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This nOde last updated September 17th, 2005 and is
(4 Lamat (Rabbit) / 6 Ch'en (Black) - 108/260 - 188.8.131.52.8)
The power of the word runs throughout TechGnosis - from Guttenberg's printed Bible to the study of the Kaballah, from William Gibson's _Neuromancer_ to the use of hypertext on the Net. Interestingly, anyone using the most recent Microsoft Word without questioning the way it works will be writing and formatting according to Microsoft structures. The software automatically queries letter and fax structure. It also automatically queries any unusual sentence structure - James Joyce would have gone berserk. It is also essentially American grammar only. While most prompts can be shut off, many users would take them as a gift. So given Microsoft's current dominance, is Bill Gates the master of the word? Move over Moses, move over the Kabballa?
- Erik Davis
MICROSOFT- Software megacorporation, founded 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen; writer of MS-DOS, Windows (3.x, 95, NT and CE), Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Bookshelf, Encarta and about a zillion other programs, most of which are made for business. Also used by William Gibson, without permission, for the name of addictive chips that plug into character's heads in _Neuromancer_. [Name comes from "microcomputer" and "software."]
The classically minded may have noted that the new TV ad for Microsoft's Internet Explorer uses the musical theme of the "Confutatis Maledictis" from Mozart's Requiem."Where do you want to go today?" is the cheery line on the screen, while the chorus sings "Confutatis maledictis, flammis acribus addictis", which translates to "The damned and accursed are convicted to the flames of hell". It's good to know that Microsoft has done its research.
Why do I say that Microsoft is not such a great operating systems company? Because the very nature of operating systems is such that it is senseless for them to be developed and owned by a specific company. It's a thankless job to begin with. Applications create possibilities for millions of credulous users, whereas OSes impose limitations on thousands of grumpy coders, and so OS-makers will forever be on the shit-list of anyone who counts for anything in the high-tech world. Applications get used by people whose big problem is understanding all of their features, whereas OSes get hacked by coders who are annoyed by their limitations. The OS business has been good to Microsoft only insofar as it has given them the money they needed to launch a really good applications software business and to hire a lot of smart researchers. Now it really ought to be jettisoned, like a spent booster stage from a rocket. The big question is whether Microsoft is capable of doing this. Or is it addicted to OS sales in the same way as Apple is to selling hardware?
this is, in other words, another feature of the OS market that simply makes no sense unless you view it in the context of culture. What Microsoft is selling through Pay Per Incident isn't technical support so much as the continued illusion that its customers are engaging in some kind of rational business transaction. It is a sort of routine maintenance fee for the upkeep of the fantasy. If people really wanted a solid OS they would use Linux, and if they really wanted tech support they would find a way to get it; Microsoft's customers want something else.
As I've explained, selling OSes
for money is a basically untenable position, and the only way Apple and
Microsoft can get away with it is by pursuing technological
as aggressively as they can, and by getting people to believe in, and
pay for, a particular image: in the case of Apple, that of the creative
free thinker, and in the case of Microsoft, that of the respectable
Just like Disney,
they're making money from selling an interface,
mirror. It has to be polished and seamless or else the whole illusion
ruined and the business plan vanishes like a mirage.
- Neal Stephenson - _In The Beginning Was The Command Line_
"The Linux client hardly runs any applications except a bunch of shareware stuff that’s not very good. There has yet to be any innovation, new features, new capabilities out of the Linux platform. First they cloned Unix, and there are people working on cloning some of our stuff. But it’s just a cloning OS. I don’t think anyone should expect anything innovative coming out of that world." - Steve Ballmer
umm... let's see. "shareware" is inconsequential because it doesn't cost $300 for lines of code. MS is the epitomy of innovation and new features, and never ripped anyone's ideas off and incorporated them as their own. MS never cloned another CP/M ripoff dos called "quick & dirty OS" and turned it into MS-DOS. MS never ripped off the Mac GUI which was already ripped off from Xerox Parc. Windows is not a cloning OS because it innovates like that. the problem seems to be that "innovation" is a farce, and people are trying to make money off of it by claiming it. businesses don't realize that you can't own and market ideas and have it be accurate to the truth. they got it from somewhere else, just like anything else: music, stories, movies, ideas. the memetic model cannot be sold. the open source model is the direct interpretation of the MS con game. it takes out the middle guy (the software vendor) and goes directly to the source - the community, the programmers, the people who develop and use the stuff. no need to sell anything.
"The Windows client hardly runs any applications except a bunch of expensive bloated stuff that's not very good. There has yet to be any innovation, new features, new capabilities out of the Windows platform. First they cloned Q-DOS, and there are people working on cloning some of the Mac GUI. But it's just a cloning OS. I don't think anyone should expect anything innovative coming out of that world." - Steve Ballmer's evil twin.
Microsoft Corporation is the world's largest software manufacturer. Its headquarters are in Redmond, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. The company was founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen to develop and sell BASIC interpreters under the company name Micro-soft.
* Microsoft's flagship product is the Windows operating system, produced in many versions, including Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Almost all IBM compatible personal computers are sold with Windows pre-installed anti-competitive & monopolistic licensing.
* The product which generated Microsoft's enormous wealth, however, was the MS-DOS operating system. All versions of Windows prior to Windows NT for business systems Windows XP for home systems were based on an MS-DOS foundation.
* Microsoft Office is the company's line of office software. It includes Word (a word processor), Excel (a spreadsheet), Outlook (a Windows-only email and schedule program vulnerable to 98% of all virus's), and PowerPoint (presentation software). Microsoft also produces Microsoft Office for Apple Macintosh computers. The Mac version of Office includes the Mac-only Entourage instead of Outlook. Like Windows, Office has grown to monopoly status in many markets.
* Microsoft Visual Studio is the company's set of programming tools and compilers. It is GUI oriented and links easily with the Windows APIs, but must be specially configured for non-Microsoft libraries. The current implementation is Visual Studio .NET 2003.
* Microsoft FrontPage is a WYSIWYG HTML editor.
* Microsoft produces computer games that run on Windows PCs, such as the Age of Empires and Microsoft Flight Simulator series.
* Microsoft develops and publishes video games for its XBox video game console. In addition, all "third party" XBox video game publishers, such as Electronic Arts and Activision, pay Microsoft a royalty for each game manufactured.
* Microsoft also produces a line of reference works, such as encyclopedias and atlases, under the name Encarta.
* Microsoft also produces software for Apple Macintosh, through the Macintosh Business Unit. Microsoft Powerpoint and Microsoft Word were first produced for Macintosh.
In the mid-1990s, Microsoft began to expand its product line into the networked computer world. It launched its online service MSN (Microsoft Network) on August 24, 1995, which was a direct competitor to AOL. MSN became an umbrella service for all of Microsoft's online services.
In 1996, Microsoft and NBC, an American broadcasting network owned by weapons-of-mass-destruction producers General Electric, created MSNBC, a combined 24-hour news television channel and online news service.
At the end of 1997, Microsoft acquired Hotmail, the original and most popular webmail service. It was rebranded MSN Hotmail and was used as a platform to boost Passport, a universal login service.
MSN Messenger, an instant messaging client, was introduced in 1999 to compete with the popular AOL Instant Messenger (AIM).
Microsoft has created a number of training initiatives, with the intention of creating a pool of low-cost employees with skills relating exclusively to Microsoft products. The best known of these is the MCSE qualification, which stands for "Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer". While the MCSE certifies familiarity with Microsoft products, it is not an engineering qualification.
Microsoft also produces a number of computing related hardware products.
* A line of computer input devices, including mouse, keyboard, joystick, gamepads.
* The company bought WebTV, a television internet appliance.
* When Microsoft released the XBox in late 2001, the company entered the multi-billion dollar game console market dominated by Sony and Nintendo.
History of Microsoft
Formed in 1975, Microsoft started by selling a BASIC interpreter which quickly established a reputation for excellence. As the popularity of Microsoft BASIC grew, other manufacturers adopted Microsoft BASIC's syntax to maintain compatibility with existing Microsoft BASIC implementations. Because of this feedback loop, Microsoft BASIC became a de facto standard, and the company cornered the market. Later, it tried (unsuccessfully) to extend their grip on the home computer market by designing the MSX home computer standard.
The name "Micro-soft" (for microcomputer software) was used by Bill Gates in a letter to Paul Allen for the first time on November 29, 1975. "Microsoft" became a registered trademark on November 26, 1976.
In late 1980, International Business Machines needed an operating system for its new home computer, the IBM PC. Microsoft bought Quick and Dirty Operating System, from Seattle Computer Products in order to on-sell it to IBM as the standard operating system the IBM PC. Microsoft subsequently purchased all rights to QDOS, renamed it MS-DOS (for Microsoft Disk Operating System). It was released as IBM PC-DOS 1.0 with the introduction of the PC in 1981. In contracting with IBM, however, Microsoft had retained the rights to license the software to other computer vendors as MS-DOS. The early 1980s saw a flood of IBM PC clones, and Microsoft were quick to leverage their position to dominate the operating system market—notably via exclusionary contracts (later determined to be illegal) under which the PC manufacturers were required to pay for an MS-DOS licence even when the system shipped with an alternative operating system.
Software running on PC hardware was not necessarily technically better than the mainframe software that it replaced, but it had two advantages that mainframe software could not beat: it offered more freedom to the end-user, at much lower cost. Microsoft's success rode on the PC boom.
The now cash-rich Microsoft diversified into a wide variety of software products including:
* compilers and interpreters
for programming languages
* word processors, spreadsheets and other office software
Some of these products were successful, and some were not. In most cases, early versions of Microsoft software were buggy, feature-poor, and inferior to competitors, but later versions usually improved rapidly as the software grew in popularity. By the turn of the millennium, many of Microsoft's software products dominated the market in their respective categories.
Microsoft has devoted huge amounts of effort to marketing in developing their products, as well as to the integration of their software products with one another in an attempt to create a seamless and consistent computing environment for the user.
Microsoft has attempted to leverage the powerful Windows brand into many other markets, with products such as Windows CE for PDAs and their "Windows powered" Smartphone products.
Microsoft has often been described has having a developer centric business culture. A great deal of time and money is spent each year on recruiting young university trained software developers meeting very exacting criteria. Resources are continuously invested in measures devised to keep them in the company, year after year.
For instance, while many software companies often place an entry level software developer in a cubicle desk within a large office space filled with other cubicles, Microsoft assigns a private closed office with a window to every developer. In addition, key decision makers at every level are either developers or former developers.
In a sense, the software developers at Microsoft are considered the "stars" of the company in the same way that sales staff at IBM are considered the "stars" of their company.
Within Microsoft the expression "eating your own dog food" is used to describe the policy of using Microsoft products as internal tools, above everything else. It seems to be very difficult for management and support staff to get the permission to use software from Microsoft competitors. It seems to be difficult even for the software developers, who are the "stars" of the company, to use software tools made by the competition. This policy is justified by the need to make employees aware of the products.
Many have noted that one of the effects of this policy is to constantly push the development of products which software developers find useful for their immediate needs (regardless of the perceived needs of the market stated by others) given the great influence the developers as a whole (but not necessarily individually) have on corporate orientations.
Long term wariness
Microsoft fosters a general attitude of long term strategic wariness in its managers. Everybody must be ready for anything the competition or the market can throw on the road in any number of years. In this frame of mind being the largest software company in the world is not seen as a form of safety or a guarantee of future success. For instance: Future competitors could rise from related industries which are not now in the software business in a very concentrated way. Giant companies who tower over Microsoft could turn their attention to it in a few years from now and try to crush it. Consumers of vast segments of Microsoft software could decide they do not wish to upgrade anymore, or at least for a few more years than usual. Because of these imponderables Microsoft managers must maintain an unending vigilance and do everything to sustain a dynamic expansion in new markets.
For a long time, Microsoft was widely seen as the "good guy" in the computer software market, providing an inexpensive alternative to the expensive systems provided by the major mainframe and UNIX vendors, and it was admired for the large amounts of money it made in doing so.
By the 1990s, the perception that Microsoft had become the "bad guy" had increased substantially. It was frequently accused of leveraging its market dominance in desktop computing in order to try to exploit its customers unfairly.
In recent years, Microsoft has been guilty of anti-competitive business practices by the US government and Microsoft's competitors; this has generated huge negative perceptions.
Microsoft's Windows product has a monopoly in the desktop operating systems market. Almost every PC sold has a copy of Microsoft Windows pre-installed.
* In most mass-market desktop
software application markets, Microsoft is a dominant player.
* This dominance attracts widespread resentment.
* This resentment is not restricted to its competitors.
Critics of Microsoft have accused it of using its dominance in desktop operating system to try to leverage market share in other sectors of the computer market, such as web browsers (Internet Explorer), server operating systems (Windows NT), office software suites (Microsoft Office), and streaming media (Windows Media).
After its bundling of the Internet Explorer web browser into its Windows operating system, Microsoft acquired an extremely large market share in the browser market. Partly as a result of this dominance, Microsoft was convicted by a USA federal court for abusing its monopoly in the desktop operating systems market.
Microsoft has in all of these cases depicted its actions as its response to customer demand.
Critics also decry Microsoft's "embrace and extend" strategy of adding proprietary features to open, de facto standards, thereby using its market dominance to gain de facto ownership of standards "extended" in this way.
By 2002, several of Microsoft's networking- and Internet-related products had become the subject of intense criticism following several high-profile security lapses. Malicious programmers increasingly exploited weaknesses in Microsoft software by creating and distributing worms, viruses, and Trojan horses designed to spread across the Internet and waste computing resources or destroy data. These exploits frequently targeted Microsoft's Outlook and Outlook Express e-mail programs, Internet Information Server (IIS) Web server, and SQL database server software. These attacks also target Microsoft products that do not hold commanding market shares, and this suggests Microsoft products in general are fundamentally less secure than those of the company's competitors.
In several cases, Microsoft's practice of designing and configuring software to make it easier to use and less intimidating to novices has facilitated the spread of these viruses and worms. For example, Windows operating systems released since 1995 hide file extensions by default, which can help malicious programmers trick unwitting e-mail recipients into opening dangerous file attachments that masquerade as harmless files with innocuous extensions. This focus on usability and automation has come at the expense of important security considerations.
Disadvantages of Microsoft software
Microsoft software makes heavy use of software re-use. Whilst this is very efficient for rapid software development, it leads to complex interdependencies between software packages. This can mean, for example, that crashing the Microsoft web browser can also crash the operating system GUI.
The same interdependencies mean that the resources of most Microsoft software can be used from most other Microsoft software. This means that most programs can run other programs, even where this should not be possible. For example, macros embedded in documents or HTML in email can run programs, allowing an attacker to take over the user's computer. Microsoft has a security stance of "permitted unless forbidden", which is hard to change, as much Microsoft software relies on this policy.
This is demonstrated in the proliferation of worm and virus programs that attack Microsoft software. This problem is compounded by the very ubiquity of Microsoft software. Once a working virus is released, it is almost certain to spread very widely because almost every computer it comes across is able to replicate and spread the virus. This effect has recently been dubbed the "Microsoft monoculture," by analogy to the problems associated with lack of biodiversity in an ecosystem. As an acknowledgement of the problem, the National Science Foundation on November 25, 2003 announced it had granted US$750,000 (Lemos, 2003) to computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of New Mexico to further understand the causes and the negative effects of the homogenization of the world's computing platforms (National Science Foundation, 2003).
A result of the dominance of Microsoft software is that the advantage being able to hire less highly trained, and therefore cheaper, systems administrators is offset by two factors:
* Greater unreliability means you will have to
hire more of them.
* Microsoft shops are more liable to security breaches, because reducing computer insecurity requires highly trained systems administrators, regardless of the operating system in use.
Microsoft's critics describe the greater costs of running a Microsoft installation as "total costs of non-ownership" as they point out that the users of Microsoft software actually do not own the software they run: something which is crucial to Microsoft's business model.
The open source movement is traditionally at odds with Microsoft for
* Microsoft's closed standards
(e.g. NTFS) that reduce interoperability with open source software
* the selling of inferior (especially with regards to security and stability) products at high prices by means of monopolistic practices.
* Microsoft's spreading of fear, uncertainty, and doubt about open source and other competing software.
Recently, Microsoft has been accused of being a puppeteer behind the SCO v. IBM, a court case & highly unreasonable suit intended to scare people about the legal status of open source software.
As of 2003, Linux is a popular OS in the server market with almost 25% market share. However, as Linux can be freely copied and downloaded, its true market penetration is hard to measure. Most estimates place Linux as the most popular operating system for servers. According to Netcraft's measurements, the open source Apache server software is used on 67% of servers, while Microsoft's IIS software is used on 21%.
Linux-based products are beginning to be bundled with PCs sold in the consumer market.
With $50 billion in cash reserves, it is unlikely that Microsoft will lose its position as a major player in the computer market anytime soon.
November, 2002: Microsoft's quarterly 10-Q filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission revealed that most of its businesses were losing money, while two had enormous profit margins: almost 86% for its "client" division that sells Windows. Microsoft is likely to focus on these sectors of the market.
Microsoft is working to leverage its current success in desktop operating systems into new markets such as media players, server software, handheld devices, web services and video games, with varying degrees of success.
It is also looking to move towards a "subscription model" for licensing. Microsoft's current revenue scheme depends on users buying upgrades on a periodical basis, but this is becoming increasingly difficult, as many users fail to see the benefits of upgrades and continue to use older packages, such as Windows 98, Windows ME and Windows 2000 instead of the latest Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Microsoft would like to switch to a subscription basis, whereby users pay an annual fee for software. The success of this strategy partly depends on the proliferation of broadband Internet access, as Microsoft will need build online licence verifying mechanisms into its programs.
At the same time, Microsoft is engaging in a major public relations and branding exercise to try to combat the negative PR associated with their proven monopolistic business practices.
Microsoft is now positioning PCs running Windows XP Media Center Edition as a home entertainment hub.
Microsoft .NET initiative
The .NET initiative is a major company-wide effort by Microsoft.
.NET is yet another Microsoft attempt to leverage its operating system monopoly into a similar monopoly on Internet applications.
Furthermore, in regard to the name of the initiative and its components, critics also point out that not only are the terms ".net" and "CLI" in use to mean other things (Microsoft used CLI to stand for Common Language Infrastructure), but that Microsoft regularly overloads generic terms (e.g. "Windows", "Word", "DNS") to refer to its proprietary technology, and then attempts to control them using trademark law and patent law.
Microsoft Next-Generation 'Secure' Computing Base initiative
Microsoft has now launched the Next-Generation 'Secure' Computing Base, recently renamed from Palladium operating system initiative. This effort is also called 'Trusted' Computing. It is another exercise in entrenching and extending their monopoly, effectively allowing Microsoft to control all uses of PC technology. In particular, they use it as a way to combat the emergence of free software.
* Charles, John. "Indecent proposal? Doing
Business With Microsoft". IEEE Software. January/February 1998. pp.
* Clark, Jim with Owen Edwards. Netscape Time: The Making of the Billion Dollar Start-up That Took on Microsoft. New York, Saint martin's Press, 1999
* Cusumano, Michael A.; Selby, Richard W. Microsoft Secrets: How the World's Most Powerful Software Company Creates Technology, Shapes Markets and Manages People. New York: Free Press, 1995.
* Edstrom, Jennifer; Eller, Marlin. Barbarians Led by Bill Gates: Microsoft from inside: How the World's Richest Corporation Yields its Power. N.Y. Holt, 1998.
* Lemos, Robert. (2003). U.S. funds study of tech monocultures. Retrieved December 20, 2003, from http://news.com.com/2100-7355-5111905.html?tag=nefd_hed
* Moody, Fred. I Sing the Body Electronic: A Year With Microsoft on the Multimedia Frontier. New York: Viking, 1995.
* National Science Foundation. (2003). Taking Cues from Mother Nature to Foil Cyber Attacks. Retrieved December 20, 2003, from http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/news/03/pr03130.htm
From: unc!smb (unc!smb)
Newsgroups: net.general, net.general
Date: 1981-05-28 21:40:54 PST
The June issue of BYTE
has a fairly long article on XENIX by Microsoft's XENIX product
Mostly, it's a standard "What's a UNIX" paper, but it also describes
of the enhancements they are adding to V7. The most important is
support; additionally, they are going to add a fair amount of hardware
error recovery (bad block handling, parity and power fail interrupts,
as well as record handling, shared data segments, synchronous writing,
Pascal, BASIC, FORTRAN, and COBOL.