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Microsoft Technology

Ballmer on Innovation 745

Posted by Zonk
from the big-stick-talks dept.
prostoalex writes "Robert Scoble interviewed Steve Ballmer on the topics of blogging, innovation at Microsoft, Microsoft's work with developers and other things. Video is available in WMV format." From the interview: "Did IBM out innovate us? I don't think so. I don't think they've done much interesting at all. What about Oracle? I don't think they've done much innovative at all. What about the open source guys? Ah, the business model is interesting but we haven't seen much in the way of technical innovation. People cite Google. Google has done some interesting stuff."
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Ballmer on Innovation

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  • by CaptainZapp (182233) * on Saturday July 09, 2005 @07:55AM (#13019920) Homepage
    "Did IBM out innovate us? I don't think so. I don't think they've done much interesting at all. What about Oracle? I don't think they've done much innovative at all. What about the open source guys? Ah, the business model is interesting but we haven't seen much in the way of technical innovation."

    That may be all well and even true. But why does Mr. Ballmer remind me so much of glass houses, stones, pots, kettles and the color black?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 09, 2005 @08:28AM (#13019998)
      >What about the open source guys? Ah, the
      > business model is interesting but we haven't
      > seen much in the way of technical innovation."

      You have to understand this about Microsoft:
      1) They are __not__ a technology company trying
      to sell their products. They are a __marketing__
      driven company whose products __happen__ to be
      technological products.

      2) Microsoft doesn't lead. Because they are a
      marketing company, they __watch__ marketing __trends__ to see which way the wind blows.
      When they think they know which way the market is going, then they will
      either:
      a) Buy the start up if they can.
      b) Make their own (inferior) version if they can't buy the competition.

      You have to wrap your head around those 2 points
      until you grok the implications.

      What are some of the implications?
      1) They don't understand the motivation behind
      open source and more specifically, free (GPL) software. As a marketing firm trying to sell product where's the money to be made here?

      Answer: None. If there is no money to be made
      from selling product, then why would you
      waste time on it? (You have __got__ to see this
      in market droid mode. This question doesn't make sense to ask from a technology point
      of view, but Microsoft doesn't live in technology mode, they just visit and harvest from the technology world.)

      2. You can't buy out open source software. You
      can buy out a start up company or an individual
      (like the creator of Gentoo), but that doesn't
      stop the competition from using and improving
      the software nevertheless.

      You can't rip off the software either, in particular, you can't rip off GPL software
      and be a leech about it.

      So, from a __marketing__ point of view,
      there is no "interesting" or "innovative"
      software in the open source world, since
      like MC Hammer sang it, they "can't touch this!".

      I would have said in the past that Ballmer
      is just an outright liar, but if you read
      the above and grok it, you can see that
      to use another a cliche, Baller "just doesn't get it."

      --Johnny
      • Excellent analysis. I never quite thought of it that way, but M$ *is* just a marketing company. They don't give a hoot about the quality/usability of the product. Now I understand why none of their stuff ever seems to be anything other than just barely marginal drek. They literally don't care.
        • by Skim123 (3322) <mitchellNO@SPAM4guysfromrolla.com> on Saturday July 09, 2005 @10:13AM (#13020359) Homepage
          Who exactly is 'they'? Microsoft is a company with, what, 30,000 employees? Not a single one of them 'gives a hoot?'

          I can't speak for their marketers or upper-management, but I've met with and interfaced with a couple hundred employees from Microsoft over the past decade and I'd say 90% of them have been more passionate, smarter, and more 'innovative' than the average employee I've met at any other computer software-related business.*

          Furthermore, it's amazing how passionate many are about their particular product line. Shit, just read some of their blogs and you'll see how much many care about the products they work on, the user experience, and so on. So saying 'the literally don't care' is about as far from reality as I can imagine. So either you are psychotic or ignorant or the people at Microsoft you've interfaced with personally happen to be vastly different from those that I've met/socialized with/worked with. (And I'm sure you have had the interactions and experience to make such claims as you did in your post, no? Or are you just saying this based on the fact that your Win98 box blue screens once a day? Yeah....)

          * - the majority of people I've met/worked with at Microsoft have been either in the Office team or ASP.NET team, so my observations may be skewed if just cool people work there.

          • by aej17 (684229) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @10:29AM (#13020431)
            Oh for crying out loud. You HAVE to know exactly what he meant. "They" are the people who make the final decisions. "They" are the people "you can't speak for". I am sure that there are people who work at MS who are passionate about their work and are actually nice people. That is not the point. It is obvious from any number of examples over the past two decades that MS, AS A CORPORATION, does not particularly care about either quality of their products or innovation in those products. What the parent post said was dead on.
          • Who drives them? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by khasim (1285)

            Who exactly is 'they'?

            The people who make the decisions that the techs must implement.

            Microsoft is a company with, what, 30,000 employees? Not a single one of them 'gives a hoot?'

            That's right. Otherwise we wouldn't be seeing problems such as IE being "integrated" with the OS.

            I can't speak for their marketers or upper-management, but I've met with and interfaced with a couple hundred employees from Microsoft over the past decade and I'd say 90% of them have been more passionate, smarter, and more '

            • Re:Who drives them? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by localman (111171) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @01:16PM (#13021341) Homepage
              Microsoft is a company with, what, 30,000 employees? Not a single one of them 'gives a hoot?'
              That's right. Otherwise we wouldn't be seeing problems such as IE being "integrated" with the OS.


              Having worked at MS in 98/99, I can say that "giving a hoot" doesn't amount to much. I was part of several projects where the majority of the team wanted to do something great, but red tape and politics got in the way.

              At one point, after months of upper management arguing about how to do it, I rewrote the FastCounter interface over a weekend. I presented it, the team loved it. Yet it sat on the shelf. Too many people wanted to prove they were in control. Eventually I left. But a lot of good people stayed on.

              Anyways, corporations are a group, not an individual. There are many great individuals at Microsoft. But as a group, as a corporation, their greatness can get lost.

              Cheers.
            • by TheLink (130905)
              Uh. How has OSS solved those problems?

              The sort of windows users who keep getting infected by viruses are those who will launch email attachments (and even supply the necessary passwords to the encrypted zipfiles!) and not update their O/S or apps. I see nothing in Linux that prevents such users from getting infected, other than they aren't using Linux at the moment.

              Mozilla/Firefox really isn't much more secure than IE.

              If users run their browsers and email apps as root/admin whether it's Windows or Linux
          • Furthermore, it's amazing how passionate many are about their particular product line. Shit, just read some of their blogs and you'll see how much many care about the products they work on, the user experience, and so on. So saying 'the literally don't care' is about as far from reality as I can imagine. So either you are psychotic or ignorant or the people at Microsoft you've interfaced with personally happen to be vastly different from those that I've met/socialized with/worked with.

            I'm afraid to say t

          • He's saying that from the top, Microsoft, as a corporation (we're talking about management here), doesn't care.

            No bureaucracy does. Much less a marketing-driven one.
      • by lemaymd (801076) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @09:58AM (#13020298) Homepage
        I am a Linux developer and love the OS, but you have to admit that a lot of the stuff on Linux is a copy of something in OS X or Windows. It seems like Linux is always playing catch-up and MS and Apple are the ones producing innovation, along with less frequent contributions from UNIX companies like SGI. Who picked up on anti-aliased desktop fonts first, who was the first to really push web services into the mainstream, etc. I think MS plays a very important role in technology advancement.
      • by antic (29198) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @10:45AM (#13020504)

        If you seriously think that Microsoft doesn't "understand" Open Source, you're an idiot. They understand it but they cannot ever show any support for it because doing so would concede ground and that territory is profit, shareprice and morale (all things that matter to a company). If there was a way to make equivalent money out of GPLed software, you can bet they'd do it. There isn't (they make more doing what they already do), so they don't. It's that simple.

        Suggesting that they don't understand free software is a bizarre POV.
        • by QuestorTapes (663783) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @11:48AM (#13020853)
          > Suggesting that they don't understand free software is a bizarre POV.

          Actually, I'd say it's pretty much typical. I've been doing a lot of reading lately on conversation and confrontation. Most people seem to argue from implicit assumptions that:

          1- my point of view is correct, therefore yours is wrong.
          2- since my point of view is obviously correct, anyone who doesn't agree with me probably lacks information.
          3- once the information has been provided too them, if they still don't agree with me, they have a problem with comprehension; they just "don't get it."

          I've been guilty of that one a lot, myself.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 09, 2005 @08:51AM (#13020065)
      "Did IBM out innovate us? I don't think so."

      It's kind of ludicrous for Microsoft to claim that IBM hasn't been an innovator. Just about everything in modern computing was developed and commercialized by IBM, including but not limited to:

      1. Virtual memory
      2. Virtual machines
      3. Relational Databases, SQL (ya, I know, but it is an IBM thing)
      4. Protected memory
      5. Multiuser Operating Systems
      6. Multitasking Operating systems
      7. Markup (SGML, the parent of HTML and XML)
      8. Source code management
      9. Spinning disk storage
      10. Network terminals, graphics terminals
      11. RISC architectures

      and so many other basic ideas that most people (including myself & Steve B.) have no concept.

      Microsoft brought a half-baked MacOS clone to Intel. That's all. I wouldn't call that innovation.

      • Just about everything in modern computing was developed and commercialized by IBM, including but not limited to:

        But wait a moment, how many of those things came out during Microsoft's lifetime?

        I was at a conference this past week, and one presenter said that the information technology industry is mature, and the smart money is moving onto to biotech. Your list of 25-year-old+ computer innovations seems to lend support to his assertion. Then I read that SGI is dying and think about how many more comp

      • by jejones (115979) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @04:04PM (#13022180) Journal
        Um, I think virtual memory is an English invention: vide the Ferranti Atlas [manchester.ac.uk].
      • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @04:15PM (#13022236)
        Where do you get your information? I don't think IBM invented *ANY* of those things. They may have been the first company to bring products with those features to market, but that's the same thing Microsoft does.
    • by dbIII (701233) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @09:05AM (#13020100)
      Did IBM out innovate us? I don't think so. I don't think they've done much interesting at all
      Things like high temperature superconductivity are boring - visual basic and clippy, those are innovations that are really ... wait, does this guy really believe what he is saying? Microsoft didn't even do any R&D a few years back, and what have they done since they did start R&D that actually is innovative and not just porting stuff done elsewhere to a different platform? I'm sure there must be something (and no folks, optical mice don't count because you could buy optical mice from other vendors before Microsoft had heard of them and put in an order).
    • by sirdude (578412) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @10:30AM (#13020434)
      I think all articles everywhere that mention Steve Ballmer should include a link to this [albinoblacksheep.com].
  • by yagu (721525) <yayagu@NospAm.gmail.com> on Saturday July 09, 2005 @07:56AM (#13019922) Journal

    This interview doesn't shed much light on an already dark and rainy corporation. How could this be anything but intellectual masturbation on Microsoft's part when you have a Microsoft employee slow pitching to the biggest windbag at Microsoft? Especially when the two appear to be patting themselves on the back about the fact that Microsoft really does innovate. Aside from the fact Ballmer is amazingly general in his list of innovations, the interviewer asks questions about other companies and if those companies out-innovated Microsoft. Of course, the response is they didn't.

    But the interviewer might have asked some more thoughtful questions in that line like:

    • Did MicroPro out-innovate us? (first word processor WordPro)
    • Did Bricklin and Frankston out-innovate us? (fist spreadsheet... VisiCalc)
    • Did Netscape out-innovate us? (guess!)
    • Did Google...
    • Did DARPA? (internet, TCP/IP, etc.)

    Not sure why, but even on slashdot Microsoft manages to get some Puff Pieces.

    (open the Troll and Flamebait mod floodgates)

    • Show me one example (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      of an interview with an open source developer or "leader" that is not exactly the same intellectual masturbation.

      Also, you are certainly wrong in one example you gave. Microsoft did out-innovate Netscape. They mat not have been the first on the scene with a browser, but they were certainly the first to produce one that was a pleasure to use (by the standards at the time) and innovation doesn't always mean precedence, it can mean implementation of existing technology in innovative ways.

      Much the same app

      • Much the same applies to the VisiCalc example. Microsoft took that poorly implemented idea - and I used the original VisiCalc, it was extremely painful to use day to day - and made it into something that most businesses can't do without now.

        If we're talking about spreadsheets, I think you'll find that Lotus 123 was once the killer app for business computing. (Lotus 123 was the name given to VisiCalc when IBM bought it.) Excel only achived dominance when Windows became popular. 123 for Windows was late in
      • Oh come on! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NickFortune (613926)
        [Show me one example] of an interview with an open source developer or "leader" that is not exactly the same intellectual masturbation.

        Hey, it's the microsoft groupies who've been saying for years that anything MS do is the de-facto standard. You can't complain if we occasionally try to be standards-compliant in our adulation.

        Even so, MS remain the clear leaders in marketing innovation, and for good reason. Consider this [civiblog.org] interview with Eben Moglen. If you read that, you'll find a debate where the inte

      • by Darth Maul (19860) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @09:24AM (#13020167) Homepage
        Oh Please! Microsoft did not "out-innovate" Netscape by any stretch of the imagination. The only reason IE took over market share is BECAUSE IT WAS INCLUDED FOR FREE IN EVERY OS IN 95% OF THE COMPUTERS.

        Duh. But I guess you're just a Microsoft fanboy.. *shudder*.
        • by LibertineR (591918) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @10:53AM (#13020554)
          Another bitter Netscape refugee shows his face.... By the time that Explorer 4.0 hit the market, it was considered by every single reviewer to be superior to Navigator, and that gap only widened, never narrowed. Everyone is entitled to hate Microsoft, but that does not mean that they did not only kick the shit out of Netscape by bundling, you would be a liar to suggest that Navigator was the superior product by the time Netscape began losing market share. You can sling that 'fanboy' crap as far as you want, but back in those days, you could not find a single tech review calling Navigator 4,5 or 6 superior to its competing Microsoft version. Deal with it.
    • WordPro didn't show up on the scene until 1997 IIRC. It was Xoom's rereleased version of the WordStar suite. I think you are referring to WordStar. However I believe Electric Pencil predated WordStar
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @07:59AM (#13019927)
    You've got to be kidding. They really don't have any idea what technical innovation is. Microsoft is really a marketing company who do software as a sideline. They've certainly had some innovative marketing strategies but nothing on the technical side.

    • Yes and no (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Maybe not from a end-user standpoint, but from a developer standpoint, I can tell you making ASP.Net 2.0 (still beta2 - due for November 7th) is VERY innovative (or doing anything in VS.Net 2005 for that matter).

      Or perhaps you're purposedly ignoring some tools 9or maybe you don't know about them), like Visual Web Developper 2005 - which is much like Visual Studio (with some of the advanced features stripped off), that will sell for like 50$. While it's not like having the real/full VS.Net 2005, it's far be
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 09, 2005 @08:00AM (#13019928)
    from the interview:
    Q: I'm on the evangelism team here, why do we have an evangelism team?

    A: Well, really helping developers understand what we got available for them to use, not just frankly in Windows, but in Office and our Server products, what they can take advantage of, exploit that. ...

    Yes, and with poor software design, a lot of exploits can be written.

  • innovation. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by torpor (458) <ibisum@gm a i l . com> on Saturday July 09, 2005 @08:08AM (#13019940) Homepage Journal
    you know, i really don't think he knows what that word means:

    innovate: 1. To begin or introduce (something new) for or as if for the first time. 2. To begin or introduce something new.

    what has microsoft introduced lately that is so new? i honestly don't know: i haven't used microsoft products seriously in 10 years. they're not even on my radar any more.
    • by damsa (840364)
      malware?
    • Tablet PCs? I guess you could argue that the tablet is a commingling of the PC and the PDA and as such it's not really an innovation so much as an extension...but that might be locking the definition of "innovative" into too narrow a space.

      I'm no Microsoft apologist, but the Tablet PC is really neat.
    • by advocate_one (662832) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @08:35AM (#13020020)
      innovate: 1. To begin or introduce (something new) for or as if for the first time. 2. To begin or introduce something new.

      There you go... that's how Microsoft can, with a straight face, call whatever they do "innovation"...

  • Innovation! (Score:2, Interesting)

    Microsoft has a very good research team in place,but that does not ensure innovation. I think they are having problems with translating research into products. Previously, their research was market oriented...say UI design for the common man etc. which did well for their prodcuts initially.That has now saturated.

    The kind of innovation we see from MS nowadays is generally of a kind not needed, like what they did with RSS. (it's a standard for a bloody reason!).

    Also, MS has spread themselves too thin by st
  • by Evil W1zard (832703) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @08:17AM (#13019965) Journal
    Or at least they will be soon when they are the first company to buy a Spyware company and then incorporate that Spyware directly into the OS. Plus the Spyware will be proprietary so you will need to pay them 10k to view some code to make an API for your spyware to talk to its spyware and ....
  • by LaminatorX (410794) <sabotageNO@SPAMpraecantator.com> on Saturday July 09, 2005 @08:19AM (#13019977) Homepage
    Hey, come on. If these guys weren't so innovative I'd never have been able to program my Altair in BASIC. That's gotta count for somethin.
    • Are you suggesting that MS invented BASIC?

      I think you will find that all economically viable computers had BASIC long before MS existed. (Most compputers that were not economically viable also had BASIC, too). A lot of Mainframes offered a choise of two or three different compilers or BASIC interpreters.

      You might want to Google Dartmouth College, or even BASIC. In those days, every man and dog programmer team had written a BASIC interpreter, if not two.

  • by nurhussein (864532) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @08:26AM (#13019995) Homepage
    Did IBM out innovate us? I don't think so.

    IBM invented SQL. IBM invented the hard drive. IBM invented the scanning tunnelling microscope. IBM employees have won the Nobel Prize.

    IBM may be evil, but it has always been cool evil.

    Microsoft on the other hand introduced...uhm...the animated paperclip? The monkey dance? The BSOD?

    Really, Ballmer. You just down like IBM because they gave support to Linux. Which makes them even cooler.

  • I have a hard time taking any interest in what Mr Ballmer says, especially after that ridiculous "developers" chant he performed recently. Not to say much more about the crowd that, rather than laughing him off the stage, clapped and cheered.

    What a weird world that must be.

  • by ShatteredDream (636520) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @08:30AM (#13020001) Homepage
    But they aren't genuinely "innovative" most of the time. Anyone who wants to see real innovation should look at Sun, Apple and Be before Be went belly up. Look at how small Be's development team was, yet somehow they managed to create a 64bit file system with many of WinFS' features back in what? 1998-1999?

    The one legitimate criticism of open source development though, is that you'd not have thinks like Apache Jakarta were it not for Sun creating Java. Open source and commercial closed source development should have the same relationship that name brand and generic drugs have. Software patents, IMO, would work if 2 things happened:

    1) We had a patent office with people who knew what they were doing and could safely reject bad patents.

    2) Software patents lasted for 2-3 years so that way the businesses could get a reward for doing stuff like creating .NET, Java, Windows Media, etc.

    The problem is that just as Microsoft takes Apples ideas, so do some projects like Mono and OpenOffice take Microsoft's ideas.
  • by GaryPatterson (852699) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @08:32AM (#13020008)
    I am a big fan of the concept of open source, and free software.

    I don't believe it can work in every situation, but the idea is good.

    The most damning thing about Linux (for example) is that it has zero innovation. I want to see something new for the desktop, not rehashed ideas that Apple or Microsoft or Unix implemented years earlier.

    I don't believe Linux is innovative, and I see that pervading the entire open source movement.

    Look at Open Office. Great idea, lousy implementation. Apart from the cost, what benefit does it have over Microsoft Office? There's nothing new in it, nothing innovative.

    I'd even go so far as to say that the amount of sameness cripples it. Apple did more with Pages than the Open Office has with its word 'wannabe', and it shows. They're trying something new, something innovative.

    Ballmer is right when he says open source software is not innovative. I disagree with the man on almost everything he says and is, but he's right in that.

    And goddamn it, I wish he weren't
    • The most damning thing about Linux (for example) is that it has zero innovation. I want to see something new for the desktop, not rehashed ideas that Apple or Microsoft or Unix implemented years earlier. I don't believe Linux is innovative, and I see that pervading the entire open source movement.

      You say this because you expect innovation from Linux. However, the truth is, Linux started out as a brilliant student's pet project, and is now a commodity Unix kernel clone. Linux won't bring much innovation, a
    • Open Office offers something MS don't. A full MS Office-compatible (YMMV for sure) suite at a fraction of the cost. Innovation cannot come in a market so dominated by one player since no-one will buy a productivity suite that doesn't open MS Office documents no matter how superb it is.
    • by freddie (2935)
      I"m sick and tired of hearing how gnu-linux/opensource/bsd is not innovative

      What you are forgetting is that the whole internet thing became possible thorugh open source. What kind of software has made DNS and email possible?

      The first web browsers like Mosaic were all open source. Apache the webserver that nearly everybody uses is open source as well.

      I'm using OSX right now. What has apple copied from linux/open source? Well its copied a lot. From its scripting languages (python, perl, ruby), to it
      • And yet I'm a big fan of Open Source.

        As I stated.

        Open Source has done a great deal.

        It's just not innovative on the application front, or the OS front. And that's the area that matters to users. Python is great, but does it matter to a word processor user, or someone who wants to get to their foiles in a new way because the desktop metaphor just doesn't cut it for them?

        And unless I'm wrong, Apple hasn't *copied* Open Source, but has in fact used it in exactly the way the authors (of the Open Source softw
    • The most damning thing about Linux (for example) is that it has zero innovation.

      I assume from your comment that you have either:
      • Never used Linux, only heard what other people (that also probably haven't used Linux) say about it... or...
      • You use a commerical distribution like Linspire (Lindows) which are designed to mimic Windows, in order to make the switch easier.

      Try using a less commercial distribution and see where the real innovation comes from. Of course it takes some time between a new idea be

    • Look at Open Office. Great idea, lousy implementation. Apart from the cost, what benefit does it have over Microsoft Office? There's nothing new in it, nothing innovative.

      The innovations are in the tiny corners. Formatting options in the context menu. I really like that. Now they only should display the hotkeys next to the items so you can learn them 'by accident'.

      Another smallish thing: Double click on the 'paste special' button (OOo2.x) and it will paste the formatting every time you select something u
    • by Qbertino (265505) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @09:14AM (#13020134)

      You talk about lack of inovation and give openoffice as only example- an ex-commercial sad-and-sorry MS Office rippoff.

      I'll give you some innovation in OSS:

      Enlightenment
      Konqueror (and it's extensions)
      ogg
      flac
      Rox
      zshell
      Zope (you can hardly get any more innovative than that)
      Python
      Ruby
      blender (ok, so it wasn't OSS from the start, but it was free (beer) and the people who drove blender back then are the same that do it now, that's why I dare name it - and before you ask: It's Blenders Workspace Management that is to date unmatched by any application in existance. It's actually the successor to desktop-metaphor workspace.)
      verse, loqairou et al ( OK, so these are the rare things that are more innovative than Zope, they are the future of interface design and computer interaction and usage. I'd say ten years ahead. Go check if you don't believe me: www.quelsolaar.com/, http://www.uni-verse.org/Blender_Foundation.8.0.ht ml [uni-verse.org])

      Bottom line:
      What you said is wrong in so many ways. The truth is, a lot or real high-end avantgarde innovation takes place in the OSS world. You just need to open your eyes and look around.
      But if your looking for innovation in openoffice your going to have a hard time, I'll promise you that.
    • by argent (18001)
      It's the kernel, not the eye candy. [slashdot.org]

      Oh, and that new graphics library (the one Apple beat to the punch with Core Image in Tiger) in Longhorn? "Avalon" is basically a copy of an open source window system called "Berlin" that never caught on because it was a bit early... good OpenGL video cards weren't cheap enough soon enough.
  • bad maths (Score:2, Funny)

    by recurrence (898497)
    are you gonna create opportunities where my program somehow works with another guy's programs and one plus one equal three. Windows has been that.
    This is what worries me.
  • It looks more like they are just lining their sights. They see Google as actually innovating but this probably has more to do with the fact that Google is king in an area of technology that M$ has failed at. So they will ignore others for the moment and fire on Google. Slamming IBM, OSS, and the like is really to insult the intelligence of the audience; esp. with OSS. Let's see, Linux is able to offer mail, web, file sysetems, and application services with considerably less overhead but no innovation? M$ h
  • by Just Jeff (5760) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @08:43AM (#13020037) Homepage
    When I read the Ballmer quotes, the first thing I thought was, he is saying that there is no room in the industry for anyone but Microsoft.

    All these other companies make products that other people use to be innovative. There relly isn't a lot of innovative room in relational databases for Oracle. They make databases, and very good databases and very popular databases, and they make a lot of money doing just that. THEIR CUSTOMERS are the ones who put those databases to good use.

    IBM make a lot of stuff. Most of it is pretty good stuff, and they make a lot of money selling that stuff. It is IBM's CUSTOMERS who make good use of it.

    "The open source guys..." Well, they make a lot of stuff too. IT IS THE PEOPLE WHO USE OPEN SOURCE software who put it to good use and who are innovative. Open source allows people a little more room to be innovative. They can aquire it at a lower cost. They can alter it to better meet their specific requirements...

    Steve Ballmer believes that computers are a platform for software companies to restrict and dictate what happens there. In that model, customers do not decide what computers do, but software vendors. That's why Microsoft feels the need to compete in every single little corner of the software industry. For Microsoft to (almost literally) control the world, they have to be the sole supplier of software to everyone.

    "The open source guys" have a different view.

  • It's a bit like... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by M3rk1n_Muffl3y (833866) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @08:44AM (#13020046)
    ...asking the Osama Bin Laden about the virtues of Catholicism. Okay, maybe not quite, but I don't think MS are a company who do innovation. Rightly or wrongly their approach has been consistently based on developing other peoples innovations into mass-market products. Such as QDOS, VisiCalc, Navigator, GUI OS (from Apple or Xerox, take your pick). So I sincerely doubt the value of Ballmer's comments on this topic.
  • by otisg (92803) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @08:49AM (#13020059) Homepage Journal
    Funny, he didn't mention Apple?
  • Ballmer's right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JChung2006 (894379)
    IBM and ORACLE are not innovative. They are big unninnovative businesses just like Microsoft. They thrive on the continuation of their existence, not the creation of something new. As for open source not being innovative, it hasn't been lately, but it used to be. I suspect that open source's obsession with standards and standardization has something to do with its lack of innovation these days, because, folks, innovation by its very nature is not standards-based.
    • From the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary :

      innovative - using new methods or ideas [cambridge.org]

      Notice there is nothing in that definition that indicates the origin of those ideas ? Microsoft are an innovative company, because they take ideas and use them. They aren't an inventive company, because they very often don't come up with any new ideas themselves.

      IBM and Oracle are innovative companies too.

      As for being inventive, I'm not sure about Oracle, however, IBM are, based on the fundamental intention

  • by Peaker (72084) <(gnupeaker) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Saturday July 09, 2005 @08:56AM (#13020077) Homepage
    Lets see, Software installation management:
    • A central repository of packages, and a GUI with more than 10000 packages, all installable with 2 clicks.
    • Automatic upgrading of all these packages.
    • Uniform interface to install, remove or upgrade all of these packages.
    • Automatic installation of packages according to file access attempts (auto-apt).

    GUIs:
    • Desktop/network integration (i.e: ftp exploration works just like local file exploration) (and no, this does not work, not even in Windows XP, try copying files from one ftp to another, for example).
    • Panel applets bringing usefulness to the panel, as well as quick browsers/bookmark lists in the panel (Microsoft copied some of this)
    • Tabbed command-line consoles
    • Password-keeping wallets for all applications, allowing the user to remember just one password
    • Customization of desktop behavior, shortcut keys to basic operations such as minimizing/maximizing, and any other feature in the desktop.
    • Division of responsibility, window management keeps working even when applications hang.
    • Search feature in Configuration Manager.
    • Countless other innovations

    Development tools:
    • The diff/patch tools.
    • gcc: A single compiler handling the compilation of a huge collection of languages, in a large set of platforms.
    • xemacs: An environment platform that allows extensions via a dynamic language with seamless on-the-fly compilation of the extension code you write. Also, the most featureful platform out there for this purpose, with powerful macro recorders/editors, customizable key binding, etc.
    • Languages: Python, Perl, Ruby. Microsoft is still behind in this area, despite its .NET technology, which is less innovation, and more an extension of the Java platform (I would even say, Java done right). Many more languages are Open Source, but I simply don't recall the exact history of other language to tell for sure.
    • Vast libraries in each of these languages, many of which are filled with technical innovation (i.e: Twisted Matrix, SDL, pygame)
    • Transparent RPC's for: Python, Ruby [rubycentral.com], Smalltalk [gatech.edu]. Microsoft, to the best of my knowledge, does not implement a single transparent RPC. (Transparent means that the server needs not be aware of what objects the client will use, nor does it require any code to explicitly export the object's features to the client, as Microsoft's COM/.NET technologies require).

    Emulation:
    • CoLinux [colinux.org]: Modifying the Linux Kernel to run in kernel-mode side-by-side a host operating system.
    • bochs: Unprivileged, 100% user-space emulation of an entire PC.
    • qemu: Like bochs, but with dynamic code translation.

    All in all, I may have misattributed a few innovations, but most of these are from Open Source. Also, there are many others I can't remember or simply don't know. Microsoft has done less innovation than Open Source, that much is obvious.

    I would appriciate information fillers on innovations from other projects I'm less familiar with, such as Apache, the Kernel.

    I am pretty sure Ballmer really believes what he says, because most people, surely Microsoft employees, are quite ignorant of Opensource offerrings and their innovations.
    • a few more? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by naelurec (552384)
      • ClamAV [clamav.net] virus definition distribution model (use of incremental updates, dns txt field checks for new updates, automatic, etc..) -- compare this to the weekly (!) updates of Symantec (or manually updating slightly more frequently) or even some of the "download a big chunk from a centralized location" method of commercial competitors.
      • BitTorrent
      • So many things in KDE [kde.org] its insane.. (just check out all the awards [kde.org], including Software Innovation of the Year - CeBit!)
      • Plone [plone.org], Zope [zope.org], Typo3 [typo3.com] - These content managemen
  • by sogod (882835) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @09:12AM (#13020124)
    Speaking about innovation, MS probably meant her .NET technology, for example. Then should we forget who actually did it? The Borland guy! We can continue the list of innovations. The new filesystem? But look at Apple, she already implemented this database-like I/O concept and it really works today. We could continue further, etc. Honestly, do Balmer remind you a car salesman a bit? As for me, this face isn't even much in real Microsoft spirit and corporate culter. Some descrepancies... There are a lot of very thoughtful ppl over there, and they are not exposed. For example, the already mentioned big ex-Borland guy, big ex-Linux Guy, etc etc. Probably, money is all that counts at the end :-(
  • by stephensamuel (115774) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @09:13AM (#13020131) Homepage
    Innovation at Microsoft is an oxymoron.

    I think they've also patented the idea of innovation....

    and trademarked the word.
  • by syphoon (619506) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @09:22AM (#13020160)
    Well this is annoying. Scoble complained just earlier on his blog [weblogs.com] that Slashdot hadn't linked to his Ballmer interview.

    The post in question: Interesting that Slashdot hasn't linked to the Ballmer thing yesterday. Maybe they belong to the Andrew Orlowski "we-must-not-link-to-or-acknowledge-Scoble" school of reporting. Heh.

    What's fun is that Ballmer, in the interview yesterday, took a swipe at open source and IBM and Oracle. Surely that'd be worth getting the Slashdotters all riled up.


    He got a lot of comments pointing out the interview was content-free, a spin job, and otherwise of generally no interest to the discerning crowd here. How pleased I was to see Scoble's shot go amiss.

    And then I refresh the front-page here :-(. Come on editors, even the interviewer semi-admits this as being a troll-piece in a /. context.
  • by standards (461431) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @09:30AM (#13020184)
    One innovation that Google came up with is that it learned that it doesn't need a figurehead spokesmodel like Ballmer.

    Ballmer does Microsoft a disservice by ranting about innovation but not actually delivering innovation. No wonder why theses Microsoft guys are so uncharismatic - people have a distaste for bullshit-slinging horn tooters.

    IBM - the inventor of so many basic industry ideas - is declared a non-innovator.

    Apple, who brought so many great ideas from the lab to desktop computing, ideas that Microsoft admittedly embraced after Apple delivered them successfully to market - doesn't get a mention.

    And Google, who mostly innovated the idea of not screwing over internet users with ads and pop-ups and cross-marketing crap, is an exciting innovator.

    IBM is the innovator of basic technology. Google is the innovator of doing the Internet right. Apple is the PC marketplace innovator.

    Microsoft? Um, well they invented something... I just don't know what that is. Truetype? SQL? The mouse? The file system? Does ANYone know?
  • by mormop (415983) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @09:30AM (#13020186)
    Joseph Goebbels on Compassion, George Bush on grammar and Count Dracula on the health benefits of a Vegan Diet.
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @09:31AM (#13020191)
    That's what occured to me just watching.

    Shrinkwrap Software only business is over. 50 Billion$ on the bank or not. That's the simple truth. Be it that MS will roll on with XBox 360, 720 or whatever. But their core milkcow is withering.

    The CEO of MS having a sweet-little-nothings chinwag with one of his minions and hideously bullshitting 90% of the time won't change that.
  • OSS Not Inovative? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @10:28AM (#13020422) Journal
    Hummmm. OSS
    • Wiki
    • Blogging
    • For that matter, the web itself (http and html were OSS).
    • Most of the low-level internet protocol (the original core was funded by DARPA, but the rest of the core is actually OSS).

    OSS is so un-inovative, that Apple based their OS on it, borrows heavily (but they acknowledge it and contribute back). MS steals all the ideas and then declares it for their own.
  • by Locutus (9039) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @10:51AM (#13020543)
    Between Balmer and Gates, I don't know which one bores me more. Gates is getting pretty hilarious these days though. I crack up every time he says that speech recognition is about to take off and when he says anything about the tablet PCs...

    I guess they've gotta keep trying to find SOMETHING that can produce money outside of their desktop OS monopoly. But 15 years of this stuff is getting pretty old. IMO.

    Another thing that cracks me up is when Microsoft talks about how WindowsCE costs less than GNU/Linux on embedded devices. This, from the company that consistantly loses ~$1 Billion annually on that productline. Talk about Cost of Ownership. ;-)

    LoB
  • Throwing stones. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shanep (68243) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @11:51AM (#13020871) Homepage
    What about the open source guys? Ah, the business model is interesting but we haven't seen much in the way of technical innovation.

    What have Microsoft actually innovated? I would seriously like to know. All I ever see from them is new functionality in the form of defensive answers to the innovation of others. They copy, modify or buy innovation. But what have they genuinely innovated?

    I love using OpenBSD servers and firewalls, OSX desktops and begrudgingly use Windows XP Pro on my laptop (along with FreeSBD, which I love too). I just bought a very nice new Sony VAIO VGN-A49GP notebook with a 1920x1200 17" LCD display. The display is spectacular to say the least, but text is difficult to read at the default dpi setting within Windows XP of 96dpi. This displays true resolution is about 133dpi so I have tried various settings within XP including the "Large Size (120dpi)" setting which I figured would be catered for well. All settings larger than 96dpi, even the 120dpi option, cause font problems within system dialogs and web sites including Microsofts own from within IE. Often text within a SYSTEM dialog renders beyond the window it is within and is thus unreadable. I can't imagine such a problem occuring within OSX. Even Windows XP is still a dogs breakfast in these sorts of regards and shows that Microsoft products are still completely covered in bandages, instead of being fixed at fundamental levels. Do they even bother testing these perhaps fringe settings? 120dpi is their "Large Size" setting, so you would think at least it was tested. Could this come down to the driver? If so I would have to say that that indicates a fundamental design flaw if a driver is able to cause such havoc.

    OpenBSD has deployed (I realise they may not have innovated the fundamentals) active memory protection security measures which Microsoft attempted much later and only came half way to what OpenBSD deployed.

    Microsoft is not leading innovation in usability or security and I personally would say they are also not leading in stability (although I agree they have come a very long way). Performance is an area where there is a lot of overlap, but for a company with so much money and so many paid developers, I have to wonder why they don't have it all?

    Oh no, wait a second, no I don't... that's right, they trumpet features and all those other things in prime time slots, etc and sell product based more on the trumpetting than the actual quality they deliver. I guess this is to be expected though, just like from the rest of the big capitalist corps like Cisco, Sony, Apple... wait, then how is it that Apple can keep reinventing themselves and their products, while keeping viable AND delivering quality products?

    I live for the day when Microsoft dies. Thank heavens FreeBSD runs on my $5,000 AU notebook. ; )
  • by cahiha (873942) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @03:57PM (#13022141)
    "Did IBM out innovate us? I don't think so.

    Ballmer's ignorance and arrogance are astounding. Let's just take a simple example: Longhorn. IBM was shipping Longhorn technologies already years ago: database file system, vector graphics (DPS), managed code (Smalltalk, among many others), handwriting and speech recognition, and system wide object model (SOM). Some of these, IBM already shipped decades ago. Some of these technologies, Microsoft is only shipping because they cloned existing products and even hired away IBM employees.

    The notion that Microsoft is even in the same league in terms of innovation as IBM is laughable. Microsoft has yet to prove that they can deliver any kind of innovation beyond Clippy and Bob in their products at all.

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