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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Seattle, WA

    Response to DBR's MSFT Our Call

    Okay, I was busy this weekend, and didn't have time to respond at the time, but I just can't let DBR's rather random (guess it is a slow off-season) anti-Windows "Our Call" pass without comment.

    The primary premise of their article seems to be, who needs Windows anymore when there's Linux and Apple?

    I have several, scattered, thoughts on how to answer that, including:

    * well, about 90% of the world's computer users seem to be using some version of Windows, so why do we need Linux or Apple?

    * Businesses aren't well-served by Linux or Apple, from systems maintenance and standardization down to supporting individual users. For better or worse, most computer users are in a business environment.

    * Without Windows, who would Linux developers copy from? Let's face it, most IP around user experience for linux end-user interfacing has been, ummm, "borrowed" from Microsoft. (Don't even get me started on what's been ripped off from Office.)

    * Windows has been localized into nearly 100 languages. I can't find any listing on the Apple support site, but I highly doubt the Mac OS has been translated into Tatar or Macedonian. Seriously, Microsoft supports a GLOBAL audience, not just US, Germany and Japan.

    * And lastly, they answer their own question by admitting you still most likely need Windows, even if it is running in Parallels. Fine by me -- a legally purchased license is still a legally purchased license.

    DBR takes a broader swing at MSFT by asking, "who need's Bill's bunch anymore?" That's a much easier question to answer, and yet much harder, because MSFT is SOOO much more than what your typical home PC user ever considers.

    Off the top of my head, these things include: Microsoft Research -- an arm of the company that truly just does hard core research. From Beijing to Bangalore to Cambridge to San Fran and Redmond, MSFT has hired THE foremost experts in some very obscure fields, just to keep thinking about interesting issues. (MSFT has a whole research lab in San Fran, because the researcher it wanted refused to relocate.) There's a whole separate team then dedicated to moving this basic research into products. We've discussed a couple on this board, Photosynth and Surface. Microsoft invests about 15% of revenue into continued R&D; a remarkably high percentage, even in the tech industry. (And even more impressive when you consider how much revenue Microsoft brings in each year.)

    Microsoft Health Solutions group -- they're opening up about 600 new positions this year alone, to tackle issues of medical record keeping, sharing, consumer self-service, and privacy compliance. MSFT acquired Azyxxi to help boost its expertise here. I have a personal interest in this field, so I'm anxious to see what comes out of this group in a couple years.

    Microsoft Hardware -- celebrating 25 years this summer. It's not a glamorous thing, but I know I heart my bluetooth ergonomic keyboard and mouse.

    Windows Mobile -- not just pocket pcs and smartphones (doing everything an iPhone or BlackBerry does, for at least 4 years now), but embedded computers everywhere, including Ford and Fiat.

    XBox and the gaming studios. Where would Playstation be without the competition from XBox? And what MSFT is doing in terms of gaming graphics and gaming development is unprecedented, and sadly, all too unheralded.

    Windows Live/Hotmail -- who hasn't had a hotmail account at some point in your life? I know Yahoo and Google have mail/contact/calendaring programs too, but give MSFT some credit for having a service that's just as good.

    Oh, and I nearly forget what Microsoft does for the public, in the US and abroad. (and I'm not talking about the Gates Foundation, an entirely separate entity.) Its employees give more per person than any other US corporation, and that is matched 100% by Microsoft. Through its Unlimited Potential program, Microsoft is helping bring technology (and the infrastructure and investment and education needed to support it) to underserved regions across the globe. What's the Linux community doing, besides its slow-to-get-off-the-ground $100 laptop program?

    I can't even go into things like ALL the various servers, development tools, and underlying support and structure that goes into conceiving, building, delivering and maintaining those products and services, just because it's so immense and complicated, it's hard to know what all the company is doing.

    Microsoft will have by next year nearly 80,000 employees, roughly 65% of which are involved in core technical fields. It is the embodiment of the term "industry leader," and shows no sign of letting up any time soon.

    If anyone thinks that Microsoft needs Linux and Apple (or Google or Oracle or Novell or VMWare or ...) to continue to innovate, they're woefully unaware of what the company is all about.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Skinker-DeBaliviere, Saint Louis
    Apple still makes desktop computers? I thought, nowadays, that company just makes pocket jukeboxes and $600 telephones that can play Warcraft.

    A movie is not about what it's about; it's about how it's about it.
    ---Roger Ebert

    Some questions cannot be answered
    Who’s gonna bury who
    We need a love like Johnny, Johnny and June
    ---Over the Rhine

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by throatybeard View Post
    Apple still makes desktop computers? I thought, nowadays, that company just makes pocket jukeboxes and $600 telephones that can play Warcraft.
    Apple apologist here: yeah, their desktops are really nice, but not that common. I'm happy to have one at work though. Apple has been doing great things in laptop market share in the last couple of years, though. It's not all $600 telephones (but those are nice too).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007

    haha. ha. her name is dwork. like dork. ha.

    Seriously though, great post DA -- you blew everyone out of the water and there's no one to really refute that stuff.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by DevilAlumna View Post
    Okay, I was busy this weekend, and didn't have time to respond at the time, but I just can't let DBR's rather random (guess it is a slow off-season) anti-Windows "Our Call" pass without comment.
    Well said, DA. Yeah, I know I've probably done a fair amount of grousing about Windows in these parts. Actually, I don't remember complaining about Windows so much as I have advocated that people consider certain (think ⌘ not CTRL) alternative platforms.

    It's a tough situation as a Microsoft advocate because there just isn't a whole lot of sympathy for your company, for reasons of varying degrees of validity. First, no one loves the big monolith, the big bully, and that has become linked with Microsoft's brand in the minds of many. It takes a really long time to change those perceptions, though Microsoft has been working hard at it for the last few years. That perception leads those who like choice in their systems to be very fearful that the big bully will crush our little corners of the world, and that fear leads to real animosity.

    For whatever reason, there's also not a whole lot of sex to Microsoft: it doesn't have the vocal, screaming user community for its products that Apple and Linux boast. Maybe it's because Microsoft doesn't need that grassroots evangelism, or maybe it's because, as you point out, many users use it in corporate settings. Maybe they associate with it as a tool, something useful but not inspiring.

    But it's hard to reconcile the public image of Microsoft when you meet its employees. I have several good friends at Microsoft; Microsoft is a strong customer of ours, and I've visited Red West several times to meet with different teams. To a person, everyone is gifted, engaged, and committed to building great products. They are candid about the strengths and weaknesses of the company, and I sense real frustration when the requirements of management run into the creativity of developers. Things like this seem very frustrating, for example. But they are real people working hard to build products.

    I'm better for having the opportunity to work with them, and the country is better for having such a strong company contributing to the economy and the growth of our technological base.

    (With all of that said, I will rant to the hills about Vista, bane of my life. Joel and the former editor of PCWorld have my back on this.)
    Last edited by billybreen; 08-21-2007 at 11:48 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Gee, DevilAlumna, for whom do you work in Seattle? Or is it Redmond?

    I think if Microsoft didn't have such an unsavory history of anti-competitive behavior, no small amount of which was settled out of court, there would not be so many articles that fail to give Microsoft 100% praise. When a firm acts like a bully, people get left with a bad impression, and all the charitable things they do are seen cynically as window dressing, diversionary tactics, etc.

    cspan "never had a hotmail account" in Tennessee.

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