Technology

MS Yahoo: The Real Deal

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I haven't read every single story on Microsoft's $44 billion offer for Yahoo! but the ones that I have fail to emphasize the major factor in Redmond's thinking: Google Desktop.

Forget search engines and queries and ads—Microsoft really does not care about that. It does care, however, that more and more folks are figuring out that distributed apps can be very handy. That you can do all kinds of things with wikis. That there is no reason to ever run Vista as your OS.

This is not an afterthought for MS, this is the primary play. Microsoft cannot afford to sit by while control of the PC desktop moves elsewhere.

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  1. Having two titans going head to head for supplying our desktops is great. Apple’s challenge to Microsoft was and is too small; Google can make them sweat.

  2. Feel free to run a Google search on reason as I have been predicting Google’s future competition in the OS market for years now.

    *turns back forward to receive pat*

  3. I’m not sure I understand why they need Yahoo to combat Google Desktop.

    It’s hard for me to imagine Microsoft releasing its own version of Google Desktop and cannibalizing itself before it had to, and Microsoft already has a delivery platform to do that if it wanted to. I’m not saying there isn’t any potential there, but…

    One of Microsoft’s biggest issues, to my eye, over the last ten years or so has been that big mountain of cash it sits on. The only reason you’d let that cash sit on you balance sheet so long is if you couldn’t find anything better to do with it.

    Maybe they think Yahoo is better than cash?

  4. I will continue running gnome as my desktop. Or maybe I will switch to kde.

  5. Apple’s challenge to Microsoft was and is too small; Google can make them sweat.

    The size and fortunes of companies in Silicon Valley can change quickly. All those smart people working at Google could be working at Apple a year from now.

  6. All those smart people working at Google could be working at Apple a year from now.

    Apple seems quite content to just invade the consumer electronics market.

  7. Apple’s challenge to Microsoft was and is too small

    As disaffection with Vista grows, with no Microsoft alternative on the horizon, MS should be sweating bullets.

    I’ve used PCs my whole life, but I’ve used Vista machines, and I can guaran-fucking-tee you my next machine won’t be running Vista. Microsoft is driving people into Apple’s arms, if only Apple can, for once, figure out how to catch and keep them.

  8. All those smart people working at Google could be working at Apple a year from now.

    I know the 5th guy hired at Google. He’s a very smart guy. He doesn’t work at all anymore, he just goes skiing from his Tahoe mountain house and flies his plane.

  9. I built a Vista machine, pretty much the week Vista was released, and I had all sorts of issues, mostly related to drivers. …Jimeny Christmas, MS had the beta out there for a year, and the big mobo guys can’t get their drivers straight?!

    Anyway, most of those issues were addressed by subsequent driver updates, and most of the outstanding issues with Vista will probably be addressed when the first service release comes out, which I understand is due to happen within a couple of weeks.

    This all happened before, didn’t it? I remember when no one would support your computer or anything attached to it unless you’d installed Windows XP, with Service Release 2. …only back then, they were driving everybody into Linux’s arms.

    …and we all know how that worked out.

  10. Is Microsft a monopoly? No.
    Was Microsoft ever a monopoly? No.
    Is the Department of Justice a monopoly? Yes.
    Will the Department of Justice remani a monopoly? Yes.
    Is antitrust action against Microsoft just foolish bureaucratic attempts to justify their jobs? Hell yes!
    But we all knew that. Right?

  11. Oh, and I configured an apple machine for a friend of mine the Christmas before last, and you know what I liked best about it?

    …it dual booted Windows.

  12. R C Dean,

    Vista looks like a serious misstep. I think MS is going to be forced to continue supporting XP as its principal OS for quite some time, unless the Vista service pack updates are divinely inspired programming. Otherwise, look for something new to start making serious inroads, and Google will likely be the driver of that. A idiot-proof Linux interface might do it, though I have a feeling something else will happen.

    In any case, it won’t come from Apple. Apple, for all its cocky commercials and iPod success, cowers in fear when facing the Microsoft juggernaut. The whole “cult” thing has never translated into market share in computing. Even when I was working at a supercomputer center, the geek alternative was rarely the Mac OS–it was almost always Linux.

  13. Ther’s on of these in my keyboard again. Hey Orkin man!

  14. J sub D,

    That stupid prosecution of MS may very well have been the trigger for the dot com bust. That and the constant attempts by the administration (and, to be fair, Congress) to regulate the Internet to death. For all those keeping score, that was the Clinton administration. Bear that in mind before you vote–or maybe you think Google needs some DOJ attention?

  15. Yes J sub D. Microsoft was a monopoly because we know now ten years on that all of the money to be made in the software insustry in the late 90s and early 2000s was going to be made by bundling browsers with operating systems. Things like ad revenue from search engines were no where near as important as browsers. It is difficult to find a more pointless and wasteful lawsuit than the microsoft litigation.

  16. The whole “cult” thing has never translated into market share in computing.

    Maybe that’s because Mac OS is no better than Windows. Hiding errors from your users helps convince computer-illiterate users that your OS is stable, but doesn’t change the fact that it isn’t.

  17. Biggest mistake of my life was buying a Windows machine. Nothing but headaches from day one. Now I have an iMac and I love it. I think Apple has an excellent opportunity to capture the home PC market. Once you go Mac you never go back.

  18. I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t Clinton-era regulation that caused there to be an investment bubble in the tech industry.

    I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Clinton-era regulation that caused that bubble to burst.

    Personally, I think the tech bubble and its collapse happened because of sprawl.

  19. Apple is a hardware company. There success is dependent to some significant extent on “usability” issues that relate directly to the software hosted in their hardware, But Apple has never been, nor never will be, a software company.

  20. …sprawl, and people at Dunkin Donuts who give you Hazelnut coffee when you want regular.

  21. You think Pro? Now Joel Klein and company will tell you that the findings of fact issued in November of 99, which found Microsoft to be a monopoly and the March 2000 dot com busts were just coincidences. How could you ever doubt DOJ?

  22. Was Microsoft ever a monopoly? No.

    The law doesn’t ban monopolies. It bans certain behavior by firms with large enough market share to muscle others out of the market without having to compete with them.

    That’s why it’s not called the Sherman Anti-Monoply Act.

  23. Mac lost because they are worse greedy monopolists than Microsoft. Microsoft for all of its faults always played well with other companies’ products. Mac fairly or unfairly got the rep of only working with other Mac products.

  24. Yes, uniquely in the history of investment capital, the dot com bubble 1) was going to continue growing forever and 2) burst because of a court finding, rather than cascading losses causing panic.

    Damn you Bill Clinton! You made my cat run away, too!

  25. Maybe that’s because Mac OS is no better than Windows.

    !?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!!
    Choose your weapon, suh!

    Actually, if I had to start all over again, after five Macs and one Linux-powered (Knoppix) laptop, I’d most likely go straight Linux. Unless our pals at Mozilla get their thumbs out of their ears and write a version of Camino which can work with mac OS 6.
    I can dream, can’t I?

    And- what happened to that clean-sheet-of-paper windows OS I’ve been hearing about?

  26. Another fucking joe/john/joe/john/joe/john bitch fest.

  27. So Joe it was worth, in hindsight the billions of dollars in stock value and legal fees to ensure that Microsoft couldn’t bundle explorer with windows? The Microsoft litigation in hindsight is probably the least defensible thing done under the Clinton Administration. Show your independence and admit that. This is an easy target and chance for you to show you don’t mindless defend anything done by that administration.

  28. P Brooks,

    Is Linux that good for someone who doesn’t know or care to know much about computing? At this point, now that Apple can run bootcamp and run both Windows and its own OS, I honestly can’t see a reason not to go to Apple and I am a person who historically never had much use for them.

  29. A idiot-proof Linux interface might do it, though I have a feeling something else will happen.

    I’ve been waiting for an idiot-proof, or even competent, Linux interface for about 15 years. For your typical Joe User, it still ain’t ready for prime time.

    In any case, it won’t come from Apple. Apple, for all its cocky commercials and iPod success, cowers in fear when facing the Microsoft juggernaut.

    There’s a difference between Microsoft and Apple. Microsoft is an I/T company, and Apple is a consumer electronics company. I love my Macs, but Apple just doesn’t play in the same space as Microsoft.

  30. Choose your weapon, suh!

    Let’s get into a Mac/Windows slugfest and see if we can drown out the joe/John slugfest.

    I will begin:

    Mac OS blows. They suppress errors and crashes so that you don’t get messages when they happen, you just get freezes. At least in Windows they inform you about crashes and let the process die so you can get on with things.

    Your turn. And be loud.

  31. John,

    I don’t think the case was handled very well, but the bundling of the software with the browser was the least of the problems with Microsoft’s behavior.

    They’ve ceased strong-arming or wiping out every new app that might compete with their products, and that’s a Very Good Thing.

  32. How are the linux interfaces any more or less idiot-proof than microsofts?

    On that topic, it is impossible to idiot proof anything. At best, you will just evolve bigger idiots. Just like antibiotics.

  33. I tried to build a linux machine in 2001. I couldn’t get any of the drivers to work and went nuts with it. I looked on the web and found help sites that actually celbrated the fact tha the damn thing was impossible to use. It was almost as if computer geeks loved it loved it because it made it too damned hard for ordinary philistines to use computers.

    I hear Linus has gotten much better and user friendly since then, but it had a hell of a long way to go, at least in 01.

  34. How does buying Yahoo help MS compete with Google desktop?

  35. Isn’t the cosmo / paleo war just a remake of the Mac / Windows OS wars?

  36. How are the linux interfaces any more or less idiot-proof than microsofts?

    Well, at least on Windows, if you click an icon, either your requested action will be performed, or you’ll get some kind of feedback telling you why it wasn’t. Linux tends to treat such requests as suggestions, and if it decides it’s not going to start your application, you may wait a long, long time before it gets around to telling you so, if ever.

  37. It was almost as if computer geeks loved it loved it because it made it too damned hard for
    ordinary philistines to use computers.

    This is known as “propeller-head syndrome”, and actually exists. I have dealt with other programmers who were proud when their code was unreadable, because it made their code indecipherable, which somehow (in their minds) meant “really smart”. Very annoying.

  38. joe,

    Don’t be disingenuous–I wasn’t saying that the bubble wasn’t a bubble. But the panic was enhanced by the growing fear that the government would intervene in some sort of bullheaded way. By any measure, the Clinton administration was not technology friendly. Nor is the current set of fools, for that matter, though in a different way.

    My real point is that the severity of the dot com crash probably can be largely placed at the feet of stupid federal actions and threats (Congress is not immune from this blame, either, so it’s not just Democrats vs. Republicans). I was in the e-commerce business back then (and did a short stint at OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which deals with information technology issues), and the fear that the government would kill the goose was palpable. Even the bureaucrats I was working with thought that they should sit back and wait, but that’s not what the marching orders said.

  39. I use both XP and OS X on a daily basis. I haven’t had the pleasure of using Vista yet.

    I have to say that OS X is much more stable than XP. Sure, applications will crash every now and then on a Mac, but I’ve never gotten an error message on booting that said “something.DLL missing”. My uptime has been >15 days many times, the only time I have to reboot is for an OS update.
    The quality of software that is developed for OSX is generally better than the alternatives in Windows (like quicksilver).

    As for Apple being a hardware company not a software company, I would argue that it does both equally well. I think that when you focus too much on either aspect, you lose. Remember the clones? Look at Vista’s problems with 3rd party hardware.

  40. I’ve been waiting for an idiot-proof, or even competent, Linux interface for about 15 years. For your typical Joe User, it still ain’t ready for prime time.

    I dunno about this. Ubuntu is pretty idiot proof. I had the thing installed and up and running very quickly. I’m still running 6.10 version, but the 7.X versions are even better. (It seems they have better support for proprietary video drivers). And their help files and the community are pretty fantastic, too. I must say, I highly recommend Ubuntu to anyone who is considering forgoing Windows

    All in all, at home I walked away from Windows and I haven’t looked back. Not too many things I can’t do with Ubuntu that I could do with Windows — and everything for Linux is free.

    Vista is something I will never install mainly because of the bullshit DRM crap written into the OS. I don’t need to pay for a program to automatically downgrade my video quality if it suspects I have a “pirated” copy of something I am watching.

  41. As for Apple being a hardware company not a software company, I would argue that it does both equally well.

    They do software well enough. But the software is a means to and end, not the end itself. Apple sells hardware.

  42. and everything for Linux is free

    I think this is a factor I don’t appreciate enough. As a Microsoft Developer and MSDN subscriber (paid for by my employers) I have access to every bit of Microsoft software–for free. Free OS, free development environment, free SQL Server, free everything.

  43. J sub D,

    Methinks you vastly overstate the case.

    My real point is that the severity of the dot com crash probably can be largely placed at the feet of stupid federal actions and threats

    Remind me again, what was Pets.com’s capitalization at the peak? The crash was severe because the bubble was ridiculously inflated. As were expectations. And, apparantly, as was the fear among some about government interference.

  44. Pig Mannix

    I have never had a linux app not start up when I clicked (or an error message in reasonable time). Of course, if you are clicking on icons in linux, you are doing it wrong. 🙂

  45. That was meant for Pro Libertate.

  46. John,

    Linux was easier to install from scratch than Windows by 2001. Of course, making sure your hardware was supported before you started was an important issue. Less so now.

    BTW, just finished teaching an intro to linux class a few minutes ago. (I just cant make this class last more than 4.5 days, plus none of the students wanted to come back after lunch anyway)

  47. I have dealt with other programmers who were proud when their code was unreadable, because it made their code indecipherable, which somehow (in their minds) meant “really smart”. Very annoying.

    Annoying and stupid. If I cant take over your code and understand what you are doing in a reasonable amount of time, you did it wrong.

  48. “This is not an afterthought for MS, this is the primary play. Microsoft cannot afford to sit by while control of the PC desktop moves elsewhere.”

    MS switched from a productive capitalist entity, to a defensive/accumalitive capitalist entity between 1998, and 2002, not only can they “afford to sit by”, they will do little else.

    They will buy creative business’s and subsume them, but they will burn fuel faster than then they actually produce and continue to oppose the kind of creative productive market capitalism that gave birth to them.

    They will remain profitable, but it will be on the basis of IBM, expect little of them other than place-holding and innovation opposition.

    Innovation in the business environment will continue to be a threat to them…as it is now.

  49. All in all, at home I walked away from Windows and I haven’t looked back.

    I havent had a Windows machine at home since my license for Window ME RC0 expired. Aug 15, 2001, I think.

    Other than newer games, Im not missing anything that I know of. I do occassionally have to use windows machines at work and I dont see any big reason to ever consider switching back.

  50. If I cant take over your code and understand what you are doing in a reasonable amount of time, you did it wrong.

    I’m even more anal. If you can’t read my code–without comments–and understand what I’m doing because of properly named variables and methods, I did something wrong.

  51. Oh, yeah, joe? Well this is for you! [pulls out scissors from Dead Again and stabs joe over and over and over again.]

    Frankly, I blame Al Gore for inventing the godforsaken web in the first place. I just heard on NPR this morning that all those social sites (except for Facebook, for the moment) are losing users like crazy. Guess the whole “Internet” fad is over now. Let’s get back to building cars!

  52. I can second the recommendation of Ubuntu. I’ve been using it full-time for a few years now.

  53. Dammit, Pro Lib, I had just managed to forget I’d seen that movie!

  54. I have one computer running 64bit business vista and it seems fairly stable. Big pissy drawback is that my high speed scanner won’t run on a 64bit platform.

    But, I don’t know my butt from breakfast compared to most of the techhies around here.

    I DO know what works for me and what doesn’t and I can trash a computer in just a few months because I am a heavy user.

  55. You didn’t like it? I thought it was campy fun.

  56. Episiarch

    I have no problem at all with your level on anality.

  57. How about we bring back CP/M?

  58. Mac lost because they are worse greedy monopolists than Microsoft. Microsoft for all of its faults always played well with other companies’ products. Mac fairly or unfairly got the rep of only working with other Mac products.

    It isn’t a rep. It’s the difference between a closed and open architecture.

  59. “Linux was easier to install from scratch than Windows by 2001. Of course, making sure your hardware was supported before you started was an important issue. Less so now.”

    I found that to be anything but the case. In 2001, I put my copy of windows into the CD player and viola, it installed itself and I was up and running. It couldn’t have been any easier. It has been 6 1/2 years so I frankly can’t remember all of the problems I had with Linux but it was a nightmare getting my video and soundcard to work properly.

  60. the geek alternative was rarely the Mac OS–it was almost always Linux

    That’s rapidly changing, especially since Mac OS is built on Unix. Geeking on the Mac is about 1000x easier than it is on Windows, and doesn’t require fiddling around with Linux.

  61. Mac OS blows. They suppress errors and crashes so that you don’t get messages when they happen, you just get freezes.

    If you’re going to bash Mac OS, at least try to be accurate. Your statement is totally false.

  62. I have access to every bit of Microsoft software–for free. Free OS, free development environment, free SQL Server, free everything.

    So do I. Then I go home to develop in a Mac/Unix environment and it’s soooo much more enjoyable.

  63. I don’t know about you guys, but I find that scheduling abortions and monitoring torture/interrogations is much easier on a Mac. Not to mention how much time I save when writing racist newletters about the gay mexican panda agenda.

  64. I haven’t used a Mac since 2002 or so, but back then anyways at the one place I used a Mac they were very likely to freeze and do all sorts of other wierd things. That lab used Mac’s because it was heavily frequented by kids who did graphic design and very few of them liked using the Mac’s. My Windows machines have not been perfect, but they are reasonably reliable and more often than not when something pukes on me it’s the 3rd party software’s fault not Windows. I do reboot my system daily and I am sure that helps.

    The only time I used Linux was for a senior level design class in electrical engineering and we used software that was only made for Linux. Now I don’t know if it was the software or Linux but that system was pretty unstable.

    I still have XP on my machine and no desire to upgrade. The type of work I do requires software that is only available on Windows machines so there is no chance of using Linux anyways.

    Microsoft seems to have been pretty lost since Bill stopped running the show. The move to Vista does make me want to find some way to use another OS.

  65. I haven’t used a Mac since 2002 or so, but back then anyways at the one place I used a Mac they were very likely to freeze and do all sorts of other wierd things.

    Six years is an eternity in the computer industry. I would never have considered a mac back then either (cut my teeth on BSD/SunOS/Linux early pre-PC dominance personal computers, etc.). Now I wouldn’t consider anything else that’s out there. Not to say something else won’t come along, but they really did a good job with Mac OS X.

  66. That’s rapidly changing, especially since Mac OS is built on Unix. Geeking on the Mac is about 1000x easier than it is on Windows, and doesn’t require fiddling around with Linux.

    True enough, I ditched Linux for a Mac a couple years ago. All of the Unix goodness of Linux, and none of the aggravation of having to constantly tweak your OS to get it to work properly. Also, I still have MS Office, Lotus Notes and all the other business applications I need to function in a business environment.

    Of course, I still have Linux, XP, Solaris and FreeBSD available – running as VM’s in Parallels.

  67. I know 6 years is an eternity. That’s why I called out how long it’s been. Heck, it was only 1 computer lab I ever used them in. It just might have been idiots doing the IT that caused a lot of the issues. I’ve never used OS X so I can’t comment on that.

    I really don’t have issues with my XP machine. Back in the late 90’s I liked to geek out on my computer, but these days if I can run the programs I need for work and it not crap out on me I’m just fine.

    Heck compared to the factory automation world all these OS’s look nice. More often than not they can communicate with stuff that connects to it. Oftentimes if I try to communicate with a PLC or other electronics in a factory it takes minutes to hours to get things to talk to each other. And these are things that I talked to before.

    Geeky joke alert:
    The running joke where I work is that the reason we know Independance Day is a work of fiction is that Will Smith was able to communicate with the alien’s computer systems. If I was sent to save the world I am pretty sure I’d get up there and find I needed a gender bender, or a null modem, or that my communications protocol was version 6.5 and I needed at least version 6.6.

    Off topic I know, but I can ramble.

  68. I love my new Mac, but I still can’t find the Start button.

  69. I would never have considered a mac back then either

    Me neither. Nobody is more surprised that I am using a Mac than me.

  70. I would never buy a Mac because you have to pay like $500+ more for the same specs as you would on a Windows machine, all for an OS whose difference with windows when you get down to it is just a manner of taste.

    My experience is that the 2 freeze up just as often. I personally find Windows more intuitive, but I guess I could see why some people would prefer Mac.

  71. Dirtman, I’d never pay more for a BMW when a Toyota will do, because I’m not that into cars.

    I do make my living doing user interface development, however, so I know whereof I speak: Apple puts much more time and energy into perfecting the usability of their products than Microsoft does.

  72. Yeah, there’s a market of people for whom Apple computers are what they find to be easy and intuitive(it may get up to 20% of consumers perhaps), and they’ll pay more for that just like someone would pay more for a bespoke suit of the same quality material as an off-the-rack to get their perfect fit.

    But if all you care about is performance, and you are OS-neutral (I’m pretty much in that camp although I find Windows a tad more intuitive due to using it a bit more), then a PC will always be the better value.

  73. a PC will always be the better value

    If you consider total cost of ownership, that’s simply not true any more. Old stereotypes die hard, I guess. My 2-year-old iMac is running like I just bought it yesterday (and without any of the tedious maintenance required to keep a Windows machine running smoothly). All my previous Windows machines (an HP, a Dell, and a Sony) started crapping out after about 1 year.

    As for the operating system, Mac OS is a shiny, simple layer on top of a much more robust and stable base than Windows can offer. Plus, I can run Windows on it if I have to. For me, it’s no contest.

  74. Back on topic… this merger is a complete yawn to me. You couldn’t pay me to use any of Microsoft’s online services (was there ever a more brain-dead concept than that chick from The L Word jabbering at you while “searching”?), and I haven’t had a reason to visit Yahoo in about, oh… when did Google come out? Google and Microhoo can have a pissing match over advertising dollars for all I care and I will continue to block all ads as long it remains possible to do so (i.e. forever). As for “Google Desktop”, we Mac users have had that functionality built-in for a couple years now.

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