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Impugnment of Character

© June 2006 Anthony Lawrence

My goodness, Robert X. Cringely isn't pulling any punches, is he?

Taking One for the Team at pbs.org

The other attribute that Microsoft has historically lacked is ethics, which also comes directly from the cult of Bill, with its infinite shades of gray. Microsoft has to this point generally thrived by stealing technology from other companies. But now it is at the point where there isn't that much left to steal, so Microsoft is faced with operating in a whole new manner -- actually inventing stuff. This requires discipline -- not just discipline to do the work, but discipline not to backslide and steal a little of this and that when the going gets rough.

In short, for Microsoft to have the barest hope of preserving its monopoly, it has to build a whole new monopoly based on honest, original work devoid of politics, backstabbing, and lies. This means not only does Gates have to go, but for all practical purposes CEO Steve Ballmer should go, too, because he's as responsible as Gates for this mess.

Actually, I see an alternate reality. I think all the cute little Microsoft shenanigans that we've admired over the years are about to return at hurricane strength. In this scenario, Bill is stepping aside so that his recently acquired halo (courtesy of the spousal inspired Gates foundation) won't be spattered with brown flecks as Microsoft returns to its street fighting roots.

Cringely is correct that it can't be fun being Mr. Microsoft right now. Spending five years and $5 billion dollars in pursuit of the Holy Grail (shipping Vista) has to be the kind of thing that makes Bill grind his teeth at night. But really, is "honest, original work devoid of politics, backstabbing, and lies" going to turn that sow's ears into a pretty purse? I don't think so: the history of software has overwhelmingly shown that large team efforts almost always produce crapola. There are exceptions, of course, but generally small, lean and mean is the way to success in software.

Gates may also have seen the ghost of Christmas future showing him a quickly hacked and universally disdained Vista as the laughing stock of the industry. The more he can disassociate himself from that embarrassment, the better. Chief Software Architect of Vista may come to be a title no one wants to claim.

It's long been good advice to leave on a high note. In other words, step aside while the rose petals are still fluttering downward and the adoring crowds are still applauding. Surely Bill can't think that this is that moment in time, can he? Earth to Bill: the petals have been ground into the dirt and the crowd is muttering under its breath - this is NOT your shining moment of triumph.

Well, we'll see if Cringely is right that Bill will be moving his office soon. If Ballmer follows Bill out the door, then Cringely may have nailed it. If not, maybe I did.

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More Articles by © Anthony Lawrence

Mon Jun 26 13:42:00 2006: 2170   drag

Normally I am a pretty big pessimist. I don't see the cup as half empty.. I see the cup will probably be empty all the way eventually with a bit of scum at the bottom for whatever rotten remnets remained in it while it's waiting to be washed.

I always see the worst.. Somebody mentioned to me that they had a ear ache, I mention to them how I met this one guy that totally lost all balance due to a inner ear infection. My roomate's car breaks down with mechanical noises, I look at it and find that it's the timing belt and I made her cry with all the horrible things that could of happenned with those valves bouncing around out of sync with the pistons. I thought I was going realy gentle with her too..

It doesn't bother me much though. Since I always see how horrible things could go then almost any sort of result of any bad circumstance makes me happy. It could always get worse. Most of the time.

But I still think your being overly negative with Vista.

I know that it's going to suck. Once I saw how the UAC stuff worked with all those pop-ups then I know they made some VERY BAD decisions. Pop-up dialogs are almost completely worthless when it comes to security. People just ignore them after a while. It becomes instinctive to just click 'yes' or 'accept' immediately. It's been a lot of times that I'll click on something then immediately go 'oh crap thats exactly not what I wanted!'.

The only thing worse then having users depend on security dialog pop-ups is having LOTS of security dialog pop-ups.

So based entirely on that I can tell Microsoft doesn't realy have the whole security thing down yet. It's going to be a so-so release.

But other then that I think that it will be a positive improvement on Windows XP. I don't it replacing XP any time soon though and it will follow the trend of past Windows operating systems were it will take 2-3 years to overtake it's previous version in market share.

HOWEVER.. If Vista ends up being Windows Millinium Edition Redux (which didn't realy offer any good reasons to upgrade from 98 SE.. and people who did upgrade generally regretted it.) AND the playstation 3 competes well against Xbox 360 (over the following year after PS3 release) then that's going to be pretty much the beginning of the end of the dominance of Microsoft in people's home. Expect to see Microsoft's market prices dip well under 20 bucks a share. In another 3-5 years and you're going to see significant uptake of MacOS and Linux systems. Probably would end up being around 20% of desktops would be non-Windows once everything stablises.

Mon Jun 26 14:00:17 2006: 2171   TonyLawrence

I probably am overly negative toward Vista. P.T. Barnum said no one ever went broke under-estimating the intelligence of the American public, which probably means Microsoft will continue to be the dominate OS.

Mon Jun 26 14:39:58 2006: 2174   BigDumbDinosaur

In this scenario, Bill is stepping aside so that his recently acquired halo (courtesy of the spousal inspired Gates foundation) won't be spattered with brown flecks as Microsoft returns to its street fighting roots.

Brown flecks? I'm sure the color is correct but I question the size. Fleck seems too small.

On another note, I see where another robber baron has suddenly gotten guilt and is giving away a substantial part of his ill-gotten fortune -- most of it to the Gates foundation. The rotten fruit never falls far from the tree, eh?


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