groundwork for this already and the OS has support for very large UI widget image files, and automatic selection of the appropriate file depending on the screen resolution.)

  23. Bilgepipe


    Microsoft and Dell are reactionary wannabees, always seeing what someone else is doing and trying to copy it. They'll never be any different.

    Just listen to Steve Ballmer - entirely focused on what his competitors are doing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Couldn't be more untrue

      Microsoft has nine research labs around the World, they're doing some seriously cutting edge work. If you ever get an invite, go, their work is fantastic and it's beginning to appear in products like Bing, Mindstorms and Kinect.


      ...seems to work well enough for them both.

      Being reactionary and derivative is how Microsoft and Dell have always been. It has served them well in the past and there's no reason it can't continue to serve them well. Microsoft has an entrenched monopoly that will take a long time to counteract. As long as that dominance remains, then Dell will always have a big part in it. Apple certainly isn't an immediate threat to either.

      Neither company has ever been particularly good. That didn't interfere with their success in the past.

  24. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Consumer Dell

    Well Dell could say, buy a laptop brand with lots of recognition in the cool hip yoof gaming market.

    And then basically throw it away, only then to try and revitalize it by putting red leds on it's corporate laptops.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Guessing sarcasm? I wouldn't have called Alienware cool or a laptop brand, but they were a gaming PC brand.

      They needed it to compete with HP's Voodoo PC, which became the Blackbird platform.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Real World Calling Mat!

    Microsoft built its empire entirely by selling itself to the consumer.

    Without a demand from the office floor, do you seriously think that any IT manager would have bought Microsoft products?

  26. W. Keith Wingate
    Gates Horns

    @Jamie: Resentment of Microsoft...

    ... comes in part from its success. Historically, any company, country, person, etc. as successful as Gates & MS are bound to attract their fair (and sometimes unfair) share of resentment.

    Also, from the aforementioned anti-competitive business practices, some of which they no longer need to / are able to rely on (forcing hardware vendors to charge a license fee for each unit whether the customer uses their software or not, e.g.).

    Having been in I/T since MS was a small company w/ a few language compilers / interpreters, my biggest beef is that through their enormous success they have sucked all the oxygen out of the I/T ecospace. One by one, they have killed off companies & products which provided superior technology and foisted "least-common denominator" solutions on us. They've made our work places blander, and more boring, if not less productive than we might have been.

    Customers used to choose best-of-breed solutions: WordPerfect / Lotus / FoxPro (pre-MS); now it's all Word/Excel/Access. Of course File->Open does the same thing in each now, and in fact, in nearly all Windows apps. And their products (Windows notwithstanding) have generally improved over time, and some were even innovative (the PIM + email that is Outlook was positively brilliant; the ease-of-use of Access or Powerpoint are also very welcom, IMHO). The worst cases are the products they've bought and ruined (FoxPro already mentioned; Visio).

    Of course, much of this is subjective. I'm sure there are folks who actually thought Word 2.x was better than WordPerfect, who would rather have used Excel than Quattro Pro, but I dont' recall meeting any of them.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    vote worst article

    Worst of the month

    +1 vote

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Netscape was a bloated clunky pile of jun

    @Giles Jones: Netscape was a bloated clunky pile of junk .. IE was fast and stable in comparison .. ..

    You have go to be kidding on both counts, remember MS was the company that first tried to buy Netscape and then undocumented the shell extensions to make browsing a jolting experience.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Netscape was a bloated clunky pile of jun

      Microsoft got its act together with IE4 - much better than Netscape. It played fast and loose getting PC vendors to drop Netscape - and got into big trouble with the anti-trust guys over this.

      But the OEMs seemed happy enough to play ball with Microsoft on this score: Netscape lorded it over the PC makers and unpopular with them.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        OEMs happy to play ball with Microsoft?

        Drewc: the OEMs seemed happy enough to play ball with Microsoft on this score: Netscape lorded it over the PC makers and unpopular with them ..

        "I am reading about the Gateway adoption of the Corel software. I am interested to understand what this means better and how it relates to any contracts we have with them"

        "OEM’s want to replace the Memphis product registration process with a third party .. registration process .. It’s strategically very important that Microsoft owns the transport"

        "OEM's are resisting the high royalties for GW-BASIC .. we feel that our market strength for MS-DOS is sufficient to charge prices that are 300% higher than previously"

  29. wanderson

    Microsoft, Dell & consumers

    I have admired Matt Assay's accomplishments and diverse experience for some time, but think that he fell and hit his head on a rock for this article.

    To postulate that Microsoft would even have the expertise, understanding or the technology savvy to produce Internet Explorer and Silverlight specifically for Android and iOS is a stretch, especially since these technologies are not owned or controlled or "designed" like Windows.

    Worse yet, they are based on Linux and UNIX, both appauling anathema to Steve Balmer.

    Any company as myopic and closed minded - and self-intentioned - as Microsoft would not know where to start supporting anything not invented (or mimicked from somewhere else) in Redmond.

    At least he is giving them the benefit of the doubt for possible forward thinking rather than backward reminiscing.

  30. Head



    I agree entirely in regards to the non uniform Mobos. I have worked on Precisions as well, especially the newer T series.

    I think Dell is aiming for some uniformity so if you purchase a Precision with 1 CPU you get 1 type of Mobo, regardless of the CPU chosen (different mobo needed for 2 CPUs).

    With the introduction of the E series of Lats and Precision notebooks, there has been just 1 standard mobo for each different model, despite there being up to 4 mobos available; each one is built to the exact same standards. For example, a Latitude E5410 may have 3 different mobo's but all are interchangable.

    I can't say much about the side cover though, except that some part numbers were hard to find, but we (as in myself and the guys i worked with) always found it. When i left there was a very large and far more comprehensive database being pushed out to staff to use for part ID.

    While there also, we had a 1 minute call pickup time we worked very hard to maintain. So after you got through the IVR system and selected Dell pro Support for laptops, desktops or precisions, you waited for up to 1 minute before we answered.

    We also were pushing hard to be a 'one stop shop' as well as 'first call fix'. We were in no rush to get rid of customers, we stayed on the phone until the issue was fixed, and we fixed it as fast as we could.

    We also could sent out repair techs on site based on very flimsy diagnostics. If you called us up and had said 'the HDD is dead it's not booting', we would have said 'no worries, a tech will be there tomorrow, unless you would like to change it yourself?' if they said no, we had a tech there the next day. Sometimes we didn't have to ask anything at all, but simply said 'we'll have a tech there tomorrow to have it fixed'. and we did get the computer fixed.

    Basically, the managers left it up to us on how best to serve customers. That was Dell pro Support Aus, not the US or anywhere else

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why HAS micros~1 allowed its "internet experience" to languish?

    Out of spite. Spite against netscape, and they did succeed pretty well there. But they also shut out non-windows platforms and in doing that demonstratably assaulted innovation that dared forego douse itself in their special sauce. The result has become the byword of crawling internet horrors. "IE6"

    And why is posting anonymously slapped with a spiteful icon these days, hm?

  32. Nabil Shabka

    Missing the point

    The problem is that MS simply didn't see the Internet and still doesn't get it. The world ahs changed. MS is not an innovator, it's a monopolosing juggernaught. That worked fantasitcally for years. It was clear in the late 90's that their reign was over. In order to succeed they cannot turn the huge tanker around. They need a new leader with carte blanche and vision. One who can go and compeltely reinvent the company. Sure they can continue to milk the marekets they are still successful in, stupid not to, while this is occurring but they need to a complete rethink.

    BTW, the IBM of today is nothing like the IBM of old (the one that though box shiftng was more important than the OS and ended up giving birth to MS) - they almost went to the wall. In fact so did Apple in the 90's until the iPod. MS needs an 'iPod' and to set a new course - one that will eventually canablise their own market because if they don't, they will be beaten from the outside, as they are being now.

  33. Steve Avis

    @ defiler

    Microsoft didn't declare the internet finished with IE6; they stopped development 'cos they'd killed Netscape.

    Firefox rose from the ashes because M$ were sitting back satisfied that their stratergy of giving IE away for free to kill Netscape's only paying prodict.

  34. syntax_error

    Trolling (or maybe not)

    Microsoft is successful because it offer the opportunity for people who are using it to remain dumb and think they are clever using it (99% of users are sure convinced they are clever using Windows). DELL sells sea shells by the sea shore... Means they don't engineer computer 'as opposed to well known companies who have a culture of it'... You can sense it. Kit computers for kitty people. But then again trolling is my job and my job is good.

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