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Microsoft XBox (Games) Businesses Operating Systems Software Windows

The Soul of A New Microsoft 294

Posted by Zonk
from the nice-picture-j dept.
BusinessWeek Online is running a front page story today about the new future of Microsoft. By 'looking beyond Windows', the company is utilizing fresh blood to come up with new products like the Zune, the Xbox 360, and various online sites. While the Zune probably isn't getting off to as successful a start as they might have liked, the article argues it's a positive sign that they're at least making the attempt. From the article: "The point is that Microsoft needs to find its un-Vista. Several of them, in fact. The software giant is entering perhaps the greatest upheaval in its 30-year history. New business models are emerging--from low-cost "open-source" software to advertising-supported Web services--that threaten Microsoft's core business like never before. For investors to care about the company, it needs to find new growth markets. Its $44.3 billion in annual sales are puttering along at an 11% growth pace. Its shares, which soared 9,560% throughout the 1990s, sunk 63% in 2000 when the Internet bubble burst, and they have yet to fully recover."
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The Soul of A New Microsoft

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  • by yagu (721525) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ugayay]> on Sunday November 26, 2006 @04:55PM (#16995120) Journal

    The thesis is Microsoft needs to find their un-Vista? Hardly! Microsoft needs to find their heart. Or grow one.

    Their 30-year path is strewn with castoff competitors, and wannabe partners. Microsoft has sown nothing but ill-will for the duration of their tenure. I would welcome the change that shows Microsoft wants to be a good-citizen member of the IT community and market but the evidence isn't there, in fact there isn't even a glimmer of evidence, contrary to the article's these that things like "Zune" and "X-box" are starts in the right direction.

    Consider only the most recent step to re-invent, the Novell/Linux debacle. What many considered worth waiting for on good faith to be a positive step took only days to be revealed for what it was, more steps to stamp out any competition. As long as executives with the hubris of a Steve Ballmer control the direction of Microsoft, nothing positive will happen, period.

    And, what of the collaboration with Samsung, Creative and others? To what end other than wasted time and money for Microsoft's "partners"? Bah!

    An interesting quote from the article (Allard's response to bad words from Apple re: their Zune, and how Microsoft doesn't "get it"):

    Allard was using one of the oldest motivational tricks in the book--his version of a football coach posting an opponent's quote on the locker room wall. "I for one...want to see this guy eat his words," Allard wrote. "Those are fighting words. He is speaking to every one of us and saying that we don't get it."

    This only demonstrates how much Microsoft doesn't "get it". Microsoft benchmarks everything it does against perceived outside competition -- it'd be nice to see them invent their own cool stuff. Interestingly (to me), they had a chance to do just that with Zune, and completely blew it by trying to measure themselves against the ipod.

    I'm not saying Microsoft doesn't have the right to be a good tough business to make good products and good profits, but Microsoft has mostly been about making products barely clearing the bar while making usurious profits with (what eventually was ruled by DOJ, and the EU) illegal monopolistic leveraging.

    I know it's an old saw, but I've been waiting more than 20 years for market forces to take hold and allow technology to evolve in a marketplace that encourages competition, i.e., one that diminishes the Microsoft effect (how many company's do you know of whose business model included a goal or contingency to be bought out by Microsoft?). Microsoft may now reap what they've sown.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by flyingsquid (813711)
      Microsoft didn't become a 300 billion dollar company by playing nice and innovating. They did it by figuring out where they needed to be after the innovators had already gotten there and done it first. They did this with operating systems, office software, and the world wide web. They got there second with a tolerable product and then marketed the hell out of it. Microsoft was rarely first, rarely best, and never nice, but they got the market share, and that's what made them a success. The Microsoft of old
      • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @06:27PM (#16995964)
        They got there second with a tolerable product and then marketed the hell out of it.

        Microsoft rose to the top by illegal business practices, from per-processor pricing to the illegal leveraging of their monopoly in order to get the marketshare. Read the trial transcripts where Microsoft execs admitted that they had to bundle second rate products with Windows in order to grab the marketshare.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 26, 2006 @07:46PM (#16996626)
          You can't get to the top by leveraging a monopoly, because when you have a monopoly you're already at the top.

          There are so many valid criticisms it's a shame to make them up.
        • Microsoft rose to the top by illegal business practices, from per-processor pricing to the illegal leveraging of their monopoly in order to get the marketshare. Read the trial transcripts where Microsoft execs admitted that they had to bundle second rate products with Windows in order to grab the marketshare.


          It's still marketing... it just happens to be a form of marketing that's illegal when you hold a monopoly.

    • by reporter (666905) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @05:32PM (#16995458) Homepage
      The name that you are seeking is "Gary Kildall [wikipedia.org]". His work revolutionized the operating system (OS) on personal computers (PC), and many of his ideas survive into the modern PC OS.

      To summarize a very long story, an employee at Seattle Computer Products (SCP) cloned (i.e., ripped off) CP/M, which Kildall developed. Bill Gates, the young founder of Microsoft, licensed an OS to IBM, but this OS was not yet under the control of Gates. In other words, Gates sold a product that he did not actually have. After inking the deal with IBM, Gates then bought a permanent liftime license to SCP's OS. That OS morphed over a two decades into the infamous line of Windows OSes.

      As for Kildall, he understandably became very bitter. Kildall was financially well off, but he never achieved either the fame or the wealth that Gates achieved. If Gates had gotten the billion-dollar wealth but Kildall had gotten the fame (for his work on OSes), then Kildall would probably have accepted the outcome. However, Kildall achieved neither the fame nor the wealth. The bitterness drove Kildall to essentially commit suicide by drinking himself to death. He died in a bar.

      I understand Kildall's feelings. Someone had screwed me in the same way that Gates screwed Kildall.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        "He died in a bar... I understand Kildall's feelings. Someone had screwed me in the same way that Gates screwed Kildall."

        The way you tell it, it sounds like Kildall screwed himself by measuring his success ("wealth and fame") against that of Gates.

        Bad idea. Envy is not only a shitty business model -- as one J Allard is currently discovering to his chagrin -- but it's also a crappy way to live your life.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sinbios (852437)
        If Kildall couldn't have made the business decision that Gates made with that first transaction, then he really doesn't deserve any of the fame or wealth of Microsoft today. If Gates hadn't done what he did, I really doubt Kildall could have taken the opportunity to go as far as Microsoft did, anyway.
      • by bogjobber (880402) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @07:19PM (#16996398)
        Why the hell does QDOS get such a bad rap for ripping off CP/M? As far as I understand it, all they did was clone the API. It had near-identical functionality as CP/M, but nobody working on QDOS had any knowledge of the actual CP/M code. When DRI stalled in discussions with IBM, Microsoft jumped on the opportunity to take their place. If Kildall really desired the fame and wealth, then he shouldn't have screwed up the business deal with IBM. What is wrong with that? Is there something I'm missing? I never hear people complaining about companies cloning IBM PC's. Am I just wildly misinformed?
        • by westlake (615356) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @08:08PM (#16996776)
          Am I just wildly misinformed?

          no. it's just that this bedtime tale of heroes and villains is easier to live with than the truth.

        • by daviddennis (10926) <david@amazing.com> on Sunday November 26, 2006 @10:46PM (#16997802) Homepage
          I think there's a little more to the story than this. Qdos had some features that made it distinctly superior to CP/M, and CP/M itself was largely based on an even more ancient operating system.

          For instance to copy a file, CP/M required that a program called PIP (Peripheral Interchange Program I think) be on a floppy disk in your computer. You could then use its arcane syntax:

          A> pip
          *a:=b:foo.txt

          Qdos had a copy command in memory so it didn't have to be ondisk. The syntax was also a little more intuitive:

          A> copy foo.txt b:

          I might add that if my memory serves the PIP command and CP/M's 6+3 file structure were copied from DEC's RT/11 operating system. Essentially, CP/M was RT/11 for microcomputers except it left out some of RT/11's nicer features, like background processing.

          Qdos was a solid incremental improvement then. It added commands like 'copy', replaced the 6+3 file system with an 8+3 file system, and I'm sure there were other improvements I know little about.

          The original developer of QDOS worked on and off for Microsoft for over a decade in total. He also founded other companies. It doesn't look like he's mad at Bill most likely because in the aggregate Bill paid him quite a bit of money as an employee, and by taking over one of his later companies. Although not as rich as Bill Gates, I'm sure he's very comfortable.

          D

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by kabdib (81955)
        If Gary had been on the ball technically (instead of being self-absorbed and not seeming to worry about the company's long-term prospects) then utter disasters like GEM would never have happened.

        DRI became technically irrelevant around 1986. They could have saved things, they could have hired better people, done some decent UI design, gotten some apps together, done some decent technology, but they just pissed the opportunity away.

        Microsofties might have been arrogant, but at least they were willing to cut
        • by jejones (115979)
          >The DRI folks never got past arrogance and a high-falutin' "we can't possibly be wrong" attitude. Found a bug in the linker, or CP/M, or GEMDOS? You had to prove it six different ways, then they'd fix it WRONG.

          Funny you should say that. I recall a letter to the editor of BYTE magazine describing an experience with a bug in Microsoft's FORTRAN compiler. After several releases in which the bug remained unfixed, the letter writer finally got a response from Microsoft that they were in fact not going to fix
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by westlake (615356)
        the as-yet unreleased CP/M-86 was {IBM's] first choice for an operating system because CP/M had the most applications at the time. Negotiations between Digital Research and IBM quickly deteriorated over IBM's non-disclosure agreement and its insistence on a one-time fee rather than DRI's usual royalty licensing plan. After discussions with Microsoft, IBM licensed an operating system similar to CP/M that a Seattle area computer company had made for its own hardware. This system became PC-DOS. CP/M-86 [wikipedia.org]

        Gate

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mdfst13 (664665)
        Of all the people with whom Microsoft has dealt, they did well by Kildall. Since their software ran on CP/M, they kept sending him customers.

        IBM wanted software written to work with their new PC. A high ranking executive knew Gates' mom (Mary Gates). IBM approached Microsoft and asked for some help. As part of that talk, Microsoft told them that they were using CP/M as their OS and sent IBM to Kildall. Kildall almost screwed Microsoft here. IBM and Microsoft had a deal, which almost failed because of
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Bamafan77 (565893)

        "Kildall was financially well off, but he never achieved either the fame or the wealth that Gates achieved. If Gates had gotten the billion-dollar wealth but Kildall had gotten the fame (for his work on OSes), then Kildall would probably have accepted the outcome. However, Kildall achieved neither the fame nor the wealth. The bitterness drove Kildall to essentially commit suicide by drinking himself to death. He died in a bar."

        Anyone one who kills himself for not being rich or famous enough (especially if

      • I think your comment is a little unfair towards Bill Gates. CP/M was a very limited operating system, compared to MS-DOS 2.0 and later versions...and Windows NT has nothing to do with CP/M!

        Lots of people are bitter towards Bill Gates, but the fact is that he was the one that saw the business opportunities and therefore got a chance to shape the future...
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by NeoNastyNerd (624859)
      I believe that Microsoft is still being run by its original founders (Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer in particular), who still put forth the old Microsoft mentality. As new blood enters the company and the old (can I say "cancer?"), is finally evicted, they may actually turn into an ethical corporation. If you look at many of the MSDN blogs you can see that the developers coming into the company now are much more familiar with the FOSS and understand what it means. I see a sort of "grass roots" change goi
      • by Ucklak (755284)
        This new blood has no idea how to make money however.

        Zune and XBox is still dependant upon the core OS and Office money makers in order to exist.

        Zune will never ever be as ubiquitous as the iPod unless it is allowed to run on other operating systems.
        Even if you were successful enough to convert 100% of Windows iPod users to the Zune, it still won't be the numbers of the Apple/Windows iPod user base.

        DRM is Microsoft's only hope for future revenue outside of the OS and Office products. If they can get digita
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by NeoNastyNerd (624859)
          I guess I would argue that the only reason the iPod has taken of is not because it is allowed to run on "other" operating systems but specifically because it will run on THE operating system: Windows. If you look at the MacOS market share vs iPod market share you will see that there just aren't enough Macs out there to match the 85% iPod market share. Microsoft does not have to make their music player run on other operating systems any more than Apple does; They just have to run on the dominant OS. I do
    • by Teun (17872)
      butMicrosoft has mostly been about making products barely clearingthe bar

      Come on don't be so negative, although their new OS is dubious at best I really like my Microsoft mouse, that makes it no worse than 50/50 for them!

    • by Taagehornet (984739) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @06:35PM (#16996032)
      Microsoft has mostly been about making products barely clearing the bar
      Conveniently choosing to ignore the work done by Anders Hejlsberg & Co with the .net framework
      Conveniently choosing to ignore the groundbreaking research on language design and static code analysis done by the Spec# [microsoft.com] team
      Conveniently choosing to ignore that the debugger in Visual Studio stands head and shoulders above the competition
      Conveniently choosing to ignore how Microsoft has been able to establish itself as a major player in the game console world in surprisingly short time

      The list continues, but who am I kidding, could anyone here be bothered...
    • make windows open-source and sell support for it, the user-base is already there, the software support is there and contrary to what alot of /. thinks, there are good ideas and features of Windows that could be further developed by the inclusion of a wider development audience. this may not be the cash cow that Microsoft is used to, but its better than dying off from a lack of creativity and vision. and maybe, just maybe, they'd get some of their more elusive projects out of the door (WinFS anyone?)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by oc255 (218044)

      how many company's do you know of whose business model included a goal or contingency to be bought out by Microsoft?

      A couple. First, promised Unix integration in a domain. A product that would serve up /etc/passwd accounts to 2000 domains was brought to its knees by promised vaporware and then MS bought them out. Why would I buy a "Unix connector" when 2000 is promising to have it? Killed their revenue stream, was easy to make an offer. Classic vaporware, second-hand story.

      Next, not so harsh, MS approa

  • Percent confusion (Score:2, Informative)

    by Nemetroid (883968)
    Its shares, which soared 9,560% throughout the 1990s, sunk 63% in 2000 when the Internet bubble burst, and they have yet to fully recover."
    If there is someone out there that thinks this was a minor loss because of the strange wording, it wasn't.
  • by LilWolf (847434) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @05:03PM (#16995214)
    Its $44.3 billion in annual sales are puttering along at an 11% growth pace.
    Really, 11% growth is considered bad? That's 4,8 billion growth annually!
    • by TopSpin (753) *
      That 'puttering' characterization caught my eye also. There are a lot of CEOs that would be quite proud of 11% annual growth, even on an order of magnitude less revenue. There are investors that won't consider a stock that isn't growing 20% annually. Then there are mutual funds, pension plans, municipalities and wealthy investors that appreciate consistent, secure returns. This BusinessWeek ditty is intended for the former.

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @05:06PM (#16995242) Homepage
    "The software giant is entering perhaps the greatest upheaval in its 30-year history."

    Yeah, right. Like the upheaval when they announced a top-to-bottom-all-new-strategy named .NET, and the upheaval when they decided this Internet thing was really important and reorganized themselves top-to-bottom to take advantage of it, and the upheaval in 1995 when Bill Gates said that the "social interface" was the future of computing and introduced the all-new revolutionary Microsoft BOB.

    (Social interface? Come to think of it, where have I heard something like that out of Microsoft just recently...)

    Microsoft is always talking about upheavals, but meanwhile what they actually do is keep cranking out big bloated monolithic versions of Windows with badly-copied slightly-distorted features in other operating systems, and strong-arming PC vendors into preloading them.

    • .NET = SAA
      Vista = OS/2

      Proving the computer industry is like a Saturday afternoon matinee...if you hang around long enough, things start repeating themselves.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Kyokugenryu (817869)
      I know I'm going to get modded down for this, but I don't care. Why do people (in particular, *nix/Mac enthusiasts) love to simply rag on Microsoft SO much? There's a huge, huge, huge percentage of the computing world who's happy with Microsoft and would never DREAM of trying something else. I mean, I've run a myriad of OSes, like any good enthusiast, but aside from keeping BSD on my home server, I've always gone back to Windows. Why? They make the most intuitive products in the world. The Windows 95
      • by rhizome (115711)
        There's a huge, huge, huge percentage of the computing world who's happy with Microsoft and would never DREAM of trying something else.

        There's a huge, huge, huge percentage of those people who don't really care what's on the computer. If it was OSX they'd learn to do the three things they do there and go on with their day. Microsoft themselves are irrelevant to most of their customers because most of their users do not dream about computer operating systems. Coincidentally, this is also why the Linux deskto
      • I have one word for you: Learn paragraphs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SeaFox (739806)
      You forgot the upheaval to make security a top priority.
    • by westlake (615356)
      strong-arming PC vendors into preloading them.

      Get a clue. You don't have to strong-arm anyone to build for 95% of the domestic PC market.

    • Dell computer is an example of a PC vendor that preloads Windows.

      Once that is done, it is up to Dell to provide (and they have decided that they will) the customer with sufficent restoration media/partitions to allow (and they do) a complete reinstall of Windows, should the original become unusable in the eyes of the customer.
      There has been some talk, for instance, about the Dell notebook Inspiron E1505 shipping with too much software, and bogging the machine down, even with 2GB of RAM, and the Intel Dual c
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @05:14PM (#16995312)
    Thing is, their success with Windows was being at the right place at the right time, utilizing ruthless business tactics and just being plain lucky.

    They could get away for a decade worth of half-assed technical side and marketing because of their monopoly. Thing is, whenever they tried to enter another market, it raised the question why. When looking at their attempts, many people drew the conclusion, that they wanted to compete at any price and that's why they threw their sometimes failing products out there. In retrospect I think we can say that they tried to perform their usual strategy, but without the backing of the monopoly they fell flat on their face. Of course, the notable exception is the Xbox 360. It might be luck, or that the Xbox division independent enough from the core MS that it can make itself work.

    Microsoft is not reinventing itself, at least not yet. Zune is an utter failure and I can't think of any single successful product apart from Xbox 360, Windows and Office that was a success. The last two wells are drying up.
    • by Slithe (894946)
      I can't think of any single successful product apart from Xbox 360, Windows and Office that was a success (sic: redundant).
      They make some decent mice and keyboards, and those seem to be selling. MediaCentre PCs also seem to be selling, but Apple might blow MS out of the water.
    • Microsoft Home & Entertainment has lost over $5 billion dollars from 2002-2005. That's not thinking different, that's spending your competition into the ground.

      Now, as a strategy, they're bribing content providers by allocating product revenue to those providers [MS is giving a record company a cut of Zune hardware revenues].

      How is that competition? Only a monopoly with large cross-subsidies could afford to do anything like that.

      If MS H&E were a private comapny, they'd be six feet under years ago.
    • by drsmithy (35869)

      They could get away for a decade worth of half-assed technical side and marketing because of their monopoly.

      What alternatives and timeframe are you comparing to such that Microsoft's "technical side" was "half assed" ?

  • New business models are emerging--from low-cost "open-source" software to advertising-supported Web services--that threaten Microsoft's core business like never before.

    ...And my idea is...

    With more close to a billion Windows machines out there, ranging from hand-helds to desktops, to laptops and servers, Microsoft should advertise on the desktops themselves. It should be done this way:

    Whenever any of these systems accesses the internet, an update to which advertisers get to the desktop interface is done.

    • by GrahamCox (741991)
      Microsoft should advertise on the desktops themselves

      No thanks. I'm sick of Microsoft assuming they own my bloody computer! It's mine, not theirs! The way IE7 is foisted on us whether we like it or not - that's just plain arrogant. Microsoft doesn't get this either - it's MY BLOODY COMPUTER!

      Actually I use a Mac, so I'm only empathising with those who suffer from this, like most of my colleagues at work, who are now trying to clean up after the mess left by IE7's crappy and unwanted install. This is
      • by bogaboga (793279) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @05:44PM (#16995606)
        No thanks. I'm sick of Microsoft assuming they own my bloody computer! It's mine, not theirs! The way IE7 is foisted on us whether we like it or not - that's just plain arrogant. Microsoft doesn't get this either - it's MY BLOODY COMPUTER!

        But it's Microsoft's Operating System. You are just a licensee! And Microsoft could choose to withdraw its license at anytime. Microsoft could argue that it has a right to to the "necessary" with its software. After all you agreed to its licensing terms when you installed it.

        • by GrahamCox (741991)
          >But it's Microsoft's Operating System. You are just a licensee! And Microsoft could choose to withdraw its license at anytime. Microsoft could argue that it has a right to to the "necessary" with its software. After all you agreed to its licensing terms when you installed it.

          Maybe this is a big part of what is wrong with MS. With no other consumer product would people put up with this. New car sir? Certainly - just sign here to say you agree that GM can install speed restrictor "upgrades" at any tim
          • by drsmithy (35869)

            This is another reason that Macs suck much less - Apple don't assume they own your machine.

            Because it *is* normal for software.

      • by drsmithy (35869)

        Actually I use a Mac, [...]

        But you don't complain about the stuff Apple "foists" on you, right ? Because Apple's stuff is cool...

  • ...last week, due to Sony and Nintendo's failures, and uh, if Microsoft had been a console developer and had none of this other baggage, I'm pretty sure we'd be giving them much more love than we do here on Slashdot.

    This is pretty much just a diversion until I can find a PS3/Wii, but, it's not been as terrible as I had convinced myself to expect.
    • You will know by mid 2008 the status of the console war. Right now it is a lame supply-and-demand game. IMHO PS3/Wii haven't even officially threw a punch.

  • What kind of an excuse is that? Why do we want Microsoft entering new markets that it is not good at? And how is this something new? Microsoft have always tried to embrace and extend themselves into new areas they suck at. It's what they've always done, and it's pathetic. How about actuallly focusing on users and existing products for once?
    • by suckmysav (763172)
      "How about actuallly focusing on users and existing products for once?"

      Because the writing is on the wall. Their OS cashcow won't live forever and they know it. They need a new source of revenue already up and running at the time that the Windows cow dies. It's that simple.
  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @05:25PM (#16995400) Homepage Journal
    Tip to Microsoft, Sony and the media industry: Stop trying to control things absolutely and bullying anyone who doesn't play ball. These are actions of spoiled children and do everything to alienate the customer. The fact you still have customers is a testiment that many people don't realise how badly you are screwing them. The companies that end up getting the most support are those who have good balance of trying to be successful and appealing to the customers interests. Respect is earned not inforced.
  • Factoid (Score:5, Funny)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @05:27PM (#16995416)
    Factoid: Microsoft owns the domains www. anti zune.com / net / org. But they do not own www.zune.com.
  • What The?!? (Score:2, Insightful)

    I would think the Zune, which requires the use of its own piss poor (and proprietary) music format, it's crapload of DRM, and it's incompatability with EVERYTHING that came before it would indicate they are going in the exact same direction as always. The major problem with Ipod is DRM which doesn't allow me to do stuff I should legally have the right to do. Is Microsoft getting rusty and not even able to know WHAT to copy anymore. Anyway, I guess Zune is bed with the so-called "Music Industry" anyway, a
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ericdano (113424)
      "The major problem with Ipod is DRM which doesn't allow me to do stuff I should legally have the right to do."

      Such as? Lets see, you can burn your purchases to CD. You can have them on multiple computers and iPods. What do you, legally, have the right to do with the songs that you cannot do?
      • by Blakey Rat (99501)
        From my understanding, you don't legally have the right to burn a CD of the music unless allowed by the copyright holder. So if anything Apple's DRM allows you to do MORE than the law requires. I'd love to see evidence otherwise.
        • by ericdano (113424)
          Well, Apple has let you burn Audio CDs of purchases off the iTunes store since the beginning. I don't know where you came up with the idea that you cannot burn a CD.
          • Re:What The?!? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @07:36PM (#16996526)
            Well, Apple has let you burn Audio CDs of purchases off the iTunes store since the beginning. I don't know where you came up with the idea that you cannot burn a CD.

            He's saying that yes, you can burn a CD - the capability is there and always has been there, but there never was the legal right that you may burn a CD - and thus Apple's DRM, in some ways at least, allows more abilities than the law protects rights.
      • by Tharkban (877186)
        how about be able to copy the music FROM the ipod back onto a computer (think moving music) while not placing it in the "data" part of memory on the ipod, so that it can actually be played in the meantime. That is a feature that would be very nice, and is only disallowed because of DRM. No technical reason.
        • by ericdano (113424)
          Um. No, it is allowed. The new version of iTunes (7) allows this [apple.com]. Go do some research before you open your mouth.
          • by Tharkban (877186)
            Why?
            It didn't work when I needed it to work.
            So they fixed that particular problem later? They still lost my trust.
            Anyway, I don't have to do research before relating my experience with a product.
            Hopefully my little brother got the message that DRM only restricts things that should be possible from a technical point of view.
            Maybe my warnings sunk in.
            I'll be buying something else when I get around to buying an mp3 player, and it sure won't be a zune either.
  • by Ant P. (974313) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @05:35PM (#16995482) Homepage
    It's a concept someone found a way to profit off of. It can exist just fine without business, so MS are pretty much screwed if they try competing with it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      That's because the people that write these articles are just like Microsoft... they see computers as money making machines and only the computer's ability to improve people's lives secondarily or if all.

      Everything related to computers has to be "business" to these people... it has nothing to do with providing good products or changing the world in any sort of good way.

      And, and it's a common theme around here, the population is too dumb to know any difference...
  • by Aphrika (756248) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @05:35PM (#16995484)
    Apple.

    Seriously, in 1997 Apple was on the brink of extermination. It had a stale product line, and abortive OS update (Copland) begun in 1994 which was eventually canned, it's replacement to appear a massive 7 years later as OS X. And you think MS's handling of Vista was bad...

    Them boom! Jobs is back, the iMac appears, OS X appears, the iPod appears, switches to Intel, Apple reinvents itself again - successfully. You could argue that Jobs is pretty much the heart and soul of Apple.

    Microsoft don't have anyone like that. You could argue that Bill Gates is, but most of the projects he's personally championed have been niche markets. Sure, they've had their successful market areas; Windows Mobile, Xbox, Windows Mediacenter, Auto PCs, but you kind of wish they'd look again at what people want.

    Apple get it; get a person iTunes, an iPod and a Mac and they're sorted for most of their entertainment needs. Want it around the house? Get an Airtunes adaptor.

    Sony don't get it; PSP speaks to PS3, and um... ATRAC? Minidisc? Er... Memory Stick slots? Their idea of a digital home doesn't incorporate other vendors and isn't feature-complete. On its own, Sony stuff doesn't make you go 'wow'.

    Microsoft desperately need to get it and the thing they have going in their favour is - ironically - interoperability. Apple and Sony are stuck in lock-in land - our kit, our standards, our profit. If Microsoft took their head out of the sand for a moment and realised this, bit their lip and went with something a bit more open-minded, then they could really make a difference. However, like Sony and Apple, I think they'll be putting their bottom line/market share first, and what consumers want second. It's nice that we're seeing a change though and that they're having a shot at trying new stuff with the Xbox 360 (definitely a great console, no matter how you cut it) and Zune (average first try), but they need to try a bit harder...
    • Them boom! Jobs is back, the iMac appears, OS X appears, the iPod appears, switches to Intel, Apple reinvents itself again - successfully. You could argue that Jobs is pretty much the heart and soul of Apple.

      Which goes to show how good Apple's marketing really is. Apple has exactly one undebatably successful product: the iPod. The Mac's marketshare is (still) microscopic and irrelevent, and not even growing significantly (in fact, I think marketshare may have fallen, but I'm not up on recent stats). You could possibly argue iTunes is a success, but again, their marketshare of music in general is nothing.

      Jobs' real genius is in -- I hate to say it -- lying. He can twist facts around to convince people of nearly the opposite (this is infamously called the "reality distortion field" by the employees, though to be fair, his salesmanship can also be inspiring as well). He's basically a high-level slick used-car salesman.

      • The Mac's marketshare is (still) microscopic and irrelevent
        But it's overpriced so Apple still gains profit on it.
      • "Success" doesn't mean "stomping out the competition". "Success" means "sell at a profit".

        iTunes is a success in that it is part of what sells iPods. No iTunes and the iPod would have failed.
        • "Success" doesn't mean "stomping out the competition". "Success" means "sell at a profit".

          If my kid runs a lemonade stand and makes a profit, is he a "success" COMPARED (key word) to Minutemaid? No, though he's a success by the standards of children. By the same token, if I make $5.35/hour minimum wage (or whatever it is these days), am I success by the normal standards of society, even though I'm "making a profit"? No, I'm not. I'm a low-wage grunt. But by the standards of, say, Mexico, $5.35 is great

    • You complain, "Apple and Sony are stuck in lock-in land - our kit, our standards, our profit," and then go on to laud Microsoft for the coming up with the Zune, which is Microsoft doing the lock-in thing a la iPod/iTunes.

      I also question your assertion that Microsoft has interoperability going for it. Interoperability with other Microsoft products, maybe, but people like myself who have to deal with getting and keeping non-Microsoft systems talking to a Microsoft-based world see it differently.

      ~Philly
    • That's funny I think the PSP is the most used media player that doesn't force DRM on you. I can play more non-DRM music and video on the PSP than any other mobile device of those mentioned companies. If you're going to bitch about vendor lock-in you choose a poor example. Do you really have lie just to bring a slashdot whooping boy into your 'argument'? =)
  • "Allard works on an Apple G5 computer, next to an obviously less frequently used pc."

    So, Microsoft's new hope uses a Mac... That caught me off guard.
  • by MMaestro (585010) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @05:45PM (#16995614)
    Its shares, which soared 9,560% throughout the 1990s, sunk 63% in 2000 when the Internet bubble burst, and they have yet to fully recover.

    So Microsoft's stock flies to Mars in the 90's and then comes back to the moon in 2000 after the .com bubble? Someone wanna tell me why Microsoft should take its eyes off the OS market? Sounds like they're not the uber juggernaut they once were, but they're not exactly going to declare bankruptcy anytime soon.

    • Well, you see that the up and down figures have a different size. Almost all the bubble hapened during the 90's, so it is not just a matter of bad interval.

      And it is really hard to tell if MS is near bankrupt or not, because they use stock options a lot and their spending is anything but simple to classify.

    • by killjoe (766577)
      Microsoft makes a lot of money buying and selling it's own stock. Without agressive growth the stock won't go up as much. MS profits will decrease because they will be making less money buying and selling their own stock. The decreased profits will drop the price of the stock. Rinse, and repeat.

  • ..how far off the cover presentation of the article is from the content of the article. J Allard, the edgy thinker at Microsoft? He couldn't save the Zune launch, he's had his chance. Getting rid of guys like him, and the kinds of binds that Sony has trouble shaking is gonna be the baseline requirement for Microsoft to find its way. They can't engineer their way out of anti-consumer corporate shackles.
  • > "The point is that Microsoft needs to find its un-Vista."

    Or, said differently, Microsoft needs to find its Apple.

    Not gonna happen any time soon. ;-)

  • by ProfessionalCookie (673314) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @07:02PM (#16996282) Journal
    Here's some insight [google.com] on how they holidays are looking so far. I know the scale is terrible so here's another that shows how things haven't changed [google.com] much after the original (notice that the Sansa didn't even have that much excitment) announcement- not even for the release date. Also notice the lack of recent news releases for Zune- Google conspiracy? I think Not.

    Finally, something a little more objective [google.com].

    As far as Windows goes, if MS wants to make real progress they'd break binary compatibility (san virtualization per "Classic"), get rid of legacy hardware support and depreciate/destroy old APIs. 'Course my theory is that Microsoft isn't interested in progress. That said, I'm bit jealous of Picasa and the Filmstrip view.

  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @07:07PM (#16996324)
    Just innovative ways of making a loss?

     
  • by hmbcarol (937668) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @07:12PM (#16996356)
    While the Zune hardware is not bad, the execution of the whole package lays bare the heart of Microsoft.

    Having DRM I can deal with because I can choose to not purchase music from their store. I can obtain it elsewhere. But the fact they send money to Universal Music just from selling the hardware exposes whose side they are on. Even if I never buy from the RIAA they get their pound of flesh. Buyers are forced to pay the "music thief" tax.

    Buy a Zune and send money to the people who will sue you or some old lady next year.

    I also find it astounding people fall for their "point" scheme. Buy points now and leave a few dozen on the table each time you buy music. They make interest from all those points and mock you with it. It's anti-consumer like 10 hotdogs in a package versus 8 buns in a pack. It forces you to buy more than you want.

    The faux-cool of the "it's got wifi and it's not an iPod" crowd astounds me. They are so eager to be "so cool they can't sell out by owning an iPod" are the very same people causing money to go to the RIAA and buying into the very vender who will enslave their music and hardware later.

    Make no mistake. The reason MS sends money to Universal Music is to make it harder for all of the other hardware venders to avoid it. It sets up MS as the only people who will be able to do this. To borrow a bad line, "in the future all MP3 players are Microsoft".

    BTW, and who thought of the "squirting music" to a Brown Zune bit? Probably the same one who thought "Welcome to the Social" was as sophisticated as the Dr Scholls "I'm Gelli'n, are you Gelli'n" ads. Ecch.

    The only one who deserves a Brown Zune for Christmas is Bill Gates.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @07:26PM (#16996440) Homepage Journal
    In order for MS to grow and for its stock to grow it has to create the equivalent of a Fortune 200 company every year. This is simply not feasible via internal organic growth. So MS has to do both of the following: it has to acquire companies ASAP and it has to grow into new markets. The problem with acquisition is that MS is a victim of their own success. There aren't that many companies left to buy. With 90% of the market, who is there left to vanquish? The problem with new markets is that it places them in the same crap shoot as everyone else. They have to be willing to bet a lot of money on projects that have a high likelihood of failure.
  • by gamer4Life (803857) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @09:11PM (#16997232)
    We're the ones that are funding all of Microsoft's foray into console development and digital music players. We pay the Windows tax which gets funnelled into these worthless products of theirs. Not much of what Microsoft does is innovative. XBox? Zune? They do nothing for the advancement of technology. At least with Sony, they innovate somewhat. From the Cell to Blu-ray, at least that's new. Microsoft just takes a market segment and uses it's Windows monopoly to dominate.

    Boycott the Zune and the XBox - get them to do something innovative for once.

  • As we all know, IBM made a crucial mistake when they licenced DOS for the PC instead of bought it, giving Bill Gates a license to print money. Right now, they're working on Vista, but Vista's biggest competators are XP, 2000, NT, 98, etc, etc, meaning the installed base that doesn't see the value in the new one.

    The Zune? That follows the iPod. The XBox, etc? Follows the PS2, etc. There are some neat things, but none of them are a printing license like the IBM license deal was.

    I don't know that another such
  • They should try ergonomic peripherals.
  • by slapys (993739) on Monday November 27, 2006 @01:40AM (#16998648)
    Recently we have seen many examples of unethical business behavior from Microsoft Corp. Readers of this website respond like they are surprised.

    Microsoft is just another company with an obligation to its shareholders to continually increase profits. The tactics it has used to do so have hardly been ethical, but the company is financially successful. What would you do in an authoritative position in Microsoft? Open Office's document format? Issue a press release to all major PC manufacturers that they are freely allowed to install other operating systems? Of course you wouldn't. You would use your authoritative position to make decisions that maximize profits. Just because none of you would ever enter such a position due to your beliefs does not matter.

    What did you expect? Stop sitting around hoping that Microsoft will behave ethically and change its ways. It will not. The only way out is for a competitive (powerful, robust, and cost-effective) alternative to exist. Slashdot enjoys an educated readership. If you want to see this company's market share shrink for the benefit of the computing world, make a contribution of time and effort to Microsoft Windows' most cost-effective competitor. Join the Ubuntu Linux community [ubuntu.com].

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