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Another Belated Microsoft Memo 232

Posted by Zonk
from the better-late-than-never dept.
fiannaFailMan writes "Bill Gates has sent out another memo heralding the latest big development in the industry, as he sees it. This time it's web-based software using technology such as AJAX (that MS 'invented but failed to exploit'). The Economist says 'As in previous cases, what is new is not the idea itself, but the fact that Microsoft is taking it seriously.' Zach Nelson of NetSuite decided against writing a memo. 'Writing memos is cheap,' he says, whereas 'writing software is a whole lot harder.'"
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Another Belated Microsoft Memo

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  • AJAX and Comet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigman2003 (671309) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:30PM (#14067869) Homepage
    Personally, the whole AJAX thing is cool, and at the same time scary.

    I'm a web developer, and right now I am really getting into the stride of making very good apps, very quickly.

    With AJAX, the expectations will rise considerably. The development effort will go way up...all to do the same things we are doing now.

    I know that this sounds stupid to a lot of you...but think about games. Better graphics increase development time and effort, but don't necessarily make a better game.

    Soon, EVERY web app will need to be an AJAX app...even if it doesn't need to be.

    The age of simple software is once again coming to a close.
  • by Mostly a lurker (634878) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:31PM (#14067872)
    Mr Gates is probably laying the framework for changes in the AJAX support in IE aimed at breaking competitors products.
  • In other news... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sabre307 (451605) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:33PM (#14067886) Homepage
    Later this year Microsoft is planning to release a hard drive based MP3 player.

    These guys are so far behind the times it's not even funny. The next thing you know they'll be talking about how we really need something to search the web with, or an online way to look up an address. Hey, here's an idea, we'll make a website that contains information about stuff and make it editable by everyone.. We can call it a Wiki!
  • by no_pets (881013) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:37PM (#14067906)
    This isn't the first time Microsoft has been late to the race. They are the masters of catch up and making the most of what someone else pioneered.

    Slashdotters are quick to laugh at Micro$oft, but Microsoft is the one laughing all the way to the bank.
  • I thank M$ (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bogaboga (793279) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:38PM (#14067913)
    > [...]This time it's web-based software using technology such as AJAX (that MS 'invented but failed to exploit')

    There you have it Slashdotters. Here, Microsoft has some innovation to show. Sincerely, I have been slashdotting for a long time and can say I have seen very little if anything about M$ being recognized for its innovation.

    This I believe, is one of them. Thank you M$.

  • Re:Who owns it? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Andrew Tanenbaum (896883) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:44PM (#14067941)
    When has Microsoft flexed their patent muscle to stifle progress? Could you post an example, or are you just anti-"micro$oft!!Lol"? You should note that their "anti-competitive practices" did not involve patents, and would be hailed in a truly free society.
  • by outsider007 (115534) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:58PM (#14068018)
    It's only there to make Wall St. think Microsoft is still relevant and on the edge of the wave.

    Please, with the 360 launch, this isn't even a blip on anybody's radar.
  • Re:AJAX and Comet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LDoggg_ (659725) on Friday November 18, 2005 @09:26PM (#14068128) Homepage
    sounds a lot like flash to me.

    And unfortunately, I'm starting to see sites use it in the same bad ways.
    Anyone that decides ajax, java, or flash is a replacement for website navigation is an idiot.

    These technologies have plenty of uses to enhance web applications, but as soon as they render my browsers controls unusable, something is wrong.
  • by rdean400 (322321) on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:16PM (#14068291)
    to provide the "X" in AJAX, but the concept was envisioned by Netscape all along.
  • Re:Who owns it? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blackmagic1982 (825766) on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:23PM (#14068316)
    Dude, why are you reacting this intensely to this? Microsoft is a COMPANY. Their goal is make as much profit as possible by what ever legal means they can. Of COURSE they should used there patients to stiff such products! That is why patients exist. They need to protect there own property. Each and any every one of these innovate new website's should be sued to the hilt if by Microsoft if they can. What are you...some kind of SOCIALIST!?!?!
  • Re:Just imagine... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NineNine (235196) on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:39PM (#14068354)
    5 Years late? What, is AJAX everywhere already? Microsoft is smart because they don't necessarily jump on every stupid bleeding edge technology. In case you don't have a memory, there have been hundreds of Net based technologies that have come and gone... Remember VRML? How about XUL? Write-once-run-everywhere Java? "Push" technologies? The only lemmings who jump on every new buzzword the instant it comes out are Slashdotters, and those fucking leeches that keep coming up with unprofitable web companies yet keep getting millions of dollars to buy fucking Herman Miller chairs where they can sit on their fat asses and come up with new ways to use the buzzwords. A smart businessperson will not be an early adopter. A smart businessperson let's the early adopters blow all of their energy and capital to see if a new technology is going to work, THEN come in and develop it.

    If history has shown anything, it's that Bill Gates is one of the best businesspeople in the world right now, and has a better grasp of technology trends than people like you and other armchair CEO's could ever hope to have. Now sit down, shut up, and pay attention to people who know better than you. Maybe you'll learn something.
  • Re:Memo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomhudson (43916) <.moc.nosduh-arab ... .nosduh.arabrab.> on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:59PM (#14068428) Journal

    Writing memos is cheap,' he says, whereas 'writing software is a whole lot harder.'"

    It's not cheap - its easy. He's writing memos now because, like a LOT of people who used to code, he can't write software any more.

    This has happened to a lot of former coders - they hit a certain age, and they just can't see themselves writing code any more. They don't want to learn yet another language or 5. This doesn't happen to everyone (hey, I just pulled a 9-5 ... that's 9 AM to 5AM, and I'll be hitting the half-centry mark next year), but it does seem that a lot of coders are gone well before they hit 40.

    You could probably divide coders into 2 groups - those who code because they can, and those who code because they're curious. The ones who code because they can, eventually, they can't.

    But curiosity never stops. When you've been coding for 16 hours, and you figure you're all done, but it would be neat to "write a quick little program to write a program" (because programs that write programs are the happiest programs in the world), and you go and do it because you WANT to and you're curious as to how well its going to work out and you know you won't be able to sleep until you "scratch that itch" . . . if you're still doing that a couple of decades later, you aren't the memo-writing type.

    This phenomenum (people peaking in their 30s and then they drop out) isn't limited to just IT. Look at how many "management types" simply can no longer do the grunt work in their own problem domains. They've lost their edge. Sure, they make up for it with experience, in a lot of cases, but there's no replacement for a sharp edge AND experience.

  • Re:AJAX and Comet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skreems (598317) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @12:22AM (#14068813) Homepage
    speaking as someone who has done (and enjoyed) both game development in c++/python and web work with php and javascript, let me be the first to say:

    fuck you, buddy :-)


    Really, it's not about making some gigantic labyrinthine application... it's about accomplishing the end goal for the user as quickly, efficiently, and correctly as possible. The web happens to provide some tools that enable massive return on very little code, but that doesn't mean that ALL those who work with it are unable to program larger systems, given a reason to do so.
  • Problems (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tony (765) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @12:24AM (#14068820) Journal
    I agree with your premise. Microsoft often can't afford to take advantage of truly innovative technology, because that technology might erode their desktop monopoly.

    Some of the logic along the way is... problematic.

    Microsoft introduced ActiveX to ensure the web was tied to their platform. The reason ActiveX was "much maligned" is because it was just DCOM wrapped up in web semantics. Since DCOM was poorly-designed, ActiveX inherited many problems, including extremely poor security. At the time, CORBA was the standard for remote execution, and although it was a standard, it had many drawback when compared to DCOM-- namely, poor implementations that often didn't work together properly, naming service issues (still a problem, though its getting better), and huge bloat / performance issues.

    Their platform was hardly fantastic. It was cobbled together, riddled with stability and security issues, and was tied intimately to the MS-Windows platform. The primary reason nobody adopted it on the web, outside of the compatibility nightmare, was that ActiveX controls required a Microsoft server on the other end, meaning exposing an important service to the internet. I believe that was Microsoft's intent-- get application developers to use ActiveX (most app developers were MS-Windows developers), and force the sysadmins to install MS-Windows servers to support them. But that might just be paranoid delusions on my part.

    I'm glad you remember to glory days of ActiveX and IIS servers with such a warm fuzzy glow. All I remember were the serious ActiveXploits [cigital.com], IIS worms [com.com], and performance problems created by this "fantastic platform."
  • Re:Problems (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ergo98 (9391) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @12:36AM (#14068875) Homepage Journal
    Not to get too argumentative, but I do disagree issue with a couple of points.

    The reason ActiveX was "much maligned" is because it was just DCOM wrapped up in web semantics.

    ActiveX was a visual component standard that was really created for Visual Basic. ActiveX had nothing to do with DCOM (of course ActiveX uses COM as the communication method, but in no way does it imply that it's talking to the master via DCOM), but rather was a COM based component that implemented a particular set of visual interfaces to embed it in a container. It was invented for fat development, replacing VBXs (with OCXs), but the black-box type model worked well (at least in the Microsoft world) in the browser. The whole security model element of your comment I'm not really sure how to respond to - Apart from the fact that ActiveX was just a client-side technology, implying nothing about how it communicates with the server, DCOM was, and is, a highly secure (with highly granular ACLs) communication method.

    The primary reason nobody adopted it on the web, outside of the compatibility nightmare, was that ActiveX controls required a Microsoft server on the other end, meaning exposing an important service to the internet.

    I think you're thinking of something entirely different. An ActiveX control on your webpage is just an OCX resource file that you've stuck on your web server, and adding resource location and versioning info in your HTML. An ActiveX control can be used on pages served from LAMP servers. There is nothing about it that ties the server to Microsoft. I personally used ActiveX for internal webapps, and those controls used HTML to communicate with data sources.

    I'm glad you remember to glory days of ActiveX and IIS servers with such a warm fuzzy glow. All I remember were the serious ActiveXploits, IIS worms, and performance problems created by this "fantastic platform."

    Oh give me a break. Aside from your blatantly wrong knowledge of the Microsoft platform (BTW: Corba and COM were competing technologies. Your revisionist "COM was a lame ripoff of CORBA" is sadly very wrong, but it's the norm for history to be reinvented for some around these parts), I was specifically talking about internal development. It was a fantastic platform, though like every other platform it did have its hiccups.
  • Belated? bahaha (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aCapitalist (552761) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @12:49AM (#14068930)
    Microsoft is far ahead of the curve on "AJAX" stuff its not even funny. Hell, Microsoft invented XMLHttpRequest 7 years ago or so. And Ajax is a joke compared to something like XAML and a .NET runtime in the browser. It'll make all this html/css/javascript+dom look like the stone age, and it'll all be in the browser. Word and anything else they want to run will look and almost act native. I used Visual Studio ActiveX that responded reasonably years ago.

  • Re:Just imagine... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fbg111 (529550) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @01:07AM (#14069004)
    Of course it was entirely tied to Microsoft's platform and browser, which was why you didn't see it much on public websites,

    Actually I think it was b/c of the much-maligned ActiveX security vulnerabilities. There are plenty of ActiveX-less websites that are coded solely for IE anyway, so lack of platform-independence is not really the issue.
  • Re:Memo (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gnuLNX (410742) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @09:15AM (#14070122) Journal
    I have to agree with you. For me the itch usually wakes me up around 3 a.m. Something I just have to finish or try. I have been writing code since I was around 12 on an old commodore 64. I am 32 now. I took a few CS classes in college but I am mostly self taught. So to those considering a career in this field here are some worthless tidbits from my observations.

    If you find it laboring to read an algorithms book then you might want to find a different field.

    On the same note. If you don't understand algorithms to the point of being able to modify them to fit different scenarios then go back and reread your algorithms book and then get some literature papers on new modern algorithms...good stuff.

    If you only learned assembler because a teacher told you to then you might want to find another field. Sure you don't NEED it now...but damn it sure is cool to take advantage of the SSE registers with in-line assembler.

    If you believe that only those who suffer through classes are the elite...again you might want to find another field. In this field my friends only those with a true interest will rise to the top. Sure it might be easier to learn when a teacher gives you the correct material, but what about the 16 year kid who learns an algorithm because it was the only way to solve the problem efficiently...who do you think understands it better??

    If you learn a new scripting language only because you think it will help your carear as opposed to learning it because you are really curious about how it is different then you should probably find a new career because learning new languages is a pain if you don't really want to learn it. On that note go learn Ruby...what a cool cool language. As a scientific programmer I don't really get to use it much but it is a remarkable language.

    Oh and on the topic of languages....go learn FORTRAN. If you don't know the fundamentals of FORTRAN then it is like being a rock musician without studying the blues. If nothing else you will understand why so many of us HATE that language. Plus you will gain a new found respect for the software written by the previous generation. That was some tough shit given the tools they used.

    If you find that you only have a passing interest in math...you might consider a new career. Math and logic are the foundations of programming. Really good CS people are typically pretty good math people. Not saying you can't code without math ability, but you probably can't code as good as someone with math ability.

    In essence if you aren't one of those people who loves to learn on his own. CS is gonna be a tough field for you. Most really good programmers have a mix of CS and hacker qualities. They use the good engineering practices from the CS side in combination with the need to scratch an itch from the hacker side.

    Well those are my thoughts...back to itch scratching. been up since 3 am today. Needed a slashdot break.

    Cheers.
  • Insightful? Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2005 @09:34AM (#14070168)
    "and a .NET runtime in the browser"

    Just what we want. A non-portable solution that only works in Windows in IE.

    Great solution.

    I'll bet you think everybody should install the jet engine on their desktop, because its so fucking standardized. Whee! Throw whatever MS wants onto your desktop and make sure the next application crashes because of version incompatibilities. What a terrific idea.

    Let me know when the .net runtime works in firefox on the mac or linux and then we'll talk. Until then, you bear the mark of somebody who just doesn't get it.

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