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Microsoft Under Attack - Part 2 472

Posted by Zonk
from the the-saga-continues dept.
bugbeak writes "Part 2 of BBC's report on Microsoft at its 'most vulnerable moment in history' is available. According to the article, there are six battles Microsoft must go through in order to stay afloat and win, ranging from 'sort out security' (#1) to 'get them young' (#3). The first part of the article series was also linked by Slashdot." From the article: "Already Microsoft is spending 30% to 35% of its research and development budget on security issues, [Gates] says. His promise: Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge 'a thing of the past'."
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Microsoft Under Attack - Part 2

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  • by ats-tech (770430) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:20AM (#12508860) Homepage
    What an oportune moment for that message.
  • heh (Score:4, Funny)

    by Paris The Pirate (799954) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:21AM (#12508866) Homepage
    'get them young' (#3).



    Just like the tabacco industry!

    • Re:heh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by QMO (836285) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:32AM (#12508966) Homepage Journal
      Clothing and toy manufacturers have managed to get their customers to be brand concious by age 2.

      (Thanks Barney, Elmo)
    • Re:heh (Score:5, Funny)

      by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @10:13AM (#12509381) Homepage

      Just like a drug dealer:

      Step 1: Here, try this free Windows you got with your new computer!

      Step 2: Here, make all your applications with Access databases and Excel spreadsheets and ActiveX and COM+! Feels GOOD, doesn't it?

      Step 3: Here it will only cost you X dollars to upgrade to this better grade of drug^H^H^H^HWindows!

      Step 4: Profit!

      Step 5: Monopoly profit!

      Step 6: Shoot competing drug^H^H^H^Hsoftware dealers.

      Step 7: Arrest, conviction of monopoly status, prison!

      I'm waiting for step 7, George...

    • Re:heh (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ThePromenader (878501) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @10:45AM (#12509687) Homepage Journal
      I've always thought that the ONLY reason MS has its success is that they "got them young" - young meaning "first-time computer users". Since 1987, what was the first thing almost every PC buyer saw when he took his first spankin' new newfangled computer gadget home and turned it on? Ta-Da! Mr. Gate's crea... er... appropriation. Now how the heck do we use this thing? Better get learning... (Two years later) Oh, I need the next version of Windows to use that application that I need to stay competitive? (cash register sounds). "Yeah, I am tired of all the problems MS has but I don't know how to use anything else" (or "but I don't want to buy all the software again" or "everyone else is using it and I need my files that won't work with any other system to be compatible"). Indoctrination and coercion, kids.

      But the game's not the same anymore. Information is widespread, and first-time computer buyers are better informed. Cross-platform habits are becoming the norm (even QuickTime reads .wmv now). In short, today the cross-platform barriers aren't there anymore - or at least they're low enough to skip over. This makes almost moot any monopoly, and frees a computer-buyer to choose the platform/hardware that works best for him. With added stress on the "works".

      With the market the way it is today, Microsoft is going to have to innovate or die just like everybody else - and it's exactly in the innovation department where they're lacking. I'll start the popcorn - who brought the beer?
  • by bananahead (829691) * on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:21AM (#12508871) Journal
    Microsoft's problems are as much internal as they are external. Certainly the company is under siege from many different directions, but that is the way free enterprise is supposed to work. Microsoft has been under siege for the last 15 years as the VC community and starry-eyed entrepreneurs took them on in every possible direction. This is the way it is, and this is the way it should be. Some will say it is more extreme now, but I suspect they have always said that. Microsoft likes being under siege, it gives them all a sense of purpose other than adding 16 more features to a word processor. It actually motivates them.

    That said, the bigger problem, as I have stated in the past, is internal. In the past Microsoft has been able to respond to a siege by motivating the troops and getting the job done. IE was possibly the last great example of the Microsoft development engine at work. Now, it is almost impossible for Microsoft to rally the developer troops for that kind of siege-mentality response. The employee apathy is thick. The old-timers can still get it up, those that are still there and haven't joined Ignition Partners or retired, but you have to keep in mind that most of the developers and program managers there today weren't there 5 years ago, and only know Microsoft as a bloated software factory. The glory years, the rally cry of Ballmer and Gates, the late night and weekender coding marathons and the 'death march' mentality are all just stories of the past. The current typical Microsoft employee is more of the 'hey, I have a family and a life, this can wait' style. Certainly there are pockets of exceptions, but generally speaking, the engine is running a bit cold.

    Without the means to execute, the siege will take its toll.

    • by dmaxwell (43234) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:32AM (#12508962)
      GETTING a young company to a position of dominance is thrilling and exciting. People get rich along the way which helps too. MAINTAINING that dominance is harder. There aren't as many chances to get rich and it is harder to climb the ladder quickly. In addition to the apathy which is an inevitable result of becoming a mature and established company, MS is now the King of several Hills. Now it is knocking them off that is thrilling and exciting.

      If MS diversified more and didn't obsess over absolutely dominating the industry, they wouldn't be such the target. As it is, they are the "Evil Empire" and the Huns and Mongols getting hungry and sharpening their swords.
      • by xtracto (837672) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:38AM (#12509035) Journal
        If MS diversified more

        Diversified more??

        Come on, MS is already in:

        - Gaming
        - TV
        - Internet
        - Computer
        - Telephones
        - Handhelds

        And several others I do not know... they only need to have their own cereal!

        If Microsoft concentrated in doing ONE thing (ok, two or three things) right, THEN he would not have all these problems.

        Microsoft SHOULD specificaly work on Microsoft Windows AND Microsoft Office. Make them lot a hell better (For example, at least allowing to quickly change the pointer type when I am making a presentation, instead of showing the right-click menu); that way they will be seen better.

        • It depends on the orginal posters intent, but if the point is Microsoft needs to realize that "Windows" is a liability in other markets, they would ultimately be better off. Right now, Microsoft has the mentality that Windows must be tied to every product they make.
          • Microsoft wants to extend Windows, or a form of Windows, into everything. Phones, entertainment, toasters, it all wants to be Windows. That is how they see a way to expand the market beyond the desktop. And, all truth be told, it is probably the only way to expand the market. The problem, of course, is that Windows was not created with the idea of cramming it into little devices with little processors. A fine example is the first 'smart phone'. Microsoft is continually playing the 'processors will get
        • by dmaxwell (43234) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:54AM (#12509196)
          Microsoft SHOULD specificaly work on Microsoft Windows AND Microsoft Office. Make them lot a hell better (For example, at least allowing to quickly change the pointer type when I am making a presentation, instead of showing the right-click menu); that way they will be seen better.

          Those two things are the only real money makers. Everything else runs at a loss, barely breaks even, or barely makes a profit. The markets for Office and Windows are mature and can't grow very much no matter what MS does; the only real direction those two markets can go is down. No matter how much MS improves those two products, it can only maintain marketshare at best. What is worse for them is that improvements in lower priced alternatives means they have to lower prices. OOO won't go away no matter how much they lower prices. I shouldn't have to paint that picture any further.

          Furthermore, vexation at the shenanigans they use their marketshare to pull is only growing. MS is addicted to infinitely growing dominant marketshares in Office and MS and will do ANYTHING to keep that. "ANYTHING" is daily creating implacable enemies. Stories of large customers migrating from MS are even starting to get boring.

          My point is that if MS has their fingers in lots of moderately profitable pies then they don't set themselves up as "the enemy" who is in perpetual need of being knocked off. In the long run, decent profits in lot of markets is better than obscene profits in only two.
          • "MS is addicted to infinitely growing dominant marketshares in Office and MS and will do ANYTHING to keep that. "ANYTHING" is daily creating implacable enemies. Stories of large customers migrating from MS are even starting to get boring."

            MS isn't the only area where this is a problem. We see it throughout culture (especially in American culture). Why else do you think there is such a problem in the corporate world of ever increasing "sharholder value" causing CEO's to violate laws and wind up in prison? T
        • msft has two products that carry the water of the entire company: windows and office.

          so, therefore - they have no recurring revenue. they need to constantly churn out "updates" to their flagships.

          they dont have a consulting rev stream to fall back on, and their hardware sales are a joke.

          we're about to see a renaissance of mid-80's style computing. all-in-one brand-name devices that dont all run the exact same thing. think c64, apple iie, whatever that crapp atari had out.1
        • by syrinx (106469) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @10:11AM (#12509369) Homepage
          they only need to have their own cereal!

          Wind-O's?
      • by bananahead (829691) * on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:52AM (#12509184) Journal
        All good points. The obsession comes from Bill, he hates to lose and drives the research groups very hard. The domination push comes from Ballmer. I was at a management session several years ago where he talked about his overall goals for Microsoft (this was an internal management meeting). He waxed on about how many hours a day people used Microsoft software. Given Windows and Office, he figured it was about 6-7 hours a day that people used a Microsoft product. He went on to state that there were, therefore, 18 or so hours a day that people weren't using Microsoft software, and HE WANTED THOSE 18 HOURS!. His goal, and you gotta love the guy for it, was that people should be using Microsoft software 24 hours a day.

        The obsession and drive from Ballmer and Gates are still there, my point is that the engine that pushes the Microsoft race car forward needs a serious valve job.

        • by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @10:18AM (#12509434) Homepage

          And that "obsession and drive" is actually why Microsoft will never change unless both Bill and Steve go down in a plane somewhere...

          And THAT is why Microsoft is going to go down...because their management CAN'T change like IBM's did - despite all the talk about "never count Bill out" which is bullshit. He's the world's richest guy - where is his motivation to change? Look at every statement out of his mouth! NOTHING has changed about the way he does business!

        • by jafac (1449) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @12:43PM (#12511044) Homepage
          Mister Balmer:
          I will HAPPILY use Microsoft Software 24 hours a day if you meet these following requirements:

          1. Protect my privacy.
          2. Protect my systems security.
          3. Open your damn source-code, so I can be assured that you have done your due-dilligence for #1 and #2 and that I can be assured that the software will move forward after I incur the considerable expense of adopting it, that I can trust that the software won't be discontinued or abandoned, or taken in an unpalatable architectural direction.
          4. Open your damn internal Development and Test Procedures to independent audit (ie, become ISO-9001 certified) - so I can be assured that you have done your due-dilligence for #1 and #2.
          5. Don't charge me an arm and a leg. (I'm willing to PAY for excellence. I'm not willing to pay for mediocrity, with an "excellence" sticker slapped on, while you tell me with a straigh face "trust me, it's excellent!" - all while the world's computer systems crash and burn around us from vulnerabilities and flaws). If it's mediocre software, I will pay mediocre (free/beer) prices.
          6. I own my data. Let me do whatever the hell I want to with my data. (ie. open your file-formats, and stop trying to ram DRM down my throat).
          7. Stop buying and trashing other independent software vendors through predatory practices. If you satisfy 1-6, above, I still can't trust that a monopoly with no real competition, has any incentive to continue to do so.

          If you do that, I'll happily use Microsoft Software 24 hours a day, and I'll even pay to purchase (not rent) it.
    • I think the parent is one of the best arguments I've seen for M$ voluntarily spinning off a few of its products into separate companies. But they're not gonna do it. Gates talking about Longhorn preventing software being installed w/o the user's knowledge is hard to believe, because I can't see M$ giving up the ability to do that themselves.

      It would be really great, though. I blame M$ completely for all the spyware, adware, and other CRAP that can appear on your system just by mistyping a single URL, ev
    • by Golias (176380) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:35AM (#12508996)
      Microsoft, for all its faults, is still a desirable company for most techies to work at. They pay well, their name looks very good on a resume, and they have a history of having a rather geek-friendly corporate culture.

      No, they can't talk their employees into working past sunset all weekend long like in the 90s... but then again, no company has been able to do that since the .com bubble burst and techies finally realized that looking after yourself and your family is far more important than living up to the dreams of your CEO.

      Microsoft's shitty security has been a result of a short-sighted lack of emphasis, not capacity. Now that they are making it a priority, I have no doubt that Longhorn will be a relatively secure OS.

      Whenever it arrives, that is. Meanwhile... fuck it, I'm using OS X.
      • they can't talk their employees into working past sunset all weekend long like in the 90s... but then again, no company has been able to do that since the .com bubble burst and techies ...
        uh, EA? Well, I suppose they don't "talk" their employees into it anymore, more like threaten...
    • The problem is that MS already have 90% of the PC ad Office markets. With Linux and Open Office being free they can no longer compete on price or leverage in that market as they have in the past. They are now going after niche markets against companies that know exactly what they are doing, who do it very well and who are already entrenched.

  • by phorest (877315) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:24AM (#12508891) Journal
    Obviously going after Apple's iPod world with the line "Windows powered software & devices". MS is a smart company, don't think for a moment they are "that vulnerable" They have the money to market their products and market they will.
    • Obviously going after Apple's iPod world with the line "Windows powered software & devices".

      You must be surely joking. Windows-compatible - yes, that's a good selling point. But Windows-powered? Even among Windows users - or even people who are actively anti-Linux or anti-Apple - nobody really advocates virtues of Windows as such. The key virtues are abundance of software and great hardware support (and then again, even the most pro-Linux or pro-Apple guys cannot deny them). But there is no positive
  • "His promise: Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge "a thing of the past"."
    -Bill Gates

    So longhorn isn't due out for a year or so or two or three. They expect their customers to wait that long? This shouldn't be such a complicated issue.
    • What he means is that there will still be malware, users will just know about it now when it hits their computer.

      The Red Screen of Death will most likely be the big give-away.
    • by dmaxwell (43234) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:34AM (#12508988)
      "His promise: Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge "a thing of the past"."
      -Bill Gates


      That just might possibly dethrone the 640kb crack. I know, I know, it isn't what he meant and is misconstrued. THIS little gem is fairly unambigous. Yes, let's remember it.
      • Re:and I quote: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by shic (309152)
        "His promise: Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge "a thing of the past"."
        -Bill Gates


        That just might possibly dethrone the 640kb crack. I know, I know, it isn't what he meant and is misconstrued. THIS little gem is fairly unambigous. Yes, let's remember it.


        The important thing to note here are the crucial words "without the users' knowledge" - Bill isn't promising that there will be no ma
        • IOW every time you start your computer, click a link in IE, or check your emai with Entourage, you get a message saying, "Microsoft has determined you are running Windows "Longhorn", therefore you may have malware installed."

      • Q: How many Microsoft employees does it take to change a light bulb? A: None, we'll just make darkness the new standard.
    • But it is such a complicated issue. First, there is the technical problem of backward compatibility illustrated by the Windows "shatter" attack. Second, there is the bigger issue of users. Even if your email client doesn't immediately execute every piece of code it encounters, users are still going to download and run it manually - because they "just have" to see the dancing pink elephants. It doesn't help to have user and admin modes. Users won't remember an admin password. And even if they do, they
  • Computer literacy? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ZiakII (829432) * on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:25AM (#12508900)
    From the article:

    And it takes a fairly computer-literate user to install and maintain the open source operating system on a personal computer.

    I read this and instantly started thinking about this exactly how many window users can maintain there windows box properly? 90% of the users out there have no idea how to keep there windows updated, how to reinstall windows. The only difference is that Windows came preloaded on their machines. Now this is the only difference between the two operating systems. If a Linux machine came preloaded on a computer already with all the drivers installed it is the same exact thing on how people get their machines from dell.
    • by blowdart (31458) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:30AM (#12508943) Homepage
      90% of the users out there have no idea how to keep there windows updated, how to reinstall windows.

      By default the OS will keep itself updated, checking for updates and installing them, or prompting you to install them. Turning that off causes a little "You're at risk" icon to appear in the toolbar. Home users just see the updates come down and install.

      To reinstall it's put the restore CD in the drive and boot. Normally that will load up the correct 3rd party drivers as the PC manufacturer has put those into the restore process.

      Users don't need or want to know how to do these things, but if it becomes necessary it shouldn't take more than 5 keypresses.

    • by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:30AM (#12508948) Journal
      how many window users can maintain their windows box properly

      Apparently not even Sir William H. Gates III can [eweek.com]*. He has been hit by malware and spyware in the past.

      *Details in the fifth paragraph.
    • I've heard this before, and I think its bs. I think that the average person can re-install windows. With instructions they can set up IIS, remove malware, etc.

      I consider myself fairly computer savvy. I have a box doing a software raid with 4x80GB drives. I had to migrate it to another machine when the old motherboard died. I set up RH 8 or 9. I still haven't gotten samba working to where I can access the machine from my windows machines. I tried setting up webmin to set up samba in turn, but webmin isn't

    • Installation process for Linux?

      Insert Knoppix LiveCD. Hold down power button 5 seconds. Press power button once more.

      The sad thing is that yeah, that does sound too complicated for the average user. :(
  • Malware (Score:3, Funny)

    by FrankNputer (141316) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:25AM (#12508904)
    Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge 'a thing of the past'." I imagine a pretty little balloon that says "You've got Malware! Click here for details..."
  • microsoft is done (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:25AM (#12508908)
    Microsoft earned $0.75 per share in its 2004 fiscal year. That's hardly impressive for a stock that sells for nearly $28 a share. If Microsoft is done growing then its investors are going to be very unhappy. That's a return of just under 3% a year. A year with no revenue growth would be even worse.

    Not to mention the fact that there is little guarantee that Microsoft will continue to be able to rake in the kind of money that they are currently pulling in. Unearned revenue continues to go down, and Linux continues to gain marketshare. Eventually MSFT investors are going to get tired of waiting for the growth to return and MSFT is going to drop like a rock. When that happens Microsoft is going to *look* vulnerable. Right now the folks selling for Red Hat and Novell have to convince their clients that they aren't crazy when they forgo the safe path of purchasing Windows. Folks that roll out Linux solutions are still taking a fairly big risk. They are betting on a David facing up against the biggest Goliath in the history of industry, and the reason that the story of David and Goliath made it into the Bible was because in real life David's get squashed. Everyone likes an underdog, but only when they win.

    A serious drop in MSFT would be hitting the behemoth right smack between the eyes, and such a drop is overdue.
    • ttm? (Score:3, Informative)

      by tacokill (531275)
      Uhh, according to my sources [yahoo.com], Microsoft made $1.03 over its trailing 12 months (ttm - 2004). The company generates $1 BILLION cash every quarter. It has gross margins north of 60%. It just paid a large cash dividend to shareholders and there is rumors that another is on the way.

      What, exactly, is impressive in your book?

      MSFT is the GM of the computer world. It will NEVER go away (unless America, somehow, goes away).
  • Microsoft has simply gotten too large. Gates was never good at turning the company on a dime, and in todays market, as TFA points out, he's even more screwed if he cannot do so. A spin-off is the most logical choice: spin the apps into a seperate company and leave the OS and other "core" products with MS.

    Having said that, I'll concede that this won't happen until both Gates and Balmer retire, but it won't take too terribly long after that, either.
  • by phayes (202222) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:26AM (#12508912) Homepage
    "His promise: Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge 'a thing of the past'."

    By using TCPA to lock out all non Microsoft authorized software & just coincidentally eliminate the open software threat to the Microsoft Monopoly.

    Sorry, I refuse to play along...

    • If it was implemented in a fair way, TCPA could be a very good thing. Each company could have their own key, and you could simply whitelist which company's software would be allowed to run on your machine - which would severely hamper spyware and viruses.

      If, however, someone else decides for you then it would be a very, very bad thing. Fuck that.

      • Microsoft's TCPA testbed is called the XBox. Note that the only ways to boot linux on the Xbox are to use a Mod chip or to use a buffer overflow exploit of a MS signed game. To me, MS's definition is perfectly clear and excludes open software.
  • Microsoft v. Linux (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vishbar (862440) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:26AM (#12508915)
    Before I say this, let it be known that I am just as much of a Linux zealot as you probably are.

    My father works for the local power company developing customer support systems. Rather than an Open Source alternative, such as Linux, they opted to go with Microsoft Windows. The reason? Costs. They figured that the TCO of Linux, including support, training developers, etc. would actually be more expensive than the licensing fees that a Windows solution would incur.

    This being said, I would have personally gone with a Linux setup. I think that the former situation exemplifies one of the biggest misconceptions about Linux: people think that, because it's not provided by a corporation, if you have a problem, you're screwed. That's why the support services provided by Red Hat and IBM are so vital. Corporations can't just go on a developer's word that their system works well. They need someone that they can sue if something goes hugely wrong and they lose everything due to an operating system glitch. Red Hat provides a much-needed corporate backing to an already-great operating system. Most of the misconceptions out there about Linux are due to FUD spread by MS. If the open source community can simply overcome the stereotypes of Linux as having no support at all, then I think we'll see Linux begin to totally take over MS's marketshare.
    • by Seydlitz (690174) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:33AM (#12508979)
      They need someone that they can sue if something goes hugely wrong and they lose everything due to an operating system glitch

      Erm - if they honestly believe they can sue Microsoft for loss of data or, indeed, anything at all, they are sorely mistaken. Have they read the EULA recently? Microsoft are NOT liable for anything that Windows does - their fault or not.

      At least with IBM & Linux you have a support framework in place - unlike Windows, where support is patchy at best.

    • by phayes (202222) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:40AM (#12509057) Homepage
      "They need someone that they can sue if something goes hugely wrong and they lose everything due to an operating system glitch."

      Red-Herring: No-one, I repeat, No-one has ever successfully sued MS for damages after something went hugely wrong due to a bug in Windows. According to the Windows Terms of Use, damages are limited to what was paid for Windows.

    • "If the open source community can simply overcome the stereotypes of Linux as having no support at all, then I think we'll see Linux begin to totally take over MS's marketshare."

      Well there's that, and then there's the matter of getting hardware manufacturers to open up and let Linux developers start coding some drivers.

      And then there's also the matter of getting software companies to start producing Linux versions of their software.

      Neither will happen until Linux becomes a worthwhile expenditure of

  • [Gates] says. His promise: Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge 'a thing of the past'."

    Too funny. Thanks Bill, I needed a laugh. even people who work on reasonably secure systems wouldn't float so much hubris. My niece's little plastic swimming pool is deeper than this man's knowledge of computer security...Well, as vaporware Longhorn is certainly secure.
  • "malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge 'a thing of the past'."

    It's not the software that is the problem. The issue is that users will STILL accept anything offered. Install weather toolbars and so on. And the fact that windows make it so ridicilously natural and easy that there simply isn't a different choice.

    I don't know what could be the answer. A good approach would be to outlaw internet access to any computer with windows installed.
    • The issue is that users will STILL accept anything offered. Install weather toolbars and so on

      One of the problems with getting Linux into the mainstream is that it's not easy for the average Mom to install something she actually wants, like a weather toolbar. Some things, in the Windows (XP in particular) environment remain difficult/non-intuitive to mess around with, but those things that the users want to be able to play with have been made reachable and fairly simple to alter. Yes, that's also where t
  • Double-edged sword (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FunWithHeadlines (644929) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:30AM (#12508953) Homepage
    "His promise: Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge 'a thing of the past'."

    Uh, yeah Bill, we've heard this promise before. I'm not holding my breath over any Microsoft promise that ends with "a thing of the past." The past keeps coming back to haunt you with Windows.

    However, let's assume this time Microsoft really, really gets it right. If so, it won't be only malware that has a hard time on your computer. With their Palladium-- er sorry, Next Generatio-- er whatever they call it this week, your own software won't trust you. Can I play this music? Dunno, let's ask Microsoft. Can I see this movie? Dunno, let's ask Microsoft. Or more accurately, let's ask the systems Microsoft has put in place to handle permissioning. Yeah, they can isolate malware, but the means by which they will do this will also isolate your own stuff every time it thinks you do not have permission to run/view it.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Highlighting of two important points about NGSCB mine:

      Q: I have heard that NGSCB will force people to run only Microsoft-approved software.

      A: This is simply not true. The nexus-aware security chip (the SSC) and other NGSCB features are not involved in the boot process of the operating system or in its decision to load an application that does not use the nexus. Because the nexus is not involved in the boot process, it cannot block an operating system or drivers or any nexus-unaware PC application from r
    • However, let's assume this time Microsoft really, really gets it right. If so, it won't be only malware that has a hard time on your computer. With their Palladium-- er sorry, Next Generatio-- er whatever they call it this week, your own software won't trust you. Can I play this music? Dunno, let's ask Microsoft. Can I see this movie? Dunno, let's ask Microsoft. Or more accurately, let's ask the systems Microsoft has put in place to handle permissioning.

      This is not just a Microsoft thing - this is the

  • MS has a huge warchest. This always comes up when people start speculating that MS is going down. I don't think people fully comprehend what this money will do for MS.

    It will allow them to go through a complete denial cycle. When they finally realize that their business model and software is flawed, they will still have plenty left to turn it around.

    The only way MS would be in any danger is if they somehow lost all that money. And the only real way I can see that happening is through legal actions. M
    • MS itself isn't in any real danger. They will be around for years and most likely decades to come. What IS in danger is the "nobody gets fired for buying MS" mentality. THAT isn't going to last forever. If they don't cluefully deal with it then yes they're (eventually) doomed. Wiser heads will prevail before hubris utterly destroys them.
      • Wiser heads will prevail before hubris utterly destroys them.

        There's optimism, and then there's fantasy land. Wiser heads almost never prevail. PHBs prevail. While the wiser heads are banging their heads agains the wall.

        What IS in danger is the "nobody gets fired for buying MS" mentality

        No it isn't. And it won't be for a very long time. At least until the baby boomers begin retiring, then who knows? Let me tell you why: Software. If I am a dental office, for example, my choices for office prog
        • "Until the baby boomers start retiring" isn't all that long from now. The "whole slew" of software and services are in development as we speak from both MS proprietary competitors and the FOSS world.
          • "Until the baby boomers start retiring" isn't all that long from now. The "whole slew" of software and services are in development as we speak from both MS proprietary competitors and the FOSS world.

            Realistically, we're looking at 10-15 years.
  • It'd be interesting what kind of software Microsoft's 'malware' envelope covers. Not that I don't like a bunch of MS software, but this is starting to sound more and more like "you can only run approved software on windows"... though I'm sure that isn't actually the intent... yet.
  • Duh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mattmentecky (799199) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:36AM (#12509000)
    Explain to me, when a company (or anything for that matter) is on top (Come on people, Microsoft has a ton of cash, and a ton of marketshare in lots of areas) logically are they not the most vulnerable? I mean, they have no where to go but down. It seems every so often that reporters need a fluff piece to phone-in so they choose a company in whatever field and do an "investigative" piece to determine the company vulerable.

    It is how the market works, when you are on top people focus on your vulnerabilities in order to bring you down.
  • by CHESTER COPPERPOT (864371) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:37AM (#12509029)

    I like how they use the word battle. Lately I've been reading a book called The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300-2050 [amazon.com]. The book centers around what makes a succesful military revolution. Since they are using the term 'battles' and are in need of a revolution of sorts I'll point out what the book stated.

    The basic crux of the book is that concentrating on technology doesn't make a revolution nor does it win battles. All 6 battles in the article revolve around marketing and technology. It's pretty sad state of affairs when people solely concentrate on technology and the marketing thereof over other aspects. What makes a more successful state of revolution in battle is the coalescing of technology, organization, strategy, internal culture and leadership. I would like to see such an analysis done on Microsoft.

    How is M$ leadership?

    How is M$ internal culture? Does it have low morale or high hopes for the future?

    What is the make up of M$ strategic culture? Do they have any other strategy apart from monopolizing?

    Such questions would give a much more accurate picture for the future of M$ success.

    • by yagu (721525) <yayagu.gmail@com> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @10:05AM (#12509305) Journal

      I once worked at Microsoft, so I will answer/reply to these as best as was my personal experience:

      1. How is M$ leadership?

        I found it to be muddled and lacking in direction. I gave Microsoft high grades for being rather horizontal, so you were never too far removed from important decision makers, but I found a certain neurosis in management because it always felt like there was a certain "fear factor".... i.e., fear of making a wrong move pissing off the wrong people... with whatever consequences... (for the record I wouldn't know what and if those consequences were)

      2. How is M$ internal culture? Does it have low morale or high hopes for the future?

        The internal culture is/was as geeky as it gets. I found all around me to be highly intelligent but quite socially disconnected. The morale was generally high, but I wouldn't describe it as high because of realistic views but more from a certain hubris... e.g. (and borrowing from Lilly Tomlin) "We're Microsoft, We don't have to care!" This was right around the beginning of the big DOJ investigation, and the attitude was pretty much "let them come!.... we've done nothing wrong, we're Microsoft!"... I attribute much of this attitude as ripple effect from execs such as Ballmer.

      3. What is the make up of M$ strategic culture? Do they have any other strategy apart from monopolizing?

        Again I worked there long ago, but I didn't sense much strategic culture, just a "We'll do what it takes to conquer" attitude. I sat in some discussions which eventually led me to leave Microsoft because I didn't feel they played fair. I've posted and commented on this before.

      I found Microsoft one of the most dynamic, challenging, and fun places I've ever worked. I enjoyed the high value placed on intellectual sparring. But I finally left because, in my opinion, their intellect wasn't tempered with any humility.

      As to how and whether or not they've got what it takes to "win the battle", I'd say if they started out on a level playing field they have nothing over anyone and if they didn't or wouldn't drop the hubris, they would collapse and self-destruct from their own attitude.

  • Microsoft promises NEXT version of their product will be the answer to everyone's wishes!

    Oh gee, I hadn't heard them claim that before.

    Oh wait, I DID.

    That's what they said about Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows (put whatever name you want here)

    Long story short, Microsoft's software is NOT good, and they can't have the same level of quality that open-source has.

    Avoid them at all costs unless you really want to give the more money.

    Give your money to open-source projects, at least
  • Shark Vs. Piranha (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Spencerian (465343) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:47AM (#12509130) Homepage Journal
    This scenario isn't different from computer company tales of the past.

    Microsoft is a shark, at the top of its food chain. It cannot be eaten and cannot be stopped unless it stops itself. It is predictably hungry and efficient. It can take its time and wait.

    But it now swims in a sea filled with other fish that are just as ravenous. They can't and won't attack the shark; they don't have to. They'll just eat the same thing the shark eats.

    And that food--the market--is in short supply.

    Apple, the largest desktop competitor to the "WinTel" market, is no Microsoft, but it doesn't have to be. Microsoft cannot directly attack Apple without causing legal waves as it is already a convicted monopoly. Apple hasn't the capital or mindset in the enterprise to fully cause an IT schism where businesses move in droves to Mac OS workstations and servers. But it can erode the reputation of the larger opponent by being flexible enough to try new technologies by taking advantage of the fact that people turn to places like Apple for interesting gadgets and DON'T see Microsoft as the place to buy "cool" gadgets (the Xbox notwithstanding, but do you think people really associate the Xbox with the same company that makes Windows?)

    A shark moves too slowly to eat smaller fish, especially schools. And even if the shark grabs a few (buys out), they are still plenty of new fish to take their place. Time will tell if the school of fish is more flexible and malliable than the overweight, overfed and relatively uncreative and inefficient fish that Microsoft has become.

    Or, you can use the Rottweiler vs. a Rottweiler's Weight in Chahuahuas [grudge-match.com] analogy. Either way, Microsoft needs some weight loss. A Federally-mandated breakup might have actually been a good thing for MS a few years back to keep it stronger in the game and not this laggard monolith.
  • So.. one quote from the article

    Without Microsoft it still would be a world of IBM and Oracle and that would be a lot more expensive world


    Makes me wonder... how would be the world now if back then, this guy didnt wanted to charge money for his software??, what if Mommy Gates had not strong IBM relations so IBM had bought MS-DOs instead of licensed it??

    Who knows... maybe OSS wont exist!
  • "A raft of companies is newly emboldened to challenge the software giant in every market: music, messaging, mobile phones and more."

    Microsoft didn't come up with those application and they aren't particularly welcome in those areas.

    This article reads like it was their's to lose when we're just trying to keep the elephant out of the living room because, like any elephant in a living room, it is very very messy.
  • by nosfucious (157958) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:59AM (#12509234)
    Microsoft's real product development (not innovation) lately has only occurred in areas that it has been kicked in.

    Lets have a look at what's hot or not at MS:
    Exchange Server - incremental development only recently. 5.5 was the last "must have" upgrade. Domino was a major workgroup compeditor, it's still there, but not dominant. Plenty of F/OSS secure and configurable email servers about.
    SQL Server - Really moving. MySQL and Postgres at the low end, DB2 and Oracle at the high end with competing products.
    Enterprise authentication - Incremental improvents only recently. Active Directory is dominant, NDS in non-Novell shops is unheard of. Other LDAP based products are just getting a toenail hold.
    Browsers - IE dominant and stagnant. With Firefox and Opera (et al), MS is finally ramping up development of a new version.
    Office products - Office95/97 was a big improvement, but most users wouldn't use the new features in XP/2003 versions. Various FOSS office products are fast approaching "drop-in" replacements for most uses and users. Don't know where MS can go with this one.
    IIS - Apache is market leader by most measures, IIS is too tied to the underlying OS. Not much room to improve.
    File and print services. Still a lot of offices will have this as one of the most important IT function, along with financials. Samba/CUPS is a more than adequate replacement. MS's file sharing security-model hasn't improved much since the introduction of NTFS and share permissions. No notificable improvements in speed between NT4 and Server 2003 on comparable hardware.

    Issues like security and patching have improved vastly, but still have a way to go.

    Management of servers is still mainly point and click, but with improvements in 'scriptability'. Still waiting for the simplicity of configuration of an "/etc" folder with a series of .conf files for easy parsing/reading and maintenance.

    The big worry for MS is that it is and will continue to lose "mind-share". It's not cool to be working with MS products. It's products are only moving forward where a serious compeditor exists.

    The only thing propping MS up is an "out of the box", polished UI. However, it soon pisses off power users and is also too closely tied to the OS. Works fine for Aunt Ethel, and that's fine for Dell (et al)

    The lastest generation of net-admins or programmers will be equally experienced on Unix-likes or MS, unless they went to school in a MS-only brainwashing shop.

    I'd consider MS will under attack.
  • do you really want (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blue_adept (40915) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @10:03AM (#12509281)
    And "do you really want to have your security issues discussed by the Linux developer community on a public bulletin board," queries Alistair Baker of Microsoft UK.

    ummmm.... yes?
  • Does the "malware a thing of the past statement" imply that DRM will stop malware running in Longhorn?

    The whole DRM thing seems to have died down from MS recently and I'm wondering if this has meant a strategy change on their part or just keeping quiet about it and sneaking it in anyway.

    If MS are stopping malware in Longhorn then that's a good thing on their part for the Longhorn users but DRM is like "nuking your back garden to get rid of an ants nest" - it'll stop any "non-MS approved" product runnin

  • "Already Microsoft is spending 30% to 35% of its research and development budget on security issues"

    Or is that 35% of its R&D budget FOR security issues - which would be about $1.95, I figure...

    "Longhorn will make security issues a thing of the past."

    Right, Bill - we KNOW how EVERY new version of Windows is going to be the "latest and greatest" - that's been your mantra since the first DOS...

    And it was bullshit then and it's bullshit now.

  • Retroactive (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann.slash ... m ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @10:18AM (#12509429) Homepage Journal
    Is it just me, or everytime Microsoft innovates something is because they're PUSHED to do it?

    Viruses: Longhorn security features
    Firefox: IE7
    Java: .NET

  • by HuguesT (84078) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @10:20AM (#12509451)
    It seems pretty obvious to me that Microsoft is indeed at the crossroad, but not at the crossroad to disappear.

    They are simply too huge to go away. They would have to make mistake after mistake for the stock to drop and for confidence to evaporate.

    Hopefully Microsoft will soon realize that the wild growth of the 90s is gone, that they have run out of IT sectors to simply phagocyte, that they now need to really innovate rather than copy and do good-enough work, that they need play nicer and start collaborating a bit more.

    There was a survey yesterday that said that basically people who choose open-source do that to avoid vendor lock-in, not for the price.

    Microsoft cannot lower prices and recapture lost market, this is a race to the bottom that they cannot win. What this survey says is that they also cannot embrace-and-extend standards they way they used to because the industry has wised up to this strategy.

    They pretty much own the desktop market, but there is no growth there except the natural growth of the market itself. They cannot grow all that much on the server market because Windows is not enough of a jack-of-all-trade, doesn't run competitively on large machines, and that the cheap servers run on Linux/BSD.

    They are stuck. Sure they can grow on consoles, in the living room and on mobiles, but there is more competition there, and the margins aren't as fat.

    Microsoft will not go away, but I wish they would realize that, become less paranoid and start behaving like a better corporate citizen. A bit like IBM has become. Start with following and proposing standards that other people can interact with.
  • by astrashe (7452) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @10:27AM (#12509524) Journal
    First of all, Microsoft has a mountain of money, and that will keep them safe for a long time.

    But there are people making decisions at the top, and I think those decisions have been flawed.

    It's analagous to Intel, where they decided that 64 bits wasn't important for consumers, and that compatibility with x86 wasn't important. Intel is huge, and that's not going to come close to killing them, but it did give AMD a few openings.

    There are tough decisions that would have been jarring, culturally, on the Windows platform that Microsoft has shied away from. They should be pushing harder to get people not to run software with administrator privs, even though doing so would cause a lot of old software to break.

    ActiveX is a security nightmare. Bagging it would cause a lot of pain and suffering in the short term, but keeping it is going to cost a lot more over the long run.

    I think the main strength of open source software is that no one can make those sorts of decisions and force them on people. If you dig in on a bad decision, someone will fork the project.

    I don't think that gates has had the guts to make the tough decisions since he's been the chief software architect. I know he's a genius, and he's obviously a lot smarter than I am. But I just don't see his record over the past couple of years as being that strong.

    The main problem that Microsoft has now is that the bottom half of their user base (the proportion is just a guess) can't admin windows competently enough to keep the machines running reliably on the internet. Geeks can do it. My windows machines run fine, and have since the second version of windows 98. But an awful lot of people just can't pull it off -- they're bogged down in the muck, because admining their home windows boxes is too hard.

    Microsoft is spending a fortune to patch bugs one at a time, but they're not addressing the fundamental architectural problems that make the bugs so damaging.

    Compare that to what Jobs did with OS X. People were howling for years while they waited for it to come out. He was willing to piss off everyone by breaking compatibility with the old system. He took the long view, and he took his lumps up front to get things lined up for the future properly.

    That's exactly what Gates doesn't have the guts to do. It's weak technical leadership.
  • by starseeker (141897) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @10:32AM (#12509561) Homepage
    Microsoft will not be "defeated" in the sense of vanishing from the field as a software company. Ever. They have achieved what is probably the most pervasive and addictive vendor lock-in situation in all of human history. An incredible amount of the information critical to maintaining our society at its current level is stored on, written for, and run by Windows computers.

    Remember, users will now INSIST on Windows, because they want it/know it/are used to it. This is even better than making it a legal requirement to use Windows or threatening people (by whatever means) to use Windows or else. A vast number of addicts (the situation is surprisingly analogous) to Windows will DEMAND it in spite of anything else, becasue for them it makes life easier.

    What might happen is Microsoft will lower their prices and improve their quality to prevent the beginnings of a migration to another product - if they make their customers unhappy (i.e. take away what they're plugged in to) something might happen. But Microsoft will never do this. Their tendancy towards not changing anything is actually a bonus for most people, who want to learn a computer once and never have it do anything unexpected for the rest of their lives. (Please note that although I find this frustrating, it is neither surprising or blameworthy - I don't want to relearn how to drive or perform basic car maintainance every few years.) Competition does not produce products like that, since change is integral to competition. And if by some chance real innovation becomes a requirement, Microsoft may in fact be able to achieve this. We don't know - they haven't had to try. But Microsoft R&D has some good people, and it may be that if Microsoft's survival suddenly depends on an innovate product rather than an essentially-unchanging-but-incrementally-improving one they will be able to do it.

    Microsoft is here to stay, in all cases where users choose stability/familiarity over performance. There are, of course, areas of society where the choice will go the other way, where people are willing to put in the extra time and effort to learn something out of the ordinary. But those will always be the exceptions, and they will only serve as a minor annoyance for Microsoft. Linux only gets so much press because of the novelty of it's pricetag and philosophy. There is no such thing as an "up and coming" Microsoft competitor. Apple produces an infinitely better product, and their market share is fairly fixed. Linux is decimating commercial Unix, but Unix users are both more familiar with the basic principles of the system and (of sheer necessity) more adaptable.

    Linux will have successes - it will displace Windows in some cases, maybe even a lot of them. But most of the market share is businesses, and businesses will avoid risks that are not integral to their core business if they can. Microsoft is The Standard (de facto) and that fact is unlikely to change for the forseeable future.
  • by devphaeton (695736) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @10:44AM (#12509680)
    His promise: Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge 'a thing of the past'."

    Instead, Longhorn will have a nifty lil pop-up that says:

    "Windows has successfully installed a new Trojan Horse/Adserver. Before you can bein using this program
    you must restart the computer. Would you like to restart the computer now?"
    [Yes] [Ok]
  • by Thaelon (250687) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @11:08AM (#12509929)
    [Gates] says. His promise: Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge 'a thing of the past'."
    In other news...Titanic Unsinkable
  • by bananahead (829691) * on Thursday May 12, 2005 @11:13AM (#12509982) Journal
    Another interesting internal effect to consider:

    80% of Microsoft's revenue comes from the top 20% of their enterprise customer base, meaning that 80% of their customers (likely you and I) do not get the attention that the big customers get. This is why security is such a big issue for them. It isn't to make your home PC more secure, that is just a side-effect.

    The reason for pointing this out is that it is the largest 20% of the customers in the enterprise space that drive Microsoft's technical direction. Ever wonder why the Mac is better for the home market and novice user? It was designed and is driven by the desires of the home market, not the enterprise market. As long as Microsoft's focus remains on the large enterprise space, the product will continue to be just 'average' on the desktop. This is the crack in the market that Apple is going after.

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