Microsoft C/D

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This is the essay I was talking about on

Paul Graham is a stunning tool, but I think his basic point (younger computer users just don't understand the idea that Microsoft is relevant, never mind a threat) is not without merit.

It's difficult for me to say, having worked in an academic, Microsoft-free bubble for ten years, but I think it's equally difficult for people working in a corporate environment making software for other corporate environments (where Microsoft is clearly still the only game in town).

Would be interested in JW's perspective on this. You work in a semi-corporate, semi-Windows environment, right?

caek, Friday, 25 July 2008 23:32 (fourteen years ago) link

This is the essay I was talking about on Version control poll!

caek, Friday, 25 July 2008 23:33 (fourteen years ago) link

Thing is, big corporate environments are mostly ruled by IBM, rather than Microsoft, and if you'd asked this question twenty years ago, it would've been IBM that were the subject. One of the interesting things I think is how Microsoft are often criticised for stifling innovation, monopolistic behaviour etc. etc. etc. and really what's behind it is just the people love to have a go at the big guy. as they did when IBM was dominant.

Microsoft and IBM were partners, when they were building OS/2 in the late 1980s; however, ultimately, Bill Gates ditched IBM and went on to build Windows NT (largely same codebase) basically because (I believe it was the straw that broke the camel's back) IBM wanted only non-proportional fonts, so they could support their existing business who used old printers that didn't support proportional fonts. Now that's a pretty brave decision, I think.

They have acted in monopolistic ways it seems to me for sure (though the court cases were just a nonsense), but the other companies are all up to it too. They are after all, companies. It seems to me that all Microsoft have been is better at it. Apple for example, seem to come in for precious little criticism for despite the fact that they embrace open software standards, they insist that every penny you pay to use a computer to run all of these open standards, is on a piece of Apple hardware. In addition, all the "Microsoft nicked it off of Apple" stuff just seems stupid; they both nicked it from Xerox PARC.

One thing I think differentiates MS and Apple at the moment, is that Apple seem to take the subject of software rot seriously. It seems the next release of OS X is just performance enhancements and cleaning the codebase up. This is the sort of thing that'll let them go on for far longer before becoming a lumbering beast of a piece of code that can't be changed much, like I assume Windows pretty much is now.

I think Microsoft's problems at the moment stem from Windows Vista. I installed it on my Mac some time ago (I have an MSDN license) and was kind of stunned at how well, nothing it was. If I didn't have the MSDN license, I would've been expected to pay 250 quid for it and for what? Some additional security? It's hard for me to feel happy about that... In that (despite understanding the economics), security is sort of something I would expect to have; not something to have to shell out another 250 quid for. So what are they actually doing for me? I thought Office '97 was great. I thought Visual Studio was great. They invented code assist in VB5, which is a major innovation. I remember in 1997 or so when I first saw that, I called my friend over and we both instantly saw the future, the first time I felt this since I saw a "WIMP" interface in the early 1980s. Over the next few years, all the manuals disappeared from our desks. But this is all about ten years ago. I haven't seen them do anything since then. It feels like John Major's government... Just tired.

Keith, Saturday, 26 July 2008 18:47 (fourteen years ago) link

Oh and I'm really not sure about that essay's point that all applications will now live on the web. It's perfectly conceivable that they could, but why would they, when it's bound to make for a better user experience to just run them on your own computer, if being 'on the internet' is not a specific advantage.

- All the office substitutes are still shit. Why would I rather run them 'on the internet'?
- Why is running Photoshop 'on the internet' going to be good for me?
- Sound and Video processing - very processor intensive and use lots of storage. Can't see a company letting me use their processors for very little money, nor me being arsed uploading and downloading huge files just right now

I don't think the change is because of this; it's because these applications (say Word, Photoshop etc.) are now at a point where 99% of users really don't need them to do any more. Word has been there since 1997 for that matter, probably Photoshop too. Running them 'on the internet' just doesn't really matter a toss. Keeping my files there maybe.

Keith, Saturday, 26 July 2008 19:04 (fourteen years ago) link

eight months pass...



Prince of Persia (Ed), Saturday, 25 April 2009 15:31 (thirteen years ago) link


Nhex, Saturday, 25 April 2009 22:36 (thirteen years ago) link

(actually I don't know if the Solver in that is even usable)

Nhex, Saturday, 25 April 2009 22:37 (thirteen years ago) link

Even if solver isn;t the lack of support for VBA extensions is a bit more of a pisser.


Prince of Persia (Ed), Saturday, 25 April 2009 22:41 (thirteen years ago) link

one month passes...

More excel nonsense.

So I started using a big external monitor for convenience with big spreadsheets and ever since excel has crashed within seconds of opening every time I have run it. Turns out microsoft have not implemented multiple desktop or multiple monitor support properly and the formula bar gets orphaned wherever you left it. It tries to draw it on a monitor that isn't there, it has kittens and crashes out. Microsoft's support website says that Apple didn't implement spaces properly. WTF, I can't think of any other application that has this issue with palates and toolbars?

I can't wait for google docs spreadsheet to complete the last few bits of functionality I need, or to implement plug-ins so someone else can.

Mornington Crescent (Ed), Monday, 22 June 2009 14:34 (thirteen years ago) link

I think the Spaces thing is true -- it doesn't work right on Carbon apps (you get some weird behaviour on CS3 and CS4 with it, it's just everyone expects that from Adobe so doesn't kick up a stink). But that excuse only works for their mental toolbox window. It should definitely be able to move the formula bar around.

Have you tried Numbers, btw? It's getting better ...

stet, Tuesday, 23 June 2009 14:22 (thirteen years ago) link

I haven't yet, I should take a look, although from a collaboration perspective googledocs is better.

Mornington Crescent (Ed), Tuesday, 23 June 2009 14:43 (thirteen years ago) link

Very interesting, a few functions that Excel doesn't have and may be useful, also this is intriguing.

Mornington Crescent (Ed), Tuesday, 23 June 2009 15:41 (thirteen years ago) link

Numbers would be great apart from it not supporting named cells, there is no way I am manually replacing the 83 references to "DPV" in my import or writing a new spreadsheet without having to remember which sheets important pieces of data are on.. Also no data tables so no way of conducting a sensitivity analysis and no equivalent of validation for setting up drop downs for discrete variables (or bounds on continuous ones).

Getting there but not quite there.

Mornington Crescent (Ed), Tuesday, 23 June 2009 17:18 (thirteen years ago) link

two months pass...

Fixed in Snow leopard

Mornington Crescent (Ed), Saturday, 29 August 2009 11:55 (twelve years ago) link

one year passes...

this company is pretty much irrelevant now, huh?

caek, Sunday, 26 September 2010 13:06 (eleven years ago) link

one year passes...

i read that a couple days ago & am probably gonna read it again

markers, Friday, 27 July 2012 13:07 (ten years ago) link

Cookie Monster showed up, as did a gospel choir that belted out a bizarre song composed entirely of random tweets shot into cyberspace by who-the-hell-knows.

thomp, Friday, 27 July 2012 13:19 (ten years ago) link


markers, Friday, 27 July 2012 13:20 (ten years ago) link

markers, Friday, 27 July 2012 13:21 (ten years ago) link

this company is pretty much irrelevant now, huh?

― caek, Sunday, 26 September 2010 13:06 (1 year ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

i find this attitude really weird

thomp, Friday, 27 July 2012 13:26 (ten years ago) link

it's relevant like coca-cola or something. no one ever thinks about them. in a lot of other industries that would be a success, rather than a sign they won't exist in 10 years.

caek, Friday, 27 July 2012 13:28 (ten years ago) link

i don't really understand how that could happen? i don't know, if you have a convincing narrative of how it might plz share it

By the end of 1997, Windows 95, along with Microsoft’s other operating systems, ran on 86.3 percent of the P.C.’s in the U.S. (Apple’s Mac O.S., by contrast, then had only 4.6 percent of the market.)

^ from the article - it doesn't note that this year, after microsoft's worse decade ever, and apple's best, apple cracked ... five per cent of the PC market

thomp, Friday, 27 July 2012 13:37 (ten years ago) link

(i know 'the pc market' is now just a segment of 'the pc + smartphone + all intermediate points market', and i know the five per cent is sales whereas it's possible the 4.6 in the article is usage? but still i don't really understand what would lead to people actually not buying windows computers anymore en masse)

thomp, Friday, 27 July 2012 13:39 (ten years ago) link

i don't know what's going to happen next, but there's absolutely no indication that microsoft do either. and it's clear they have absolutely no say in it either. so as "the pc market" changes (and it will do, beyond recognition), they are going to arrive 5 years later than everyone else. = RIP

xbox will probably be ok.

caek, Friday, 27 July 2012 13:56 (ten years ago) link

i guess they have too much cash in the bank to be literally out of business in ten years.

caek, Friday, 27 July 2012 13:57 (ten years ago) link

as "the pc market" changes (and it will do, beyond recognition)

i buy this happening in 30-50 years, maybe, but not 10? like literally my whole life people have been saying 'the paradigm of consumers sitting in front of their desk using an independent piece of computer hardware is going to end one day and that day will be soon' and yup, they're still there. just now all those people own an average of 1.5 additional devices which could do much of the same work but are instead used for playing fruit ninja.

thomp, Friday, 27 July 2012 14:38 (ten years ago) link

the hardware for general purpose computing is obviously relatively less popular. but MS don't sell that, so what do they care.

their concern should be that the software you interact with on general purpose PCs is increasingly not running on the machine, i.e. it's moving into a domain over which they have no influence and little financial stake.

the other problem they have is no developer of consumer software in their right mind would develop for windows. and uniquely among the big companies, they totally depend on other developers to make their platform attractive. they're doing a decent job of turning the reality around, but the damage to the perception has been done.

caek, Friday, 27 July 2012 14:52 (ten years ago) link

their only hope is that google docs et al don't become the new office, and they at least keep business users.

caek, Friday, 27 July 2012 14:53 (ten years ago) link

seven months pass...

as of february 2013, an estimated 42% of windows PCs are still running XP, which was released in 2001

not sure why but that's kind of blowing my mind

unprepared guitar (Edward III), Friday, 1 March 2013 21:58 (nine years ago) link

i bet modern pc running XP would be like wheeeeeeeeee!

Philip Nunez, Friday, 1 March 2013 22:01 (nine years ago) link

seven years pass...

this new horrible microsoft edge logo looks suspicously familiar.

just gonna put my thing down, flip it & reverse it...

neith moon (ledge), Friday, 19 June 2020 13:30 (two years ago) link

or there's the existing firefox nightly build logo:

neith moon (ledge), Friday, 19 June 2020 13:32 (two years ago) link

Damnit I cracked the case wide open but no-one will ever know because I posted on I Love Computers.

neith moon (ledge), Monday, 22 June 2020 08:32 (two years ago) link

I saw it

Ste, Monday, 22 June 2020 09:58 (two years ago) link

and unpinned this shit from my taskbar

Ste, Monday, 22 June 2020 10:00 (two years ago) link

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