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[P]
The Slow Death March of Commercial Windows Software

By limelight in Op-Ed
Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 08:38:13 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)
Software

Many have already expounded on the idea that Microsoft is playing into the arms of open source software by continuing its seemingly-eternal cycle of releasing ever more bloated, overfeatured, and security-unconscious products. This does indeed appear to be true, and more recent "innovations" of software-as-service, perpetual contracts, forced upgrades, and casual privacy invasions both corporate and consumer only serve to enrage its precious customer base.

I am convinced that beyond all of the previously discussed self-created challenges that Microsoft will face lies another, even greater problem: Microsoft is quietly killing off its developer base.


For those astute readers who are no doubt assuming that this is another piece written about the impending death of Microsoft via the eventual triumph of Linux or other open-source software, I shall begin by announcing that this is not the aim of my article. Much has been written on that topic, both good and bad, and I have no intention of adding more material to that already-saturated category.

Instead, I'm taking what I hope is a fresh approach to the idea that Microsoft is killing off the ecology of software that its products currently thrive in. Many have already expounded on the idea that Microsoft is playing into the arms of open source software by continuing its seemingly-eternal cycle of releasing ever more bloated, overfeatured, and security-unconscious products. This does indeed appear to be true, and more recent "innovations" of software-as-service, non-perpetual contracts, forced upgrades, and casual privacy invasions both corporate and consumer only serve to enrage its precious customer base.

I am convinced that beyond all of the previously discussed self-created challenges that Microsoft will face lies another, even greater problem: Microsoft is quietly killing off its developer base.

Most readers here have probably seen the amusing video clips of Microsoft's CEO dancing breathlessly for an adulating audience of Microsoft employees, repeating ad nauseaum one of the core philosophies that the company seems to have held so dear for many years: "Developers, developers, developers, developers, developers!" Perhaps without even realizing the effects of its actions, Microsoft is slowly removing every reason for its developer community to continue writing code for its various platforms.


History

Back in February 1994, Microsoft was found guilty of patent infringement by a federal jury in a legal action launched by Stac Electronics, who claimed that in the process of incorporating logical drive compression technology into its MS-DOS operating system, Microsoft had infringed on its rights. This was not precisely the first instance where Microsoft had alienated a technology partner, but it is most likely still familiar to many Kuro5hin readers.

In releasing this new version of MS-DOS, Microsoft had incorporated several new technologies into its product that had previously been available only by purchasing additional software from third-party vendors. The new MS-DOS included antivirus and disk defragmentation technology, memory optimization software, and of course the infringing disk compression routines. This was Microsoft's first plunge into the software bundling strategies that it seems so fond of today.

While the antivirus and memory optimization code has been dropped from Microsoft's product line, the disk defragmentation and compression facilities were carried over into Microsoft's release of its new consumer operating system: Windows 95. After the release of the new operating system, there was a brief explosion in the third-party software market. Vendors such as Central Point Software, Symantec, and Qualitas released new versions of their products, updated for Windows, as well as an array of software designed solely for the new platform.

One by one, most of these companies have either been absorbed or driven out of business as they've watched their core products attacked and destroyed by a Microsoft seemingly crazed by the need to incorporate into its products every conceivable facility and feature. Starting with the incorporation of Internet Explorer into later versions of Windows 95, and all of its OS products since, Microsoft has accelerated the cannibalization of its partners' livelihoods.


Today

With the release of Windows XP, Microsoft seems to have driven nails into the coffins of a number of popular software products. Many of the new features (and some of the older features, already available in Windows NT and 2000) seem to compete in areas previously the undisputed territory of other vendors (sometimes even hardware vendors):

Integrated Zip file management: Nico Mak WinZip
Windows XP connection sharing and personal firewalling: Linksys, D-Link, SMC, Netgear, Zone Labs, Internet Security Systems, Symantec, etc.
Remote desktop viewing and "troubleshooting": Symantec PCAnywhere, Tridia Corporation TridiaVNC
Expanded graphics file management: ACD Systems ACDSee
Disk defragmentation: Executive Software International Diskeeper, Symantec Norton Disk Doctor
Theming capabilities: StarDock WindowBlinds
System recovery and file clean-up features: Most of Symantec's "power user" software
New disk manager: PowerQuest Corporation PartitionMagic
Outlook Express and Internet Explorer 6: Qualcomm Eudora, Forte Agent, Opera Software's Opera

This is, of course, only a partial list of new features in Microsoft's new product line, and only a partial list of the vendors that are threatened by them. The trend here seems clear, though: Microsoft is increasing the areas in which it competes with its own developer base. While Windows XP does not incorporate every feature and capability of the products it competes with, in most cases it incorporates all of the basic functionality that most users look for. A user who is new to PCs is exceedingly likely to find most of her needs already addressed, and remain unaware that there are more powerful alternatives to the bolted-in software. In many cases, users who do discover the existence of the competing products will likely decide that the little extra offered by a third-party vendor is not worth the price and complexity of an additional product.


The Future

Microsoft shows no signs of slowing or reversing this trend in the future. In fact, it seems that it will be bundling at least one product line with a new release of its Windows operating system line that has been heretofore distinct and separate: SQL Server. To quote MCP Magazine:

"According to sources familiar with Microsoft's plans, the software giant plans to bundle a version of its SQL Server database with Blackcomb as a means to facilitate unified storage services. Some industry watchers have suggested that such a move would open up a whole new can of antitrust worms, but Gartner's Smith cautions that it's too early to raise the red flag on a bundling issue of this kind."

I can only assume that this move will scuttle the competing database products from Oracle, IBM, and others almost overnight. After all, why pay for a database product when the functionality is available for free in every specially-marked box of Windows Crispy Flakes?

Presumably, the needs of business users will be addressed with an Enterprise Edition of Microsoft SQL Server that will speed database transactions, provide better management interfaces, or add some other sort of functionality. Or, more likely - it will allow remote users to connect to the database/filestore, whereas that functionality will be purposely disabled in the core code shipped with the new version of Windows.

The future for Microsoft-compatible security products seems even bleaker; with the chairman's recent ode to security, it appears likely that many products will vanish from the market as the company begins to tighten the screws on the Windows codebase. One might even expect to see a new antivirus bundling initiative, perhaps in partnership with its old friend, Symantec. Such a move would effectively destroy the highly profitable Windows antivirus industry as the new version of Windows appeared with all the necessary functionality available out of the box. The destruction or obsoletion of other security-related products is left as an exercise for the reader.


End

As it continues on its headlong flight towards a an unwieldy and overbloated kitchen-sink OS, Microsoft can expect to see growing resentment in its developer community, and possibly even an organized resistance in some form. The company frequently complains that it is assailed on all sides - from users, from its competitors, from the government - but it has not yet faced the wrath of discontented developers as they fight back or even desert en masse for other platforms and other alliances. In light of this, commercial software's future - at least on the Windows platform - seems doubtful.

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Poll
How much developer defection do you think Microsoft will see in the next 5 years?
o Five years? They'll be dead in two at most. 3%
o All of it. Microsoft is doomed. 1%
o Quite a lot. Developers will flock to other platforms. 11%
o Some. Microsoft will be hurt by developer defection. 32%
o Little. Most developers will stick with Microsoft. 30%
o None. I don't understand why you think they're going to leave. 20%

Votes: 88
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Kuro5hin
o software-a s-service
o non-perpet ual contracts
o forced upgrades
o casual privacy invasions
o enrage
o video clips
o legal action
o Stac Electronics
o Windows 95.
o Central Point Software
o Symantec
o Qualitas
o absorbed
o driven out of business
o Internet Explorer
o Windows XP
o WinZip
o Linksys
o D-Link
o SMC
o Netgear
o Zone Labs
o Internet Security Systems
o Tridia Corporation
o ACD Systems
o Executive Software International
o StarDock
o PowerQuest Corporation
o Qualcomm
o Forte
o Opera Software's
o MCP Magazine
o Oracle
o IBM
o Also by limelight


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The Slow Death March of Commercial Windows Software | 74 comments (61 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
You have a myopic view of the computer industry NT (1.45 / 11) (#2)
by Ken Pompadour on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 01:17:05 PM EST



...The target is countrymen, friends and family... they have to die too. - candid trhurler
Developers (4.07 / 14) (#3)
by ucblockhead on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 01:21:27 PM EST

The vast majority of Windows developers do not develop shrink-wrap software. The vast majority of Windows developers (and all developers in general) produce software that is not intended for sale to the public. Something like 80-90%. It has pretty much always been that way.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
I gave you a +1S (4.00 / 12) (#5)
by inerte on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 01:28:47 PM EST

Because it's an extremely well written article, congratulations.

But there is NOTHING, NOTHING wrong with a company destroying competitors. I repeat, NOTHING wrong.

What IS wrong, is when you abuse your powers. When you say IE cannot be removed and a couple hackers prove you are wrong. When you force PC manufactures to use your operating system. There IS a line that you cannot cross.

Crush competion is something that it's done in ALL areas of business. When someone releases an automatic screwdriver, that rotates when you plug into electricty, you have developed a superior product than the manual ones. I am not getting into prices here, at least not for now. I am talking about aggregated values of a product.

I WANT a product that can do everything for me. I do respect MS for trying to accomplish such thing, it's the way business are supposed to be. Imagine a product that doesn't improve.

That said, remember, you are wrong when you abuse your powers. I think you went a little too far on your comparations, missed the most important point, the point that all the trials on MS are about. Forcing people/manufactures to use is the issue, not destroyng competition.

If Word's files could be interpreted by other programs for example, competition would be HUGE, enourmous against the Office suit.

But since it's not, since developers are in the dark about how to deal with MS specs, they don't ALLOW competition. It's a different issue to release a product that removes competition, then to release one that doesn't even allow one to exist.

--
Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.
Plato

he's saying nothing about right or wrong (4.00 / 3) (#32)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 06:02:25 PM EST

He's trying to extrapolate the possible effect given MS's actions. Look, they are successful and no one doubts that. Many of Americans are more productive thanks to MS, there's no doubt about that (although there will be many who will argue that people could be even more productive using OSWhatever). What the author argues is that since MS plays very agressive hardball, it creates resentment in the developer community who won't be able to compete. They'll defect to other operating systems where they are free of the competitiveness of MS. The same has happened in other industries, such as the movie industry where actors wanted to be free of the studio system so a handful went on to create United Artists.

If anything, he's arguing that developers will come to believe that they can build the better mousetraps without the hindrances that Microsoft puts in their way. More power to them, I say. That's fair competition.


-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Why should developers defect? (4.88 / 9) (#7)
by smarkb on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 01:36:38 PM EST

Even if this is limited to those developers who build "off-the-shelf" software packages (ignoring the multitudes working in IT departments building internal applications), you're saying that simply because Microsoft is in competition with them, they will automatically give up?

There will always be a market for alternative products from power users.

Home users don't care - they want their machine to work, first time, with no additional fiddling around. Imagine if you bought a car and the first thing you had to do was go and get some wheels. Then a stereo. Maybe one of those newfangled automatic gearboxes too.

Even if developers get pushed out of some areas, there are still plenty left (middleware for example). There are also plenty of commercial apps out there that replace Windows functionality that has been around for a while (Opera for example).

What Microsoft are doing is making it easier for anyone to own a computer and so increasing the potential market dramatically. Perhaps the loss of some development areas and the increase in size of others will balance out.

smark

Just a bit more (4.00 / 1) (#35)
by WebBug on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 07:15:28 PM EST

I just wanted to add that most of the "features" that are mentioned in the article are really necessary system components that Windows has been lacking. These components have been distributed components of lost of other OS for years now. Look at OS/2 from '92, integrated web browser, news, email, zip, disk maintenance, screen saver, etc.

MS is in trouble for other more fundamental reason's having to do with business practices. As soon as there is precieved to be another more OEM friendly OS on the market then MS will abandonded wholesale, not until.

Thanks
-- It may be that your sole purpose is to server as a warning to others . . . at least I have one!
[ Parent ]
Umm... No. (4.60 / 10) (#13)
by br284 on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 02:23:33 PM EST

Most of this information comes from my personal experience, so take it as you will...

1. Microsoft is losing developers... First of all, Microsoft may be losing developers on its platform. However, when you control an excessively large part of the operating system space, losing some developers is to be expected, and it is not nearly as bad as a platform with smaller market share losing developers. I still think that Microsoft has a long way to go before losing its critical mass of developers that make it successful. Why? Overwhelmingly, Windows is where the money is. With the exception of specialized niche products, sales of software on free operating systems has been quite dismal.

(Disclaimer -- I started out and continue as a Linux / Java developer.) The second thing is that MIcrosoft offers a value proposition to developers that none of its competitors can offer -- the least common denominator. Unless I am releasing a program for something like MacOS, I am reasonable sure that my program will run on the Windows platform somewhat predictably. Compare this to platforms such as Linux where packages may be customized for RedHat and not work on other distributions. Developers can release their products as './configure; make; make install' but the segment of the market out there who even knows what this is pales in comparision to the size of the market that has used an InstallShield or MSI (very nice IMHO) install tool.

2. Bundling and complementary companies going out of business. I agree that from a developer's perspective, this is a bad thing. However, from a consumer's perspective, I don't always see how this is a bad thing. Personally, I would find it annoying if I were to have to download and install a 3rd party disk defragmenter because one was not included with the software. One can say that this creates a dampening effect on developing these types of tools, but last time I read, the business model of inventing something and then becoming acquired by Microsoft was not such a bad thing from the business perspective. I guess I have no sympathy for a lot of these companies who have been shafted this way. They can do several things -- give up and not develop those types of products, embark on a licensing route where their technology is licensed to be included in the OS distribution, or compete by providing increased value to consumers by offering a superior tool.

3. MS SQL Inclusion / Security - I disagree heartily that the inclusion of an SQL engine in the next generation Microsoft products will cannibalize the database market. Free databases have been out there for a while (MySQL, PostGres, etc.) and last I looked, database vendors were doing perfectly well. I doubt that Microsoft's bundling of this product will affect anything.

Now on to the inclusion of security tools. Am I alone in thinking that more security tools in the hands of more people is a good thing? I would rather have the population equipped with MS security tools that provide so-so functionality, then have the population mostly without these tools and only a relatively paranoid minority with the tools. It seems to be a given that security companies could compete very well in this space by marketing tools that are more secure than Microsoft's. I can see this feeding upon itself as tools become more and more secure, resulting in a win for consumers and the Internet as a whole.

Feel free to shoot this down, but I think that the opinion that Microsoft should be prohibited in competing in certain spaces because the current incumbents may go out of business is the same as policy protecting media interests whose business models have been proven flawed in the current era.

-Chris

Editing and a few points (2.50 / 2) (#14)
by jadepearl on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 02:29:19 PM EST

Many of your editorial errors have been pointed out, e.g., repeat of intro in body of essay. Your essay does not deal in depth in regard to software licensing. Is the software that you indicate been "stole" or have they been licensed by MS?

I also did not fully understand the trauma with having SQL Server bundled with the software package? Afterall, they won their courtcase filed by Sybase years ago for MS appropriating their source code so, it is theirs to bundle. Further, server software is licensed by machine/processor and number of users accessing the database.

Who was being defined as developers was a bit vague. Only professional developers? What about people who simply code product because they have a need are they considered part of the MS kingdom to be driven away?

It is an intersting topic you have chosen but I think it needs some editing and addressal of finer details.


"This is the philosophy I live by. I am, you are, and IT is." - Barry White

Silly (4.60 / 10) (#15)
by Hopfrog on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 02:41:50 PM EST

Microsoft is in no way losing developers. Only a non-windows developer would say that.

So they integrate zip into windows. Is zip going to be the big innovation for all eternity? Microsoft has given Winzip or whatever a few years to capture their market share. New things have to be developed, and competition is the best way to do that.

Also, do you actually know what Microsoft gives the developer community? There is cd burner API in XP, there is an API to write video editing applications in DX. There is an API for Fax, there is an API for Voice-To-Text and Text-To-Voice. There is a 3D api. There is the Program Guide API, there is the Ebook API.

These things are there, and Microsoft is not developing any products there. Any developer can use these APIs and build complex applications without having to hire a building full of employees to program the basic stuff. If it doesn't fit perfectly, you can always extend it. And MS does a good job of backwards compatibility - you can still use Twain and VFW even in XP.

That's why I program for windows - the API is complex, but you don't have to do lots of basic stuff. Linux hasn't even got their video4linux thing together yet, when Microsoft has long switched to the better WDM.

Hop.

WDM is better? (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by tftp on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 07:04:01 PM EST

Linux hasn't even got their video4linux thing together yet, when Microsoft has long switched to the better WDM.

I write WDM drivers and v4l drivers. I don't know if you do. But in my opinion, WDM is a disaster. It is so insanely complex that very few people can produce a working driver, and the cost of that working driver is very high. But a simple driver for Linux (or *BSD) can be written in an hour, and it will work.

Complexity != quality. If anything, complexity = !quality. That's exactly why Linux/BSD boxes have uptimes in hundreds of days, and Win2K can lock up if you move a mouse (it happened to me with Nvidia drivers.)

[ Parent ]

Not silly (none / 0) (#63)
by the coose on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 10:15:52 AM EST

Microsoft is in no way losing developers. Only a non-windows developer would say that.

Actually, I used to develop Windows applications. And get this...when I did, I worked for IBM. How ironic, eh? That was more than 6 years ago. The IBM bureaucratic BS not withstanding, I must say that I hated Windows development. The API is inconsistent and changing with every release. And forget the MFC!! Thats the most convoluted POS development environment I've ever used. Anyway, I ended up leaving IBM and have since found work in the embedded world. If (when) I ever have to look for another job, I will avoid any job for Windows programmers like the plague.

So yes, Microsoft lost at least one developer. And yes, I write Open/Free software on the side. Give me GTK+, or for that matter, Qt over Win32 anyday.

[ Parent ]
You're right, for the wrong reason (4.00 / 5) (#16)
by avdi on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 02:43:52 PM EST

I voted +1, but I disagree with your conclusion. Or at least I disagree with your reasons for reaching the conclusion.

Many or most of the the technologies that MS has subsumed into Windows are ones that many people expect to come bundled in a mainstream OS anyway. It's absurd for an OS to have gone as long as Windows did without being bundled with a comprehensive file compression/decompression package. The same os true of many other programs - disk-defragmenters, disk-partitioners, email readers, themeing, firewalling. The only ugly part of MS in rolling these into the OS is where it has either a) unreasonably linked the program to the kernel (i.e., Windows being unworkable if you remove IE), or b) where they have gone to great lengths to hide or break any competitor's software. Other than that, the only reason that any of the software packages you list above even exist is that for many years MS has been content to ship a badly incomplete OS distro.

More to the point though, the software you list is created by a tiny fraction of the MS developer base. Far more developers are employed writing buisiness applications and other specialized products which are orthogonal to the OS, and unlikely ever to be rolled into Windows. It's easy, because of their ubiquity and high-profile nature, to make the mistake of assuming MS-based developers are all building programs like WinZip and PartitionMagic. However, these shrink-wrap consumer packages are probably little more than a blip on Bill G.'s radar. Wiping them out doesn't do much damage to the established developer base.

On the other hand, as a developer in a partly Windows house, I can tell you what's killing me off as a Windows developer: the fact that their development environment sucks ass. Their IDE is horrible and feature-weak; their compiler doesn't support standards, and MS recently made it known that the next one won't support standards any better; their debugger is a toy; and MFC is an ugly broken bloated lump of poo. These are the things that make me want to never have to develop on Windows (or at least, on MS Visual C++) ever again.

--
Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir

This is a good thing (3.14 / 7) (#17)
by squigly on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 02:49:47 PM EST

These popular niche products are succesful for a time, but their success suggests that they should have been features of the OS in the first place. MS incorporating them improves the product. There should be no reason that people should have to spend more money on extra software that should have been included in the first place.

The comapnies that produced this software were most likely succesful for some time. They deserve their success, but they are not owed a living. If they relied on being able to produce a single product without competition from a company with the resources to give it away for nothing, then they have a seriously flawed business model. The only sensible route is for them to find other useful utilities that will enhance the OS. By the time these are incorporated into the next generation of the OS, they should have more new products. The net result is faster rate of technological progress.

Bundling (4.22 / 9) (#18)
by theR on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 02:51:41 PM EST

It was pointed out to some extent in an editorial comment, and I'll add my own take on it here.

A lot (most? some? the majority? a little?) of the features bundled into Windows are not actually made by Microsoft. The buy a license from the software maker to use the particular software in Windows, and probably pay the software maker to further customize the software for Microsoft.

The most obvious example is the defragmentation utility in Windows 2000 (and maybe in XP, which I haven't used). It is made by one of the companies you claim is getting a nail in the coffin, Executive Software. The Windows 2000 defragmentation program is merely a bundled version of Diskeeper. In fact, beyond the direct money they earn from licensing it to Microsoft for use, they make money by selling upgrades because the bundled version is crippled to disallow scheduling or command line use.

In fact, if you look at the Help, About section of many of Windows' software applications, you will see lots of licensing information about who, besides Microsoft, was involved in the making of the software.



Bundling (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by ShawnD on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 09:07:34 PM EST

In fact, if you look at the Help, About section of many of Windows' software applications, you will see lots of licensing information about who, besides Microsoft, was involved in the making of the software.
Check out any version of IE's about box. Mosiac lives :-).

Is Spyglass even around anymore?

[ Parent ]

Yes (none / 0) (#66)
by theR on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 12:45:31 PM EST

Exactly what I was thinking when I wrote that, since I was using IE. :)



[ Parent ]
Only one short comment (4.62 / 8) (#19)
by cafeman on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 02:52:55 PM EST

I can only assume that this move will scuttle the competing database products from Oracle, IBM, and others almost overnight. After all, why pay for a database product when the functionality is available for free in every specially-marked box of Windows Crispy Flakes?

SQL and Oracle / DB2 aren't really in the same market space. A free version of SQL included with your OS is much more likely to cannibalise sales of Access, not Oracle or DB2. If you're looking seriously at using Oracle or DB2, SQL probably won't have the grunt. Not to say it can't be done, there is a bit of overlap, but SQL is very much in the small to mid-range, while Oracle and DB2 are in the mid-range to enterprise market. Until SQL can scale hugely with a low TCO, Oracle and IBM don't have anything to worry about. Whatever you get with Blackcomb will be a heavily cut down version in comparison to MS's fully fledged DB product.

You're right that it may hurt other free DB products (Postgres, MySQL), but only if they're being used as a single-user DB. I really doubt MS would package the built in DB as a full multi-user solution. It'll also probably have a dog of an interface and be really clunky to use. If they made it powerful and easy to use, you wouldn't have any reason to buy Access or SQL 2000+n (where n is the next release). I don't think IBM or Oracle are too stressed at the moment.



--------------------
"No Silicon heaven? But where would all the calculators go?"


Another short comment (none / 0) (#57)
by horea on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 09:27:07 AM EST

See inline:
Whatever you get with Blackcomb will be a heavily cut down version in comparison to MS's fully fledged DB product

Most likely you are right here. About cannibalizing sales of Access, I think the Jet engine used in Access and Exchange is quite old, and it really needs to be replaced (especially for Exchange, as it scales poorly)

SQL and Oracle / DB2 aren't really in the same market space. Until SQL can scale hugely with a low TCO, Oracle and IBM don't have anything to worry about

I disagree with this. Check www.tpc.org about database scaling benchmarks and price/tpmC.
"No Silicon heaven. Just the Valley of the shadow of death for programmers" :-)

[ Parent ]
Almost (none / 0) (#71)
by stuartf on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 03:27:25 PM EST

Jet engine used in Access and Exchange is quite old, and it really needs to be replaced (especially for Exchange, as it scales poorly)

They are different versions of Jet in Access and Exchange. Although they're both called Jet, they are very different. The Exchange Jet improves with every release, it's getting better.

[ Parent ]

MSSQL taking down Oracle and DB2 with mindshare (none / 0) (#62)
by pin0cchio on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 10:13:39 AM EST

SQL and Oracle / DB2 aren't really in the same market space.

However, a bundled Access will compete with the Oracle SDK, prompting those who learn SQL to learn bastardized Jet SQL or MSSQL instead of Oracle's or DB2's extensions, much the same way that some developers choose PostgreSQL over Oracle or DB2. If all the developers are using MSSQL products, then what are the servers going to run?


lj65
[ Parent ]
You're an idiot (1.73 / 19) (#20)
by President Steve Elvis America on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 03:31:12 PM EST

  • Many have already expounded on the idea that Microsoft is playing into the arms of open source software by continuing its seemingly-eternal cycle of releasing ever more bloated, overfeatured, and security-unconscious products. This does indeed appear to be true, and more recent "innovations" of software-as-service, perpetual contracts, forced upgrades, and casual privacy invasions both corporate and consumer only serve to enrage its precious customer base.

    I am convinced that beyond all of the previously discussed self-created challenges that Microsoft will face lies another, even greater problem: Microsoft is quietly killing off its developer base.

Other than the fact that it's obvious you haven't used or licensed a Microsoft product since the days of Windows 95 or NT 4.0, since your complaints are untrue and based on Linux FUD, you are completely ignoring the whole .NET strategy which all the developers I have talked to love.

Another thing I found to be annoying was your name dropping of companies that *shock* Microsoft is competing against in a capitalist economy! If you don't like Microsoft, don't buy their products. If you buy their products but don't like things they put in to make it easier for you, then disable those things. They have no obligation to force users to pay extra money for stuff like WinZip, ZoneAlarm Pro, etc.

Whatever you do, please grow up and remove your head from your anal cavity.

Sincerely,

Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America

you love .NET, why? (none / 0) (#40)
by Pinball Wizard on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 09:13:09 PM EST

I'm trying real hard to find the meat in your comment. You say there is a whole .NET strategy that all your buddies love, but nothing else.

Exactly what is it you and your buddies love so much about .NET? I just found that part of your comment interesting because from where I sit(a retail/online bookstore) I see everything but the .NET books flying off the shelf. I also see a lot of alienated VB developers who were given the royal shaft when Microsoft "upgraded" their language without making it backwards compatible. And I see a new system that has very little going for it that Java doesn't have already and is five years late in that game to boot.

Not to mention the Big Brother aspects of .NET has gone so far as to turn non-tech types like my grandma and my dad away from Microsoft.

Just exactly what is it you love so much about .NET? Please don't say its the multiple language feature. Oh yeah, any language is compatible with .NET as long as it is a single-inheritance object-oriented language other than Java that supports features XY and Z and nothing else. Please.

[ Parent ]
Don't ask me (5.00 / 1) (#59)
by President Steve Elvis America on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 09:55:31 AM EST

Miguel De Icaza's raving over .NET is more eloquent than I can put it. You should read what he has to say about it. I am also too sleepy to give a good answer right now.

Another thing is that you confuse .NET with software subscriptions and MS Passport. The latter two are the big brotherish things that sucks about Microsoft. Fortunately the software subscriptions haven't come in to play yet.

Sincerely,

Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America
[ Parent ]

Confusing .NET with software rental and Passport (none / 0) (#61)
by pin0cchio on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 10:07:01 AM EST

Another thing is that you confuse .NET with software subscriptions and MS Passport. The latter two are the big brotherish things that sucks about Microsoft.

Confusing .NET with MS Passport is somewhat justified because MS Passport is one of the authentication mechanisms built in to the .NET platform.

Confusing .NET with software rental would be analogous to confusing Java technology with software subscriptions. Both technologies (.NET and Java) allow developers to create apps that load code from a remote server and save documents to a remote server.

Another "big brotherish" aspect of .NET is that it appears to require Windows XP. All retail versions of Windows XP require the user to give Microsoft her telephone number in order to activate the software. In addition, XP's EULA states that Microsoft has the right to automatically download and install new RightsDenial™ technology into Windows Media Player.


lj65
[ Parent ]
Dont ask me?! (none / 0) (#67)
by QuantumG on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 01:58:21 PM EST

you are completely ignoring the whole .NET strategy which all the developers I have talked to love You obviously didn't talk to em for too long. "Hey, what ya think about .net?" "yer, it's cool" "cool dude, pass the bong" I mean, why should we give a fuck about your loudly totted opinion that "all the developers I have talked to" are all guey about .net?

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
One more thing (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by Pinball Wizard on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 09:23:40 PM EST

Its recently become pretty clear to me recently that if anyone is going to win with .NET, its going to be Borland.

Borland will have the first true cross-platform development environment for .NET on the market. Because of their position, not even the mighty MS can touch them. They already have awesome cross-platform C++ and Java IDE's and they are going to bring that same cross platform development to .NET. Not to mention that their IDE's and compilers are generally superior to Microsoft's anyway.

If I ever get stuck doing .NET work I'm going to push hard to use Borland's tools. However, my money is on Java.

[ Parent ]

I don't know if I'd count on Borland (none / 0) (#47)
by Trepalium on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 02:01:51 AM EST

The historic reason people always passed over Borland's products for Microsoft's ones wasn't that they were always better, but rather the fact that any new APIs that Microsoft published were always available for use in Microsoft's Visual Studio product line first. It was usually months before Borland had a product that could make use of the new functionality, and if you wanted to use the functions in the interim, you would either have to modify the headers yourself, or look for someone else who already had and posted the results to the internet. The fear of being left behind on archaic technology was enough to keep most people using Visual Basic (instead of Delphi), or Visual C++ (instead of Borland C++ or C++ Builder).

Borland's recent development products have been relatively ingenious, but that alone isn't enough to get them a large market share. Unfortunately, I don't see that situation improving for Borland. :-(

[ Parent ]

Sorry you feel that way (5.00 / 1) (#52)
by limelight on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 06:58:04 AM EST

*shrugs* For what it's worth, I ride herd over Windows boxen for a living, and I've been doing it for something a bit short of three years. Before that, I've used, played with, and twiddled nearly every operating system MS has released. (I never did play with NT versions previous to 4.0.)

As for Linux FUD -- I'll admit I use Linux at home. But I did a reasonable amount of research before I posted this, and if you follow the links I included, you'll notice that they tend to point to publications and/or corporate sites that don't have much to do with Linux. I'd have to wander around the site for a while to make sure, but I think it's safe to say that CIO.com is not a raging, hardcore champion of all things Linux.

[ Parent ]
-1 (2.00 / 4) (#21)
by kimpton on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 04:00:57 PM EST

Most of the comments here are negative about this article, but many more people have voted it up.

I can't believe that a story would *still* be voted up just because it's anti-microsoft.



Okay... here's why I voted +1 (4.00 / 1) (#27)
by mcherm on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 04:31:32 PM EST

Why I voted +1:
  • The article is well-written
  • The article is well-researched
  • The article addresses an interesting subject
Other opinions about the article:
  • The article is dead wrong
Please note that being dead wrong is NOT (for me) a reason to vote -1. I'm sure there will be lots of comments and discussion about why it is (or isn't) wrong. But it's a good discussion to have, and a well-written article.

The article is ALSO "anti-Microsoft" (in some sense). I, too, am "anti-Microsoft" (in a different sense). But I wouldn't vote it up for this reason... in fact, I'm mildly inclined to vote things DOWN for severe anti-Microsoft predjudice.

-- Michael Chermside
[ Parent ]

fair enough (5.00 / 1) (#30)
by kimpton on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 05:20:41 PM EST

Please note that being dead wrong is NOT (for me) a reason to vote -1.

I kinda agree, but by the time I'd read the article 3 or 4 posters (br248 specifically) had commented pretty conclusively against the article. It wasn't the type of article that leads to subjective disagreement, where neither side will be right. The well researched/well written side of the article was obvioulsy led by the authors wishful thinking, rather than careful thinking.

[ Parent ]
eh. (2.00 / 1) (#25)
by spilk on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 04:30:37 PM EST

Disk defragmentation: Executive Software International Diskeeper, Symantec Norton Disk Doctor

not that it really matters, but in recent times windows has always included a disk defragmenter, and as far as i can tell, it has always been provided by Executive Software. it also has always been crippled to some extent to disallow advanced features like scheduling and other non-datafile defragmenting like the full versions do. this purposely opens the door for developers to release fully featured versions... just my 2 cents.

It doesn't matter (2.00 / 3) (#33)
by vadim on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 06:19:57 PM EST

The problem with Windows software is that the 99% either is crap, or costs money. So what will users do when they find some half-finished program in Windows like Defrag? Everybody I know hates it. The thing takes more than 6 hours even on 4GB disks. But nobody of the people I talked to knew Norton Speedisk can do the same job in 30 minutes. And if they know, they don't care. It's easier to start defrag than buy Norton or even pirate it.

No matter how much M$ cripples those features, users will see them, and most will never get anything better, just because they're too lazy to search the web and see if there is anything else available.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

Still need Winzip with XP (2.33 / 3) (#26)
by rampy on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 04:31:15 PM EST

Small Clarification:

XP doesn't handle tar.gz files. So despite the bundled extraction/compression utlity in XP still need to download/use Maco's Winzip *shrug*

Although you're point was probably more to show that Winzip (et al) would sell less units due to similiar functionality embedded into windows xp... and that' probably a reality.

rampy
www.randomdrivel.com -- Fish, plankton, sea-greens, and protein from the sea!
Always will be better software (none / 0) (#51)
by srichman on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 05:12:59 AM EST

Yeah, and similar points can be made for most of the other listed examples: the third-party vendors can (and do) do it better than XP.

Take, for instance, remote access. GoToMyPC offers a remote access product, but their main strength is that they offer go support for dynamic IPs and firewall circumvention. In order to support connections where both client and server are firewalled against inbound connections, they maintain a network of intermediary servers on the Internet. If you need to get around firewalls, you pay for GoToMyPC, because XP's remote access capabilities just won't cut it. Could Microsoft offer this functionality in their remote access solution? Sure, if they wanted, but that's not likely. Why devote so many man hours to something that's only useful to a small subset of your OS user base?

Microsoft could engineer the hell out of any application they wanted. They could turn Paint into a world-class graphics editor comparable with Photoshop if they decided to devote enough man hours to it. But why would they? To entice customer that are reluctant to upgrade their OS? Maybe, but it seems unlikely; there are too many people who don't need Photoshop.

Even if they do decide to implement a kick-ass Photoshop clone and Adobe decides to quit making Photoshop for Windows, do you think Adobe will precipitously decide to pull the rest of their product line from Windows? Not likely. They will stick around as long as there is money to be made.

There will always be special-purpose niche products that it's not worth it for Microsoft to distribute with their OS. If an application (e.g., a C compiler) is not useful to the majority of Windows users, then the gain reaped from bundling the application with the OS will be minimal, and Microsoft will be better off financially if they sell the application as a separate product. Besides, separation might be the financially prudent thing even if there is widespread need for the product: Last time I checked, Microsoft makes a hell of a lot of money from selling Office, so I won't be holding my breath for a free bundled version.

[ Parent ]

other markets ... (4.00 / 5) (#28)
by pb on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 04:41:09 PM EST

It's also interesting to look at the other products Microsoft sells, who they compete with, and who they don't compete with; here are a few that I remember, off the top of my head...

Microsoft sells Office, and presently has run most of the other office suites out of business.

They also do quite well with Frontpage, but doesn't enjoy the same stranglehold on the market, probably because they didn't get into the game early enough...

Their Windows products for developers (like Visual Studio) are understandably popular on their own platform, and with .NET, Microsoft likely intends to eat into Sun's Java developer base.

They bought out Visio in 2000, and anything before that is very hard to find (like support for Visio 5.0) even though there is detection for it built into Windows 2000. I can only conclude that they want you to buy a newer version.

Microsoft tried to buy out Quicken long ago, failed, and produced Microsoft Money; Quicken has survived, however.

Adobe seems to have no competition with Microsoft for their market, and Adobe's products seem to work with Windows quite well.

Microsoft also runs an ISP, and owns lots of telecommunications stuff, including much of MS-NBC. They've gone a long way from BASIC and DOS...
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
Microsoft's expansion into new markets (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by p0ppe on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 07:23:19 PM EST

I remember an interview with Bill Gates by Larry King a few years ago. The interesting part was that Gates was saying that Microsoft's strength was that it focused exclusively on software. Now look where they are - MSN internet access, MS-NBC, X-Box etc.


"Democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner."
[ Parent ]
Not quite true (4.00 / 5) (#29)
by DoomGerbil on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 04:44:37 PM EST

A good number of the third-aprty utility companies have been bought by each other, leading to where there are now only two large competitors in the arena (one of which was purchased by another company from another sector). Symantec, for example, has spent a _lot_ of time differentiating it's products from those bundled with Windows XP. Network Assosciates/McAffe has recently been quietly withdrawing much of its product line, while beginning to focus on its anti-virus business.

And anyway, the things built into XP are very basic. For example, the firewall does not block any outgoing communications (spyware, trojans, etc), and has no pre-built rules for allowing communications. You have to know that an FTP server is on port 21 -- it won't tell you that.

DG

DISCLAIMER: I work for Symantec. I did the competitive analysis of our desktop firewall vs MS, Sygate, NetworkICE, McAffe/NAI/PGP/TinyFW/others.

What's an Operanting System? (1.50 / 2) (#37)
by svampa on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 07:29:40 PM EST

What's an Operanting System?

Only kernel?
Kernel + a configuration tool?
+ simple editor?
+ security tools?
+ one thousand communications protocols?

Where is the frontier? why a piece of software is a part of OS or is an application?

I think that Microsoft has crossed that line by a long shot, but it is difficult to state, because I really don't know where is the frontier



The OS is what you write programs for... (none / 0) (#46)
by slur on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 01:51:17 AM EST

I see the OS as the interfaces that are available to the programmer of applications. That definition is getting sketchier as OS's become more Unix-like and multi-process.

On Mac OS X, for example, you can write an Aqua GUI that has hardly any "core code" of its own, but simply invokes a plethora of "shell scripts" which are essentially little standalone programs of their own, each one specialized for a simple task. Likewise the same program could invoke an AppleScript that sends commands to other applications, including any of several "background processes" such as the window manager or QuickTime.

Applications are bundled with all OS's, including GNU / Linux. Linus Torvalds and other open source gurus are adamant about the distinction between GNU / Linux and the One True Linux, which is the kernel. You could say that an OS is that which all applications on a given platform have in common and can count on having access to.

Microsoft claims they "integrated the browser into the OS," but what they really did was say to developers, if you want the services that the Explorer DLL provides, we guarantee it'll be there for you. It's not "part of the OS," but it is a useful extension.

|
| slur was here
|

[ Parent ]
Yeah, but they've always done this (4.50 / 6) (#38)
by Pinball Wizard on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 08:41:52 PM EST

and you gotta know if you are developing for a Microsoft platform that Microsoft could decide at any time to include a product that competes directly with your product, for free in Windows.

This has gone on since the days of DOS. Hell, you forgot to include TCP/IP. Yes, once upon a time, you had to purchase a separate product(Trumpet Winsock) to be able to network PCs using TCP/IP.

Its just a basic fact of life if you are going to develop software for Windows. Microsoft may decide to compete with your product. They may decide to "bundle" it into Windows. Either you develop something that works a lot better than the Windows built in product or you die.

Microsoft building a database into their file system has been something thats been needed for a long time. Use the Windows find feature and compare its speed to locate on Linux and you'll see what I mean. Somehow I don't think they will use that to cannabalize Access and SQL Server, though.

Since this has always gone on, and yet, developers still always come up with innovative products that sell on Windows systems, I'm going to have to assume that the same is going to continue in the future. I've been using a product called Download Accelerator that has boosted my already fast cable connection to downloading 2-3 times as fast as I can with my T1 at work. Just when I think I've seen everything, something comes along that stretches what I thought was possible. The people who can do that will be able to make money selling software.

And of course, Gates and co. have created a platform where its relatively easy to create software products that have a chance of making money. As long as there are people willing to fork over cash for 3rd party products for Windows, there will be producers stepping in to fill that demand, MS dirty tricks notwithstanding.

Now what you didn't mention is how Microsoft recently alienated millions of programmers who wrote applications in a Windows-only language. They did the unthinkable and made the current version of VB non-backwards compatible with previous versions. VB developers now have the choice of sticking with a dead language or converting often massive projects into a vastly different language - VB.Net. They literally ditched the most popular programming language in the world and replaced it with a language that is only marginally easier to port VB6 projects to than it would be to port to C# or even Java.

just to nitpick... (none / 0) (#43)
by ShadowNode on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 12:19:19 AM EST

locate is faster because you have a cron tab updating it's db at night. Windows' Find feature is comparable to the UNIX find command.

Perhaps Windows should have a similar feature, but it doesn't have anything to do with filesystems, database or no.

[ Parent ]
Indexing Service (5.00 / 1) (#49)
by srichman on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 03:01:52 AM EST

Perhaps Windows should have a similar feature, but it doesn't have anything to do with filesystems, database or no.
Windows already has such a feature. Open up Windows help, and search for Indexing Service. From my Windows XP Pro help documentation:
"Indexing Service creates indexes of the contents and properties of documents on your local hard drive and on shared network drives. You can also control the information included in the indexes. Indexing Service is designed to run continuously and requires little, if any, maintenance."
You can indicate indexing preferences per-file (Properties -> Advanced -> Archive and Index attributed). Also, Indexing Service can be configured to keep your index more or less continually up-to-date (as opposed to locate only returning results from before last night's cron job).

[ Parent ]
Well, I don't have an XP box atm (none / 0) (#50)
by ShadowNode on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 03:10:24 AM EST

But that would explain all those damn hidden files XP kept creating in my writable samba shares...

[ Parent ]
You don't need an XP box (3.50 / 2) (#58)
by pin0cchio on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 09:54:28 AM EST

This "Windows XP Indexing Service" might be very little different from Find Fast that already comes with MS Office 2000.
lj65
[ Parent ]
APIs and all that jazz (3.00 / 1) (#42)
by infinitera on Thu Mar 14, 2002 at 11:39:03 PM EST

This topic is somewhat similar to what I wrote about in my Tunney Act letter, so what follows is those thoughts revised for K5 (since my opinions haven't changed since). Microsoft maintains its monopoly in two ways, one legal (contracts/licensing) and one programmatic. The bundling that occurs, as others have said, is not bad in and of itself; it makes things easier for the end user. However, any other developers should be able to integrate their products with Microsoft's on the same level of tightness that Microsoft does. As things stand, this is not feasible, and it's actually one of the reasons why its other products succeed - not because of technical superiority, but because of better integration. For this to be possible for other developers, all Microsoft APIs of all products must be fully document, up to date, and public. Their previous attempts to 'embrace and extend' existing standards to tie people to their products would also not function anymore. Also, all developers will be able to, for example, make emulators that run Microsoft software on other platforms, without barriers to their efforts; likewise, adding a new file system to Windows, or a messaging protocol, would be trivial. The fact that their monopoly exists necessitates the openness of their APIs, otherwise developers of commercial software for their platform will in fact get rarer and rarer.

-Dan

.Net Developers (3.50 / 2) (#44)
by deadtree on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 12:26:40 AM EST

How about a little clue for a broken down construction guy(Bad back)that has been reading studying code books trying to decide if he should go through all the bs and get a .Net certification? I have read all the rants both for and against M$ and their tatics for years. I just want to know if I start studying this stuff and actually get certified is ANYONE going to even look at me for a entry level position in my late 40's. I simply can not continue to work at my current job without permantly screwing myself up. It does seem that M$ moves the goalposts around to wherever they think the maximun bucks are. I have read a lot of negative stuff about how they screwed their VB script dev's around with forcing them to learn a whole new deal with C#,C++. More importantly since they control (mostly) the browser at least for dumbass regular users won't they just eventually just 404 any pages or apps that don't conform. Don't get me wrong I love Bill Joy and his Java toys but I need to eat!

Depends (none / 0) (#48)
by RandomPeon on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 02:29:56 AM EST

You sound like you're in a real tough spot, I don't know exactly what to tell you. If you're looking to get your foot in door as fast as possible, you probably want to get an MSCE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) certification. Most community colleges and a lot of for-profit computer schools offer a pretty quick course to get an MSCE. The courses will teach you nothing about coding, but they'll teach you the bare basics of system administration. This will get your foot in the door, but not a hell of a lot more and both the jobs and pay tend to suck. But you gotta start somewhere. Learn to code on your own time to get out of this mess fast.

As for languages, don't put all your eggs in one basket. Learning the old standbys - C,C++, shell scripts, perl, and php is a good way to go. The "coders" who only knew HTML or VB were the ones who got hit the hardest by the downturn. VB is fairly easy, but that also means that VB guys are a dime a dozen. You're totally right that Java is risky compared to other routes, but so is .NET. You can open the paper ads for java developers, but .NET is still way out there.... MS has had some real losers in the past, there's no reason .NET has to succeed.

[ Parent ]
Check the trends (none / 0) (#53)
by hebertrich on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 07:29:34 AM EST

Yes there is a future for you.. : ) First is to set a goal then let nothing or noone take you away from it.Really.You need to see yourself there.Winning. The trend in computer languages is C C++ That's a fact and an excellent choice.Progress is another language that's really interresting. Python and Perl are " musts " to simplify your life. The fact that you're like me in your 40's has nothing to do with employability as far as computing goes.Now on the crunchy stuff. Every Tom Dick and Larry can have the MSCE certification.It does not guarantee competence. What id look out for is Linux.I know this sounds like Im one of them preachers but the fact is the web now runs on Linux and Apache.More than half of it ( think it was 64 % Apache on Linux). Linux and Unix are still there in high end computing and will remain in the foreseeable future.So RedHat has RHCE which is a very well seen certification by employers.You need to be good in order to get that one.( look at RH's for the details of their program ...it's rock and roll ) . The higher end systems need good operators. With multiple certification like MSCE and RHCE In your pockets..you're at work in no time. All depends what you really see yourself doing. Trick in this is visualise where you want to be ..then go for it. Simple and to the point. I saw myself away from the snow in the sound business near a beach.I left Montreal Canada to marry a girl in the USA.Then we moved to Florida.. and i got a job in sound here for a major firm . I left Montreal at 39 ,and i was never married before. If i can do it , so can you. Best of luck in all of your enterprises. Richard Hebert

[ Parent ]
Linux in internet (none / 0) (#73)
by svampa on Sun Mar 17, 2002 at 04:27:52 PM EST

Perhaps it's true that 65% of server run linux, apache, php and perl. But how much are personal sites?. Those site are not the ones who hire a company. I've done some works with PHP and linux, but ussually bussiness don't want a "strange solution".

If you have to eat, choose M$. Perhaps someday things will change (I hope so), but don't bet your standard of living on that.



[ Parent ]
Learn .NET (none / 0) (#56)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 08:53:49 AM EST

It's your own choice, but I would recommend that a new developer learn .NET and Microsoft technologies. Take one look at the market share, and you can tell who is going to have more jobs: Microsoft. I'd get a jump start on the MCAD if I were you. Start studying now, take the tests in June when they are released. Then in 2003 you'll be in the right spot to become one of the first .NET MCSD's.

I wouldn't listen to the linux advocates. Most of the development jobs are on MS platforms. If you are developing a desktop app, you can be positive that it's MS, and most of this type of development happens in VB. There is absolutely no market for linux desktop apps. Server side, they have some great technologies such as PHP and Perl, but the lack of a decent database ensures you'll be hitting an MS SQL or Oracle db somewhere down the line. MySQL has made great progress but a lot of companies believe it's not there just yet. Plus if you are developing the same app for both desktop and web, you won't have to code everything twice if you're using something like .NET or J2EE.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Wait it out... (none / 0) (#64)
by dreamquick on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 10:58:00 AM EST

At the moment they have only released the .net programming languages but not properly released the .net servers.

Once they release those *then* it is time to watch carefully... At the moment the languages make nice playthings but thats about it - I have seen very few mainstream uses of the technology which means that it doesn't look as good as a selling point as a more widely accepted language.

In the meantime learn a "core" language like C or SQL as they teach you essential abilities and are always in demand because of their pervasiveness.

Programming is a little like learning foreign language - once you understand one you understand the basics of them all, not to mention being able to pick up conceptually similar languages...


If it helps you are not the only one facing this dilema - myself I have around 4 years of experience in IT and have a whole host of skills based around MS technologies which are potentially going to be invalidated by .NETs development.

I'll admit right now I'm not sure I know which way it is going to go, or for that matter what I want to do in any case...

I could learn C# but while all this uncertainty is about, it makes more sense for me personally to learn a few more competing skills - add a little perl, maybe some PHP, maybe Apache that way I gain a more balanced CV which in the long run is of use to myself irregardless of what happens with .net


Also as you asked about job prospects here my advice is simply try to get into an area you have previous experience in, that way you do not look like you are a total beginner and more like someone looking to move around within the field.

This may not be as a developer but in the IT marketplace experience is a big factor, second only to being able to write a good CV and being able to handle interviews well.

/* #include <comedy_sig.h> */
[ Parent ]
First thing we do, let's kill all the marketeers (5.00 / 1) (#65)
by bADlOGIN on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 11:33:19 AM EST

With apologies to William Shakespeare, I submit that the best thing you can do is focus on becoming a "Software Engineer". Don't hitch your wagon to the technology tool star that some asshole who was selling dog food a couple of years ago says is "the one true way" to develop software. If you can manage it, consider going to college and studying Computer Science. Check out www.abet.org (USian am I, so apologies if not applicable) for a list of schools that have a better chance of being concerned about thier undergrads to some extent and accredit thier CS programs through the Computing Accreditation Commission. I relaize this may be considered a lofty suggestion, but this will do a number of positive things for you in any computer related career:
  1. You get the engineering background courses under your belt and learn about the principals of hardware and software.
  2. You get exposed to the workings of vital computing tools and get to work with them in depth like operating systems and compilers (at a good school, you'll get to build both).
  3. When you're done, you've have recognizable experience that nobody can take away from you.
Also, you could have 10 years+ job experience developing software, but if the HR lackeys of the world ignore your resume becuase it doesn't have the magical "BS in CS or related field" you may likely have a tougher time getting a foot in the door (best friend of mine is suffering with this as we speak). If this is not a viable option, surf around the net and see what books are being plugged for Software Engineering / Computer Science topic XYZ and try working through some of the fundamentals on your own for the breadth of experience.

Now back to slandering the course-ware and book sellers. Remember, these people and the companys they're hawking (SUN, M$, whoever) ultimatly don't give a flying fuck about you. You're just another fraction in thier "XX% of developers surveyed used $COMPANY development tools". They would rather you know that thier way is the only way to do it. Deciding to pick up only C-Hash or Java, or whatever is going to be a bit limiting in the long run. I agree with the above poster who recommended C and C++ as they are the underpinnings of the above in some way or another. They will also give you a frame of reference when going into C-Hash or Java.

Good Luck
Sigs are stupid and waste bandwidth.
[ Parent ]

Learn C++ or Java (4.50 / 2) (#68)
by xtremex on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 02:01:43 PM EST

Don't become dependant on a company/vendor. Be vendor Neutral. If you know C, C++ or Java, you can ocde on ANYTHING. Screw .NET. You can get entry level code jockey positions in C++ or Java. If you're worrying about eating, and want the money, go for Java.

[ Parent ]
What about Apple? (3.75 / 4) (#45)
by jaymagee on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 12:53:03 AM EST

What about Apple? You could argue that Apple does exactly the same, and now with OS X, it is actually feeding off of open source. I love my mac, and OS X, because of this. Everything works. And it works well. Sure, you can buy stuff that will partition your disk a slightly different way, but ordinary users will simply use the included tools. Stuff that is included in the operating system tends to work better than seperate programs (feel free to argue). This is the entire "Digital Hub" strategy of Apple, which also extends to their anal retentive control over which hardware their stuff will run on. I would, however, like to see some decent games on OS X. I think the industry is unfortunately going to continue in this direction, OS's will become increasing more complete, and developers will either change to game manufacturing or other software that is convenient and yet too bulky or expensive to include with the OS.
Making a better humanity, one genetic change at a time.
That's the point (4.00 / 1) (#55)
by bugmaster on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 08:13:34 AM EST

I don't think MS will rest until they have a monopoly on ALL software, not just OSs and web browsers and databases and... The goal is precisely to acquire any software company that is not Microsoft, or, barring that, drive them out of business.
>|<*:=
I've said it before... (none / 0) (#60)
by derek3000 on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 09:57:11 AM EST

Stop throwing around the 'm' word like so much confetti. McDonald's could be considered a monopoly--no one else makes the Big Mac.

Speaking of Big Macs, Macintosh is a competitor to Microsoft. So is Lunix. So much for your monopoly idea. Now run along and take some simple economics courses.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

Monopoly != 100% (none / 0) (#70)
by Cro Magnon on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 02:55:50 PM EST

The combined market clout of Macintosh, OS/2, Linux, BSD, and Solaris is insignificant compared to Windows. Microsoft can still play monopoly hardball, despite the fact that other OS's exist. And none of them is a plug-in replacement for Windows, whereas a Burger King Whopper can turn the stomach just like a Big Mac.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Agree on the Title, Not on the Agruments (4.00 / 3) (#69)
by levsen on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 02:13:17 PM EST

I agree that Microsoft's developer base is waning. But not because the products that they developed are Windowized. The products you mentioned are maybe 1% of the Windows software market, and I for myself are not stopping to write software because Microsoft might step in one day.

Believe me, I know what you are talking about, having written CleverZip which is ceturies more advanced than WinZip and 100% identical to MS's current product in XP/ME/98 (I DID IT FIRST THOUGH BE NOT MISTAKEN), and I therefore had to stop selling it.

But there are 100 million ideas still out there. After all all CleverZip did and Microsoft always does, is make an old concept better. Duh.

Symantec and all that stuff just filled a market artificially created by MS's insufficient products.

I can think in 3 dimensions and steer diagonally away from MS's line. On the contrary, having all their stuff so tightly integrated will move them down the line of Apple one day.

The REAL reason developers (including me) don't like MS is it's ever complicating, backward compatibility hugging, totally bugged platform. And after all customers don't like to hear that the platform is responsible for the bugs in your software.

That's also why I wasn't particularly unhappy to abandon CleverZip. The complexity of the interface to Windows to create such a seemingly simple app was mindboggling, including some reverse engineering, supporting any combination of different versions of Windows, the shell, Internet Explorer etc. You won't believe it until you did it.

Java (the VM), on the other hand, was designed fresh from the ground up and is very popular for that. It's not just about cross-platform compatibility, don't complain it's just like C++, some things were done very right there and it keeps evolving, that's why. You will never find "deprecated" APIs in Windows.

I am currently working as part of the OSGI to make a real operating system out of the JVM.

I am switching jobs frequently, and pretty much my only demand is that I don't have to use MFC again.


This comment is printed on 100% recycled electrons.

make cleverzip GPL then? (none / 0) (#74)
by leukhe on Thu Mar 21, 2002 at 05:50:14 AM EST

with the risk being a troll:

If you don't sell cleverzip anymore, why don't make it opensource(or freeware)? maybe someone may use it to come up with a great extension for it (maybe not).



[ Parent ]
Never Open a Second Front (4.50 / 2) (#72)
by underscore on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 05:20:27 PM EST

I believe the Art of War for Dummies suggests never opening a second front, but this is what MS is doing. On the one hand they're forcing their customer base into a new licensing scheme following the idea of thin client architecture. Thus far it seems the app client base is happy to stay with Office 97 and NT4 than to even migrate en masse to Win2K. On the other hand as the article points out Bill Gates likes to squeeze out competition, any competition; and, in doing so, he might be squeezing out the developer base that helped establish the Windows dynasty. But this is Bill Gates and MicroSoft has deep, deep pockets, so it remains to be seen if MS fighting on two fronts (assuming they own the DOJ) can maintain and extend it's hedgemony. It's actual not bad geeky soap opera stuff. :)
a geek possessed of animal cunning
is a most fearsome adversary

The Slow Death March of Commercial Windows Software | 74 comments (61 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
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