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Gates Says "A Lot of Work" Ahead In IT Development 77

Posted by Zonk
from the last-continental-words dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Bill Gates concluded his last Microsoft-associated public appearance in the EU today with comments about the future of IT. The long-time company head said that there's still a lot of work to be done before Information Technology resources truly come into their own. '"There's another side that is how software is allowing people to be more productive at work. It's the empowerment of these people to do their jobs more effectively." Gates also commented on the potential of the Internet, calling it a "huge democratization tool". But Gates said there is still a long road ahead for tech development. "It's come a long way in the last 30 years but we're not even halfway there with building the systems we need to have."'"
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Gates Says "A Lot of Work" Ahead In IT Development

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  • by Sta7ic (819090) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @05:38PM (#22239102)
    "...and Microsoft is working to bring you the tools YOUR company needs to be competitively productive!"
  • and those IT guys will have to fix them. Lots of benefit to the economy, I think [wikipedia.org]
  • by esocid (946821)
    Thanks to all that new software increasing productivity, I can afford to space out at my desk an extra 35%.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gbjbaanb (229885)
      I don't know about you, but all the crap coming out of Microsoft Development labs, their new Frameworks, their Best Patterns and Practices, their new Platform (or I think its been rebranded as Windows) SDKs, their Enterprise Application Blocks, their Windows XYZ Foundations, their new Tools to analyze, check and report, their new Features added to every server or operating system.... (I giving up typing at this point), all that just means I have a ton of time I used to spend coding that I now have to spend
      • Re:Productivity (Score:5, Insightful)

        by misleb (129952) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @08:33PM (#22241210)

        I may be showing my age now, but I wish they would stop releasing new stuff and simply improve the existing stuff. The time and effort they've spent re-implementing Java could have made Vista into a kick-ass super OS that was easy to develop for and would run so efficiently I needn't have bought another 2 gig of RAM and a dual core CPU!!


        Given the roots and legacy of Windows, there's really not a whole lot MS could have done with Vista to make it a kick-ass super OS short of writing it from scratch (ditch Win32) and force all existing apps to run in a sandbox the way Apple did with OS 9. There's just too much legacy stuff tying Microsoft's hands. Here's a great article comparing what Windows is now with what dBase once was: http://garywiz.typepad.com/trial_by_fire/2006/03/windows_vista_p.html [typepad.com] Windows seems to be following a similar demise for similar reasons. What is comes down to is that Microsoft is getting to the point where the best they can offer in a new product is backwards computability with their previous products. Few people care about what NEW software they can run on Vista. Most just want it to run the same software they've always run with a little more flair and perhaps with a little more security.

        -matthew

        • I am one to think Gates' statement about it being a long road may just be eluding to that. I am sure he is seeing that Windows as it stands is becoming a pretty big boat anchor for the company. By bolstering Virtulization (which includes opening up the prospects of Vista home to VM) MS may be setting up an escape route to get past the laughing stock in security it has been this past decade.

          I figure Windows 7 (or whatever number or name it is) will be closer to Unix or at least as secure as such a system.
          • by misleb (129952)


            I think it is too late for that. There's just too much Win32 shite out there for MS to do what Apple did with OS X. Apple was pretty desparate before OS X. They didn't have much to lose. But that made the solution clear: Get the few major players (i.e. Adobe and Quark) on board with OS X and everyone else would (and did) follow.

            Hell, look at Windows XP. It is almost 7 years old now and many people are STILL clinging to it.. refusing to buy into Vista. Even if you could get users of some vastly different Win
        • Most just want it to run the same software they've always run with a little more flair...

          Vista should come with at least 15 pieces of flair [wikipedia.org]...
          • by misleb (129952)
            Oh, i think Vista got the flair part covered. Not sure about the security part yet, but it has flair.

            -matthew
      • wish they would stop releasing new stuff and simply improve the existing stuff

        Hear hear!

        I understand the origin of their new gadget culture was in a quote Bill G. made years ago -- "If we don't obsolete our own stuff, someone else will". I think it became a mandate for chaos, which manifests itself whenever they come out with a release with a funny name.

  • by KillerCow (213458) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @05:49PM (#22239258)

    There's another side that is how software is allowing people to be more productive at work. It's the empowerment of these people to do their jobs more effectively.


    That's a revelation? Isn't that what has been promised continually since day one?
  • Thank a Lot (Score:2, Funny)

    by lbmouse (473316)
    Right before you retire.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by misleb (129952)
      What do you expect? This isn't necessarily greed on Microsoft's part. It is damage control. They are trying to save the Windows lineage. If too many people keep running XP, Windows as a platform will shrivel up and die. If nothing else, Vista keeps up the illusion of progress and innovation. And Microsoft needs people to buy into that illusion. Hell, I don't even think they really need to buy it. I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft started giving it away like IE and other products.
  • Frankly don't care what Bill Gates has to say, unless it has to do with growing my business using whatever methods it takes.
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:03PM (#22239414)
    I spent all day today tracking down the reason why one of our lab XP machines would only respond with "Access Denied!" to any attempt to log in remotely. A web search produced at least four dozen distinct possibilities from simple sharing settings to obscure security flags you need a team of digital Sherpas to even find

    *My* problem turned out to be one of the really obscure ones, and by sheer luck it was the second one I tried or I'd be working this tomorrow as well. The problem with *IT* is that the dominant OS is a deliberately obfuscated pile of week old baboon jism.

    I had to use RegEdit last week to make Visio behave the way I wanted to. WTF is that? Is that supposed to be even remotely sane? And this week it's reverted back to its old behavior for no known reason.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GreggBz (777373)
      Welcome to IT. Today, I had to: 1.) Figure out what "not in top of zone" meant in my BIND logs after tweaking a zone file. 2.) Get awk to not barf on an address book import script that happened to have 1 swiss character to deal with. 3.) Rebuild my RPM database cause Mandriva's update utility crashed on my workstation. 4.) Tirelessly search Cisco's website for an undocumented IOS command that I needed. Mod ME up!
      • You have to love how MS bashing gets modded up and pointing out problems with open source tools usually either gets ignored, flamed, or modded into oblivion.

        Software has problems. All of it. It's an imperfect creation made by imperfect people.
        • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Thursday January 31, 2008 @12:24AM (#22242804) Journal

          You imply that the 2 camps are roughly equivalent in quality, and that the unequal bashing is just bias. Not so! On the majority of objective measures, open source is superior. There are the obvious, whole point of libre ones, such as ability to examine and modify the code. And then there are the measures that take a little research to determine, such as which systems are more secure. I've read that CERT has always found more problems with Windows than with Linux. There are plenty of other measures: code quality, performance, robustness, nimbleness, and portability to name a few. Libre OSes are better than Windows in all those categories. And the reason they are better is in part because they are open and cannot be monopolized-- the many eyeballs effect, and the inability of private interests to be the gatekeepers of all progress. Windows does have a few advantages, I'm not denying that. Even when you move to applications, what do we see? Yes, Firefox is better than IE. Pidgin is much better than AIM thanks in part to AIM actually getting worse. OpenOffice vs MSOffice is more a matter of what's important to the user. On the other hand, I read that the GIMP still isn't as good as Photoshop, but it's gaining. And I don't know where gcc stands compared to Visual Studio, but I've read that in the past gcc definitely generated the poorer code but now this is not so clear. Overall, libre is better. I only wonder how long MS can carry on in the face of the massive disadvantages their chosen business methods put them at. For years now we have seen MS resort to unethical methods, and that's the mark of a weak competitor. They are only strong because of their near monopoly position, not because of any inherent superiority to their practices (the ethical practices, that is) or software. They've also made a lot of enemies, not least the previous monopoly computing giant, IBM. Strip away that monopoly, and MS would have to change or die, and they know it. It will be a real shame to see the huge pile of money they've saved up be frittered away year by year in hopeless attempts to maintain the status quo, but activation for XP, WGA, and now Vista seem a clear signal that's the direction they're determined to keep pushing towards.

          Those comments that get "modded into oblivion" very likely deserved it for misrepresentation or outright lies. Genuine problems with libre software are fixed right away, or acknowledged. Those that are buried are rare, and often they get forked. Xfree86 and Xorg come to mind on that last.

          Your comment seems trollish to me. Consider that maybe the majority of Slashdot has good reasons for believing as we do.

          • *shakes head*

            I find it amusing that you think I'm a troll when the truth is that I use both Windows and Linux. Have for years, and I see the pros and cons in each.

            You, on the other hand, seem to like to repeat the same thing over and over again, ignoring valid arguments to the contrary or calling them "misrepresentations" or "outright lies".

            Code isn't better because it's "free", and the *vast* majority of people who use open source have no desire to muck about with the code.

            As for all of the issues with op
            • Of course there will always be problems with code. And no, "fix it yourself" is a strawman. Any able programmer can fix OSS. Just like any competent mechanic could fix any brand of car. Most people don't fix their own cars and don't want to, they pay the professionals of their choice to do that. With libre software, while they could fix it themselves the real power is having the option to hire programmers to fix problems and not have to beg the originators who often have other priorities. It's not "yo

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)
      Na, we want Bill to stay and to get rid of half the developers, "architects" and programme managers that work for MS today. Once upon a time, Windows was quite straightforward to develop for, it worked and it was well documented with a good SDK that made sense.

      Fast forward 10 years, and we have a product that has no internal consistency because we have 100 different developer teams scattered all over the world creating 'stuff' (ie object libraries, 'frameworks', etc) that just adds a layer of said baboon l
  • by GreatDrok (684119) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:03PM (#22239416) Journal
    The Amiga, Acorn Archimedes, Atari ST and so on were all capable of many of the things that Windows is only recently capable of and yet they were all products of the 1980s. MS has done nothing to advance the state of computing. The resources that are wasted on trying to deal with their proprietary crap would have been better spent elsewhere. Even today with OOXML we are still fighting them while they dig their heels in to slow progress until they are good and ready.

    20 years and counting Bill. 20 years. I weep for the state of computing under MS's jackboot.
    • I weep for the state of computing under MS's jackboot.

      "Oh, the tears of unfathomable sadness! Yummy!"
      -- Bill Gates

    • Microsoft did one thing to advance the state of computing: they made the business case that you could put cheap commodity hardware and a single operating system on EVERY FREAKING DESK in your business, and that this would allow your business to reap incredible productivity gains. And they were right. The manifest proof of how right they are is why you can buy a computer for $200 at Walmart these days -- the hardware business scaled because Microsoft said that the machine is not just for hobbyists or folks
      • Bullshit.

        The only thing that Microsoft ever did was take existing trends, embrace and extend, and make a lot of money in the process. If Microsoft had never existed the IBM PC would have run CP/M. The only functionality we might not have is the ability to embed Lotus 123 spreadsheets in our Word Perfect documents - and GNU+Linux would probably have trashed OS2 all over the place in the late 90's.

      • by GreatDrok (684119)
        Patio11 said "Like it or not, you live in the House That Bill Built."

        Actually, if you took MS out of the equation I doubt things would be any different today except that some other platform would be the most popular. Also, you assume that back in the late 80's there were no cheap solutions that could do what people needed (document preparation for example) and again you are wrong. The Amstrad WPCs were a good example of a cheap piece of hardware with integrated software aimed at the business desktop. The
      • by dangitman (862676)

        The manifest proof of how right they are is why you can buy a computer for $200 at Walmart these days

        Uhh, you could buy $200 computers back in the 1980s. But Windows pushed the prices up.

      • by OSXCPA (805476)
        If I could count on everyone on 'an internet' being able to reverse a doubly linked list, I would know the following:

        1. The internet really was full of terribly bright people;
        2. I would not be among them. I need to work on that... :)
  • yes, you idiot! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:17PM (#22239622) Homepage Journal
    He's right. And the main reason is the stuff that his company sells.

    A consistent picture in every company that I have seen from the inside, with not a single exception: The Unix (or in some places, the mainframe) department is an order of magnitude more professional than the windos group. The Unix servers run reliable (mostly), while the windos network is always a hassle. I've twice replaced the windos infrastructure for a small team with something non-windos (Solaris once, OS X once) and it worked better, with less maintainance, and more useful features.

    By now I doubt it's a coincidence, and I've come down from my former arrogance of simply assuming that windos admins are mostly stupid fuckups who couldn't get a job in real IT. If there's one constant in all the cases you see - namely microsoft software - then doubt as you may but the chances are excellent that that's the reason.

    I mostly learned that from the one really good windos admin I had the pleasure of working with. He could make things work. But the amount of trouble he had to go to was astonishing. Since then, I'm sure the problem isn't the admins (though they sometimes add to the problem, as many of them are stupid fuckups who couldn't get a job in real IT), but the crap they're forced to work with.

    • by gweihir (88907)
      I completely agree. Shure, there are incompetent adminsfor both system types. But the good Windows guys have to know way more obscure hacks and in addition these change every few years. Being a good Unix admin is demanding. But being a good Windows admin requires excellence, good memory and an a willingness to suffer that is impressive.

      In some sense, the Guru was taken out of Unix slowly over the last few decades. In Windows this role is required more than ever.
    • by weicco (645927)

      A consistent picture in every company that I have seen from the inside, with not a single exception: The Unix (or in some places, the mainframe) department is an order of magnitude more professional than the windos group.

      So in other words the companies you've been inside of have had managers that are unable to hire competent Windows admins?

      • by Tom (822)

        So in other words the companies you've been inside of have had managers that are unable to hire competent Windows admins?
        Yes, that's one way to put it.

        And the reason is that there are so few of them. I know they exist, because I've met one. Probably two. But they are kind of an endangered species, and I'm not sure if there are any breeding pairs left.
  • by Bill Dog (726542) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:37PM (#22239924) Journal
    "We'll be talking about a computer in the desk in the future."

    We've had desks for a long time now with for example a big hole in the middle covered with glass and a computer monitor angled up below it. What I don't need is a computer that is also my desk. Why? Just because we can? I want to be able to upgrade those two things independently. Most people have phones in their bedrooms near their beds, but that doesn't mean we need phones built into beds!

    "One of the biggest changes will be how you interact with the device. The devices themselves will get a lot smaller,..."

    Make the devices as small as you want, but please keep the UI portion of it sized to, oh, I don't know, maybe the operator? (Cell phone "keyboards", I'm looking at you.)
    • "We do what we must, because we can." -- GLaDOS
    • by Loibisch (964797)

      We've had desks for a long time now with for example a big hole in the middle covered with glass and a computer monitor angled up below it. What I don't need is a computer that is also my desk.
      I don't even want the former. I think it would be incredibly painful working a whole day just looking down. Your neck would be hurting like hell...
    • "We'll be talking about a computer in the desk in the future... The devices themselves will get a lot smaller."

      So, in the future, we'll be working on really tiny desks? That doesn't sound very ergonomic.

  • I'm seeing a lot of comments regarding how Gates is behind his time and there's all of these new technologies and languages and how it's making life easy, etc etc.

    I suspect Gates is alluding to the fact the engineering aspect of software development is still quite new. To put it into perspective, software engineering has been around for what, 30 MAYBE 40 years? How long have humans been building bridges? thousands of years?

    So as you can see, there is a long way to go for improvements into the engineering
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gbjbaanb (229885)

      To put it into perspective, software engineering has been around for what, 30 MAYBE 40 years?

      To put into a real perspective, Microsoft software engineering has been around for about 3 years, that's when they changed everything to a 'cool' new technology. I'd say give it 10 years and it'll be another new one, but they're changing it all the time with new stuff that keeps plopping out of MS development/architecture/framework teams.

      The reason we build good bridges is because there's only 2 or 3 designs. 1 suspension bridge is pretty much the same as another, when they do try to make something new (eg

      • I see your point, but I differ in opinion.

        Suspension bridges have a few critical areas where they HAVE to function. They basically have to support and channel the weight into the load bearing parts of the structures. You can do this in several ways, aesthetically. Not all are created equal.

        The same is true for conventional bridges and cars. Angles play a huge role in structural integrity. Everyone gives new car designs crap for being flimsy in an accident, but they are engineering marvels. True - you can't
        • by gbjbaanb (229885)

          But yes, the base designs are the same, but I think you forget just how important the little changes are

          No, I don't. Really I think the little changes are what drives us forward in a progressive way that improves everything, little by little, step by step we get better. (my original posting may not have emphasised this properly).

          Look at the new software products and its never a little change, its a large change each time. This is a problem, if they built on what they had, improving it, we'd have good software that would be a it boring, certainly not 'cool' and 'new', but it'd work a lot better.

  • He has this exactly right.

    Of course his own products, and the incompetence and greed of his company, are a major factor that it is taking so long...
  • Dear Bill,

    The 'I' in 'IT' means 'information'.

    What does your software manage ? does it manage information or bits?

    All that is needed for an explosive growth of information technology is for software to stop managing bits and start managing information...

  • by akuzi (583164) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @08:39AM (#22245016)
    Does anyone else find it strange that someone who has built the most successful tech company in history continually delivers the most vacuous, cliched and uninteresting technology predictions of any technology pundit?
  • Awesome. The faster I can get things done, the longer I can put off doing them!
  • Yeah, they all have to learn Linux or OSX. The easiest way to get away from those pesky problems is to get away from Windows.

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