[kwlug-disc] Is MS humbling down?

unsolicited unsolicited at swiz.ca
Fri Aug 14 00:33:25 EDT 2009

john at netdirect.ca wrote, On 08/13/2009 10:42 PM:
> -----kwlug-disc-bounces at kwlug.org wrote: -----
>  >From: unsolicited <unsolicited at swiz.ca>
>  >But these small private companies are presumably not monopolies - so
>  >I think different forces apply. Mind you - think about Lotus (1-2-3), 
>  >and Word Perfect.
> You are right small private companies *are* under different forces. 
> Usually it's a single influential leader who got where he was by seeing 
> opportunity and taking risks. That was actually my point. Large public 
> companies need board intervention to make bold moves.
>  >I'm not convinced. IBM was a hardware maker - they developed OS' so 
>  >customers could actually use that hardware. MS is software only, for 
>  >all intents and purposes (which is at least partly why they have been
>  >diversifying, e.g. X-Box.) Given Lotus and Word Perfect, I have no 
>  >reason to believe MS will exist, in its current sw form, 20 years
>  >from now. They've emphasized online content and annual license fees. 
>  >They've been looking for a way out from the inevitable.
> Microsoft is constantly worried about loosing their edge. They see their 
> programming platform as the edge they have. They used it early on to 
> make their applications better than the competitors. It is the heart of 
> their business. Microsoft's profits are Windows and Office. That's what 
> they always make huge sums of money on. The server, gaming and other 
> side businesses tend to have lacklustre profits or incur losses.
> I think it was actually the IBM agreement putting MS-DOS on the XT that 
> gave MS its leg up.

It was. Without that, MS wouldn't be what it is today. And, of course, 
Bill promising vapourware, IBM's payments funding the development, and 
IBM putting up with the breaches of contract.

And, of course, that experience let Bill perfect the practice and 
repeat it. Multiple times. (-:

(Cash bonanza lead to cash bonanza to investment, buying talent and 

> gave MS its leg up. 123 and WP were already on other platforms. 123 got 
> it's start on Apple didn't it and I know WP worked on CP/M but I don't 
> know where it started.

I don't remember for sure. I believe you are right. Mmmm. Maybe not. I 
was going to say I remember 123 being used on an Apple II(c? e?), but 
it might have been Visicalc. I remember using CP/M, but I don't recall 
seeing WP, with any certainty, on anything other than DOS.

>  >I don't see either taking over the desktop. I also don't see MS
>  >losing the desktop. Linux having failed to take it over by now, I'm not 
>  >convinced at this point that it ever will. Even a Google Android 
>  >netbook (i.e. how much sw is enough sw, anyways? Leading to web 
>  >services, as John points out.) I don't see it scaling up to a 
>  >massively accepted desktop.
> The Grand Canyon was carved by a stream. The long steady unending 
> pressure of Apple, Linux and Open Office will endure. This pressure has 
> reduced profits on MS's bread-and-butter divisions. Netbook Linux and 
> embedded Linux are causing MS to reduce prices. And Future Shop just 
> recently recommended Open Office on Macbook instead of MS Office.


And don't forget that pc makers have been kicking up a storm about 
exclusive MS OEM restrictions. Can't offer Linux, etc.

(Apple didn't help itself either - shutting down hardware alternatives 
for their OS.)

I did mean Linux the defacto desktop standard, in my lifetime. Not 
eternity. (-:

> Imagine what would happen if one prominent software vendor moved to 
> Linux. Perhaps a game maker who is already used to working with 
> different platforms.

Fair enough, but my impression has been that Linux has / had such a 
plethora of mutually equivalent API's that companies like game makers 
can't come up with a 'single' code base to cover across a sufficiently 
large number of home machines to make the investment make money.

To points you've made in the past, imagine what would happen if all 
governments mandated FOSS, especially in schools. Students coming out 
of schools would think Kontact / Evolution / Open Office is the norm, 
not MS Office. In ~20 years ...

>  >Perhaps an example to look at for "Where goeth MS?" is Palm?
> Thanks for reminding me. Palm was the 400kg gorilla  of the handheld 
> market. They it bottom and still didn't change much. They should be 
> competing in the smart phone or netbook market.

They are in the smart phone market (Treo's), but real innovation has 
been stalled for too many years, and eventually the Blackberry, 
iPhone, and soon Android, have come along.

Part of Palm's problem was a realization by the buying public that 
carrying both a PDA and a cell made no sense, and stopped buying. 
Along came the others and not carrying both a PDA and a cell became 
viable. Had they been successful with a smartphone earlier, the 
landscape might look a little different today.

>  >They certainly have the examples of the GM execs to follow.
>  >
>  >I do wonder ... particularly for the execs - who was smarter, GM or 
>  >Ford? For is still viable, but GM execs got big bucks, and got the 
>  >government to bail them out.
> Good example of short-term thinking in business owners. I think more was 
> afoot there though. I still don't know why the simple almost cost-free 
> options like cup holders took so long to appear in North American cars.

To your point, insufficient market pressure. They could continue to 
make SUVs, not have to redesign and retool, and still make oodles of 
money. They did not have to change anything. This was true for decades 
before the bailout.

I do wonder, given this thread, whether MS and GM are more similar 
than I thought.

>  >If an earlier thread on service
>  >contracts 
> was correct, and big companies always get them, if government stopped
>  >getting MS service contracts (which presumably they get) - would that
>  >>instantly kill MS? So is continuing to get contracts the equivalent
>  >to a GM bailout?
> I think that would be a marketing problem. Most of MS revenue (like most 
> companies) comes from small business.  Loss of those contracts would 
> grow competitors and give credence to alternatives. Other business would 
> follow. It would be a slow death.
>  >If this were true, and MS Office a factor, Mac Office development 
>  >would have kept up. i.e. You seem to suggest an MS without Windows is
>  >viable, or comprehensible. vs. say 'breaking up the company.'
> If it happens naturally it will wither and die slowly and MS would 
> continue to fight for market share losing money along the way. The 
> break-up idea is the best for investors and the company in the long run. 
> Imagine a three company split: Windows, Applications, and Servers, let 
> XBox, hardware, search etc. fall someone in the mess or be shed. If an 
> exec was compensated on Office sales but not bound to keep it on 
> Windows. Mac Office would be better and eventually we'd see a Unix/Linux 
> version. And what would a Windows exec do if he couldn't count on Active 
> Directory support. Would we see standard LDAP authentication, NIS, etc?

Interesting. Very interesting.

> Those three divisions of software previously were intentionally 
> interwoven and I think they were also intentionally designed to prevent 
> better integration with other technologies (try using IMAP with Outlook) 
> or the constant struggle in having Windows authenticate with Netware.

But, given what you've said, why not make Netware authentication more 
seamless? If you're not going to seriously hurt a marginal server 
market and you can keep your desktop users longer.

It does seem that what you said is true - unless the board mandated 
better inter-operation, slow death.

Interesting message. Thank you.

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