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[P]
The "New Software" Hype

By icastel in Op-Ed
Fri May 31, 2002 at 08:51:14 PM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)
Technology

Perhaps one of the most annoying things in the IT industry is the hype surrounding new software releases. At times it seems like we are so influenced by software companies that we fail to realize we are playing their game. As an example, let's take a brief look at Microsoft's newest platform -- .NET ...


Let me start by emphasizing that I'm only using MS .NET as an example and that the same ideas apply to most, if not all, software vendors.

It wasn't long ago when Microsoft started to build a revolutionary platform called .NET. To me, .NET is more evolutionary that revolutionary - you'll see why. By the way, based on my experience, "platform" in the IT industry can mean almost anything you want it to mean. In any event, Microsoft summarizes .NET on their site as follows:

"... a set of Microsoft software technologies for connecting your world of information, people, systems, and devices. It enables an unprecedented level of software integration through the use of XML Web services: small, discrete, building-block applications that connect to each other, as well as to other, larger applications via the Internet."

I'm sorry, but I have trouble understanding what that means. I have no problem with the words used, even though English is my second language. What I do have a problem with is trying to decipher the concept. Point by point:

  • "For connecting your world of information, people, systems, and devices." Say what? ...
  • "Unprecedented level of software integration through the use of XML Web services." Oversimplified, Web Services is a "new" technology that allows applications to use modules external to it. So what's new here? We already had that with CORBA, DCOM, etc.
  • It works over the Internet! Maybe that's what's new. Wait ... see previous bullet.

It appears that, by means of obscuring descriptions and using new buzzwords, they're trying to hide the fact that they're offering very little that's new. Yes, they are improving existing technologies and making some things easier. But they're also calling these technologies something else and claiming they're new. In my opinion, that's evolution as opposed to revolution. Again, I'm picking on Microsoft here, but I think every major player in the industry (Sun, IBM, Oracle, etc.) makes claims akin to the one made above -- perhaps not in as big a scale.

I think the cycle usually follows these basic steps:

  • Market new software release until people/ companies become convinced they NEED it (whatever "it" is).
  • Release the software.
  • Start working on next release.
  • Once new purchases start to dwindle go to step 1.

I constantly find myself learning the new thing because that's what the market demands or will demand. I could choose not to do it, but I have to survive and the only way to do it is by keeping my skill set "marketable" in order to give employers what they want/need. I'm not at all opposed to learning. I love learning. What bother's me is that what I have to learn is dictated by software vendors.

Just in case you're curious, I'm currently building a personal Web Site in ASP.NET, one of the Microsoft technologies under the .NET umbrella and, yes, I'm doing it so I can learn the new, unprecedented platform.

I wonder if it's just me, or there are others that share my feelings on this.

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The "New Software" Hype | 99 comments (92 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
How about (2.00 / 11) (#1)
by medham on Fri May 31, 2002 at 01:43:00 AM EST

The hype surrounding Neverwinter Nights? Bioware's promised offering is one of the most infamous examples of RPG vaporware the industry has ever seen. They have taken it upon themselves to release "tools" for a product they have neither the money nor the political will to ever ship. If it ever does, which I doubt, it won't be anything like the "be your DM" module-fest they've been advertising.

The facts are these: Neverwinter Nights will not come close the paper-and-pencil AD&D experience. Ever. So, let's just stop the adulation and turn our attentions to something less utopianly escapist.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.

Dude! (4.00 / 1) (#3)
by pb on Fri May 31, 2002 at 01:55:20 AM EST

Yeah, but I can't wait for Neverwinter Nights.  I know it's pathetic, but I really hope it does come out by June 20th or whatever.  I'm not foolish enough to preorder it, and it might suck, but I really want it to be good.

If I could make quests or "run a campaign", that would be awesome, but I'd really be happy with something worthy of a sequel to the Baldur's Gate line of games.  I thought "Baldur's Gate I" was amazing, but II was so much better!

And even if Neverwinter Nights can't live up to the hype, it has to be better than Pools of Radiance: RoMD, which I've pretty much given up on at the moment.  Unless there's some curse that says all computer games based on the AD&D 3rd Edition rules have to suck...  :(
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

Juh-Juh-Jaheira, No! (none / 0) (#4)
by medham on Fri May 31, 2002 at 01:59:07 AM EST

I rest my case.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Actually (4.00 / 1) (#6)
by pb on Fri May 31, 2002 at 02:13:41 AM EST

The characters in Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II were one of the highlights of the game for me, although my favorite was probably Boo, not Jaheira.  :)

In fact, if Neverwinter Nights does let me create or alter the game significantly, there must be a Boo...
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

but I hated the spell engine! (none / 0) (#95)
by Shren on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 11:01:21 AM EST

BG II's spell list was utter horror. Mages fighting other mages was an excercise in horrific tedium. I liked BG I just because you didn't get into the whole "Cast A to cancel B, cast C to cancel D, cast E to cancel F, doh, no E memorized, I guess my mages are useless this battle."

[ Parent ]
I liked the spells... (none / 0) (#99)
by pb on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 04:21:41 PM EST

Just don't buy into the whole resist/cancel methodology; carefully pick spells that will do damage, and memorize a few high-level general-purpose spells.

For instance, Melf's Minute Meteors will damage just about anything, as will Mordenkaiden's Magic Sword; also, spells/artifacts that dispel magic on the target are very handy, as is True Sight. (actually just having Keldorn in your party is pretty good for this  :)  And having a few extra summoning spells is also good.

Another favorite of mine is Simulacrum--it's great for scouting, and for getting to use your item charges more than once (For example, have your mage equip the Staff of the Magi, then cast Simulacrum; then turn invisible and use spell trap; attack the enemy with your three fireball/lightning combos, and whatever else you have lying around...)

There are a few instances where you'll really want specific protective / cancelling spells, but those are mostly special cases (like fighting Kangaxx, or maybe a Dragon or a Lich).  Those are the only times you really want Spell Immunity, Lower Resistance, Breach, etc...
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

Yeah (4.00 / 1) (#13)
by inerte on Fri May 31, 2002 at 04:17:10 AM EST

  Big conspiracies everywhere, medham, everywhere. Literally thousands of people tried NNW tool set, and everything you've read it about was lies, damn lies.

  Only In Your Humble Opinion paper-and-pencil rpgs are better. Also IMHO, but there are people that disagree with us. Are you saying they are wrong? Sure you aren't, just that they are dumb. Yeah, I would call them that too if I wasn't in a hurry to teach them what's right instead of complaining how much they could learn if they followed me.

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

Die Forelle (1.50 / 4) (#15)
by medham on Fri May 31, 2002 at 04:45:37 AM EST

Flopping around on the bank, yep.

Let's face it: the computer has already caused a discernible evolutionary change in human cognitive capacity. The imagination has been extirpated. The mind's eye of today's youth can see only in pixels. And that, my little friend, saddens me.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

It's a change (none / 0) (#35)
by inerte on Fri May 31, 2002 at 10:46:34 AM EST

  Once upon a time people couldn't write, neither describe to others the world with pretty words.

  It's not a revolution, neither something we are been forced to do. It's happening, it's changing, may be evolution, maybe it's just how things work.

  What saddens me is not that people are becoming less humans in our greek interpretation of the soul, but instead, that some aren't enjoying it. I think you can have your chance on this new world, can't you?

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

I agree! (none / 0) (#50)
by joshsisk on Fri May 31, 2002 at 12:44:15 PM EST

I also can't stand this rock and roll "music" the kids are listening to these days - it's just noise!
--
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]
Neverwinter Nights (4.00 / 1) (#27)
by IHCOYC on Fri May 31, 2002 at 07:55:56 AM EST

If Neverwinter Nights at a minimum allows you to create designs that run under the Bioware Infinity Engine, with or without human intervention, that will be enough for me. My all time favourite game, Unlimited Adventures, will have been released ten years ago come Mar. 17, 2003. It still has an active user base, despite being based on the SSI Pool of Radiance engine that dates back to C=64 days. New designs are being created for it to this day. If Neverwinter Nights manages to last that long, I will be content.
--
"Complecti antecessores tuos in spelæis stygiis Tartari appara," eructavit miles primus.
"Vix dum basiavisti vicarium velocem Mortis," rediit Grignr.
--- Livy
[ Parent ]
Vaporware? (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by gauntlet on Fri May 31, 2002 at 10:13:45 AM EST

Uh... I was under the impression that vapourware was a product that was non-existent. I've seen the product. It exists. It's not supposed to replace p&p. It's supposed to replace other computer RPGs. And the idea that they don't have the money or will to ship is just plain stupid, medham. If anything, they don't have the money NOT to ship.

Of course, you're probably just using hyperbole, or trolling for BioWannabes. Got me.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

"Warrior, needs food badly."(NT) (none / 0) (#47)
by eurasian on Fri May 31, 2002 at 12:00:15 PM EST



[ Parent ]
you can't wait, can you? <nt> (none / 0) (#51)
by CodeWright on Fri May 31, 2002 at 01:15:45 PM EST

what are you reading this for? i SAID <nt>!

--
"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
.NET means many things... (4.82 / 17) (#2)
by pb on Fri May 31, 2002 at 01:51:41 AM EST

".NET", like Java, means many things.  It's a platform, a language, a product, a network, a server...  That's because ".NET" itself doesn't mean anything; it's all of these things, and also a marketing term.

Marketing terms exist to be popular, and not consistent or useful.  If you asked someone what kind of computer they had, and they said "it's a Pentium", or "it's an Intel", would that be useful?  Is it a Pentium Pro, or a Pentium IV?  Maybe it's a Pentium/60 with the FDIV bug?  Similarly, if you asked someone what OS they ran, and they said "Microsoft", or "Windows", would that be useful?  Is it Windows 1.03, 3.10, XP, '98, or CE?  What about 2.11, ME, 2000, NT, or Embedded?  If they said "Microsoft", how about DOS or Xenix?

In the future, Microsoft wants their web technology to be as well-known as "Pentium" and "Windows"; you'll ask someone what they use for their web pages, and they'll say ".NET", which will encompass the server, the language, and everything else.  Never mind that the server is IIS, the language is C# (or C# with a funny hat, thanks to the CLR, which is a cool but badly implemented idea) and everything else has a specific name that everyone will call ".NET".

Conclusion?  Marketing is evil; it exists to hype and deceive, and it fits right in with Microsoft.  Look at their page on Word Macro Viruses for an encore.  ("Malicious hackers are exploiting blah blah blah"...)
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall

Don't be an ass (2.60 / 10) (#7)
by streetlawyer on Fri May 31, 2002 at 02:21:49 AM EST

For connecting your world of information, people, systems, and devices

Just out of interest, how would the author express the meaning of this statement in fewer or clearer words? I really can't think of any other way of describing a product which is designed for the connection of information, people, systems and devices.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever

Not the point (4.00 / 6) (#9)
by iwnbap on Fri May 31, 2002 at 02:47:51 AM EST


The question is more "what does it mean" to connect information, people, systems, and devices?  Presumably they're not doing it with glue or baling wire.

Perhaps a better statement would be "shipping information concerning people between systems and devices" or "allowing people to move information about devices between systems" or something similar. As far as I understand .NET, I think it's something like "allowing people to design information structures and store and move information on and between devices and systems".  Which is about twice as many words, I admit; but it is at least clear what everything in the getup is doing.


[ Parent ]

I think what he means is that.... (4.22 / 9) (#10)
by morkeleb on Fri May 31, 2002 at 02:51:34 AM EST

the same words could be used to market the Borg collective as a cool new future for mankind (well actually that is what they are marketing so nevermind...)

But if you take out the words saying .NET is a Microsquish product - they could be selling any software system ever devised. I've heard almost identical descriptions for SAP, for Oracle database software, for pretty much everything related to Java, for...well anything that connects to a network or in some way uses a network to connect people. Anything that connects things to other things, shall we say? Whatever those things maybe. Like Coke machines or cell phones or coffee machines or human brains (oh wait - that won't happen until .NET version 2.01 comes out with enhanced brain sockets for all of us).

At any rate....it's not clear even though it sounds perfectly clear what EXACTLY .NET is all about (at least from reading their marketing crap).
"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry." - Emily Dickinson
[ Parent ]
TCP/IP (3.00 / 4) (#19)
by salsaman on Fri May 31, 2002 at 04:56:14 AM EST

n/t

[ Parent ]
It's just bizniz (3.42 / 7) (#8)
by cem on Fri May 31, 2002 at 02:42:49 AM EST

New releases mean new bizniz. Microsoft and all other product-oriented companies are forced to market new major releases at least every 3-4 years. Otherwise they cannot sell new licences. It's a trap. And to pushthe sales up you have to generate a hype.

That's the reason why I'm not in the product bizniz but in the services bizniz, which lasts longer but has of course other traps.


Young Tarzan: I'll be the best ape ever!

.NET is all hype, but... (3.75 / 8) (#11)
by jcr13 on Fri May 31, 2002 at 03:48:52 AM EST

...didn't we all know that already? I mean, this is Microsoft we're talking about here. Let's see... their last innovation was... hmm... oh yeah: never!

(Just to be fair, M$ does innovate---in their research lab, that is. None of their nifty ideas seem to make it to market, though.)

Microsoft has done some cool stuff (4.00 / 1) (#38)
by greenrd on Fri May 31, 2002 at 10:54:27 AM EST

OK, I'll say this for them: they put a lot of money and effort into usability research for Win95. And the Windows idioms, which have been largely adopted by projects like KDE, GTK and Mozilla, generally work intuitively - and are much better than say the Emacs nightmare "To save a file, press M-ESC+CTRL+XEDJT+Press your grandma's left eyebrow" approach. ;)

And QBasic was pretty cool and bug-free - for its time, apart from the annoying 64K memory limit.

Er, that's all I can think of.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

LOL -"Press your grandma's left eyebrow" (none / 0) (#45)
by eurasian on Fri May 31, 2002 at 11:56:17 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Yep, I love .NET's marketing/dev team (4.57 / 14) (#12)
by reethaxor on Fri May 31, 2002 at 03:52:41 AM EST

I recently went to a Microsoft sponsored talk on .NET at my college. Considering my school's pretty well known for its CS department, I was expecting a pretty good, in-depth talk about the technical aspects of the Great and Mysterious .NET. After the two reps did their spiel and gave away some expensive MS software, I was just as confused about what .NET actually is as when they started their speech. So, I asked them "So... what exactly IS it? Is it a new programming language, or a new API, or what?"

And I basically just got the whole thing repeated back to me again... "A whole new way of doing things... Will change the way you use the Internet, and your computer..."

So yes, I definitely share your feelings on this, as even Microsoft themselves couldn't adequately tell me what .NET is, other than a marketing ploy.

Naming of .NET (3.00 / 4) (#18)
by petdr on Fri May 31, 2002 at 04:52:54 AM EST

As one of the developers of the .NET backend for Mercury. I quite often am disappointed by the marketing of .NET. IMHO, .NET is a good thing! The idea of a VM designed to support different languages is great. It hopefully will allow people to seamlessly mix Mercury with more traditional languages. However a lot of this is lost in the marketing of the ideas.

[ Parent ]
It isn't designed very well (4.00 / 3) (#36)
by greenrd on Fri May 31, 2002 at 10:46:52 AM EST

My impression is that the .NET VM is not much of an improvement over the Java VM in terms of multiple language support. Compilers for a whole bunch of languages have been implemented which compile down to Java bytecode - although languages like Python had to be constrained somewhat in order to be implemented on the Java platform. However, .NET is not free from such problems either. Did you know that even Visual Basic (which is widely viewed to be an amateur language, as you know) had to be changed significantly in order to compile down to .NET bytecode and interoperate with other languages in the .NET framework? One /. wag joked that the Visual Studio .NET is really a skinnable framework, not a true multi-language platform - you can have any language you want, so long as it's some minor variation on C#. (Which is really the Java language plus a few extra features and differences.)

I would be interested to hear any counterarguments. In what ways is the Microsoft VM superiour to the Java VM with respect to improved support for multiple languages?


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

.NET (4.00 / 3) (#42)
by jmzero on Fri May 31, 2002 at 11:22:59 AM EST

You're right in that .NET managed code isn't all that different from Java bytecode.  Why should we expect it to be?  I don't see real problems with either other than that they both have a performance penalty - but that's sort of unavoidable.

Either bytecode is going to be able to support any language, with enough work.  The question would be about the performance of the resulting software.  From my limited experience, .NET performance is passable.

I don't see any problems with doing a non-C# type language on the .NET runtime.  MS has never had much interest in functional (or even odd looking procedural) languages - so it's not a surprise that they didn't provide one that would work with .NET.  This doesn't really speak to any particular flaw in .NET itself, it speaks to the narrowness of MS's views on development.

The changes to Visual Basic were all positive as far as I can tell.  I think they could have kept things the way they were, but the way things were really sucked.  .NET didn't force them to make the changes, it gave them an excuse.  The old VB had nowhere to grow without significant changes.

.NET is not amazing, but it's OK.  Who was expecting anything else, besides the MS marketing department?
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Minor nitpick (none / 0) (#90)
by nstenz on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 07:49:37 PM EST

The changes to Visual Basic were all positive as far as I can tell.
Throw away the default data type and so on? That's great for reusing old code.

They should've just given their wonderful new language a new name. I'm just damn happy they didn't bastardize Visual FoxPro like they did VB. However, that's a pretty good sign that VFP will be killed off soon, isn't it?

[ Parent ]

Hmmm (none / 0) (#92)
by jmzero on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 10:20:33 AM EST

Throw away the default data type and so on? That's great for reusing old code.

Tough call I guess.  I've always used explicit typing in VB.  I guess that makes me a bad judge as to the value of "the old way".

I never used VFP for more than data conversions.  It don't see where it can fit in with MS's plans for the future - you're probably right about its doom.

.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

.NET bytecode (4.33 / 3) (#59)
by ucblockhead on Fri May 31, 2002 at 02:07:10 PM EST

You know, I've heard this before, and even believed it, but when I actually tried something I was quite surprised how well you could compile C++ down to bytecode.

You can't do everything, but the list of things you can't do is no where near as significant as people make it out. The app I changed (admittedly a toy app) to use byte code was trivial to convert.

A big part of the problem is that people are spending all there time arguing over how good something is and very little actually trying things.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Marketing (4.75 / 4) (#24)
by izogi on Fri May 31, 2002 at 06:50:32 AM EST

Out of interest, do you know what their job descriptions were? Were they techies or were they marketing and sales people? (Or alternatively executives?)

If they were marketing people there's a good chance that they don't know a lot about it, anyway, and could well have just been there to try and sell it to people. (You might have figured that out already.)

I haven't figured out exactly what it is yet, either.. except whenever I try to search the MSDN index these days, all of the .net krud comes out at the top of the search because of alphabetical sorting. Some time I'll have to spend some time figuring out how to remove it.

Having said that, I get the impression that it's a good thing, although probably not a revolutionary thing that nobody else would have thought of already. It's more that Microsoft's in a position where they can push the idea on everyone as a new thing for them to spend money on.


- izogi


[ Parent ]
Software? (2.16 / 6) (#14)
by inerte on Fri May 31, 2002 at 04:21:43 AM EST

   Are you trying to describe a company way to release software?

  It's like ANY business. If it's wrong, fix it or starve.

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

My opinion (4.00 / 8) (#16)
by Disevidence on Fri May 31, 2002 at 04:47:36 AM EST

*Puts on tinfoil hat* I personally think the whole .net "ideal" is about being part of the microsoft way of things. Call me conspiracy theorist all you like, but if they manage the tangle a whole entire society inside their software programs, it can only get worse. Already they have complete control of 99% of people's desktops, and very soon they will be everywhere, for communication, services, internet... blah blah blah *Removes tinfoil hat* All press releases are dressed up in buzzwords. I remember a completely inane set of words for the xp release, I wasn't expecting anything different for .net.

Good opinion (none / 0) (#71)
by vile on Fri May 31, 2002 at 08:43:01 PM EST

hey... they do own most pc's... especially in the commercial realm. And it won't stop. Not for a while....

~
The money is in the treatment, not the cure.
[ Parent ]
Maybe you should read your own sig [n/t] (none / 0) (#79)
by tlhf on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 09:56:20 AM EST



[ Parent ]
point taken (none / 0) (#98)
by vile on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 01:11:50 PM EST

but ms does have market share....

~
The money is in the treatment, not the cure.
[ Parent ]
I agree! What's all the hooplah... (3.10 / 10) (#17)
by fatllama on Fri May 31, 2002 at 04:49:51 AM EST

... when xfig, LaTeX, and emacs is all it takes to make me one happy physics geek.

The whole point of this (2.21 / 14) (#20)
by salsaman on Fri May 31, 2002 at 05:15:11 AM EST

OK, so you saw this new technology M$ were touting called '.net'.

Presumably being new to IT, you thought 'wow a new technology from Microsoft, it must be cool'. So you tried to find out what it was.

Of course, being M$, it was just the same old same old, but with a new name.

So when you asked M$ about it they gave you the standard marketing spiel, because they really have nothing new to offer.

So you got annoyed because you thought they were being evasive and stupid*; and being such a 'leet haxx0r you thought you'd try this wonderful new technology anyway just to show them how smart you were; and then you were surprised to discover what M$ knew all along - that it was just the same old same old, but with a new name.

And now here you are on Kuro5hin, complaining about it.

*They are evasive and stupid, but only when a Federal judge orders them to tell the truth.

I think you're being a tad unfair... (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by kaemaril on Fri May 31, 2002 at 06:50:08 AM EST

Just out of interest, what in this article made you think that this guy was "Presumably new to IT"?

Mentioning he needed to keep his skillset marketable made me think he wasn't....

I thought the point he was making is that sometimes software vendors appear to make some (minor?) evolutionary changes in their product, and then try to flim-flam the market into thinking they are actually a brand spanking new revolutionary technology by surrounding the entire thing in cool sounding technobuzz for the benefit of the ol' pointy-haired bosses :)

For example, just what revolutionary, radical, never-before-seen quantum leap in technology exists in Oracle 9i that makes it "unbreakable"?

I certainly didn't see anything that made me think he was a whining "l33t hax0r" (or whatever)...

Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
Why I thought he was a newbie (none / 0) (#97)
by salsaman on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 11:12:39 AM EST

Because old hands like myself are used to the kind of marketing BS he's talking about, and accept it as being part of what marketing departments do.

The fact that he couldn't get a consistent, straight answer as to what 'technology X' actually is, should've set alarm bells ringing.

And of course, what's true for other companies is usually doubly true for Microsoft. No surprises there.



[ Parent ]

Well Said, But Wrong ... (none / 0) (#82)
by icastel on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 01:35:09 PM EST

The major flaw of your argument starts in your second paragraph: "Presumably being new to IT ..."

Even if this premise were true, I honestly fail to see how you jump from there the rest of your post.

If you had read (and understood) thoroughly, I have a feeling that your post would have been considerably different. Unless, of course, your reply/comment is your "standard" posting spiel and you have nothing new to offer.





-- I like my land flat --
[ Parent ]
Alternatives... (4.00 / 9) (#21)
by helander on Fri May 31, 2002 at 06:06:39 AM EST

The option of not releasing "fantastic revolutionary new software" might look like this...
  1. Employ a hundred programmers.
  2. Build great software product A
  3. Sell software product A
  4. Provide free upgrades to product A to customers
  5. Go out of business
So, I'm thinking it's part of the deal with a software company. They have to make customers get rid of their existing stuff and buy new things. And then other companies can sell support and training and books and, and..

For the MS case it's interesting beacuse I think they have a deal with Intel

  1. Release buggy GUI operating system
  2. OS runs slow on previously fast computer
  3. Buy new computer with faster processor
  4. Computer is now fast
  5. Release new version of bloated buggy operating system with useless 'revolutionary' features
  6. Computer runs slowly
  7. Buy new computer with faster processor
[ repeat 5-7  ]

Repeat After Me (none / 0) (#33)
by greenrd on Fri May 31, 2002 at 10:17:09 AM EST

There is no conspiracy. There is no arrangement. MS and Intel would have no incentive to enter such an arrangement. ;)

But seriously, the two companies are naturally "co-reinforcing" - if that's a word - by the way they operate, without needing to have a formal agreement. MS can't be bothered to make software that runs fast on a P60 with 32Mb RAM, because their approach is (last I heard) "Just meet your deadlines, I don't care how" - with some optimisations done at the last minute to render "acceptable" performance. Just take installing apps for example. On my machine the progress dial whizzes along while it's copying files, and then at 99% when the installer "updates system settings" (presumably just adding data to the registry), it takes several seconds to complete - and it used to be more than one minute a few years ago, for some apps (the installation process for an older release of IE was particularly convuluted an slow). Cack-handed, inefficient algorithms are/were acceptable at MS (and at many other software houses, of course), as long as they don't make the software completely impossible to use. (and sometimes even when they do...).

Conversely, Intel's marketing, and of course the fact that their chips really do get faster (unlike some of MS's claims, it's not a marketing invention!) helps persuade people that they "need" a new computer - and for most consumers and many if not most businesses, new computers will typically come with a new copy of Windows and/or Office (even if it's a waste of money - this is partly because of Microsoft's illegal OEM arm-twisting practices).


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

And... (1.00 / 1) (#70)
by vile on Fri May 31, 2002 at 08:39:32 PM EST

with good reason. Support the tech industry.. keep us in business!

~
The money is in the treatment, not the cure.
[ Parent ]
Optimization (none / 0) (#73)
by bruckie on Fri May 31, 2002 at 10:46:26 PM EST

MS can't be bothered to make software that runs fast on a P60 with 32Mb RAM, because their approach is (last I heard) "Just meet your deadlines, I don't care how" - with some optimisations done at the last minute to render "acceptable" performance.

That's sort of how it should be. Design your software well, use good algorithms, and worry about maintainability, correctness and features. If it's too slow at the end, you can usually profile it, find the bottleneck, and optimize it away.

--Bruce



[ Parent ]
Basic economics (4.22 / 9) (#22)
by FaRuvius on Fri May 31, 2002 at 06:38:50 AM EST

Software doesn't degrade. How else would you shape your business model?

Most products that are manufactured loose functionality within a relatively short period of time. (which is directly comparable to price)

Once this bag of Cheetos has been consumed, I must buy another one.

Auto manufacturers can release new versions of their product on a yearly basis because most cars count their lifespan in years. People always want a new car, because their current one is "getting old" and they've had it for "a couple years".

Software will continue to work as it was designed for the rest of time. The only way to gain repeat customers is to constantly "upgrade" the product with "new features" so that the customer will think that his product is outdated.



One acronym to counter that. (4.00 / 1) (#30)
by axxeman on Fri May 31, 2002 at 10:11:10 AM EST

MMORPG.

Not yet. Don't come before we have finished humping...
[ Parent ]

Re: One acronym to counter that (none / 0) (#55)
by FattMattP on Fri May 31, 2002 at 01:49:48 PM EST

And that acronym stands for?

[ Parent ]
EverQuest (none / 0) (#76)
by infinitera on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 03:41:42 AM EST

M assively M ultiplayer O nline R ole P laying G ame

[ Parent ]
Software does degrade (4.75 / 4) (#32)
by br284 on Fri May 31, 2002 at 10:14:10 AM EST

Software does degrade to a couple of extents.

First of all, software can degrade when the underlying hardware is swapped out from underneath it. The software itself may not wear out or change, but the processor, motherboard, or other components may. Try running the older DOS-based game Descent on an Athlon or Pentium 4. It runs a lot faster, fast enough to be unplayable.

Another aspect of degradation is how some programs will run slower on newer architectures because newer ways of doing things have been introduced and some of the older functions or system calls are emulated rather than executed on the chip. I'm a bit hazy on this, so anyone with a compiler / architecture background should feel free to fill in here...

Furthermore, the media on which the software sits does degrade. The bits of the program may not change in theory, but the media containing those bits does. Try finding a version of DOS on the market that still runs WordPerfect 5.1, or just try to find a copy of WP5.1 on the market.

Finally, software does decay with respect to others as it lags in functionality. A good example of this is Paint Shop Pro. I still own version 5.0, and I love it. However, as I try to do more complex things in the program, I'm running into more and more walls that require me to upgrade it or to another program in order to accomplish what I want. One crucial difference between driving a car and using software is that software allows you to do more sophisticated things as it is developed. After you master something that was previously sophisticated, you will not want to stagnate there, you will want to move on to the next hard and neat thing to do. There is really no such analogy in cars. So, while my PSP 5.0 still runs as it did on day one, I am being hit by a degradation insomuch that the numbers of things that I want to do and can do on it has greatly diminished.

So, software does have a factor of degradation built in. It is imutable in theory, but in practice, it is often necessary to upgrade to continue being productive. That is not to dismiss the hype that surrounds new software, I agree with the author on that, but it is not completely as you describe either.

-Chris

[ Parent ]

Software doesn't degrade (none / 0) (#66)
by steveftoth on Fri May 31, 2002 at 06:46:29 PM EST

If you keep the machine the same. Only the machine degrades. That's the great thing about it. It will do what it was written to do forever. As long as the machine works. When you upgrade the machine either by getting a new motherboard or by changing the OS, then it can change. (OS only counts if it can emulate the features of the old one) BTW, one of the main features of Win XP is that it has a very good DOS emulator, better then the one in Win 2000. This should allow you to play any old game you want, or run WP 5.1 or whatever you want in DOS mode.

[ Parent ]
XP DOS support is crap. (none / 0) (#91)
by nstenz on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 08:04:15 PM EST

BTW, one of the main features of Win XP is that it has a very good DOS emulator, better then the one in Win 2000.
I don't know if graphics-based games run way better on XP than on 2000 or what, but XP's DOS support being better than 2000's is just plain crap. Is Microsoft marketing this as a big 'feature' and people are just falling for it, or what?

I've seen more than one DOS text-based accounting system slow to a crawl on Windows XP, when it previously ran just fine on Windows 2000 and every other version before it. 'Compatibility mode' didn't help one damn bit, and none of the programs were doing anything half-assed or special- just some basic math.

It was loads of fun watching one of these programs slow the entire computer to a crawl- it might as well not have been preemptively multitasking. As far as I could tell, the program was continuously polling an interrupt on a serial port, and XP was letting it do whatever it damn well pleased. Verrrrrrrrrrrry slowly, that is...

[ Parent ]

The facts of life (3.62 / 8) (#25)
by 8ctavIan on Fri May 31, 2002 at 07:35:31 AM EST

First, for someone whom English is not a first language, yours is excellent.

Fact of life: Microsoft is hype That's how the worst operating system of all of them out there got to be number 1 in sales.


Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice. -- H.L. Mencken

VMS (none / 0) (#54)
by Miniluv on Fri May 31, 2002 at 01:47:30 PM EST

You really think Windows is worse than VMS? Wake up.

Fuck Walmart
[ Parent ]
Is'nt NT based on VMS? (none / 0) (#78)
by dreamer on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 09:21:04 AM EST

n/t

[ Parent ]
Nope (none / 0) (#96)
by Miniluv on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 11:08:28 AM EST

Based on would imply design concepts or code was shared. Instead it's arguably the descendant, or at least brain trust of, VMS in that the lead designer from VMS was wooed from DEC to MS to take the point on the design of NT.

Fuck Walmart
[ Parent ]
Price matters (none / 0) (#81)
by hbw on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 12:16:26 PM EST

They were also smart enough to design their operating system on some hardware that ordinary people could actually buy, as opposed to Apple's pricy hardware. I remember back in the day when the main argument for using a PC and Windows was not "because everyone else does it," but because it was affordable.

I have discovered a truly marvelous signature, which unfortunately the margin is not large enough to contain.
[ Parent ]

Not just hype (4.00 / 3) (#26)
by dennis on Fri May 31, 2002 at 07:49:14 AM EST

I wouldn't say it's a revolution, but it is an improvement. We use the web services part at work to connect insurance companies and hospitals. And it's slick - you write a local function in VB or whatever, add a couple tags to the code, and you've got a web service. Hit a button, Studio exports a file describing it. Send that to your partner, who hits another button to import, now they can call your web service just like it was a local function on their machine.

I don't know CORBA, but I know its reputation for complexity. This stuff is a piece of cake.

It's also got dramatic enhancements to ASP pages, which you can now write in any .NET language.

I'm not a huge Microsoft fan - I refuse to buy XP, and I won't use anything that requires Passport - but credit where credit's due. The marketing is over-the-top, but that's what marketing people do...incremental improvements in productivity are usually worthwhile.

Web Services and Security (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by greenrd on Fri May 31, 2002 at 10:35:56 AM EST

It's not surprising that .NET's "Web services" features are really simple. They're basically just remote procedure calls (an old idea) which run over HTTP (old ;), in order to bypass firewalls.

The whole firewall thing is really amusing. Get this: Orgs are using HTTP to pierce their own firewalls. MS chose HTTP precisely because port 80 is one of the ports that's most likely to be open going through any firewall, so it's just a convenience thing. This is absolutely fine and dandy if, like Google, your web services are open to the public - or if they're not but you don't want your mission critical systems to be protected by the firewall (/sarcasm). But surely, if you're not running public web services, one of the things your firewall should be protecting against is rogue access to your web services?

If both source and destination have access to and know how to configure any necessary firewalls appropriately, then using HTTP gives you no advantage over older approaches like Java RMI. In fact, XML over HTTP (for example), is not exactly the most efficient transport imaginable.

By the way, I hope you have taken security into account? I mean, web services are great and all - but you don't want to expose GetAllMedicalRecords to anyone who happens to learn your IP address and your API...


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Firewalls (none / 0) (#41)
by dennis on Fri May 31, 2002 at 11:14:51 AM EST

Personally I think the firewall issue is overblown. You treat your web service just like a website: if it's not public, it goes behind the firewall. If your firewall is setup properly, it allows outgoing HTTP requests, but not incoming requests. No one outside the firewall should be able to access your webservice, unless you purposely put it out in the DMZ.

If the service is supposed to be accessible from the Internet, but only by your business partners, you have to open a hole in the firewall, no matter what port you're using. With webservices, it's convenient to use SSL and client-side certificates to lock it down.

Which we do, by the way. Not only that, but the firewall only allows access from specific IP addresses. In some cases, access is only via leased line.

[ Parent ]

Uhhh (none / 0) (#43)
by jmzero on Fri May 31, 2002 at 11:40:35 AM EST

SOAP traffic is distinguishable from HTTP if you have a good firewall.

And port 80 was really the best option.  

We know.  We tried to get clients to open other ports to run our old remote software.  They wouldn't do it.  It was a "security risk".  Or it would take months.  We ended up doing HTML interfaces for everything (which is fine, but not perfect for everything).

We can still manage security the old way (IP's and ports and traffic type) if we want.  And while that's still an important management tool, it was never enough.  

Using SOAP, we also get "freebie" security in terms of SSL.  It's well tested and extremely well supported.  Most importantly, we get a system clients can actually connect to without wrestling their IT people (over traffic that the IT people approve of but are too squeamish to make special allowance for).

And you're right.  XML is inefficient (those extra few hundred K of < and > and / and written out numbers are real making our bandwidth costs shoot up - or maybe it's the videoconferencing).  

XML is also really easy to read, works extremely well, is well supported, easy to debug, and clients like it.  

Guess which one is more important to us?  

That doesn't mean XML over HTTP is right for every application - but it's good for many.  

And you don't have to hate it - it's not really "a MS thing".
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

gzip? (none / 0) (#58)
by greenrd on Fri May 31, 2002 at 01:56:56 PM EST

And you're right. XML is inefficient

Have you tried gzipping the XML?

(Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of XML. I'm just amused by the way that XML-over-HTTP can do RPCs through firewalls, and yet when you ask for a port to be opened so that you can do the same thing more efficiently, it's suddenly "insecure". Something's wrong there, I think.)


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

More .NET stuff. (none / 0) (#61)
by jmzero on Fri May 31, 2002 at 03:05:04 PM EST

Have you tried gzipping the XML?

I suppose we could if we were really strapped for bandwidth.  My point was sort of different, though - XML may be inefficient, but it's still almost negligible in terms of our total bandwidth usage.

(Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of XML. I'm just amused by the way that XML-over-HTTP can do RPCs through firewalls, and yet when you ask for a port to be opened so that you can do the same thing more efficiently, it's suddenly "insecure". Something's wrong there, I think.)

You're right, most things have nothing to do with security.  They have everything to do with the perception of security.  

In the same way, some clients will eternally fuss about our encryption level but don't want "hard to remember" passwords that are something other than one English word.  And they like to send confidential documents over e-mail.

That's the nice part about this setup - it's got security and the appearance of security.  And it's convenient.
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

SOAP (none / 0) (#85)
by DrEvil on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 05:36:52 PM EST

SOAP doesn't have to use HTTP as it's transport, it can use almost anything.  Also HTTP servers do not have to run on port 80.  SOAP also sends headers that specify that it is SOAP data.  A firewall could easily block that off.  I don't think the firewall issue is any issue at all.

[ Parent ]
Yes... (none / 0) (#94)
by jmzero on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 10:35:23 AM EST

SOAP doesn't have to use HTTP as it's transport, it can use almost anything.  Also HTTP servers do not have to run on port 80.

That is correct.  I think, though, that most implementations will go with http/https on port 80 to avoid the "cantankerous firewall admin" problem we've been talking about in the thread here.  Many SOAP tools are almost hardwired for HTTP.  Putting SOAP on a different port smells like security through obscurity (although it's certainly understandable if you want to manage SOAP via a firewall that can't distinguish its headers, or simply want things to be clearer).

Here's me:

SOAP traffic is distinguishable from HTTP if you have a good firewall

Here's you:

SOAP also sends headers that specify that it is SOAP data.  A firewall could easily block that off

I'm not sure whether you meant to disagree or just to clarify.  I could be missing something.

Have a good day...
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Squeamish IT people (none / 0) (#89)
by statusbar on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 01:59:13 PM EST

It is THEIR job and expertise to keep the network secure, not yours.  

They are squeamish for a reason - They want to be able to limit and control external access to internal resources.  SOAP over HTTP can be a super-duper huge security hole!  It is, after all, an object oriented remote procedure call.

Choosing port 80 in order to 'get around' the squeamish network security people is asking for trouble.  There is no reason why SOAP MUST use port 80 anyways - it is up to the implementor to choose.  Use a different port and then the network admin can NAT that port to a seperate box that is in a demilitarized zone like it should be.

--jeff++


[ Parent ]

Which? (none / 0) (#93)
by jmzero on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 10:28:13 AM EST

SOAP really only requires different security management if you're providing services that need to be secured.  If you're just a client partaking of those services, what exactly is your security risk?  

What's the difference between :

  1. :  A browser using a SOAP webservice to obtain/send data.
  2. :  A browser using an HTML request to obtain/send data.
The only difference I can see is that it's at least possible to manage the SOAP data - the straight HTML data is going to be hard to distinguish from employees surfing CNN.

Obviously if the client is installing an executable to act as the SOAP client, then they have to take precautions with that code - but that isn't a consequence of the protocol.

And if you're providing SOAP services, you can buy a good firewall that can distinguish SOAP traffic so you can manage it separately (if required).

Seems like a good solution to me...
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Jump off the upgrade bandwagon (4.75 / 12) (#28)
by ka9dgx on Fri May 31, 2002 at 08:08:55 AM EST

I've taken the company I support off the upgrade bandwagon. We've stopped at Office97 (with some slippage towards Office2000 on some machines), Windows 98SE, and that's it. We've paid our money, we're not going to pay any more.

The amazing things is that now people are happy with their P200MMX machines, and don't need upgrades.

Favorite feature of jumping off:

  • Training Company salesman: How do you handle your training needs?
  • Me: We don't upgrade.
  • Him: What?
  • Me: We've stopped at Win98 and Office 97, so we don't need training, and everyone's happy
  • Him: Oh...


Security (4.25 / 4) (#29)
by catseye on Fri May 31, 2002 at 09:27:04 AM EST

Your corporation's network security is only as strong as the weakest machine... and Win 98 is pretty weak.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]
Re: Security (none / 0) (#46)
by khallow on Fri May 31, 2002 at 11:59:27 AM EST

Your corporation's network security is only as strong as the weakest machine... and Win 98 is pretty weak.

Security is only one aspect. Looks like they're willing to take the risks (besides all the machines are at a uniform level of weakness here - so the "weakest link" issue is moot). It appears to me that a lot of Microsoft's upgrade strategy has to do with incrementally adding functionality to crucial aspects like security. Ie, you have to buy the new release (and associated upgrades for all your software) because the old one is insecure. Sounds like the above company thinks it doesn't need to play that game.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Hang on a second (2.00 / 2) (#56)
by Miniluv on Fri May 31, 2002 at 01:55:08 PM EST

Win98SE can be secured such that in a well structured network you don't need to lose even a single wink of sleep. Timely application of MS patches, control over software installed, and proper firewalling will bring that network up to snuff no problem.

Security is not some vague smoke and mirrors concern as you seem to be using it throughout this story. You cannot make MS out to be the devil just by invoking the S word, sorry.

Beyond which, what if they don't have internet access? You ever think of that one? There are probably more companies in the US that do not have access than do. Why? Most of them don't need it and aren't so enamored of new technology that they'll pay even $20/month for a single AOL connection for the office. So, if they're not hooked up to a network, and lock the office door and turn the alarm on at night, what do they have to worry about?

Fuck Walmart
[ Parent ]

This has nothing to do with your actual post.... (2.00 / 2) (#74)
by TubeShoot on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 12:10:42 AM EST

   I used to be a firm believer in the "Wal-Mart is the greatest store ever !!" mantra, but after reading and researching your sig I will never shop there again.
"People who quote other people in their sigs are the reason the media has such a grip over all of you." TubeShoot '99
[ Parent ]
Someone who understands (1.00 / 3) (#75)
by xtremex on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 01:11:22 AM EST

Those who aren't spellbound by the communist left-wing propaganda spewing major media have known this for years. This info about walmart may be a surprise to the people who live in the world of Fahrenheit 451, that these globalist companies who hire cheap labor, are ripping the fabric of the American way of life. These companies are globalist and not nationalists. And the media is suckling on their teats. For more info on what's really going on, with out the hippie communist propaganda, go to http://www.crimeagainstamerica.com I will definitely add your site to the list of Links any patriot should check out.

[ Parent ]
Uhhh (5.00 / 3) (#37)
by jmzero on Fri May 31, 2002 at 10:50:25 AM EST

Windows 98 is really poor.

We stopped at NT 4.0 and Office 95.

We'll probably have to do a mass upgrade in about 2004, though.  At some point we'll need OS support for new peripherals (our people will need to keep up on digital cameras...)

I think the point here is to upgrade when upgrades are "worth it" - not just because they come out.  We see some companies using old Wang systems from 1986 "because they're working fine".  

However, they're also losing business because they can't generate the kind of reports clients want and they're losing productivity in terms of maintenance and user frustration.
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

any news is good news (none / 0) (#39)
by irwoodhouse on Fri May 31, 2002 at 11:07:27 AM EST

Marketing is a funny game, in that All News Is Good News (even if it's bad news).

A company with a good product attracts both customers (necessary) and investors (a bonus) through its product, but if that company does not appear to be doing "new and interesting things", i.e. marketing, even if it's hype and vapourware, both the above will drift away, under the impression that your competitor's product *must* be better because it's newer, and has "interest" surrounding it.

That "interest" comes from discussion (good or bad) in the press, marketing, hype, anything with your company name in it. Even if it's all bad, when you announce a marvelous improvement in a month's time, people will buy from/invest in your company in preference to another with a brand new (but unknown) product because they've heard about you.

Sheeple (customers and investors) have short attention spans and short memories. The majority also haven't the faintest idea about your industry (Microsoft? Uh, aren't they in computers?). You *have* to keep their attention.

NOTHING is more disastrous than complete disinterest, because you can't fight it.

.NET isn't a new software release (4.75 / 4) (#40)
by Carnage4Life on Fri May 31, 2002 at 11:14:04 AM EST

I agree with the premise of your article but disagree strongly with the example you use. Microsoft's .NET is not a piece of software per se but is more a strategy or as some less kind people have termed it a marketting brand.

I keep saying that the best description of the .NET strategy I've seen hasn't come from within MSFT but from Miguel De Icaza when he said that it encompassed
  • The .NET development platform, a new platform for writing software.
  • Web services.
  • Microsoft Server Applications.
  • New tools that use the new development platform.
  • Hailstorm,
  • the Passport centralized single-signon system that is being integrated into Windows XP.
Now although some of these things could be called a "new software release", it is inaccurate to call .NET a new software release.

For the official spiel on what truly is .NET check out What Is .NET? on the Microsoft website.

More technical information on .Net (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by Gailin on Fri May 31, 2002 at 06:57:09 PM EST

Just thought I would share a link that describes in more technical terms what and how .Net works. I found it to be a good explanatory article geared towards techies.

Ars Technica Article G

[ Parent ]

Ultimate Hype - OSS (3.33 / 3) (#44)
by thelizman on Fri May 31, 2002 at 11:53:48 AM EST

The hell with .NET, the ultimate hype is OSS. I mean, it's a wonderful concept, and clearly shows an ability to produce competitive and often superior applications to MS products. But you have people saying that OSS is going to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and free the oppressed. Give me a fucking break already.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
is that anything like .NIT? (none / 0) (#53)
by eudas on Fri May 31, 2002 at 01:33:16 PM EST

http://www.ubersoft.net/d/20001219.html

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat

Value propositions in software (5.00 / 1) (#62)
by MSBob on Fri May 31, 2002 at 05:01:04 PM EST

You are correct about the hype. It's pretty sad for us old timers to see the same thing repeated over again. This industry used to be a little bit better in the times predating the internet hype.

The problem with software offerings today is that most of the general market needs have been addressed long time ago. We have seen steady improvement but it is definitely clear that we are faced with a law of dimminishing returns kicking in. More and more computing power seems to translate to only marginal gains in productivity experienced by general populace. I really don't see how MS Word XP is that much better than MS Word 6 (actually both are far from ideal). Where the new technologies seem to help a lot is in niche areas. New faster chips spur more and more development in the large data visualisation. Something Joe Shmoe doesn't really know or care about but it is definitely a viable market.

I think the software development industry needs to rebrand itself and concentrate at serving those niche areas adequatly instead of trying to come up with 'solutions' that are hyped as the panacea of all worlds problems. Such as .NET... it's a platform, it's a language, it's a class library, it's a subscription model, it's a desktop environment... If I ever saw a 'jack of all trades' this has to be the one.

The other problem of the software industry is when technologies are overstretched to do what they weren't intended for. First there was SGML which was very useful albeit a bit heavyweight. Some smart people who learned the lessons of SGML and HTML drew up the XML spec. And they saw it was good. And they used it for general data markup. Then the IT management learned about it and the rest is history... Now we have one 'consistent' 'standard' comprising of XML, XSLT, XPATH, DTD, Schemas and so on. Whole whack of stuff that established a life onto itself and XML is now being branded a 'platform' too. Something that was meant as a data markup.

Gotta run but that's my general rant about the state of software industry in general. My writeup some more in a diary entry later on. Stay tuned.

I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

Talking about XML hype (5.00 / 1) (#77)
by Quietti on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 07:50:46 AM EST

Some company, that just hired me to evaluate their PKI product line, mentioned that one of their main customer suddenly changed their requirements and insisted that SOAP had to be used for the user authentication process. When further pressed into explaining why SOAP, the customer could not provide any substancial reason, other than SOAP is the buzzword of the day, who cares what it does, we want you to use it for our project.

(ot) Nice to read something by MSBob again.



--
The whole point of civilization is to reduce how much the average person has to think. - Stef Murky
[ Parent ]
Wow (nt) (none / 0) (#84)
by MSBob on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 03:12:37 PM EST

(ot) Nice to read something by MSBob again.

Holy crap! Thanks!

I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
-1 (1.66 / 6) (#63)
by DeadBaby on Fri May 31, 2002 at 05:05:44 PM EST

Submit to slashdot instead.

"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
Small Steps. (2.33 / 3) (#64)
by DeadBaby on Fri May 31, 2002 at 05:14:04 PM EST


Software evolution is mostly done via small steps. .NET (and the many OSS clones of .NET that will pop up in 5 years) are just another example. Of course marketing departments are going to try to make these small steps sound like revolutions because, in a way, they are. Stop and think a second about how different the world is going to be in 5 years when you can deploy Office 2007 directly to any OS with a .NET runtime (by then, most of them) Of course you can do that now with Java but who uses Java? Not the hundreds of thousands of people who write win32 software.

Invention in software means nothing, actually making usable products means everything, hence Microsoft's success while others have been quicker to innovate.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan

Other amorphous words (none / 0) (#68)
by X3nocide on Fri May 31, 2002 at 08:14:17 PM EST

By the way, based on my experience, "platform" in the IT industry can mean almost anything you want it to mean.

A little off topic but in my adventures in Computer related fields, you'll find lots of these words that have no real meaning. "Architecture" comes to mind as being really abused in my own Computer Science undergraduate cirriculum. System is another good one. Paradigm, but the Simpsons has that one covered. And of course, it might just be that "Science" is being to broadly applied.

pwnguin.net

Huh (4.00 / 1) (#69)
by skim123 on Fri May 31, 2002 at 08:15:01 PM EST

It appears that, by means of obscuring descriptions and using new buzzwords, they're trying to hide the fact that they're offering very little that's new

In the realm of computer science, yes, .NET is offerring very little that is new. Essentially they are creating a runtime that uses intermediate code which can be uniformly generated from a plethora of languages. It's a lot like Java's JVM in that sense, although I'm unaware of other languages "compiling" to Java bytecode. Furthermore, .NET makes it way easier to develop Web services, convert everything but the kitchen sink to XML, etc. Web services are nothing new, but IMO Microsoft's approach makes them the easiest to build, debug, and deploy.

The buzzwords are the things managers and people who can allocate a large company's money like to hear. Imagine that you were a CIO of a Fortune 500 company, and your developers are gun-ho .NET, and the Microsoft consultants have treated you to some nice rounds of golf and expensive meals, and you're ready to go .NET. The CEO asks, "What is .NET, why should we use it?" Are you going to want to say: ".NET's a lot like Java, but runs better on Windows and is pretty neat-o," or do you want to present some spiffy PowerPoint presentation having:

.NET is a set of Microsoft software technologies for connecting your world of information, people, systems, and devices. It enables an unprecedented level of software integration through the use of XML Web services: small, discrete, building-block applications that connect to each other, as well as to other, larger applications via the Internet

in your presentation, flying in from the left of the screen with a woosh sound effect?

Just in case you're curious, I'm currently building a personal Web Site in ASP.NET, one of the Microsoft technologies under the .NET umbrella

Rock on. If you've ever done any classic ASP development you'll find ASP.NET 100 times better. And hey, if you want to help out an honest fellow, pick up a copy of my book: ASP.NET: Tips, Tutorials, and Code.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


Targeting the JVM (5.00 / 1) (#72)
by gds on Fri May 31, 2002 at 09:09:39 PM EST

It's a lot like Java's JVM in that sense, although I'm unaware of other languages "compiling" to Java bytecode.
A lot of compiler writers have tried targeting the JVM. There's a list here. In fact, what I have read so far makes the .NET framework sound a lot like the JVM with the cross-platform portability downplayed (yes, yes, I know, mono, but it's not really part of the hype). I don't really understand what's supposed to be different other than the (not inconsiderable) fact that it's being promoted by Microsoft.

[ Parent ]
Some benefits of .NET (none / 0) (#83)
by skim123 on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 03:01:13 PM EST

If you've looked at the .NET developer libraries they are a lot easier to navigate and use than the Win32 APIs. Having used both C/C++ and Java, I find Java much easier to create GUI-like applications quickly with. So I think MS is making it easier to create Windows apps with .NET by giving developers the option to use C# and the .NET Framework as opposed to VB and Win32 APIs or VC++ and Win32 APIs (or, ick, MFC).

Also, since .NET is not touting cross-platform (yet), understandably .NET is better suited for Windows development than Java. I agree with the original poster, nothing terribly new or exciting here. It's kind of funny, b/c Microsoft tried to do it Sun's way, if you will. They realized Java was a good language for quickly creating Windows apps with a good set of APIs. They wanted to improve Java for Windows to encourage developers doing Java apps to do Java apps for Windows clients specifically. Sun balked and sued. Hence MS has to create their own Java-like "technology" - .NET and C#.

A lot of compiler writers have tried targeting the JVM. There's a list here

Neat.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Fire and Motion (4.50 / 2) (#80)
by dennis on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 10:22:14 AM EST

Just came across this on Joel Spolsky's site:

"When I was an Israeli paratrooper a general stopped by to give us a little speech about strategy. In infantry battles, he told us, there is only one strategy: Fire and Motion. You move towards the enemy while firing your weapon. The firing forces him to keep his head down so he can't fire at you. (That's what the soldiers mean when they shout "cover me." It means, "fire at our enemy so he has to duck and can't fire at me while I run across this street, here." It works.)  The motion allows you to conquer territory and get closer to your enemy, where your shots are much more likely to hit their target. If you're not moving, the enemy gets to decide what happens, which is not a good thing. If you're not firing, the enemy will fire at you, pinning you down...

"Watch out when your competition fires at you. Do they just want to force you to keep busy reacting to their volleys, so you can't move forward?...

"Think of the history of data access strategies to come out of Microsoft. ODBC, RDO, DAO, ADO, OLEDB, now ADO.NET - All New! Are these technological imperatives? The result of an incompetent design group that needs to reinvent data access every goddamn year? (That's probably it, actually.) But the end result is just cover fire. The competition has no choice but to spend all their time porting and keeping up, time that they can't spend writing new features...

"The sales teams of the big companies understand cover fire. They go into their customers and say, 'OK, you don't have to buy from us. Buy from the best vendor. But make sure that you get a product that supports (XML / SOAP / CDE / J2EE)'...Then when the little companies try to sell into that account, all they hear is obedient CTOs parrotting 'Do you have J2EE?' And they have to waste all their time building in J2EE even if it doesn't really make any sales, and gives them no opportunity to distinguish themselves...."

How the hell did this article get voted in (1.75 / 4) (#86)
by levsen on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 06:21:20 PM EST


This comment is printed on 100% recycled electrons.
my take. (none / 0) (#87)
by /dev/trash on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 07:05:35 PM EST

If you don't release something new and improved, someone else will and you'll lose customers.

Of course this doesn't explain Linux.

---
Updated 02/20/2004
New Site

The real effect of the "hype" and rebran (none / 0) (#88)
by mjfgates on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 11:51:27 AM EST

The big thing that all this name-changing does, is to make it harder for the HR people to figure out who knows what they're doing. *I* know that ADO, DAO, ODBC, and OLEDB are all the same thing, but recruiters don't. The net effect is to make experienced people look less skilled (because that project you worked on two years ago was using DAO and now everybody wants OLEDB, and those are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT), while somebody with a shiny new MCSE looks really cool because he's had Special Customized .NET Training. So, by re-branding their software every couple of years, Microsoft (and, c'mon... nobody but Microsoft plays the "name change" so far as I know) not only makes the world's pointy-haired bosses want to upgrade, but pressures us geeky types to spend money on annoying training courses we don't actually need, just to keep up with the current acronyms.

The "New Software" Hype | 99 comments (92 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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