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Microsoft's road ahead

Kinda interesting article:
http://www.aaxnet.com/editor/edit029.html

Passater
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Don't post that here! 

You'll offend Joel's M$ sensibilities. :)

DH
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

I just want to pick on one part of this article.  He says that "Current Windows based software will not be compatible with the Longhorn filesystem. Microsoft has already stated that all their own software has to be rewritten for it - so will everyone else's."

What seems so strange about this comment is that one thing that MS has *always* done is ensure backwards capability. You can still run the original VisiCalc released in 1981 (see http://www.bricklin.com/history/vcexecutable.htm ). Joel talks about the hoops that MS went through in releasing Windows 95 to ensure backwards compatibility ( see http://www.joelonsoftware.com/printerFriendly/articles/fog0000000054.html and do a search for SimCity ).

So now this guy is saying that MS no longer cares about backwards compatibility, to the point that they will throw it all away for a new filesystem?  Just doesn't sound right.  There are a couple of options, as I see it:

1. MS thinks that their monopoly position is so strong that they can now bully people into upgrading regardless.

2. The filesystem upgrade is *so* important that it is worth it.

3. This guy (or his sources) is talking out his ass.

My money is on 3.

billm
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

I definitely vote for number 3, and really the article indicates that the guy has no industry experience, or he's intentionally acting naive. Microsoft, like many organizations, has a long history of talking revolutionary, and then acting evolutionary: Product after product has been introduced as an amazing new paradigm, and then, after filtering to the market, is really just shining the existing products. Is Microsoft making a database file system? I have no doubt they are (though filesystems are by their nature already databases, just currently with really poor indexes), but the likelihood that they'll forcefeed it as a mandatory item, breaking existing compatibility is a big fat 0% probability (I'm not saying 0.1%...ZERO percent).

Jimmy Chonga
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Some of this was interesting, but it mostly read like a conspiracy theory. I don't like some of what Microsoft does and I've been known to rant about them. But in the end, they make a lot of solid products that I don't want to be without.

Microsoft is a lot of things but they are not stupid. Sure they make mistakes. But then every company does. The difference is that good companies work to quickly correct those mistakes. So yes, the subscription model might be something they want but if the market says forget it, they will change it in an instant.

Marc
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

I'm going to take a wild guess that the new file system will be in place and to run on the "bare metal" of this a rewrite will be required.

In addition a compatability mode will be in place where you work through a driver that emulates NTFS type filesystems and allows older apps to work but with a performance hit.

Robert Moir
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Well, here is one more article about Longhorn being incompatible with the existing windows:
http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=4163

Passater
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

The Inquirer isn't exactly a good source of information.  They have "inside info" about various products all the time that turns out completely untrue.

As for the original post, I have a hard time taking someone seriously when they clearly have such a bias.  I started to look through that site the other day, but I just couldn't take it.  It sounds like any second he will be claiming that Bill Gates shot Kennedy from the grassy knoll.

Some of his points may be valid, but I just can't get through the incredible vitrol and lack of objectivity

Mike McNertney
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Although that rant is long and anti-Microsoft, it has some valid points to think about.

One thing to think about: Longhorn has no reason to break backwards compatibility. But a Palladium system with DRM for content must. Otherwise you'll just use the content in an 'old school' mode and go around the rights management. With this system, they can even force you to upgrade (maybe on your nickel) to access existing data should they decide that the software you're using has a hole which can get around the DRM.

(Yes, you could have a sandbox emulation mode, but again it must not be able to access data 'protected' with DRM.)

Basically this breaks the whole 'open protocol' style of computing and competition, where multiple software systems can communicate and work on the same data with a shared data protocol/format.

mb
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

It's definitely #2, not #3. First of all, Microsoft isn't denying that they will break backwards compatibility - its line is that it will be worth it for everyone involved.

Look, its major moneymakers are stagnant, right? Three or four years ago, everyone who was going to buy a copy of Office bought a copy of Office. It's over. The trophy has been handed out - Office is *the* productivity suite. No one is upgrading anymore, because it's not worth it - Office achieved perfection in 2000, although most people still run 97 and deal with it.

It's all or nothing for Microsoft - if people don't buy into this new system, it will steadily lose influence. The company that wins the middleware battle will see its stock skyrocket, and all the wannabe third party companies will choose it as the company to kiss up to for the next decade or so. If that company is not Microsoft, then what else does it have? All it has left is to annoy people with its demands that we upgrade because we HAVE to have the prettier blue XP menus or we WON'T be able to e-enable ANYTHING (or something). You can't be Software King for the next decade when your battle cry is pretty blue menus. You have to lead something big.

.NET may or may not work out. Yes, from a programmer's perspective, it rocks Java's world. I think it's the best platform ever. But that doesn't mean entire development/management teams will pick it up. As cool as it is, it might not win. If that happens, Windows and Office better be there to pick up the slack and offer Microsoft some kind of influence in Software Land. The strategy as outlined by the article writer is dead on, and frankly, it's the only real choice Microsoft has unless it really does want to "bet the company" on .NET (come on, it's Bill Gates - the man is smart enough to have a backup plan. He's at least smart enough to not let all this desktop power just evaporate).

Microsoft is not just trying to screw the customer - the plan for a database-oriented file system, if completed as they have outlined it, will offer new features that will enhance user's lives. They are putting a lot into this technology - it is not just another NT.

Now, will it enhance your life enough to make it worth such a fantastic upgrade? I doubt it, but that's just me. If they sell it at a huge discount to get a high conversion rate and then go to a subscription scheme for the next version... then it might work. *That* would be evil genius. I'd have to tip my cap to them if they pulled that off. Either way, they better pull it off and increase platform dependence or no one will cater to them anymore. They'll pull Windows/Office XP from the shelves in a few years, and it will be "Microsoft only" or "no Microsoft at all", where "Microsoft only" now means that your friends and business partners are also "Microsoft only". Hmm.

Part of me dreads failure on Microsoft's part, because the alternative office suites are... tolerable... but man, Lotus Notes and Star Office just suck compared to Office. Of course, I still want to be able to download MP3s for free, and my personal career would benefit if they lost the middleware battle, so...

Oh, Microsoft, you make everything such a soap opera.

Dan J
Thursday, March 06, 2003

Yea, right. We are going to throw out 20 years of our files and software.

Magically, the industry will now adopt some new system that is not compatible with exiting software?

Yea...right? How dim can some people’s mind be?

It is amazing how people seem to miss the fact that customers decide to buy, or not buy a product.

Microsoft has the best track record in the industry for backwards compatibility. Apple computer on several occasions has forced en-mass the throwing out of software. That move has hurt apple every time.

With MS, you can still run GW-basic code from 20 years ago. If you want to use ms-access 1.0 that is 10 years old, NOTHING is stopping you right now. You are NEVER forced to upgrade anything.

Despite that win xp is based on a complete different core then the old dos systems, most stuff still works.

Moving the general computing platform to win XP was a very good move on MS’s part.

There is no doubt that MS may not include some DOS compatability in longhorn.

However:
    The idea that Ms is going to come out with a OS that does not support the current file system?

It is UN-imagined that I would not be able to move my exiting software and files to that new system. If you can’t do that, then why am I even bothering to write this message!!

So Laughable this kind of stuff is. To absorb both a new os, and a incompatable file system at the same time is certanly the April fools joke of the day.

The worst case would be that we run win XP inside a comptatbility "box" like we have for ms-dos now.

People actually think that if MS says to drink pepsi that I will stop drinking coca-cola.

What a warped view of the world….


Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Thursday, March 06, 2003

Do a Google Groups search on the author, "Andrew Grygus". Suffice it to say, his anti-Microsoft sentiment wasn't exactly a latter-day awakening.

Phillip Bailey
Thursday, March 06, 2003

Albert,

Let's say that I, as a Microsoft head honcho, decide to piss you off by ending backwards compatibility. You don't buy my product, and it turns out you hold the majority's opinion, and we lose tons of money. Our new platform is worth nothing.

Now, let's see what happens when I follow your plan: I reassure everyone that there will be backwards compatibility. You can still run Access 1.0 or whatever, and Office 2000 and such. There's no forced upgrade, and I can use my old software, which doesn't depend on any new Microsoft platform/framework. Everyone is happy, because Office hasn't really changed in forever and there is no unbearable pain running through the Office-using community that will be relieved by this new version. All new Microsoft platforms/frameworks continue their slow uptake.

Wait, how does the second one make money again?

It's called "risk" - you need it to survive. Bill knew that when he sold DOS to IBM before they actually had anything to sell them. Maybe *you* don't have the gall to try and convince people they need something they don't, but there are people out there who do. In other words:

  http://www.despair.com/goals.html 

Dan J
Thursday, March 06, 2003

Dan, I actually am in total agreement here.

There is not doubt that market forces are changing such that compatibility does not make such a cut and dry case like I made. Breaking some compatibility now actually might be a plus, and not a minus.

In previous years, there was so much to be gained by keeping compatibility. This issue most certainly may change.

This problem of getting people to purchase new software is certainly a big issue. There is not much need to upgrade.

However, Oracle, IBM and the whole computing industry has run this way for 40+ years.

The only folks that got real big bucking this pay for use model is MS (they did not make their fortunes on a lease type of payment system that IBM, or Oracle did). They are actually in a bit of a bind this way. I don’t have the answer here, but some type of payment system is the ONLY sustainable way a software company can function.

Their OEM pre installed windows is a very good deal right now, and will continue to gen good revenues. However, the existing base of software is very good, and we are used to purchasing it, and then using it. That is not how IBM, or Oracle works.

MS really does have to figure out a way to change their business model.

They should have done this with word97. I would gladly pay $30 per year for use of word. So would most people. Now that I got it…why pay per year?

If they had trained me to pay that $30 per year, then we would not even think about it.  $30 per year to write letters is nothing to me. You just purcahse a thing that activates word for antoher year.

Now that I got word? Why will I want to pay?

MS blew this one in back in the office97 days!

Today, it is a bit late to change this…

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Thursday, March 06, 2003

As far as I think
I am no great fan of MS, but AFAIK,  M$ is *not trying* to maintain backward compatibility.
It is not that it is breaking backward compatibility and forcing people to shell out more money. Their this move is going to cause a lot of problems to them too.

M$'s this move seems to come by looking at the successful :-) transition made by Apple from its classic OS to the newer OS X. ( Apple too didn't maintain backward compatibility and is running the previous OS as a app in the main.) Now M$ acquisition of Connectix, Virtual PC seems to be a similar move, run the applications from the OLDER version in a emulator rather than to provide a OS support. This will give time for newer products to come to the market and people can have a taste of the newer OS without having to lose the older applications.

So get ready for a new OS.

Kedar Borhade
Thursday, March 06, 2003

The article as a whole appears common-sensical, although it is basically only rehashing comments from the manstream press. I also feel it has the future of Longhorn exacltly described.

----"The biggest risk to Microsoft is that the Longhorn effort falls apart, as did its "universal filesystem" predecessor, Cairo (W22), still an embarassment to Microsoft. Cairo became later and later, was then "repositioned" as a "suite of technologies", and swept under the carpet. Failure of Longhorn would be more serious, because that would severely impact Microsoft's upgrade revenue stream."----

The reason Windows has a near monopoly on th e desktop market  is "the application lock on entry". You don't mind changing your operating system but when you find you will have to change all your apps you start thinking twice, and then find that the apps to change to aren't there because nobody's prepared to write apps for an OS without users and there aren't any users because there aren't any apps.

If Longhorn is incompatible with all previous software then MS has thrown all of this away. Even if they get all of their major apps rewritten people will be offered the choice of paying from $300 to $1,000 dollars for a software system incompatible with all thier old stuff, or paying nothing for a Linux distro that is just as easy to install and has a load more applications than the new MS setup.

The comparison with the Apple change is misleadiing. Apple users have a fanatical devotion to their brand only equalled in some religious cults. If Steve Jobs went off to Guyana and built Jobstown with a huge 200 feet high microwave oven designed like an emac in the town square and told his "customers" that the latest Apple experience consisted of them all climbing inside and having thier insiides fried they clamber over each other to do it.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, March 06, 2003

In a way its that Microsoft is subject to the same pain of monopoly as everyone else is.  The weight of compatibility, of maintaining previous versions when there is no viable competitor has reduced innovation to a stumble.

Now you can say Longhorn will have a file system which is incompatible, but then so was NTFS with FAT.  To remain POSIX compliant the same structure of file handling will have to remain the same even if the permission structure is different.

Will this matter to users?  Well there's a tremendous lag in software versions in use.  Recently Microsoft has begun to try and fix this by declaring that all products die on their fifth birthday.  This means that Windows 2000 should expire next year sometime (I really doubt that).

My wife's current place of work is a national non-governmental organisation,  both machines she uses during the day are Windows 95.  Their current upgrade plan is to introduce Windows 2000 on the PCs along with Office XP.  Its unlikely they'll even begin to implement that before the Summer.

As has been said innumerable times, software doesn't rust.
We participate in the voluntary obsolescence of products because the thrust of the marketing and almost the whole point of the software package industry is to have the newest shiny thing.

Microsoft has managed in the past not to develop too far ahead of its user base so it can drag it along and keep them locked in. 

Trying to change their whole model from providing software to a desktop to enabling distributed services with .NET and enforcing security and licencing on an individual user may be a step too far ahead of the requirements of their user base.

But there's an important fact to remember, there are no new users out there to capture that make sense.  There is no New World for the Old Software Empires to colonise.  Of the areas that are popularly pointed at as the 'New Market' ,you could say, China, Asia, the Third World.

China has greater and greater numbers of software developers internally, they have a written language which will always be a barrier to non-literates.  The Chinese government understands how do Distribute resources rather than market by Choice and will only ever allow their own monopoly.

Asia is not a single place, just as Erp is not a single place.  But where the economy allows software saturates most if not all of the countries in Asia.

The Third World simply doesn't have the resources.

So you have a classic churning market, selling to the same people new stuff which does almost exactly the same as the old stuff.

It would be better if Microsoft embraced competition (or coopetition as Ray Noorda coined it), for its own sake and everyone elses.  Whilst Monkey Boy is there though, I seriously doubt that.

So, will Longhorn replace NT and its children?  Probably, over the ten to twelve years after its released.  Which will put me somewhere approaching my Seventies.

Will Palladium replace all the desktop operating systems or sufficiently large numbers of them to enforce DRM?  Highly unlikely.  If it did it would mean that the US had decided to become totalitarian which even in the current climate seems unlikely.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, March 06, 2003

------" If they had trained me to pay that $30 per year, then we would not even think about it.  $30 per year to write letters is nothing to me. You just purcahse a thing that activates word for antoher year."------

Sorry Albert but you are quite wrong on this one. You don't need Word to write a letter or even to do a book with diagrams, graphics and tables. There is plenty of free stuff out there (either Open Office or cover CD free versions of Lotus Smart Suite 97 or higher or others) and you can get a full OEM office suite from Corel or Lotus for not much more than that $30 one year subscription for Word.

If you are prepared to keep on paying each year for MS Office stuff it's because you are using many of their advanced features in a semi-professional environment, and you are probably the kind of person who will buy the upgrade when it has a feature you need. I bought Office XP for my laptop ($100 academic license) because you can import XML file into Access with it - no other reason. The average home user buys Office because he thinks he needs it, but after a year he will realize that he doesn't. Get all the money out of him before he wisens up.

IBM and Oracle lease enterprise level software to companies that need continous support; if they pay upfron they don't get it. MS took a different model, because it was selling primarily to the individual; you don't offer somebody continous support for a $30 a year lease unless you want to go broke quick.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, March 06, 2003

Let me reiterate, and I would put money on this, that there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Microsoft will have full compatibility with all existing applications that are not explicitly "system software" (i.e. Office, SQL Server, Mozilla, etc.). What will break, though, is system utilities like Norton and the like: Of course they'll break. They break with pretty much every OS revision.

Even if they use a database base file system, what's the big deal? As I mentioned in another post, the file system ALREADY is a database, just a really poor one. I would say with absolute certainty that it will have an NTFS front end that will appear just as it does today: Perhaps it'll have intrinsic indexing services that will automatically index data saved, but that's just gravy.

Jimmy Chonga
Thursday, March 06, 2003

I really find it difficult to accept that Microsoft could be so stupid as to not maintain backward compatability with existing Windows software in the Longhorn OS. It is the existing installed base of applications that has safeguarded Microsoft's near monopoly in the desktop OS market. Why don't many companies adopt Linux for their desktops? Because they have a huge investment in Windows software. What happens if they are forced into upgrading all that software by Microsoft? Many might start considering Linux, because it, paradoxically, would now be the more conservative choice, the one guaranteeing backward compatibility.

This could offer another opportunity for Linux on the desktop. There have been ongoing efforts to produce a Windows emulator for Linux, such as Wine. These have never been terribly sucessful. One reason has been the difficulty of keeping up with Microsoft's continued changes to Windows. What happens if Microsoft abandons the existing Windows OS in favor of a new one? Then achieving full emulation of Windows becomes much easier in Linux because it is no longer a moving target. In this case, moving to Linux becomes the safe choice for people with a large base of installed Windows applications but who need to upgrade their operating systems. 

In other words, by not maintaining backward compatibility, Microsoft could end up repeating IBM's mistake with the PS/2. IBM tried to force a new PC architecture on the industry, but the industry balked, preferring to stick with the existing architecture. The result was that IBM lost its influence over PCs. Likewise, if Microsoft tries to force everyone onto a new, incompatible, operating system, and some other OS, like Linux, offers Windows compatability, we could see a migration away from Microsoft OSes, ironically in favor of the de facto standard of Windows.

Greg Shoom
Thursday, March 06, 2003

>>>You don't need Word to write a letter or even to do a book with diagrams, graphics and tables. There is plenty of free stuff out there

Ok then make it $15. My point here that they should have been charging a very nominal fee that I really don’t care about. A very nice low cost yearly fee would have been the way to go here.

I am easily willing to pay $25 a month to send and receive faxes. (I do pay for a fax machine and a fax line right now), so $15 per year for word is a bargin.

My whole point here is that the software industry generally does function on a renewable model (well, *except* ms). Oracle, and IBM have run on lease and pay per use. It is the only sensible approach.

Now:
>>>you are prepared to keep on paying each year for MS Office stuff it's because you are using many of their advanced features in a semi-professional environment, and you are probably the kind of person who will buy the upgrade when it has a feature you need. I

No, not at all. Students at a University campus these days are very cheap when it comes to software. Why are they not all using Star Office right now? Star Office is free? It has little to do with the advanced features. Fact is, why am I not using star Office now? This whole issue of star office being free has existed for some time now. This is not a new issue!! What about the super cheap Word Perfect bundles?

The only reason why I will switch to star office is if word DOES BECOME too expensive to upgrade to. And, that is exactly the problem that MS has right now!!. They should have hooked me on a cheap subscription years ago. In the long run, they would make more money. As mentioned, the solution is a VERY LOW cost per year fee. (the previous failures of subscriptions from MS has failed due to the higher cost!!!…they are going about this whole thing in the wrong way!!).

It has NOTHING to do with the fact word has a bunch of advanced features I don’t use. The average student on a camps does not use advanced features of word (say, as compared to a business that is doing mail merging from a SQL database to send out over due bill notices).  We use word because not only because is it good (and it is a premium product), but also the time invested in using the produced is re-useable and is used everywhere. For sure the fact that those high end and advanced features exists also makes us want to use the product. Down the road, I just might need those features. So, one really should go with the best all around product if it is AFFORDABLE.

So, star office is free, yet why do all students use Word? I had at 3 pc’s I purchased that came with Microsoft Works that included a word processor with a nice spell checker. In those cases, ms-word was also included in the software bundle. I always installed word. (yet, there was ZERO DIFFERENCE in cost between which word processor I choose). There was also ZERO DIFFERENCE in the features that I use between the Works word processor then ms-word.

However, I certainly do know that ms-word has more advanced features….so I might as well use a product that about the best for the money. (and FOR THE MONEY is the key issue here). I also want to use a product because everyone else sends me docs in word format.

I use word because it is popular and is a very good product. I know when I go to my friend house, or to a business, they likely also will use word, and thus I will not need training or fooling around for 5 extra minutes to start writing a stupid letter.

Software has its value in the fact that people use it. There is tons of $5000 products sitting in the clearance bin at the local computer shop for $40. No one in their right mind will purchase that used software. The reason is obvious that people don’t purchase that old used software:

  There is no future in using the software!!!

I am willing to pay $15 per year to use Word so that I do in fact get upgrades. I will thus in fact get new features. And further, when a bug fix is required, I will get that also. I want people working on and supporting that product.

How can anyone think that purchasing a word processor for $150, and to have the company go bankrupt after they sold to the existing market make sense? After the all the customers have purchased the product, the company closes down and goes home? What kind of sustainable business model is that? It makes NO sense at all.

Companies are not willing to invest in a product that will not be around in 5 years from now.

The solution is not to trick me into trying to purchase the next version office. What a disastrous policy to bet the future of a company on fact that you * H O P E * I will upgrade to the next version . This is a policy of nonsense.

I don’t want to worry if the company is going bankrupt next month. I want a good qualify word processor from a stable company that has a business model that is sustainable over time. End of worries. 

I want to train my employees to use that word processor, and know that they can use it for the next 5 years, or next 10 years. I get that with IBM, I get that with Oracle..Why can’t ms figure this out?

>>you don't offer somebody continous support for a $30 a year lease unless you want to go broke quick

Actually, you do. If ms had been charging for every single copy of word on my cheap $15 per year thing, do you think they would be better off now? With out a doubt, right now the biggest competitor for office xp, is office 2000, and office 97 (what 50% or more of the HUGE market is those two previous prdoucts).  Software as mentioned does not rust. They don’t really need that many people to code and maintain the software once it is written. (IBM really stretches those dollars since much of their SAP software has been sold over and over..they still suck water that dry rock!).

MS could easily make tons of money on a $15 per year word subscription. In fact, I bet they would make more on that, then what office XP will now bring them in a year. And , the real kicker is that NEXT YEAR, they would assured of at least the same revenues, if not a slight increase. Right now, sales of some products like office will/are no doubt starting to drop.

The installed user base of office97 is so huge right now. In addition, office 97 is so good, that I  really don’t need office xp.

They would EASILY BE MAKING MORE money right now on a cheap subscription basis.

They also could still charge for premium phone support. It is silly to hope that these users will some how magically decide to upgrade to office xp.

I mean, if I had been on that cheap subscription plan, I would be using office xp right now! For $25 per year, to get the new version of office?…ya..you bet I would. You would have to be silly not too!! Great, all new software for only $25 per year? ($25 would include Excel etc..perhaps $15 just for word).

Right now, will I upgrade?? Hum, no, I will not, and that means they get no money from me this year!

As I said before…this is hindsight on my part..but it WAS the way MS should have modeled their company. With the huge installed software base, and assured revenues, all they would care about is writing good software. They would have LITTLE to worry about loosing customers to other products.

In either business model, if they mess up the product, then customers will leave, but at least with my model, if you keep then using the product, then they will keep paying you money.

Right now, you can keep me using word 97 for the next 10 years, but that does not help MS one bit.

With such a large user base, and a low cost subscription, they would be so successful, that I am sure they would be back in court again!

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Thursday, March 06, 2003

Students use word because it costs them $100 for the Professional version; if they buy it bundled, and plenty of computers have Word or Office bundled, then the cost is about the same except the software is tied to the machine.

Offer the student Office on a $30 a year subscription and the next year he will decide to use something else or will have got savvy enough to be using a pirate copy. Tell the guy he gets support for his $30 a year and you can guarantee you'll be paying out double or triple the subscription price in support costs. Word is the single most common cause of computer rage.

Lotus Smart Suite is quite common in the UK because the mail order manufacturers, who have over 50% of the non-corporate market often bundle it because it costs them less than Works Suite. In the US that level of manufacturers doesn't exist, so you will probably see more Microsoft tie in.

Oracle and IBM are not typical of the shrinkwrap market. MS started off dealing with Personal Computers, and the economics are entirely different. I have loads of books and CD's; I couldn't care less if the publisher or music company went bankrupt.

And MS is not going to go bankrupt even if it never makes another piece of software. Lays off all its staff and lives of the licensing for Windows on new computers. The hardware will eventually go and if the price is cheap enough people will buy a new OS preinstalled to avoid the hassle of reinstalling the old one.

Back in the 50's and 60's in the UK people used to rent TV's instead of buying them (my father rented his for so long that they wrote him a letter saying his rent had been reduced to zero, but they weren't going to service it; we got a colour TV a couple of years later but it was ten years before we could persuade my father that he could throw the old one away because nobidy was going to ask for it back!). The system allows you to forget about maintenance and upgrade to the latest any time you want to. Yet as soon as the price of TV's dropped significantly in real terms people abandoned the idea in droves and insisted on buying. Now the only people who rent TV's are those with a lousy credit rating and students or temporary residents who don't want to be carting it around with them.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, March 06, 2003


First off, students use Office because most universities have a laptop program now, and Windows/Office are pre-installed. This means they will only switch if using Microsoft products is against their religion. And for those who must get their own software? They're certainly not paying for it - they're downloading the pirated professional versions of XP off their campus network. Students aren't paying a dime for software. You don't have to be savvy to use a campus search engine.

Now, I think the most important point of the article, which has been overlooked here, is that of the way business people think. I believe he wrote something to the effect of "business people like to think about golf", and Microsoft caters to that. "Just sign the check, and all the problems will go away". Relief of pain and confusion. Just sign the check, and we'll make all the decisions for you. Simple as pie. Excellent sales technique. Microsoft does it well, and they will continue to do so as they pitch such ideas to IT managers (many of whom were never IT developers).

Microsoft == More Golf

It really doesn't matter if it's true or not. It's marketing. Once you've hooked a few big companies, the little ones will follow. Big companies will give in to the More Golf ideal, and little companies... well, if you're an IT consultant and all your clients use Excel for budget documents, etc., they're going to want you to use Excel - are you going to refuse just because you don't want to pay for the new upgrade? No, you're going to upgrade. Fast.

Now, will Joe SixPack ever upgrade? Maybe not, but is that a big deal? Microsoft currently makes more money in site licenses for corporations than it does with home users (who pirate everything from their friends and the Internet). Unless my insurance company, bank, car manufacturer, favorite soda vendor, etc., ever feel the need to start sending me Office documents, the fact that Corporate America is on the new system and I'm stuck on XP really doesn't matter.

This doesn't mean that the home computing arena isn't important, but I don't think it's as simple as whether people will like the new Windows or not. Microsoft is investing a lot in the whole home entertainment/Xbox project, and all of that needs to be considered when you try to figure out what the Average Joe will be going for in ten years. And that's a whole other thread.

So, the $64K question is: Do Sun and Red Hat have a More Golf Enterprise Services Plan? Hmmm...

Dan J
Thursday, March 06, 2003

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