Monday, May 19, 2008

Microsoft + Yahoo! - Desperately in Need of Fat Lady to Sing "It's Over!"

Oy, what we desperately need here is a Fat Lady to sing the end of the 2008 Microsoft-Yahoo! saga. She's obviously in hiding because over the weekend news came out of Microsoft looking to get a bit of Yahoo!. Or a merger. And the rumor of Microsoft looking to acquire Facebook has started again, all associated with obscene prices that make no sense, except in the obscene-cash-cow Microsoft world where billions of dollars come easily and are blown easily.

(Just a quick "page break" post given the new Yahoo! news)

Microsoft Issues Statement Regarding Yahoo! Microsoft announced that it is continuing to explore and pursue its alternatives to improve and expand its online services and advertising business. - the wordsmith genius response for "your passion inspires us to create great software to help you reach it" obviously put this one together.

Yahoo! Remains Open to Value Maximizing Transactions - your money inspires us to play hard-to-get to get more of it. Oh, craps, here comes Icahn!

Scobleizer — Tech geek blogger » Blog Archive Why Microsoft will buy Facebook and keep it closed - transitions into the scary possibility of Microsoft laying down a bunch more cash for an unworthy company. The only benefit (that I can see) of Microsoft acquiring Facebook is that Microsoft would fix a bunch of crap wrong with the way Facebook is run ("Users? Hate 'em."). Scoble on Facebook: "This is a scary company and if it gets in the hands of Microsoft will create a scary monopoly."

I guess this could be a heck of a week, and suddenly Microsoft doesn't look so evil to Yahoo! in comparison to Icahn. So freshen up that resume, pop some popcorn, and if you see that Fat Lady, please send her this way.


178 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

MSFT's fat lady is not going to sing for a very long time. This development is good news. Its exactly the break the company needs to win the right way.

Anonymous said...

I think this turn of events is bizzare. I have one question: Who is running Microsoft in this Yahoo deal?

Anonymous said...

Mini, why are you so opposed to this deal? Indeed, why are Microsofties in general so opposed. The only people I know at MS who aren't opposed to it are the ones actually working in the online advertising space (aka "the people who actually have a clue about this market").

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Microsoft is facing a far more optimal strategy now. First they can wait for Icahn to get a majority on the board. Next theycan cut a deal with Icahn for the parts of Yahoo they want. After that they can let Icahn find buyers for the rest of the assests. And finally they can profit.

This will make much more sense than buying yahoo completely, which is
overpriced and overstaffed for its revenue. Cause the only thing Microsoft needs is just the Yahoo brand so they can drive traffic to MSN.

Anonymous said...

>"Mini, why are you so opposed to this deal? Indeed, why are Microsofties in general so opposed."

I'm not mini, but the one MS Critic (note I did not say ABMer)who is consistently asked to leave this site for the land of Slashdot nonsense. When I get those suggestions, I know I am making sense.

Maybe it is true, only Nixon can go to China, and I, a devoted anti-MS management critical reviewer of all your stupid decisions over the years, have finally found a gem that I have been looking for. It rests in the Scobalizer link Mini provided. Pretty much a bunch of ifs.

If any of what Scoble is saying is true and if his comments about search results inside a closed myspace are true, and if you were to combine MySpace and Yahoo Search inside that closed (Business network and safe zone for kids anyone?) that blocks Google penetration and searches, and if the Yahoo search mechanism reached both inside the closed MySpace network as well as the rest of the web, well, slap my ass and call me Judy, Mini, Microsoft may have stumbled onto something that finally makes sense, for Microsoft it is better to have a monopoly and share it slowly than to not have one and spend decades trying to gain market share against such a monster.

Scoble is right. Such a combination would be a new Monopoly for Microsoft. And it would be dangerous. Balmer, Gates and all must be licking their chops to get their teeth into this one.

Anonymous said...


Scoble is right. Such a combination would be a new Monopoly for Microsoft. And it would be dangerous. Balmer, Gates and all must be licking their chops to get their teeth into this one.


A few comments down Scoble's original post point out that a similar thing happened in the early 90's. If you substitute FaceBook vs AOL you get a similar situation (AOL may have been the first "walled garden" on the internet).

We all know what happened to AOL and the concept of "walled garden" in the 90's. For this reason I hope that MSFT does not buy FaceBook.

Anonymous said...

15 billion for facebook?? madness, madness I say!

Anonymous said...

Throwing money at Yahoo and Facebook is no substitute for a winning strategy.

How difficult is it build and market a relevant search engine? I wouldn't pay 1B for Facebook.

If KJ and Balmer don't have a clue, it's time to move on fellows!

John Eddy said...

"Scoble on Facebook: "This is a scary company and if it gets in the hands of Microsoft will create a scary monopoly.""

Uhhh... Perhap's Scooby needs a lesson in what a monopoly is, because, near as I can tell (http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2008/04/worldwide-social-network-market-share.html), Facebook isn't the top of the heap...

Anonymous said...

How difficult is it build and market a relevant search engine?

I think this needs to be my new personal motto.

I'm sure it's a weekend project for a super-genius like yourself, but for the rest of us poor trogs it's pretty fucking hard. :)

Anonymous said...

Is it $44 billions hard?

Anonymous said...

"Is it $44 billions hard?"

I don't know, why don't you ask all of the other people trying to be competitive in the search market?

That is to say, all of the other people who have tried and failed.

The answer may not be $44B, but the answer also isn't simply "there's an easier way". This is a really, really, really hard problem and I don't think I've seen anyone anywhere in the world come-up with a plan to beat Google's stranglehold. $44B Yahoo! is at least a novel idea, because so far there haven't been any engineers who have been able to figure out how to do it from scratch.

Joseph Hunkins said...

Great to see YOU singing again, MiniMicrosoft!

The Fat Lady's Name is ... Carl Icahn:
http://www.webguild.org/2008/05/can-icahn-yahoo.php

Anonymous said...

to the poster who asked why are people opposing this deal..

may be the only people who are posting here and opposing the deal are the ones that will lose (personally) from the deal. people whose cushy jobs may be on the line (same businesses as YHOO and not having any mkt share / profits for years even when billions are poured in their business)... bad news folks, you had limelight, chances and exec support for so long... you did not deliver.. vacate the place and let the execs try inorganic growth..

betting on a losing horse can continue for so long.. the cup of patience runneth over.. stop being a millstone on MSFT neck..

any sane person (and disinterested party) will fully support the deal.. MSFT need scale and YHOO will lose all it has, to GOOG pretty soon if it doesnt tie up with MSFT. the only shot these two companies got is get together and fight the online battle..

mini, i am surprised that you are opposed to the deal.. will you support a group that has nothing to show but losses and hope that senior execs do not try other options while burning money.. or you think that MSFT can afford not being a major online player!!!

before people ridicule "need to be in online", check out mkt reports, new services based business models and shift in computing platform..

online is not just about ad revenues, if MSFT loses desktop, it pretty much loses its bread and butter (and great margins, which by the way is still higher than GOOG, a company with 1/4th the revenue)

the opposition to the merger seems just for the heck of it (rants) and has no alternate plans..

remember, "build the business inhouse" is a losing gamble and "dont worry about online" doesnt even deserve comments

Anonymous said...

> remember, "build the business inhouse" is a losing gamble

Agreed.

> and "dont worry about online" doesnt even deserve comments

Not so fast...

The problem is that your conclusion is "therefore MS must acquire Yahoo". But I could equally argue that MS + Yahoo is an almost certain disaster, and therefore that MS needs to forget about online.

The problem is that Microsoft doesn't seem to be able to manage the online world. Adding Yahoo to the mix just gives Microsoft more that it doesn't know how to manage.

So you have this dilemma:
- Microsoft has to be a big player in the online world,
- Microsoft can't get there by itself, and
- Microsoft can't (realistically) get there by grabbing Yahoo.

And now what do you do? The anonymous poster I'm quoting says that you go after Yahoo anyway, even though it's rolling the dice with the odds heavily against, because you have no choice. I don't buy it.

I say that you question the first element of the dilemma, that Microsoft "has" to be online. Why do they have to? The alternative "doesn't even deserve comments"? Really?

Let's see, there's this other computer outfit called IBM, somewhat bigger than Microsoft. The way they are "online" is by selling blade servers (admittedly, not a business that Microsoft seems to be interested in right now), and selling consulting services. They aren't trying to knock off Google. How are they doing? They're making money hand over fist.

And really, when you come right down to it, selling blade servers isn't that much more foreign to Microsoft's core business than online search is...

MSS

Anonymous said...

And really, when you come right down to it, selling blade servers isn't that much more foreign to Microsoft's core business than online search is...

...if you ignore the difference between hardware and software.

Anonymous said...

and btw what is the operating margin % of IBM, what is the revenue / employee and isnt IBM plans to lay off a third of their US workforce... with almost double revenue IBM has a much lower market cap that MSFT

beware of what you wish 'coz it might come true.. you see entitled people at MSFT.. check out IBM benefits..

people are opposing the deal without any valid alternatives..

if one believes that online is imp and going alone is not working out.. only option left is go with someone that can give scale..

which internet companies fit bill (just few in the world, YHOO, myspace, facebook, AOL, thats it)..

slice it anyway you like, this deal is the best option MSFT and YHOO have got

Anonymous said...

...if you ignore the difference between hardware and software.

But isn't part of google's secret to success is that they have hardware support for their searches? I mean they have a lot of other things going for them, but I thought part of their fast and accurate search relevance came from having warehouses of dedicated, purpose-built boxes cataloging the web. I don't know what Microsoft's secret weapon is, but I'd really be surprised if it included custom computing hardware that ran anything besides Windows.

Anonymous said...

>Uhhh... Perhap's Scooby needs a lesson in what a monopoly is, . . .

So there you are. A model that works like Microsoft thinks but that will not arouse the wrath of government, because it acts and looks like a monopoly but it isn't. You have a locked in network (the AOL comparison is valid--they were very successful for many years before a bandwidth paradigm shift hit them and they failed to adjust). But you also have the Yahoo search mechanism that works in both the closed and open networks. Best of both worlds. I think Balmer has stumbled onto something here but you are also right that the cost is way out of proportion to the properties being purchased.

Anonymous said...

My question is why are we spending our money (speaking as a softie and a stock holder)... why are we spending the money on Facebook, when it would be better spent on a purchase of NetFlix.. Doesn't Netflix fit into our Entertainment and Mobile division as a scalable way to tie in streaming video services to our Zune and Xbox Live subscribers as well as a way to sweeten the deal with the IPTV folks?

Hey Steve, I hope this is on your mind...

Anonymous said...

If MS buys Facebook, I can see facebook pages looking like MSN page, stuffed with crap advertisements among which some good info might appear. MS has really good "talent" for this.
Then, Facebook users will run for cover and the Facebook baloon will deflate very fast.

Anonymous said...

I like the Monkey Boy's Mood Index - he is frustrated these days

http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/microsoft/archives/138130.asp

Anonymous said...

>build and market a relevant search engine

Lots of people believe MSFT's search engine is better in many ways than those from its competitors. So the problem seems to be more in marketing it properly and getting a larger piece of the ad cake rather than in the search technology.

>Fat lady to sing

I hope you didn't mean Lisa would sing :-)

Anonymous said...

Lots of people believe MSFT's search engine is better in many ways than those from its competitors.

give me a break, is it "believe, therefore it is"?

I just went to live search actually and I see they've changed their UI. Don't want to look like Google anymore?

Anonymous said...

I think I could love the this deal: Split Y! into "Y! Core" and "Y! Other," e.g. Alibaba, Y! Japan, GMarket, cash. M$FT doesn't really want Alibaba or GMarket in this deal. So, spin out Y! Other to shareholders, saving M$FT some dough (est. $12-13/shr) by not having them buy stuff they don't necessarily want (guessing here) and pay a little more for Y! Core, say around $25-27/shr. Now everyone's happy/looks like a hero?

I guess the Y! Other stuff is a bit illiquid for US shareholders, with the exception of GMKT? Liddell and the bankers (or Carl or some hedgies) can structure something.

- agent mulder lives

Anonymous said...

When is this ever going to get over,

On the same note, came across some interesting cartoons on this episode
http://ameteurtooner.blogspot.com/search/label/Microsoft%20-%20Yahoo

Anonymous said...

Microsoft needs to fix what's wrong with Microsoft before acquiring Yahoo! or Facebook or whatever else. Acquisitions won't fix the core issues.

Anonymous said...

It is a very strange situation here with Microsoft and Yahoo dancing around in this stupid ritual that is going on.

It should be quite obvious to anyone that Yahoo! is pretty broken today by pretty much any measure you care to look at. And there is no indication that it will get fixed on its own anytime soon.

It should be even more obvious, but isnt, that Microsoft's online business is even more broken than Yahoo is. If you dont believe that, imagine if you will that Microsoft online stuff was a seperate business by itself without the financial wherewithal of Microsoft. How long would it last? And who wold be buying whom?

A third-rate online business' parent is trying to marry it to a second-rate company! And to think that that will give rise to a first rate business is ludicourous! The reason the Microsoft online business is third-rate because of its protective and rich parent company.

Maybe thr right thing to do would be to kick out the online business and protect and grow the other businesses that need to be grown.

Anonymous said...

what do you have against Yahoo? Are they really a bunch of incompetent people that will pull down MS to great depths?

For all that bashing about MS: they have managed been fighting on their own with so many companies for so many years.

C'mon Steve Ballmer deserves some credit.

Anonymous said...

> what do you have against Yahoo? Are they really a bunch of incompetent people that will pull down MS to great depths?

I believe that the fear is more that Microsoft will pull Yahoo down and, in the process, turning them into something that Microsoft would not want to buy.

MSS

Anonymous said...

>> And really, when you come right down to it, selling blade servers isn't that much more foreign to Microsoft's core business than online search is...

> ...if you ignore the difference between hardware and software.

You seem to be assuming that "software is software", that since Microsoft does Windows and Office, it can do search. I don't think that's accurate.

I think it's much more relevant to look at understanding the market. Microsoft Mouse is great, even though it's hardware. Microsoft understands the desktop, which is the environment where the mouse is used, and did well selling the mouse.

Similarly, Microsoft could probably do pretty well getting Dell or someone in Taiwan to make blade servers, and putting Windows server on them. Microsoft understands that market, from all the experience of selling Windows Server.

I don't think Microsoft really understands mobile phones, or MP3 players, or the online world. I don't think "hardware vs. software" has much to do with it.

MSS

Anonymous said...

The problem with the Y! deal is that the two companies are a horrible match and are both distant 2nds to the #1 player.

There is a ton of religion here (just look at the proud "ABMer" who posts here endlessly like a lunatic even though he admits he hates the company) and religion prevents good business deals.

The street (main st AND wall st) were MYSTIFIED at how bizarre the Y!/MSFT deal went because NORMAL people cant even begin to fathom the crazed ZEAL of technologists.

Y! and MSFT simply CANT combine in any meaningful way. It will be years and years and billions and billions of distraction, integration pain, bad attrition and failure and the story in the end will be "distant 2nd to Google"

That can all be accomplished for less money by just staying the course!

The right way forward is to STOP failing and come up with something clever and innovative. Thats the only goal worth pursuing here.

Either that or, as MSS continues to be push (not noticing his "lone voice" status), pretend that the world isnt moving towards a paradigm where a good chunk of computing is served from a cloud, and just have no online strategy at all.

And @MSS, IBM has a very strong online strategy. It is to pair with Google and be their exclusive hardware and services provider. Didnt you notice? IBM is a service provider (hardware is a no margins biz and is only a means to an end). Google is the darling of the OSS wave. IBM wants to be there to VACUUM up services dollars as the world shifts away from MSFT and to LAMP and other OSS solutions. They feel Google will usher in this wave. In addition, IBM has cloud computing plans of their own across multiple business segments.

Make no mistake... IBM has a very clear online strategy, you're just refusing to see it.

Given the religion involved (again, consider Mr ABMer who actually takes the time and energy to post on an MSFT insider blog even though he hates the company and its products), IBM+Google are natural bedfellows. Apple+IBM+Google is coming soon, most likely.

Marrying Google IS an online strategy. MSFT cant do that now can it? These competitors arent just BUSINESS competitors, they're an opposing religion.

Anonymous said...

> people are opposing the deal without any valid alternatives..

> if one believes that online is imp and going alone is not working out.. only option left is go with someone that can give scale..

I really hate this "only option", this "we have to" line of thinking. It's being driven by desperation rather than reason. It's how really bad decisions get made.

Is Microsoft in such desperate straights that it has to make a desperate gamble, at such expense, with such low odds of success? Really?

It's a much wiser choice to simply do nothing than to make a bad move.

This is like poor people who can't pay the rent buying lottery tickets. Yeah, it might solve their problem, but much more often it just leaves them poorer. The difference is that Yahoo is going to cost Microsoft a lot more than the price of a lottery ticket. It's not only going to cost billions, it's going to cost years of management attention to try to get it working with the rest of Microsoft, with high odds on failure.

Don't make decisions out of fear or desperation. They usually leave you worse off than you were.

MSS

Anonymous said...

>There is a ton of religion here (just look at the proud "ABMer" who posts here endlessly like a lunatic even though he admits he hates the company) and religion prevents good business deals.

Are you talkn' bout meeee?

I am both a Microsoft and Yahoo customer. I love my Yahoo, Yahoo mail, and all the great other Y! goodies like the financials, news, video playback (it is the most weightless one out there, Nasa TV for example. Very refined well written vid playback software that nothing else even can touch when it comes to low bandwidth playback.

As a Microsoft customer. I hate being one. It is out of necessity. Am trying to get to Linux, but will always have to have at least one CPU with xp on it to run my engineering tools.

The great and most dangerous and probable antitrust action would come if Microsoft tried to integrate Hotmail and Yahoo Mail. That would be a deal stopper right there for me and I would immediately move to GMail.

So just buy Y! search, apply it to Facebook and be done with it. Better for you, better for me and better for Yahoo! But knowing Microsoft, they would kill the brand, give it some dumbass name like MSN or hotmail and you would lose all your investment.

sigh.

Anonymous said...

@ MSS and others who think doing nothing is better than trying it out with YHOO

doing nothing will make MSFT a sitting duck. the desktop might be lost in some years to online. how long will it take other productivity apps (ad supported or services) to pop in. cloud computing will become prevalent with connectivity prices falling dramatically. computing goes to other platforms such as mobile or games console. where does it take the core businesses of MSFT??

this is a much bigger challenge than just being part of a movement. think preserving your cash cows. funny how people miss the real issue and talk about online / services as if it is some fad that will wear off. it is high time to act decisively.

Anonymous said...

Look, I get the whole thing about defending the cash cows. I understand. I'm not certain on whether online is going to be a serious threat starting next year, in five years, or never, but I understand the basic idea of using offense to play defense.

The problem is that doing something that won't work "because we have to do something" is stupid. It won't work. That's the issue, not whether you "have to do something".

If you have to do something, then you have to do something that works. This isn't it.

MSS

Anonymous said...

A Hungarian student threw some eggs at Balmer today lol
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S30WdoEHCH4

Anonymous said...

@MSS

so what will work? what is the
better alternative/s?

the discussion is not what can be hypothetically the absolute best. it is what MSFT and YHOO can realistically do now given the situation they are in.

Anonymous said...

> so what will work? what is the
better alternative/s?

I don't know. I freely admit that I don't have a better alternative.

> the discussion is not what can be hypothetically the absolute best. it is what MSFT and YHOO can realistically do now given the situation they are in.

That's the problem right there - that word "realistically". Realistically, I don't think Microsoft + Yahoo has any chance of being a positive move.

I'm not looking for perfection. I'm looking for something that has a realistic chance of helping. If this doesn't, then don't do it, no matter how much "we have to do something". Find something else to do - just don't do this.

MSS

Anonymous said...

>how long will it take other productivity apps (ad supported or services) to pop in. cloud computing will become prevalent with connectivity prices falling dramatically.

Well, if my experiences over the last two days of trying to download my XP SP 3 update (a whopping 316+ megabytes) is any indicator, you won't have to worry for some time about an cloud based apps.

What a *>$$%^FU Joke. 6 hours on my edge wireless network and 280 megabytes later, a server reset said it all. And where exactly where was the re-startable component that would save me from having to do it again?

You guys can't even make the local stuff on my computer work right, and you think you are going to succeed at the online stuff. Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

After several years working at Microsoft...I couldn't agree with you more, Mini. We are behind in the search and online markets because...well, because we ARE Microsoft. The issues all start at the top of the totem pole and trickle down. Bigum Chief Ballmer needs to go and maybe some of these dumb ideas will also go away and we can focus on our core business...whatever that is these days. (Maybe we could even figure that out)

Anonymous said...

Hope springs eternal. As an open source fan, I am overjoyed that Microsoft is planning to buy both Yahoo and Facebook. That will sink it for sure, and leave an open path for Linux et al.

Anonymous said...

Hope springs eternal. As an open source fan, I am overjoyed that Microsoft is planning to buy both Yahoo and Facebook. That will sink it for sure, and leave an open path for Linux et al.

lol

Keep hitting that crack pipe, kiddo... whatever path is going to be paved by whatever possible future choices Microsoft makes, Linux likely won't be a major player.

Anonymous said...

"Keep hitting that crack pipe, kiddo..."

And you keep drinking the koolaid...

Anonymous said...

"Keep hitting that crack pipe, kiddo..."

And you keep drinking the koolaid...


Dude, i'm not saying Microsoft's run isn't over... only that Linux ain't rising up to be the replacement for Windows. Linux is a tinker toy and always will be.

Get thy head into the modern era.

Joe said...

>Linux is a tinker toy and always will be.

Yes, just like IBM-PC's were toys compared to the mighty VAX.

Or, how hydraulic-based shovels were toys compared to the mighty pulley based ones.

Or, how Honda's small CC motorbikes were toys compared to the manly Harley Davidsons.

You know, someone should write a book on how these somewhat Disruptive Technologies create an Innovator's Dilemma.

Anonymous said...

And @MSS, IBM has a very strong online strategy. It is to pair with Google and be their exclusive hardware and services provider.

Wow! Is this really IBM's "strong online strategy"? Sell hardware and consultants to Google?

Anonymous said...

>>Keep hitting that crack pipe, kiddo...
>And you keep drinking the koolaid...

Mini, cleanup in aisle 5, please.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous

> As a Microsoft customer. I hate being one. It is out of necessity. Am trying to get to Linux, but will always have to have at least one CPU with xp on it to run my engineering tools.

second paragraph off the bat makes you sound like a tool, but lets see if you have anything intelligent to say..

> The great and most dangerous and probable antitrust action would come if Microsoft tried to integrate Hotmail and Yahoo Mail. That would be a deal stopper right there for me and I would immediately move to GMail.

Yes, because that would be absolutely horrible, all that free email service! Move to GMail scum for that added bonus of.. nothing? Good riddance e-tard.

> So just buy Y! search, apply it to Facebook and be done with it. Better for you, better for me and better for Yahoo! But knowing Microsoft, they would kill the brand, give it some dumbass name like MSN or hotmail and you would lose all your investment.

"Just buy Y! search, apply it to Facebook and be done with it."

What? Ok.. just sink $60b into two floundering companies, combine them and be done with it. U r verry good at dese econoomics.

Oh and as for the comments relating to MSN and Hotmail being dumbass names.. Wow, just wow. They're not hugely marketed and highly used services or anything, oh no. Nobody knows what MSN and Hotmail are, those sound like stupid names.

@Joe

Nice comparisons. I hope to see you riding that HUGE linux wave to success, seeings as its such a powerful, consumer-friendly, useful OS for business and consumer alike. Oh wait..

Anonymous said...

">Linux is a tinker toy and always will be.

Yes, just like IBM-PC's were toys compared to the mighty VAX.

Or, how hydraulic-based shovels were toys compared to the mighty pulley based ones."

Snort.

Look man, the day of the mighty OS -- be it Windows or Linux or whatever -- is coming to a close.

You are totally missing the boat here -- Linux isn't any more interesting than Windows. Both are dinosaurs and neither is the future, and both are the VAX mainframes to your PC analogy.

Anonymous said...

Sharing this for fodder...

"Microsoft to lure search users with cash" with something called "Live Search cashback"...

http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/microsoft/

- agent mulder lives

Anonymous said...

Better link, straight to the source: http://search.live.com/cashback

Anonymous said...

So if Microsoft doesn't buy Yahoo!, what should they do? Is it even worth staying in the Search business as a bit player? Where's the ROI in that? What other businesses is Microsoft engaged in that would make more sense to sink resources in?

Joe said...

>he day of the mighty OS -- be it Windows
>or Linux or whatever -- is coming to a
>close.

I'll actually agree to this point. People won't care what they're running, as long as they can get at their cloud apps.

>I hope to see you riding that HUGE linux
>wave to success,

Buddy, I already have, and cashed out of one startup, and am now working on my second. all open source, all profitable.

Anonymous said...

I will be the first to say this ... the "Cloud" and all of its hype sucks. I don't know any legit business that would prefer storing all of their private docs on the "cloud". I am not saying it doesn't have a place and that it is not something MS should move forward with. I am saying the "cloud" is not bringing the OS down.
I can see it know. Some Fortune 500company closing for the day because their connection to the Internet was lost. Now, if you want to talk home computing ... maybe the "cloud" has some "clout"

Anonymous said...

Oooh! Oooh! (jumping up and down with hand raised)

How about paying me to use Vista?????

Anonymous said...

> Mini, why are you so opposed to this deal?

I think its because he sees that the basics are not being taken care of properly at Microsoft at the moment, and they haven't been for a number of years now. I can just say for myself, its not that buying your way into an internet strategy is bad per se, its just that when the machinery, your core business processes, are flailing underneath you due to the lack of care and maintenance, chasing after new, elusive pastures is not the answer, especially when its done in such an in-organic and hapless fashion.

Again, it isn't that I am *against* jumping into ads, the point is that for a number of years now, some people have seen that there is sand in the ole machinery. Does this deal do anything to fix that or will it de-focus MS even more ? I think that is the whole question being debated.

Some people say that we can't look at the old stuff we've already mastered while the internet is eating our lunch. Well, that "old stuff" hasn't been working right for a while due to some internal problems. That's really the point. What will it take for people to really take that seriously ?

Just My 2¢ said...

I've finally embraced the fact that this actually makes sense given Microsoft's long history.

Ever since Gates co-oped CPM and later Mosaic, just to name 2 examples; Microsoft's strength has been in identifying outside inovators and buying them... or copying the innovators and driving them out of business.

Yahoo is unique only because it has so far resisted becoming Borged.

Anonymous said...

If you weren't sure what the yahoo deal was about...

> http://search.live.com/cashback

This, my friends, is desperation. :)

Anonymous said...

I guess Jeff Matthews reads this blog.

http://jeffmatthewsisnotmakingthisup.blogspot.com/2008/05/evil-empires-new-motto-well-pay-you-to.html

Evil Empire’s New Motto: “We’ll Pay You to Like Us”

It does remind me so much of one of the last scenes in Catch 22. "all we ask is that you like us"

Anonymous said...

"Is it $44 billions hard?"

>I don't know, why don't you ask all of the other people trying to be competitive in the search market?

It is hard, ONLY if you try to duplicate what google does.

BTW, google search engine is not that good either. We have been stuck with inferior search technologies from Google, Yahoo and MS for more than 5 years already.

The same applies to Apple. Compete with MS on OS is hard. But beat MS on mobile or music IS easy.

Playing catching up is already hard. But it seems for a lot of MS manager, it is too engaging to open up their a little bit.

Anonymous said...

Buddy, I already have, and cashed out of one startup, and am now working on my second. all open source, all profitable.

Pics or it didn't happen. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Tying a couple of things together. First, various squabbles around:

Linux is a tinker toy and always will be.

Yes, just like IBM-PC's were toys compared to the mighty VAX.

blahblahblah


One day, maybe tomorrow, maybe ten years from now, maybe twenty, Windows will be replaced by something. The problem is:

You guys can't even make the local stuff on my computer work right, and you think you are going to succeed at the online stuff. Give me a break.

and

Microsoft needs to fix what's wrong with Microsoft before acquiring Yahoo! or Facebook or whatever else. Acquisitions won't fix the core issues.

If Microsoft can solve its internal operational problems, then maybe the thing that "replaces" Windows will be a newer version of Windows, just like NT-based versions of Windows replaced Win9x-based versions of Windows, and just like Windows itself replaced DOS.

But if Microsoft can't resolve these operational problems, then whatever replaces Windows will come from some other company or some other source. Microsoft is a technology company - it needs to be able to produce, market and distrubute technology. If it can't do that, it won't survive.

Buying Yahoo or Facebook is a problem because it is a distraction. Microsoft's core leadership should not be fucking around with proxy battles and Carl Ichan. It should be 150% focused on fixing the internal problems that will sink MSFT by itself, or MSFT + Y! + Facebook + any number of other acquisitions. Until MSFT gets a handle on managing itself, doing anything else is a bad, bad idea.

Anonymous said...

re: the cashback

after I read the news, it was not much exciting to me

after I looked up some products, it is still not too exciting to me

For example, I tried it on
"Canon PowerShot SD890 IS"
digital camera I purchased recently, and see the best rate from the cashback site to be $339.25 after the rebate
http://search.live.com/cashback/products/offerings/18003/11930206?p=1

Then I went to Google shopping and see it there for $325.00
http://www.google.com/products?q=PowerShot+SD890+IS&hl=en&scoring=r

In both cases I don't know the stores but if the price was the factor for me, I would buy it from the Google referred site.

Therefore, from my experience, if I even considered using ms live cashback to buy a product, I will always go to Google shopping to double check the price, and every search I'll do on live, I'll repeat on Google shopping.

I guess my point is, how will this help to the number of ms live searches comparable to the number of Google searches.

And if Google shopping is showing better prices, how will ms live cashback look like

Anonymous said...

hmm, for April 2008
- msn/live #of searches are up 30.0% (9.7% of total searches)
- y! #of searches are down 3.4% (17.5 of total searches)
- google #of searches are up 35.4% (62.0% of total searches)
http://www.netratings.com/pr/pr_080519.pdf

for March 2008
- msn/live #of searches are up 36.6% (12.0% of total searches)
- y! #of searches are down 4.5% (18.1 of total searches)
- google #of searches are up 25.5% (58.7.0% of total searches)
http://www.netratings.com/pr/pr_080421.pdf

I guess ms wants to by the wounded dog believing it can help it.

Anonymous said...

>And if Google shopping is showing better prices, how will ms live cashback look like

You will still be searching on live, something that you are not doing today. The idea is to boost search on live.

Yes the effect is temporary and it will eventually die once people eventually figure they have it better at google. But the well timed temporary boost is good for some high up clowns in search and ad-center to "exceed their review goals" and get paid fat bucks. Who cares what happens in the long run as long as they heard the cha-ching in their bank accounts over the next few months.

Anonymous said...

I don't know any legit business that would prefer storing all of their private docs on the "cloud".

Tell that to GE, Proctor & Gamble and the hundreds of other business using Google Apps.

Anonymous said...

Eh, personally I'm keeping my money under the mattress on the whole cloud computing trend (hype).

Anonymous said...

I like how after all this talk and blather about "we have too many managers," we now see the complaints turning to "this will distract management."

I for one welcome the management to be distracted so a lot of folks can get back to work. Ballmer, please assign all of Windows management to work on Yahoo. Windows engineers, please proceed to do what management has long prevented.

Anonymous said...

Lots of people believe MSFT's search engine is better in many ways than those
from its competitors


Well, I dunno about Live search, but MSDN search blows – at least when compared to Google.

Of course, someone has tweaked the MSDN site in the past couple of weeks so that links from Google no longer work; when following a link, I now get a page not found error and have to login in order to access MSDN.  And from there, search again using the MSDN search box.

So, as a Win32 developer, here's how my searching used to work:

1: Type in some relevant terms into Google.

2: Read some links, maybe MSDN, maybe non-MSDN.  Determine which API/framework calls I need to be using; find some tips and tricks on using them.

3: Search for the appropriate MSDN page on Google, typically by typing "[item]
site:microsoft.com"

4: Goto the MSDN page from the Google link, read and learn.

  Now it's:

1: Type in some relevant terms into Google.

2: Read some links, maybe MSDN, maybe non-MSDN.  Determine which API/framework calls I need to be using; find some tips and tricks on using them.

3: Search for the appropriate MSDN page on Google, typically by typing "[item]
site:microsoft.com".
4: Goto the MSDN site from the Google link.  Remember to open the page in a new tab/window.

5: Login to MSDN.

6: Switch back to the Google page to get the page title.

7: Switch back to the MSDN page and type the page title in.  If it's an API
call, stop here and find the link in the first page (don't click on the WinCE/Windows Mobile version!); read and learn.

8: If it's not an API call, repeatedly type in what seem like relevant phrases until the first page of results contains the page I'm looking for; read and learn.



And this is supposed to drive me to MSDN search?  Not likely.  Oh sure, I'll continue to use it (after all, I'm trying to make a living here), but I'm not going to like it.  All I see is that developing for Windows is harder than it used to be, and I'll factor this in the next project I get.  For Win32/.Net WinForms apps I'm probably stuck -- Adobe AIR notwithstanding -- but for web apps, there are many choices, not just ASP.Net.

Anonymous said...

I will be the first to say this ... the "Cloud" and all of its hype sucks. I don't know any legit business that would prefer storing all of their private docs on the "cloud"

I'll tell you who is: Twitter, Blogger, Google Calendar, and all the rest of these kids with their fancy "Web 2.0" apps.

Here's the thing: I've been tasked to develop a web site/service for the broad market. Now, I've got real doubts as to whether or not this thing will take off - the sales/marketing guy thinks so, and my company is getting paid by the hour, so it doesn't really matter.

We're using a dedicated IIS box we got from some Rackspace clone, but the rest of the software stack is cross-platform/open source. Why? Because, *if* the thing grows, I don't want to be a full-time sysadmin, nor do I want the headache of managing boxes. So if it does grow, we're going to switch OSes and stick it up on Amazon's EC2.

That is where Microsoft oughta be. There's a whole generation of web-based applications and web startups that aren't even thinking of using the MS OS/software stack, because the only way it scales is by you actually managing things. Come up with a cloud platform that automatically handles clustering and load balancing so I don't have to write the code for it. Stick your implementation up on the net so that these little startups can actually rent the computing power from you. Turn around and sell the pieces and parts so that Rackspace and the rest of them can offer the same things. The enterprise will love this stuff, too; maybe even enough to upgrade all of their servers and/or switch away from those nasty Linux boxen.

But, for Pete's sake, trying to beat Google in the "sell ads" market? Really, Microsoft - I know there's money in it, but it just doesn't seem like the thing to do when there are so many better ideas out there.

Anonymous said...

To me, this sounds like live search is really competing with fatwallet, and not so much with google. Am I missing something?

Brian said...

Its only a matter of time before Microsoft get there hands on Yahoo.

Britec - http://www.britec.org.uk

Anonymous said...

I like how after all this talk and blather about "we have too many managers," we now see the complaints turning to "this will distract management."

Microsoft has too many managers and not enough management. If you don't understand how that can be, you're not going to be part of the solution.

Do you really think that if all the managers in Windows shipped off to a desert island (or California) tomorrow that the worker-bees, all ten thousand of them, on the Windows team would suddently start working efficiently? No, they'd be stepping all over each others toes and getting in each other's way, just like today. Because a group that big working on a project that complex needs leadership and management. That the people currently in management positions don't provide it doesn't mean you don't need it. It just means you have the wrong poeple in place.

And that is the problem that MSFT's core leadership needs to be working on.

Anonymous said...

"Tell that to GE, Proctor & Gamble and the hundreds of other business using Google Apps."

I will. I know many people at both companies and I don't think they are planning on placing their confidential info on the "cloud" anytime soon (or ever)

"I'll tell you who is: Twitter, Blogger, Google Calendar, and all the rest of these kids with their fancy "Web 2.0" apps."

I don't see where this has anything to do with the "Cloud" bringing down the OS.

Anonymous said...

I've given Live Search a chance again and again. Google has beaten it (for my searches) every time: faster, and better results. Same with Y!

Re MSDN search: another poster here mentioned how it not only blows, but now won't even allow links in from Google anymore. Small surprise there... in any case, MSDN search has always sucked, so has the documentation... problem solved, why use the search when both it and the results suck, third party sites do much better when trying to find info to solve dev problems.

I have written in to MSDN repeatedly with very specific search terms that found relevant MSDN links right up top on Google (!) but not on Live or MSDN searches. Go figure.

The other comment re MSFT providing a cloud platform is right on. The MSFT stack just requires way too much investment; CFOs and such are gunshy and I also hear more and more "can we at least prototype that on Amazon or Google?" MSFT, the clock is ticking: get ahead of this or be made obsolete in yet another area (and STOP already with the Y! idiocy! Please!!!). Unlike Linux vs. Windows, where you're just trading in one set of IT headaches for another, using a cloud lets you trade all that deprecating assetry and those IT drones for a nice, somewhat predicably monthly income statement line item.

observer said...

--
But, for Pete's sake, trying to beat Google in the "sell ads" market? Really, Microsoft - I know there's money in it, but it just doesn't seem like the thing to do when there are so many better ideas out there.
--


Spot on!

It is true that MS can't afford to not be in the online space. but why does it have to be in the online advertising space??

And while we are at it, how about some real effort into Office Online?

Yeah, yeah everyone knows it is not going to be just services but software+services. Start moving beyond the obvious. How about an easy way to share and collaborate with Word and Powerpoint?

Anonymous said...

BTW, any news on changes to upcoming annual review budget?

Anonymous said...

--
But, for Pete's sake, trying to beat Google in the "sell ads" market? Really, Microsoft - I know there's money in it, but it just doesn't seem like the thing to do when there are so many better ideas out there.
--

I couldn't agree with you more!

Also, even though I am not a fan of cloud computing can MS please put more effort into Office Live and less into annoying ads ...

Keeperplanet said...

I have been watching these Yahoo! comments for a while now, going back several Yahoo! related topics posted by Mini.

The other thing I have been doing during the observation process is doing a little problem solving related to some of the issues Softies complain about on this blog. I find Mini's blog to be a fascinating diary of a company in the middle of a disruptive technology transition presented in real time.

A couple of primary problem statements have popped up, but the primary one is that Microsoft seems to be unable to solve the problem of making a lot of areas in your business groups work to fiscal expectations, specifically search, MSN, Live, EDD (i.e., Zune and some home use hardware products).

While your enterprise based businesses seem to be quite successful there is an issue with some brand and product perception areas that also keep popping up problematic, e.g., Vista and some of the quality and user perceptions and experiences relating to expected performance and good use compared to actual performance and poor use in some cases. That would fall into the categories of forced utilization of negatives by your customers which in turn affects your brand, (DRM and home use experiences might be examples).

And then you add to that the attempt to purchase Yahoo, and a lot of the above kind of tweaks the public and business perceptions of Microsoft and the processes of people actually not wanting to be acquired by Microsoft because of years and years of negatives in peoples perception of the company. All this could probably explain some of the stock trading ranges you are seeing.

So my problem analysis came up with the illumination of the problem being a corporate culture and management structure that has an extremely difficult time with integrating the customer into the process of product development and brand definition.

I think an excellent example would be the Vista development process (5 years long) where managers tried to implement what they thought customers wanted by hiring a bunch of industrial designers with the specialization of user interface design, while at the same time Microsoft managers forgot to preface that with a bigger and more important question of `what do our customer want?', i.e., what is the preferred user experience? At home? In the office? Around the world?

My point is that Microsoft has become so unwieldy that such questions are not addressed any more because too many people have to collaborate for it to make sense.

If Executive could somehow reintegrate the customer back into the process and give the customer the status of primary decision maker, on a corporatewide IC and cultural more level, it seems to me that most of Microsoft's stumbling blocks would be removed and in time the issues of befriending your customers would come back to you a thousand fold. It involves conscience, respect for your customer's needs, a very high ethical bar for your managers, partners and VPs, and a solid plan to make it work.

Without this core value at the foundation of your company, things like social networking, the cloud, the acquisitions, SaaS, and everything else have not core or clear direction.

Anonymous said...

BTW, any news on changes to upcoming annual review budget?

Why do people continue asking this question when the answer has been loud and clear year after year -- NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGES.

Lisa continues to say over and over again that compensation is business as usual and we're not going to see any significant changes to any of the rewards pools.

Assuming you're 70%, you'll get your 2-4% raise, your 7-12% bonus and 80-120% of your target stock grant.

Same old, same old.

Anonymous said...

I'm suprised/amused/confounded (?) at the "cloud computing" predictions of late.

Until recently, I'd steadfastly avoided Java or .NET, and didn't work with people fluent in either.

Demands of the job recently required that I engage in today's highest of the high level languages, and I found the experience educational.

First, I learned a lot about a language I didn't know. Ignorance is nothing to be proud of, so understanding and being able to work in it is only a positive.

Second, the experience taught me that it's a violently different world, and the number of people I encountered who only knew the high-level language staggered me. Details about how things really worked (under the covers) were totally beyond my peers.

Third, I picked up that language in a short period of time. As arrogant as it sounds, I'm very confident that my peers could not fathom working without a source-level debugger, much less do anything remotely low-level in any reasonable time. I don't want to say that the caliber of engineers who solely know the highest-level languages is poor. It isn't. However, the brightest young engineers flock to Java and .NET, but remain ignorant of everything else. Shoot, until about 5 years ago, if you didn't understand what 'Calling Convention' meant, I felt questionable about your skills. Not being fluent in at least C will remain a requirement for many years, and a lot of these otherwise great engineers still lack that knowledge.

What's the point?

C'mon, kids. Cloud computing is a buzzword for now. Think that cloud computing is going to play your DVDs? Communicate with your new USB Camera? Be the key to your new cellphone? Of course not.

I for one have no interest in having my personal files on the net. The Patriot Act allows the government to pilfer through anything it desires without even probable cause. Encryption? Absurd! Too many companies are only-too-happy to abide by desires of the US (and other) governments.

Lastly, the bandwidth to the home still stinks. Telcos and Cable Companies tout their fiber in urban areas now, but what do they really offer? True bandwidth still is very small.

Nope, not a sale to me. (By the way, if it were true, Linux wouldn't be the carrier. Puh-lease. Windows is much worse, but Linux is still hefty and filled with drek. An utterly simplistic single-purposed OS would be.)

Maybe off topic. Mini can decide.

Anonymous said...

hmm, for April 2008
- msn/live #of searches are up 30.0% (9.7% of total searches)
- y! #of searches are down 3.4% (17.5 of total searches)
- google #of searches are up 35.4% (62.0% of total searches)
http://www.netratings.com/pr/pr_080519.pdf

hmmmmm....are you in the Live search marketing team?

Hitwise and Comscore report different data for March and April. As per Comscore Live Search actually went down by 5% in terms of its query volume in April versus March query volume and Yahoo also went down but by 3%.

Here is link
http://www.comscore.com/press/release.asp?press=2230

Anonymous said...

28.02 -0.45

Down 14% more than the market this year and still underperforming. Let's have a round of applause for the management team. You guys rock. Can you get it below $21 this time?

Anonymous said...

Guys, whats happening to MS stock price? Its at 27.99. I do not know why Yahoo stock price goes up. Very strange. It does not matter whatever we do, looks like we are getting hit.

Lazlo Nibble said...

It is true that MS can't afford to not be in the online space. but why does it have to be in the online advertising space??

Microsoft has always been more interested in telling people what they should want than in giving them what they do want...that's advertising in a nutshell!

Anonymous said...

Because a group that big working on a project that complex needs leadership and management. That the people currently in management positions don't provide it doesn't mean you don't need it. It just means you have the wrong poeple in place.

OK, that makes sense. I guess I couldn't really draw the same conclusion on my own because MSFT management is all I have ever worked for.

I don't know how to get the right people either. I know who I have enjoyed working for in the past. MSFT seems to follow the principle of "I say I'm the right person for the job, so QED." And the typicle response seems to be, "hired!"

Anonymous said...

>BTW, any news on changes to upcoming annual review budget?

Adcenter, search and Ray Ozzie group gets 7% increase. Windows and Office employees get 3% increase. More promos in new investment areas.

Anonymous said...

>> more effort into Office Live and less into annoying ads

Except Office Live will never become profitable without the ads.

Anonymous said...

>The only people... who aren't opposed to it are..."the people who actually have a clue about this market"

Boy, look how far the clued in have brought us! Bravo!!! Please, give me a break!

Anonymous said...

> Adcenter, search and Ray Ozzie group gets 7% increase. Windows and Office employees get 3% increase. More promos in new investment areas.


so you're saying that our annual review is tied to group performance and not judged equally across the company?

that is a big revelation

Anonymous said...

>C'mon, kids. Cloud computing is a buzzword for now. Think that cloud computing is going to play your DVDs? Communicate with your new USB Camera? Be the key to your new cellphone? Of course not.

I guess you don't use a browser, the internet or even online mail, like Yahoo mail or Gmail, or flash to improve your computing experience. And I guess you don't use a Apple iTunes player, except to play music already on your pc. I understand these things. The primary reason individuals do not use these things for online activity would fit in the bandwidth issue, but pretty much all wireless providers now use a minimum of 230 kbps on edge, with 3g and others about to come in as the next generation service, these wireless services can be used with a notebook as easily as a cell phone. And if you have a land line, you can get DSL for as little as ten dollars a month. My point is that the access points have not matured out yet. But when they do, being online at speeds that make SaaS and Google Apps work without any noticeable difference in computing speeds, your argument will disappear.

Also, I predict that with fuel prices as they are now, the act of getting in your car to come to work will be a once a week thing instead of a daily thing and you will work at home. On the cloud. This won't happen next decade, it will start happening this year in a huge way.

Most people find that a dominant percentage of their time requires connection to the 'the cloud'. Many people store their images on line these days so that they can be shared by family and others

Anonymous said...

>I do not know why Yahoo stock price goes up. Very strange. It does not matter whatever we do, looks like we are getting hit.

Yahoo is in play. Perceived value went up when Microsoft offered $47.5 billion. Is it worth it? It is to the proxy war group who want that money as an improvement of their investment. It was to Microsoft or they would not have offered it. To the current Yahoo board, it is worth more, and they would be correct in many ways, considering it was trading at 300 just a couple of years ago. And Yahoo is a strong leader in many parts of the internet that have not yet even begun to grow to potential.

And then you ask where is the value? Yahoo was a pioneer of the search model, and their other businesses are a dominant force on the internet, even with Google around. Just look around and you will see it everywhere on the net.

It is flat out the only way Microsoft will ever dominate search and it IS a very risky buy because of the probable loss of Yahoo talent and customers if it happens even with incentives and golden handcuffs. But until Microsoft gets its own act together, it would be a nightmare in the making, so Microsoft stock goes down while Y! goes up.

Nobody cares about commodity computing products like the operating system or Office, especially now that it is free if you want it. Just so long as the trains keep running, no one cares.

But do not be confused. Like a dog in heat, Y!she's in demand and all the wolves can't wait to make her a prize.

Anonymous said...

Breaking News From MS India - The MD, Neelam Dhawan has put up her papers and will be leaving anytime now! Few of her direct reports would be following her.

So, Good things started to happen for Microsoft India.

Anonymous said...

if you didn't understand what 'Calling Convention' meant, I felt questionable about your skills

There are still plenty of people who remember C vs. Pascal calling conventions. But most of the folks who build end-user, data-driven applications have no need for such knowledge. And, frankly, they didn't really need it 10 years ago. Keeping off of the bare metal is one of the advantages of the increase in computing power; and it allows for applications to be written by less people in less time than before. The fact that there are folks out there who don't work in that (low-level) domain shouldn't be a suprise.

I'm very confident that my peers could not fathom working without a source-level debugger

You don't think your peers could figure out how to use trace statements, OutputDebugString, MsgBox, or just manipulate the output of a routine to return debugging information? Either your peers are total idiots, or you don't give them enough credit. I'm betting on the latter.

C'mon, kids. Cloud computing is a buzzword for now. [...] I for one have no interest in having my personal files on the net.

I don't either (not any more than necessary), but I do have information that *should* be on the net. And so other other people. And so do organizations of all sizes. I caught John C Dvorak popping up with a good example the other day; he says he subscribes to the SF Giants' shared calendar so that he can adjust his commute around their day games because traffic on the 405 gets screwed up before and after the games.

Ever bought anything from Amazon? Your personal data is already online.

If you look at these "Web 2.0" companies, you'll see they're about collabaration and information sharing, not building a better DVD player.

And cloud computing is about building these applications so that tens of millions of users can access the applications at the same time. It's about rolling out changes for a million users as easily as rolling out changes for the user down the hall.

And one of the biggest reasons for cloud computing's popularity is the complete and utter failure of Microsoft to make the Windows platform a compelling environment in which to run applications in today's world. It's not 1992 anymore - you can't just download any old random app from any site on the web. There's no good sandboxing mechanism (and no, using the .Net framework policy tools don't count) to guard against malware. While .Net apps may be "XCopy deployable", they typically aren't, and that doesn't address non-.Net applications anyway. We've all heard about the stories of people reformatting their machines every six months just to get rid of the cruft that's bogging down or screwing up their machines - my business partner is running a 5-month old Vaio laptop with Vista, and gets bluescreens on a daily basis. I have no doubt it's all of the crap he's installed and uninstalled in that timeframe; but that's exactly my point - it's easier, and less risky to your machine, to visit a web site and use their online tools to share information than it is to install an application to do so.

Anonymous said...

Wow, an even more outspoken cloud contingent on mini than usual.

Guys, did you not get the memo from 2001? The internet bubble collapsed. It turned out to be a sham. We are not moving all our data and apps to the cloud, we are not replacing our operating systems with Netscape Navigator, we are not going to replace all our PCs with thin clients that have no hard drives, and we are not going to pay a monthly fee to use our word processors.

Sorry, but it's 2008 already, please get with the times.

Anonymous said...

Some days I wake up and think it must be great to be a Microsoft competitor. Lately those days become more frequent.

If I was Sergey Brin:
"How bad is Live Search? They have to PAY you to use it."

If I was Larry Ellison:
"Microsoft has become the boiler-room of the IT industry. They can't make software that works, so now they're going into the classifieds business. What's next? The fake invoices for industry directories that never get published?"

If I was Steve Jobs:
Hmm. He doesn't need any new lines, his products speak for themselves.

Let's just get back to MAKING STUFF THAT WORKS, that is a joy to present to customers. Advertising is the natural career progression for a used-car salesman. We're better than that.

Well, we SHOULD be better than that. Windows and Office teams, you'd better turn out some spectacular software that doesn't require a hardware refresh, or the field is going to have a lynching party.

We're losing money out of our own pockets, and it is YOUR fault. No wonder they had to bar SSPs from TechReady, the way these guys are hurting you'd all have been tarred and feathered.

Anonymous said...

> Why do people continue asking this question when the answer has been loud and clear year after year -- NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGES.

Agreed. Anyone having any hopes on the review should instead check out the memorial day deals on the Kia subcompact. That will be your next car.

Anonymous said...

>> On the cloud. This won't happen next decade,
>> it will start happening this year in a huge way.

Please, start holding your breath for this right about now. Free up the headcount for someone less prone to buzzword bingo.

Anonymous said...

The really breaking news from Microsoft India is that the MD has been fired for the same transaction that various Microsoft people in Delhi have already been fired. She will not be a Microsoft employee by the time this fiscal year ends. Finally the good news is here. I hope she takes all her HP people with her with the EPG head being the first one.

Moorthy Uppaluri is also the new DPE head.

Keeperplanet said...

>"Guys, did you not get the memo from 2001?"

No I did not get the memo, I do not work at Microsoft. But I have outlined here for you a summary of what is going on so at least as Microsoft is eaten, you, the culturally isolated Microsoft employee will be able to see the raptor sink his teeth into you. (hint, either that or morph yourself into a strong competitor).

>"The internet bubble collapsed. It turned out to be a sham."

The internet bubble reorganized and merged into a larger more diverse group of companies. Bubble II may yet happen for another opportunity to reorganize the internet into internet II to finally make the vision work correctly.

>"We are not moving all our data and apps to the cloud, we are not replacing our operating systems with Netscape Navigator,"

You do know that Netscape was killed off by AOL and that the year is 2008?

We are not yet moving ALL our data and apps to the cloud, but Google is preparing a d-day assault that will eventually come, and dozens of companies offer free and pay as you go alternatives to Office, and dozens more companies are innovating in a big way to ferret out the basics of what people really want. It is becoming a customer driven world in the software and hardware businesses.

The internet SaaS and online apps companies are scrambling to build what people want in a thousand ways instead of a limited group of apps from one company--welcome to the 21st Century, Softy.

>"we are not going to replace all our PCs with thin clients that have no hard drives, and we are not going to pay a monthly fee to use our word processors."

Replacing our PCs with thin clients is already under way—witness the massive growth in UMPC, PDA and Cell phone sophistication booming out of Telcom companies so fast no one can keep up. These are thin clients with lots and lots of goodies added to get people to buy them.

And you are right: people are not going to pay a monthly fee to use word processors, they are going to pay a monthly fee to use their phones and UMPCs, while online. You will buy the hardware and software bundled, primarily through a device that will plug into it all.

And the desktop PC will not go away, it will just get smaller, lighter, cheaper and more diverse, existing in a spectrum of hardware devices descending from the online crowd. Many may go to the Linux crowd or to companies like Apple for specialty users some on-machine apps that will stay alive, and yes, Microsoft Apps will be around for a long time too both in the cloud and on the machine.

Eventually, corporations (the enterprise market) will be buying large contracts from Google that cost a tenth of what Microsoft wants to charge for apps, will upgrade themselves without any notice by the user and will release the user from having to carry around a terabyte of systems data that keeps them at the desk.

I am sure Microsoft will offer this as well, but the question is will it be used? The enterprise user will be the biggest consumer of massive cloud computing contracts that will allow employees to work at home, not spend $4/gallon for gasoline while they will be able to network internationally without any noticeable glitches of delay and quality of user experience.

Finally, there will be a smaller contingent of people who buy their thin client devices unlocked and who choose non-bundled systems to achieve all of the above. The cost will be higher for the hardware but no contracts for access will be required.

But you work at Microsoft, so you had to know all that already right?

Anonymous said...

I'm very confident that my peers could not fathom working without a source-level debugger

You don't think your peers could figure out how to use trace statements, OutputDebugString, MsgBox, or just manipulate the output of a routine to return debugging information? Either your peers are total idiots, or you don't give them enough credit. I'm betting on the latter.


A nice ad-hominem return.

And for the record, you're referring to people as idiots. I'm referring to the lack of opportunity for breadth of exposure of many.

Getting back to the topic, you'd lose that bet. Each time I've had to deal with these situations where these people were thrown lower than they were comfortable with, or security prevented a debugger from being attached, nearly all stopped dead in their tracks, said something to the effect of "So, what do I do NOW?", and asked everyone to explain how to get the debugger running again.

Ever bought anything from Amazon? Your personal data is already online.

I don't think so. My email, my spreadsheet covering all of my personal finances and all of my expenditures - nope, on my home machine. Amazon sometimes has great suggestions for books I could buy, though.

If you look at these "Web 2.0" companies, you'll see they're about collabaration and information sharing, not building a better DVD player.

Yup. I think we agree here! Sorta. I don't know that we agree that "cloud computing" is the solution to these issues, but it does sound like we agree that Cloud Computing isn't about to replace the relevance of "an operating system" anytime soon.

And one of the biggest reasons for cloud computing's popularity is the complete and utter failure of Microsoft ...

Whoa!

I'm not sure how you got on that long editorial on the brilliant future of Cloud Computing, but it sure wasn't a reply to my mail. I said I didn't believe in it. You wrote a campaign speech for it.

I'm comfortable with the reality that you and I disagree. Are you?

Anonymous said...

Wow, an even more outspoken cloud contingent on mini than usual.

...

Sorry, but it's 2008 already, please get with the times.


Ssshh. You're spoiling it for those who covet buzzwords and have a business plan prepped for a VC that revolves around riding the "Cloud Computing Wave".

Anonymous said...

Windows and Office teams, you'd better turn out some spectacular software that doesn't require a hardware refresh, or the field is going to have a lynching party.


Well, I keep working 60h weeks and proposing changes relevant to the customer. As a thank you, I am not getting promoted and told that PM owns vision and features and I should just do whatever they say. Even if they change their mind on a monthly basis.

Morale - if you reward your engineers for good thinking and good products, you'll get more of those. If you underpay them consistenly, they'll leave or start working to spec.

jon said...

Quick off-topic interjection: brief mention of Mini in David Sirota's The Uprising, in conjunction with WashTech. Worth checking out!

Anonymous said...

"Dude, i'm not saying Microsoft's run isn't over... only that Linux ain't rising up to be the replacement for Windows. Linux is a tinker toy and always will be.

Get thy head into the modern era."

Must... resist... temptation... Ahh, who am I kidding? I love it when people get things so wrong. It's my contention that Microsoft already had a chance to be in the center of "cloud computing," however you want to define that, and blew it.

Let's set the Wayback Machine to the '90s. Yahoo, Google, Amazon, Hotmail, etc. were all building out their infrastructure. They had to find a way to build it cheap and fast. They wanted their infrastructure to meet 5 nines reliablity, have nearly infinite scalability, and a degree of flexibility that to date was unheard of.

They all looked at the application stacks that were available. They all freely chose their solutions. Tell me, which ones chose Microsoft solutions? Which one chose either one of the BSDs or Linux for the server OS?

Fast forward to the present. Which of the vendors that I list above currently use Microsoft solutions? Oh, that's right, just Hotmail. How long did it take you guys to do that conversion again?

So, that's the server side of cloud computing dealt with. Now, if your dismissive statement is aimed at Linux as a personal device, I strongly urge you to start watching Amazon's bestsellers in notebooks. Amazon updates that list hourly, so any time you look at it, it's different. Just now, I see two Vista laptops in the top 10 and one XP. There are four Apple and three Linux laptops. At this hour, the number one spot is held by guess which laptop? Yep, that's right. It's a Linux one. You're getting squeezed on the high end by Macs, and by Linux on the low end.

Granted, Amazon is just one online retailer. However, let's not forget that it's probably the single largest online retailer where you can find Apple, Linux, and Microsoft solutions on the same shelf.

I think you're coasting on the intertwined monopoly control of the desktop and office productivity suites. (Mind you, I don't find monopolies in and of themselves to be a bad thing. I just think you shouldn't expect them to last forever.) You've got to find another way to make a living and the best you can come up with is Vista and Sharepoint? That'll fly in the big companies, sure. You'll make a pretty good living off it. It'll never fly for the consumer market, though. So, what are you planning for that?

Face it. The market isn't just telling you that you're not meeting customers' needs today. It's screaming and yelling it. Better wake up and start listening.

Anonymous said...

You've got to find another way to make a living and the best you can come up with is Vista and Sharepoint? That'll fly in the big companies, sure. You'll make a pretty good living off it. It'll never fly for the consumer market, though. So, what are you planning for that?

As much as I like linux, and use it myself, it is simply not there for the consumer space. Many, if not most, of the reviews and comments on these subnotebook PCs are about getting WinXP to run on them. People WANT WinXP. Microsoft is squandering a huge opportunity here by not releasing a small, light operating system that runs great on these low-hardware devices. (And therefore even better on high-end desktop PCs.)

Similarly with cell phones, the iPhone and the corporate and public support for Android show that people are DYING for high quality phone operating systems. This seems like it would be right up Microsoft's alley, but we all know what a flaming turd Windows Mobile is, and nobody in management at Microsoft is fired up about fixing it. If the company had any sense, they would start up a separate group to make an awesome user interface for phones on top of linux and start selling the hell out of it.

Anonymous said...

No I did not get the memo, I do not work at Microsoft. But I have outlined here for you a summary of what is going on so at least as Microsoft is eaten, you, the culturally isolated Microsoft employee will be able to see the raptor sink his teeth into you.

Uh huh. You seem to have missed my point, which is that people like you have been making the same exact predictions for the last 7-10 years and they simply haven't come true. Why should we believe you now.

Anonymous said...

Each time I've had to deal with these situations where these people were thrown lower than they were comfortable with, or security prevented a debugger from being attached, nearly all stopped dead in their tracks, said something to the effect of "So, what do I do NOW?", and asked everyone to explain how to get the debugger running again.

The unfortunate thing is that MSFT's customers are in a similar predicament. I realize that being able to dive into the machine code can come in handy, but you have to ask yourself who's really at fault, here? The poor application developer who actually believed they could build and debug a complete application in C# or VB, or the underlying OS and library code that dumped the aforementioned coder into the assembly code in the first place?

If MSFT is going to sell high-level languages so that more people (i.e. people who can't "mov AX,DS") can write programs, then they sort of have an obligation to keep them out of the machine language, don't they?

This sort of attitude (i.e. our customers are not smart enough to use our software) is not very productive but, unfortunately, all too common.

Anonymous said...

""Dude, i'm not saying Microsoft's run isn't over... only that Linux ain't rising up to be the replacement for Windows. Linux is a tinker toy and always will be.

Get thy head into the modern era."

Must... resist... temptation... Ahh, who am I kidding? I love it when people get things so wrong. It's my contention that Microsoft already had a chance to be in the center of "cloud computing," however you want to define that, and blew it."


Plz to be reading for content kthx.

As the OP of the Linux is a tinker toy comment, I can say that you totally missed the point -- I agree with you 100% that Microsoft is a dead horse and is not the future... although you seem to think that I suggest otherwise. Microsoft has missed the boat, jumped the shark, and is in decline.

Yes.

My point, which you have missed, is that the window (as it were) for Linux to rise-up and replace Windows is over, largely because nobody gives a rat's ass about the OS anymore. Microsoft's next OS will be more about supporting cloud computing than emphasizing the desktop, because everyone's eyes are in the cloud. Some day -- 3 years or 5 or 10 -- we're actually going to get there.

Now with the above said, let me be super clear so you won't misunderstand: I don't think Microsoft's efforts at "cloud computing" have much chance to capture the same share of the market that Windows did back in the day. So please, let's not fixate on Microsoft as anything other than a has-been. K?

Linux is an OS, and the era of the OS as something other than a glorified rich browser is just about done.

Anonymous said...

> On the cloud. This won't happen next decade, it will start happening this year in a huge way.

There are a bunch of bozos working on this right now in Ray Ozzie's group.

Omega said...

Dude, i'm not saying Microsoft's run isn't over... only that Linux ain't rising up to be the replacement for Windows. Linux is a tinker toy and always will be.

Seriously?! I need an SOS pad to rub my eyes if that's the case...

Anonymous said...

Moorthy Uppaluri is also the new DPE head.

Does this mean Tarun Gulati is gone?

Btw, I still see Neelam in the Address Book. When is she leaving?

Anonymous said...

> I am not getting promoted and told that PM owns vision and features and I should just do whatever they say.

---

You see that right there is one of the biggest problems.

I was a PM for five years and in a nutshell : Expecting PM's, even so-called UI PM's to properly *design* software is foolish and in my opinion is one of the main reasons why MS is suffering.

Aside from the fact wether a particular PM is passionate or not, doing a good job or not, they are just functionally not qualified to design software. They are usually Computer Science majors with no real software design experience. UI design gets done ad-hoc in a very "fly by the seat of your pants" type fashion.

I know. I was one. I actually worked through nights sometimes cooped up in my office trying to hammer out a spec that could be acceptable. The problem is not hard work. I do think PMs work as hard as anyone else. The problem is that if you leave the huge task of SOFTWARE DESIGN to a group of people who are really not that qualified to do it, it doesn't matter how hard they try.

What is needed is this : PM's are important, but they should focus on what they are good at : project coordination. A producer for software of sorts. Every team should have, from the beginning, a designer, a human interaction specialist (could be UI test), a PM and a dev working together to design the product.

Right now software design is left to the PMs who are busting their behind, yet are left in an unwinnable war. That leads to bad products, and that leads to a shrinking bottomline.

If all this has changed then I apologize. That was my experience when I was there.

Anonymous said...

Must... resist... temptation... Ahh, who am I kidding? I love it when people get things so wrong. It's my contention that Microsoft already had a chance to be in the center of "cloud computing," however you want to define that, and blew it.

Where have I heard this before?

Oh yeah! "The Network Is The Computer". Sun was pushing a thin-client strategy .. uhhh .. a decade ago. Hey! They had the same level of overconfidence about the idea too! Whoa. Creepy parallels.

(The weird part is that I'm defending Microsoft here. I didn't expect to be doing that.)

Server-based apps crushing the PC failed miserably a decade ago. Yes, we certainly have moved closer to the technical point of real viability, but only "closer". We are not there, and at the rate of ISP investment to provide the true, required bandwidth (for everyone at the same time, not just when the neighbors aren't using it) we won't be there for awhile (that's years. many years.)

Microsoft invests in what sometimes seems like everything. People outside of this blog would be shocked at the number of things the company has invested in "just in case" that have burned a billion dollars and flopped (and I don't mean just Microsoft's version. I mean the entire concept.)

(I'll throw in an anti-Microsoft snide remark that I can't resist: The concepts flopped, the products flopped, but we somehow ended up with a dozen new Partners each time. The company highly values them for their .. genius? They're critical because they managed to flop a product in an impossible business? When Carl Icahn finishes reaming the Yahoo board for thinking with their egos, maybe he could start on the Microsoft board for cronyism. )

Anonymous said...

>I am sure Microsoft will offer this as well, but the question is will it be used?

Only if Microsoft lowers its prices and offers something better to compete head on with Google and other on line apps will Microsoft on line offerings be used, and even then, you are looking at the death of pc based apps because once this happens, no one will be willing to pay $99 or $299 per seat. Curiously, Mac may be your saving grace in the office suite markets.

Anonymous said...

Face it. The market isn't just telling you that you're not meeting customers' needs today. It's screaming and yelling it. Better wake up and start listening.

I may disagree with you on nearly everything else, but I think we have a tiny bit of common ground here. Microsoft needs to grow the ability to recognize a good idea (even though you and I don't agree on those), regardless of whether it came from a executive crony, a 26 year old PM in the trenches, or from the very customers themselves.

It always easier to crush an idea due to imperfection than it is to develop and perfect it. Microsoft's top executives frequently are on the look-out for new, market-shaking ideas. What they don't understand is that the stuff they see has gotten to them only after it's been cleared by a dozen Corporate VPs, Senior VPs, VPs, General Managers, and so on, who are intentionally short-sighted and take advantage of the fact that it's easier to crush a concept due to imperfection than it is to develop it. Besides, innovation means change, and many of these people have their "standing" in the company based on the status quo. "Change" isn't good for their power and money. If SteveB really believes that there's even a single channel to get ideas up to open-minded executives, he's been deceived. If execs want super-polished ready-to-go plans before they even see them, they need to make it worth the while of the people putting their asses on the line. Right now, there's no benefit in taking chances (in fact, the opposite is true). You alienate the people who view you as a threat, and end up looking like an idiot because those same people trump up any flaw they can find in any concept you promote to declare it "a bad investment". There's a system in place that stifles innovation and creativity unless you're working for one of a small handful of rogue VPs (or are a Partner and have a greater degree of free reign) that protect such projects quietly until they're difficult to dislodge.

A diatribe of my own. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

http://www.thenewstribune.com/business/story/371639.html

Well, after two tries, I suppose Microsoft managers will try again with some bizarre product configuration scheme to try to leverage just a few more percentage points of market from Apple. I am sorry guys, but this is very painful to watch. Such a large well funded company with essentially infinite resources can't do better than this.

The truth is, your managers, (and I say this with all due respect) have no idea how to design hardware based products that people want to buy. Is anybody in charge over there?

Anonymous said...

You can't really prove much by Amazon top-10 sales figures for the following reasons:

1) There are hundreds of times more XP/Vista laptops to choose from than Mac / Linux laptops. To get an idea of market share you'd need to combine all the windows laptop sales together and compare to all the Mac or all the Linux laptops.

2) Many people looking for cheap hardware buy it with Linux and then load a copy of some other OS on it.

While Unix-derived OS's rule the web, there are a few large successful web sites that are Windows based: An example is "Plenty of Fish", a Canadian free dating web site. See it's developer's blog: http://plentyoffish.wordpress.com/

Anonymous said...

Mini - can you please reopen a seperate thread on Microsoft India SMSG and R&D? There are lots of stories of nepotism, poor OHI, bad quality work and a possible financial impropriety doing the rounds in India.

Anonymous said...

Linux is an OS, and the era of the OS as something other than a glorified rich browser is just about done.

Ahh, it's an informative data point on the human condition to observe people like you, so attached to their convictions in the face of so much contradictory evidence.

If anything, operating systems are an order of magnitude more exciting than they were 10 years ago. Back then, almost all servers and workstations ran Unix or Linux, almost all desktops ran Windows 9x, and that was about it. Now we have OS X with 3x Apple's old market share and gaining momentum, we have Vista vs. XP wars raging, we have Linux gaining major traction on subnotebooks, we have Windows/.NET as a fairly viable server stack, and dear lord, the cell phone space has WM vs. Symbian vs. Blackberry vs. Android vs. iPhone vs. a dozen proprietary OSs.

But okay, sure, I guess AJAX is sort of exciting too.

Anonymous said...

"Mini - can you please reopen a seperate thread on Microsoft India SMSG and R&D? There are lots of stories of nepotism, poor OHI"

Nepotism? In MS India? Nooooo, no way!

Anonymous said...

Uh huh. You seem to have missed my point, which is that people like you have been making the same exact predictions for the last 7-10 years and they simply haven't come true. Why should we believe you now.

OP here. As with all things in computing they have a lifespan. Seven years ago, the OS on the personal computer was probably middle aged. Now, while quite mature and capable, it is starting to see old age, like many of us boomers, the pc OS seems to be tied to us and is aging with us.

So I guess what you are saying makes Ellison, Schmidt and McNealy prophets? Really, we must have missed each other's points, because what I was saying is that the thing slowing it down is probably network access speeds-bandwidth distribution to 100 percent of the population. It will be a while yet before you see 1000 kbps plus bandwidth everywhere, and even that is slow for what will inevitably make "the network the computer" (BTW for those who do not know, "the network is the computer" is Sun's motto, coined by Eric Schmidt.)

I used to believe what you believe, that it will never happen. But the more I know the more I realize it is already happening now, especially, in a big way. The perfect storm of lower cost, high energy and transportation costs, and real diversity in the key player companies is brewing. The `storm' should reach CAT 5 Hurricane strength just about the time the high bandwidth networks mature out to cover the majority of people and users at a low, reasonable cost.

But open your eyes, the end user hardware offering is really ramping up adoption.

Anonymous said...

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13860_3-9951638-56.html

Sinofsky comes off as a person obsessed with spin and with controlling the conversation. He often answers the question he would like to answer, not the one that was asked. His Jedi mind tricks are off putting and fall flat. I found his responses frustrating and obtuse.

He seems obsessed about one aspect of the process--information disclosure--pinning many of Vista's ills on sloppy information sharing practices. When asked about those ills specifically, he changes the subject.

He sounds paranoid and delusional. This is not corporate translucency. This guy sounds out of step with reality.

jon said...

What do people think about Live Search cashback? Michael Arrington had a good article on it on TechCrunch, although he overlooked the pressure that this puts on Yahoo!? My thoughts in It’s over. Isn’t it? on Liminal States.

It seems like one potential outcome is a joint venture in search and advertising (or maybe just one or the other). This could mean spinning those out from Microsoft. What do folks here on MiniMSFT think about that possibility?

Anonymous said...

I've just realized why Live Mesh is going to be huge (and I was very skeptical). Seriously, the point is this: it almost eliminates the need to have your apps be browser based. It's pretty much a consensus that most browser based "apps" (except mail and calendar) suck ass and they will never (where by "never" I mean "at least not in the next decade") be as good as rich apps. The only reason why people choose them is that they make it easier to collaborate and don't require an install. Therefore, in the ideal world you'd have collaboration and zero-footprint installs afforded by web apps coupled with feature set and polish that native apps provide.

Now, we've come to the sticking point. Up to now, there was no free sharing solution for Windows that would look and feel like a regular folder. Sure there was Groove, but it cost money, it only ran on Windows and it was a bloated, buggy mess.

Such solution was sorely needed, as illustrated by (somewhat unexpected) success of Sharepoint - a kludgey web based sharing app that only integrates with Office.

So as far as I'm concerned, Live Mesh is a breakthrough, its conceptual similarity to Groove notwithstanding. And no, I don't work in that org.

Watch for the other shoe to drop - there needs to be some tech to do zero-footprint installs as well, or just offer hosted apps over RDP with access to local docs or storage on the server.

Anonymous said...

>> He sounds paranoid and delusional.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a big fan of Sinofsky, and I think he will drive Windows straight into the ground with his bureaucracy. But in this case his behavior was a refreshingly appropriate. If you don't have anything to show to the world, then just STFU and wait until you do. I wish more execs behaved the same.

Anonymous said...

Really, we must have missed each other's points, because what I was saying is that the thing slowing it down is probably network access speeds-bandwidth distribution to 100 percent of the population.

Like they have in Korea? Which they use to... well... play StarCraft?

Sorry but this conversation has happened a million times over the past 10 years and it never changes. When I replace my nice PC with a web browser, you'll have won our argument and I'll feel a little silly, but until then I guess you'll just have to keep your fingers crossed.

skc said...

>>Sinofsky comes off as a person obsessed with spin and with controlling the conversation<<

Actually he sounds like someone who learned a lesson from the pre-Hype that happened with Vista.

I think he did the right thing by not talking about Windows 7 until they actually have something concrete to show. He knows that until it's released, Windows 7 is vaporware for the moment.

From the outside looking in, I think I like the guy

Anonymous said...

> If anything, operating systems are an order of magnitude more exciting than they were 10 years ago. Back then, almost all servers and workstations ran Unix or Linux, almost all desktops ran Windows 9x, and that was about it. Now we have OS X with 3x Apple's old market share and gaining momentum, we have Vista vs. XP wars raging, we have Linux gaining major traction on subnotebooks, we have Windows/.NET as a fairly viable server stack, and dear lord, the cell phone space has WM vs. Symbian vs. Blackberry vs. Android vs. iPhone vs. a dozen proprietary OSs.

OK, take Windows. The big deal with W2K is that it didn't crash. The big deal with XP is that it was more secure. The big deal with Vista is... I don't know, and apparently a whole bunch of other people don't know either.

Operating systems control access to hardware resources, and present an interface to the rest of the software. That became boring around 1980 - on mainframes. It became boring on PCs around 2000.

I mean, really, where's the feature in an OS - any OS, I don't care which one - that I'm personally going to care about enough to buy a machine in order to get that feature? There isn't one, and there hasn't been for about the last 3 OS generations, on any platform.

OSes have become quite stable and very functional. The result is that nobody cares about the OS any longer. It's boring, it's over, it's a solved problem.

It's a commodity.

The fact that there are a bunch of options doesn't mean that it's not a commodity. There are a bunch of different kinds of potato chips, too. Do I care which one I get? Which flavor, sure. Which brand? I don't care very much.

MSS

Anonymous said...

What do people think about Live Search cashback?

I think it is the stupidest idea I have ever seen. You asked.

Inspector Clouseau Strikes Again would be a good movie to watch to see the similarities to Microsoft partners in action.

Look at any of the items for sale on the cash back website, compare the cash back discount to any number of vendors. Amazon for example: Cuisinart DCC-1200 $59.99 at Amazon, Lowest bottom line price on the cash back site $73.45. Why would some idiot buy something on the cashback site when the same idiot can save $13.46 somewhere else.

Try it yourself. If I worked for Microsoft and had ANYTHING to do with this fiasco, I would just want to hide in a clown outfit so no one could recognize me. I guess Microsoft's new motto is:

"Cashback: so many stupid people, so little time"

Anonymous said...

I've just realized why Live Mesh is going to be huge (and I was very skeptical).

I read your entire post thrice and could not make out anything from it. As long as there are people like you in Microsoft the competition does not have to worry.

Anonymous said...

From the outside looking in, I think I like the guy

From the inside looking in (15 years at Microsoft, almost as many in Windows), I think Steven Sinofsky is the best thing to happen to Windows.

Anonymous said...

>where's the feature in an OS - any OS, I don't care which one - that I'm personally going to care about enough to buy a machine in order to get that feature?

Nor should there be 'extra features'. You totally have missed the point of what an operating system is supposed to do.

That is the problem with Vista. There is so much crap in there it weighted the user experience down to a level of dysfunctional wizardry.

The OS or the browser as OS or the live Mesh as OS or WhateverTF OS it is, it needs to work and not be seen. All the rest is marketing hoopla and third party opportunity. This is the reason I am a believer in the idea of the invisible operating system, like bios, like a virtual machine or something else that makes it all work together, nothing more. Even Torvalds talks about an invisible OS, which actually may be the reason that in the end, an open source OS or the Network OS will be a kind of enabler for all the rest, the art, the cloud, the applications, wherever they might be parked.

Know your core values.

jon said...

The Sinofsky interview's great reading -- thanks for the suggestion!

Since "transparency" has been something that's high on the list of what Mini and others have been clamoring for, I'm wondering what people here think of Sinofsky's unwillingness to disclose any details beyond "it'll be in 2010".

Also, for those on the outside looking in, does the lack of willingness to discuss the past -- including whether or not Vista's and Vista SP1's issues were primarily communications or execution -- inspire confidence that lessons have been learned?

jon

Anonymous said...

>Try it yourself. If I worked for Microsoft and had ANYTHING to do with this fiasco, I would just want to hide in a clown outfit so no one could recognize me.

No, some people in search/adcenter are going to laugh all the way to the bank. Microsoft shareholders are the ones in clown outfits.

Anonymous said...

>"No, some people in search/adcenter are going to laugh all the way to the bank. Microsoft shareholders are the ones in clown outfits."

Laughing softie sees irresistible cute stockholder on the ground, wagging tail, considers petting it. "Does your dog bite?" he says to the blogger.

"no" replies the blogger.

Laughing softie pets cute stockholder and the dog rips his arm off. Crying softie to blogger: "I thought you said your dog does not bite."

Blogger: Its not my dog.

Anonymous said...

Cloud needs to make both client and server side fantastic to take off. Having Google sitting on the server end is great. It, however, won't fly if applications are running in HTML/AJAX/CSS format on the client side. That H/A/C package is no match to the rich, well established desktop technology like Winform, WPF, OSX COCOA or even Java Swing. That's why Flash, SilverLight and JavaFX are touted as the solution for the cloud computing on the client side.

observer said...

---- Nor should there be 'extra features'. You totally have missed the point of what an operating system is supposed to do.

That is the problem with Vista. There is so much crap in there it weighted the user experience down to a level of dysfunctional wizardry. ----


Well yes but why would MS be interested in making the OS a commodity? It is in the very nature of a commodity that it can be easily replaced with an alternative and everything else (applications, VMs or any "Cloud clients") will work as before.

In the short or even medium term, it makes a lot of sense to bloat up the OS. Web browser tightly integrated into the OS? Why not? Media player? Sure. DRM? Hell yeah!

It is what happens when you put profits before your customers. In the long run though (20 year time-frame) it is a losing strategy.

Anonymous said...

Operating systems control access to hardware resources, and present an interface to the rest of the software. That became boring around 1980 - on mainframes. It became boring on PCs around 2000.

An argument could be made that the OS is just what we call the kernel now--and not even necessarily a file system. And definitely not a windowing system.

But I think people will be upset if they install Windows 7 and it just shows them a blank screen because it doesn't have a file system or shell.

Like it or not, conventional wisdom is that an operating system includes all the "extra" software that comes with Vista or OS X. That means windows, shell, picture viewer, media player, etc. And there is definitely a long way to go towards improving all of this stuff. OS X has many basic aspects that are much nicer than Vista right now (e.g., application install) and end users recognize this and get excited about it.

Anonymous said...

Acquisition is a good strategy for companies. Google grew by acquisition - they took the company in before it became $15 billion big even CISCO did that. I am not sure why MSFT should not try that. Of course for all this to work we should get rid of Wal Mart floor managers and elder statesmen from Microsoft. Running technology companies are not for the rich and old. You cant have sleepless nights dreaming new things in technology when you are 50+ and have billions in the bank.

Anonymous said...

Many people talk about "transparency" at Microsoft. Do shareholders like their investments to be transparent?

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PRfVKzuUJ4

WinMo team - you had the world to yourselves and you blew it. Now on one side you get owned by Apple and on the other - by Google. Mobile OS's are by far the most important platform in the next decade. Google and Apple wisely conceded the desktop to Microsoft and worked on owning the Mobile space instead. Smart. I feel some crisis management is in order in WinMo.

Anonymous said...

"PM's are important, but they should focus on what they are good at : project coordination"...

...and release management so that the SDETs concentrate and get rated on the 'S' & the 'T'

Anonymous said...

live cashback: just went to the site and see 4 items on the main page:

1: Canon PowerShot A470 Digital Camera
$107-$144

Compare to Google shopping (depending on color):
$95-$191

2: Bulova Marine Star Diamond Accents Mens Watch 96D14 With Black Dial - Bulova Marine Star Watch
$192-$290

Compare to Google shopping
$200-$200.99

3: adidas Women's adiStar Control 4 Running Shoe
$50-$94

Compare to Google shopping
$54.45-$99.99

4: Cuisinart DCC-1200 12-Cup Brew Central Coffeemaker
$73-$113

Compare to Google shopping
$69.95-$75.95

MS must really think they'll find enough idiots to sign up to give MS their account numbers so they can deposit the cashback to them.

This is the Bill's "gamechanger"?

Someone, from the cashback product group, please enlighten me how you plan to succeed with this crap?

I know, I just did 4 searches on your cashback site so you might get your search numbers up, rake in bonuses, etc.
I really doubt you give a fu$k about customers ...

just an another frustrated live search user

Anonymous said...

Boy, I cannot believe there are so many posts sniffing at the cloud computing model. What happens to "embrace, expand and extinguish" strategy that used to drive enemies sleepless? You guys don't fight smart any more or sth? The cloud w/ its cheap expense is not going away b/c customers want it. If you don't even embrace the cloud, how can you expand and ultimately extinguish the darn Google?

Look, cloud is not about replacing desktop apps. Only those Ajax fanatics (Google in particular) say so. It's about giving desktop apps mobility and connectivity so that users could share, collaborate on and synchronize w/ their data. And Mesh is the key to achieve that as mentioned by someone.

The plan is to make WPF and SilverLight apps + Mesh really enjoyable to use so the customers stays w/ Microsoft solutions. The more they stay on Mesh the better b/c that brings the internet traffic the current Live platform is dying for. You get traffic, you get advertising and therefore revenue. That's the deal. Let's star by taking this cloud thing seriously.

skc said...

>>just an another frustrated live search user
<<

I call busllhit. There are no Live Search users to be frustrated in the first place.

You make it sound like you're dying to use Live Search but you can't because it sucks.

Be a man/woman and admit that you simply don't like and don't use MS products AT ALL.

I'm sick of the people pretending that if Live Search / Windows / Silverlight etc was better they'd use it. You wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

live cashback: just went to the site and see 4 items on the main page...Someone, from the cashback product group, please enlighten me how you plan to succeed with this crap?

Well, thanks for playing, but you didn't bother to report that in some cases Google's summary list of prices isn't accurate. Or didn't you drill down that far, Einstein? Click through to the product pages and you'll see that the lowest actual price via Google shopping is sometimes higher than is listed on their summary page--

and why aren't you up in arms about that?!

--so truth is, of those four products, Google really has the lowest final price on one product only, the shoes.

And the only retailer in Google's list offering the shoes for a lower price is Amazon.com.

And if you buy from Amazon, you'll may have to give them some kind of account information. Why doesn't that concern you too?

And speaking of account information, millions of "idiots" have given Google their checking account numbers for Adsense revenue direct deposits. Are you one of them?

I know Mini says that "if all you're here to do is rag on Microsoft while extolling your love for fill in the blank... this isn't the place," but it seems you managed to slip through the filter somehow.

Now please go back to the children's table. The big people here are trying to have a talk.

Anonymous said...

Also, for those on the outside looking in, does the lack of willingness to discuss the past -- including whether or not Vista's and Vista SP1's issues were primarily communications or execution -- inspire confidence that lessons have been learned?

Jon,

As a former-insider-now-outsider looking in, the lack of willingness to discuss the causes of Vista's problems convinces me that the lessons have been learned, but they are so politically unaceptable that they must be ignored and forgotten.

The planning, communication and execution problems that plagued Vista were just symptoms of deeper problems inside Windows (and most of MSFT) with management, leadership and culture.

sgtrock said...

"My point, which you have missed, is that the window (as it were) for Linux to rise-up and replace Windows is over, largely because nobody gives a rat's ass about the OS anymore."

I've got news for you. Outside of geeks like us, nobody has /ever/ cared about the OS. They don't even really care about the application on top of the OS. They just care about doing stuff. Cloud computing is simply one method among many for delivering that capability.

"Microsoft's next OS will be more about supporting cloud computing than emphasizing the desktop, because everyone's eyes are in the cloud. Some day -- 3 years or 5 or 10 -- we're actually going to get there."

You may very well be right about what Microsoft hopes to accomplish in the future. All I was trying to say was that Microsoft missed a golden opportunity to establish itself as THE infrastructure provider at the center of the cloud as the companies driving that vision were busy creating it. Now, I contend that Microsoft is beginning to feel its grip on the edge of the cloud slip as well.

Why am I confident in making that statement? Because people backing "cloud computing" as the be-all and end-all forget is that the applications delivered by the cloud still have to run on _something_. In my view, the best option for the base OS for cloud computing is the cheapest. Period, full stop. No other factor matters. If cloud computing is the future for Microsoft, then the cost of the base OS must be zero. Do you know what I think makes a perfect OS for a cloud client? This:

http://www.splashtop.com/index.php

Asus is going to be rolling out this distribution on one million motherboards a month, and they don't own an exclusive right to distribute it. What happens when, not if, the other big mobo manufacturers start distributing this for their hardware? How long before people figure out that they don't need anything else for cloud computing?

What is Microsoft's response? Seriously, I want to know. If your answer is Silverlight, how do you convince all developers everywhere to stop using the tools that they've already invested so much time and effort in?

Anonymous said...

I call busllhit. There are no Live Search users to be frustrated in the first place.

Dude, you need a wake up call. I really hope you don't work for live search or MS for that matter.

Just think about what you wrote and tell me whether you believe in it or not.

With attitude like this, no wonder Google is kicking your a$$.

Anonymous said...

Live Search folks, you are getting too defensive and that might be blurring your vision. Looks like, according to you, everything is just fine in your lala-land . . . and yes, suggesting Mini blocks messages criticizing your group is just nice way for MS sleazy management to deliver just "great news" to Bill, Kevin, Steve, . . .

Please, show us some data points where you have an edge over Google? I believe there are many people “all ears” to hear this.

What's the plan moving forward? How do you plan becoming relevant against Google
a) Yahoo acquisition/partnership
b) live search cashback

What else do we have in your magic sleeve?

I really wish you were an independent company so bleeding money would be less acceptable than what it is now - just milking the profits from other MS profitable groups for YEARS (how old is the live search group?)

Anonymous said...

"What is Microsoft's response? Seriously, I want to know. If your answer is Silverlight, how do you convince all developers everywhere to stop using the tools that they've already invested so much time and effort in?"

Yes, the answer is SilverLight. Think of this: Do you prefer an iPhone or a cheap / free cell phone that comes w/ every cell phone plan. You probably want the former b/c it provides excellent USER EXPERIENCE, and UX is the king, nothing beats it. If users like it, then it's the way to go.

SilverLight and Flex provide closed to desktop UX while the modern web apps are still running on HTML/JAVASCRIPT. HTML/JAVASCRIPT are not designed to be a serious application framework and need major reinvent-the-wheel to match the above 2. AJAX doesn't fix it.

As for your question on how to convince the developers, well, I don't know what those developers are using, but let me just say I haven't seen one existing development environment out there matching the quality of web apps done in SilverLight and Flex. Coding SilverLight allows you to use C# or any other .Net languages w/ a downsized yet still powerful .Net framework. In the environment, you can achieve a lot w/ much less time or hassle.

There's always some guy out there yelling "proprietary" or "vendor lock-in" when SilverLight is the subject. Yeah true, so what? That's typical hater's fud. At the end of the day, a good product is still a good product, and customers like it and want to use it, which matters most.

Anonymous said...

I've worked in online services for a long time - I must be a glutton for punishment but what can I say, I love the Internet. The most depressing thing about it has been the amazing ideas that don't come to fruition due to lack of resources. Every year it's the same: we come up with awesome scenarios and concepts and specs and then they get slashed into pieces and we ship just a mere shadow of our plan. Why? Because we don't have dev resources. Then why do we have $44 billion for Yahoo? I don't get it.

skc said...

>>Dude, you need a wake up call. I really hope you don't work for live search or MS for that matter.<<

No, YOU read what I wrote. I said, Live Search has NO users. Comprende?
Therefore, people shouldn't pretend that they are users that are actively, honestly trying to find a better search engine than Google. These people do NOT exist. My point was, even IF Live Search was better than Google, these people wouldn't use it. You only have to look at the comments section on the announcement of the NY Times Reader being ported to Silverlight so that it's available on the Mac. Guess what the general response was..."pretty, but I'm not installing Microsoft crap on my Mac" This is from the same people that are more than happy to run Flash, a platform that is currently remotely exploitable.

So my point is that this forum is filled with people simply intent on ridiculing MS. Most of it deserved, almost none of it with the aim of being constructive.

Lastly, I'm not a softie and would never even qualify to work there in the first place.

jon said...

Anonymous@1:39 : hmm, if lessons learned are ignored and forgotten, does that mean they've truly been learned? :-)

wording questions aside, agreed. if Microsoft and the Windows organization really have learned lessons, the burden's on them to convince people, and repeating "we're only handing out information on a need-to-know basis -- and you don't need to know" isn't the best approach. it's amazing to me that the executives at the company don't see how disrespectful that attitude comes across to customers and shareholders.

jon said...

anonymous@12:21, Live Search has roughly 9% of the market share in the US -- millions of users. Yahoo! Search and even Ask also have millions of users who aren't using Google. why are you ridiculing them by claiming they don't exist?

sgtrock said...

"Yes, the answer is SilverLight. Think of this: Do you prefer an iPhone or a cheap / free cell phone that comes w/ every cell phone plan. You probably want the former b/c it provides excellent USER EXPERIENCE, and UX is the king, nothing beats it. If users like it, then it's the way to go."

Actually, I carry the cheapest cell phone my provider has and probably always will. Why? Partly because I'm cheap. Partly because I don't want my cell phone to be anything other than a phone and IM client. And partly because I live in the U.S., not Europe, so I don't have a decent selection of phones. I'm stuck with whatever my phone company deigns to allow me to use (and worse, proceeds to disable features on the more advanced phones that let me do stuff outside the services that they want to sell).

Nope, you picked the wrong example for me. :)

"As for your question on how to convince the developers, well, I don't know what those developers are using, but let me just say I haven't seen one existing development environment out there matching the quality of web apps done in SilverLight and Flex. Coding SilverLight allows you to use C# or any other .Net languages w/ a downsized yet still powerful .Net framework. In the environment, you can achieve a lot w/ much less time or hassle."

Sigh. OK, fine. If you believe that the only way to build really nice Web apps is with a Microsoft stack, go right ahead and build them. I won't stop you. I'll even concede that you'll have a big customer base. However, please don't tell me it's the only way to do so because I've seen alternatives that work, that are deployed right now. I use them all the time. You simply have one choice among many, and your choice is barely out the door.

You have yet to answer my question: How is Microsoft going to convince all those developers to adopt Silverlight to the exclusion of everything else? Or is Microsoft finally going to accept that other alternatives to their toolset will always exist and they'll never dominate in this space the way that they did the desktop?

"There's always some guy out there yelling "proprietary" or "vendor lock-in" when SilverLight is the subject. Yeah true, so what? That's typical hater's fud."

It's not FUD if it's true. The question that should be asked is, "Do I care if there's vendor lock-in?" The answer should depend upon many factors; not the least of which is who is going to be in charge of contract negotiations, the vendor or the buyer?

"At the end of the day, a good product is still a good product, and customers like it and want to use it, which matters most."

Upon this we agree.

Anonymous said...

and yes, suggesting Mini blocks messages criticizing your group

I didn't suggest that. I was pointing out that young Skippy didn't bother to flesh out his argument before coming in here with his "only idiots would give Microsoft their account numbers" ABM drivel.

And I'm not in the Live or online groups at all.

In fact, I have a decent list of my own criticisms of Live. But if someone's going to come in and rag on it, they should at least get their facts straight. And relevant.

Other than that, anonymous @ Thursday, May 29, 2008 8:19:00 PM, I couldn't agree more with what you said. {handshake}

As for Skippy on the other hand.... :-/

Anonymous said...

"However, please don't tell me it's the only way to do so because I've seen alternatives that work, that are deployed right now."

I didn't regard SilverLight the only worthy choice, actually. If you go back to my post, you'd see that I put Flex, which is Adobe's RIA solution, alongside SilverLight. Sun is working on JavaFX and trying to get it out later this year, which will be appealing to existing Java developers. The point I tried to make was that HTML/JAVASCRIPT are disappointing so a new category of solutions are spawned to address it, and SilverLight is one of them, an excellent one.

"You have yet to answer my question: How is Microsoft going to convince all those developers to adopt Silverlight to the exclusion of everything else? Or is Microsoft finally going to accept that other alternatives to their toolset will always exist and they'll never dominate in this space the way that they did the desktop?"

Well, Microsoft never dominated in the online space, far from that, simply b/c Nix platform has been too well established to topple. Java's presence doesn't help, either. So what Microsoft tries as a long term approach is to, uhhh, embrace it at first, then extend it, and eventually, you know, innovate as the leader.

Steve Ballmer said...

STOP COMPLAINING! Go back to work!


NOW!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am no fan of Sinofsky's but I am surprised at the reaction to his interview. For years there has been a recurring theme on mini of "why can't we be more secretive about new products like Apple" and "we should underpromise and overdeliver like Apple." But the minute Sinofsky evades making promises and commitments to the public, he gets nailed by you guys for not being transparent.

observer said...

The case against Live search cashback

1) Google became popular by helping people find information online, and as a by-product, shopping and commercial transactions. Now Microsoft wants to avoid all the boring "helping people find information" part and become a pure shopping portal instead??

2) Smells of desperation. Seriously you have to PAY people to use your service??

Anonymous said...

>> HTML/JAVASCRIPT are not designed to be a serious application framework

While I agree with the general gist of this, there are scant few things that this pair needs to become a great app framework:

1. A very fast JS interpreter, possibly VM-ized (I hear that's coming).

2. SVG Canvas - that's already there in Firefox.

3. Offline deployment/execution capability.

4. Some sort of client-side script framework that would be deployed _with the browser_, so you could count on it just being there and could reference it from your app.

skc said...

>>Smells of desperation. Seriously you have to PAY people to use your service?<<

Google pays users to refer people to download FireFox via the Google Toolbar.

Somehow I'm 100% sure you're going to handwave that away, but feel free to explain how Googles actions are both genius and noble.

jon said...

Anonymous@1:20 a.m., the reaction to Sinofksy's interview has been more positive on MiniMSFT than elsewhere: about half of the people who voiced an opinion are positive.

Everywhere else I looked, it's overwhelmingly negative, including many citing this as an example of how out-of-touch Microsoft is.

As I said in my post on the interview and this thread,

The fact that most of the people on Mini don’t seem to see it that way is another great example of the reality distortion field hovering over Redmond — and so is the cloud-bashing by the surprising number of people who don’t still seem to get this whole “web” thing.

jon

PS: thanks to both anonymous posters for the information about the apparent and real price differentials between Live Search cashback and Google. and for those who object to Live Search cashback as "paying people to use the service", do you have the same objections to airline frequent flyer programs? Or coupons?

Anonymous said...

Live search cash back - time will tell how genius / ingenious idea that is, and whether it will do any dent in the search market share. My worries about it:
1: There was already a program put up by live search where people could win “something” if they kept searching (forgot its name) and they happened to be the “random’ winner – looks like it did not do a dent in the search market share
2: How well it will work wrt prices quotes vs. prices asked once user goes through a transaction to buy. I am pretty sure there will be problems, but how often they will happen, what publicity it will make, and how will it affect user to alienate this program
2: Giving MS “any kind of financial info”, be it CC, checking account, etc., is, at least on my part, a big nono – I’ve heard stories how people were “screwed” by MSN IP service when they wanted to cancel and it took 2 or 3 tries to actually cancel their subscription, but MS would never return money for the 2-3 months they already charged their CC claiming, the users have not canceled their subscriptions before
3: Overall honesty and integrity of the businesses MS is working on in this program

Anonymous said...

>from Jon: "do you have the same objections to airline frequent flyer programs? Or coupons?"

Jon, the shallowness of your comparison strikes me as problematic. I object to such programs when I am paying for it if I elect to use it. It is pretty obvious to a casual observer that the refund costs are being recouped by the provider by raising the cost of the purchase item by the amount of or more than the amount of the discount. We all know this technique well. Grocery stores have been doing it for years: Raise your prices by a certain amount greater than a proposed discount, tell your customers that if you only shop here, get a card with your name on it and use that card each time you make a purchase, you will receive an in-store immediate discount. It all sucks long and deep. Me, I shop for lowest pricing, no cards, special raised then lowered discounts desired please.

Bottom line is if it feels scummy and scammy, it probably is.

And your Google comparisons are not very good. You need to do a raw search: Amazon gives a great discount, but you can find cheaper prices everywhere. Just do a simple Yahoo search or walk into Costco or Walmart and that works pretty well too.

skc said...

>>It is pretty obvious to a casual observer that the refund costs are being recouped by the provider by raising the cost of the purchase item by the amount of or more than the amount of the discount<<

Umm, thats pretty idiotic if you pay less for it this way than what you would normally pay, don't you think?

Sheesh.

jon said...

Anonymous@12:58:

1) the trial with "Club Live Search" made a 3% difference in market share last year -- MS went from 10ish% to 13% for a couple of months, with a relatively small investment. it's the only think Microsoft has done in the last couple of years that's had such a positive effect.

2) this promotion is only targeting people who are doing online shopping, so they're already comfortable giving online site financial or personal information; Microsoft's generally seen as being as secure and privacy-respecting as Amazon, eBay, Google, and Yahoo.

3) not sure what you mean here.

jon said...

And speaking of search and Silverlight, what do people think of the deal with HP for a Silverlight-powered toolbar?

[For people at Microsoft, there are analyses of the toolbar deal Google did with Dell a couple of years ago in some old Ad Astra presentations. A lot of the overall OEM dynamics are still likely to apply.]

jon said...

anonymous@7:30 a.m.

In terms of the overall prices, I totally agree that the ones through Live Search cashback need to be competitive -- if not, the program's dead in the water. It will be really embarrassing for Microsoft if they screw up such a basic point. We shall see.

However, I don't see what you're objecting to in my comparisons. [REI's rebate to members at the end of the year is another one; so are credit cards that let you accumulate points in frequent flyer programs.] Any form of promotion costs money that either gets made up in volume or added to the cost of the item. Advertising sends all the money to the holder of the advertising inventory; these other programs, including Live Search cashback give some of this promotional money to the consumer.

Bottom line is if it feels scummy and scammy, it probably is.

Well, if you see giving the user a share of Microsoft's search revenue as scummy and scammy, I can see why you're disappointed. Is this worse in your books than Microsoft's behavior with OOXML or the "Vista Certified" porgram?

jon

PS: skc: well said

Anonymous said...

Regarding Live Cashback, it's not Microsoft paying customers but the advertisers. And advertisers don't pay a cent unless customers buy sth. So that notion of "Microsoft paying customers to search" is almost completely wrong.

KJ made it clearly this is not the killer plan to fight Google but a disruptive move. Now that Google is messing around Office w/ their lame Google Docs, it's OK to return the favor w/ Live Cashback. If it lures some advertisers away from Google to Live, then it hurts Google and achieves the goal.

Anonymous said...

>"Umm, thats pretty idiotic if you pay less for it this way than what you would normally pay, don't you think?

Sheesh."

C'mon SKC, admit it. It hasn't happened yet. It is not going to happen-at least not in a way that provides what a consumer would consider a rock solid organization known for best price marketing. It is a gimmick, and I will grant you, one that a lot of people fall for. To you and all the hundreds of retail operations that use this technique to boost sales, great. Go for it. It is a free country. I won't help you pay for it by using it.

Jon: you said it here:

"In terms of the overall prices, I totally agree that the ones through Live Search cashback need to be competitive -- if not, the program's dead in the water."

My point exactly.

You have to laugh at the whole thing, and consider (bonk, bonk....)wtf if going on here and who-tf is running Microsoft anyway? Is it the same person who sells obsolete game consoles to kids, who dreamed up Zune and conned his buddies at Walmart to push it for you? Has anybody noticed a certain level of corporate vacancy here?

Great piece by Jeff Matthews (old news has been out for a couple weeks now):

Evil Empire’s New Motto: “We’ll Pay You to Like Us”

http://jeffmatthewsisnotmakingthisup.blogspot.com/2008/05/evil-empires-new-motto-well-pay-you-to.html

I was roaring. You have to hand it to Microsoft's new marketing style, coming to grips with an admission that software is finally a commodity, so start looking for it to be treated like air freshener folks.

I think we're done here.

Anonymous said...

It is pretty obvious to a casual observer that the refund costs are being recouped by the provider by raising the cost of the purchase item by the amount of or more than the amount of the discount

Frequently, a program like this is "paid for" by the marketing budget, since the refund is just another form of marketing. Of course, the price charged for the product has to cover the marketing budget, so it is raising prices, but no more so than a TV ad campaign or direct mailer.

The big difference is the casual observer usually doesn't think about the cost of those other marketing campaigns when they buy something. If you have Geico insurance, how much are you paying for that GCI lizard?

The other big difference with cash-back (or SALE!) schemes is that, unlike other marketing campaigns, they only cost money when they work, so in overall terms, they're probably among the more efficient ways to attract customers.

Saying it feels "scummy and scammy" is more an indication of your own lack of consumer sophistication than of the inherent , what?, morality of the campaign. Now, to be clear, there are unsophsiticated consumers out there, and your reaction may common enough that MSFT needs to take it into consideration. But the concept itself is no more scummy or scammy than a magazine ad.

Steve Ballmer said...

They work cheap, I like 'em!