Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Interesting Cringely on the Sun / MicroSoft deal. Some quotes worth highlighting :

The truth is that Microsoft is positioning itself to take on Linux on Linux's turf if that's required. Bill Gates has been quite clear that his company's need for huge cash reserves is to keep it going for up to five years in the face of ZERO sales. So Microsoft could match Open Source pricing without the Open Source and while the compilers might not be swayed, everyone else (the other 98 percent of the market) would be.

I'm not sure I buy this. Microsoft can't keep running on zero-sale five year plans. Even if they win this wave (and I guess they probably will) free-software will be around and growing and a bigger problem for them next generation. Cringely here seems to think most of the energy in people writing free-software is explicitly "beat Microsoft" energy, which will go away once it looks like MS win.

But I don't think that's true. I suspect most of the energy in free-software is still "look at my cool hack" energy, increasingly supplimented by "we sell hardware / services and treat software as a cost" energy.

The smartest reader of all suggested that companies be taxed on their market share so that a company like Microsoft with 90 percent share would pay a 90 percent tax rate. The nice part about this idea is that it actually would encourage competition as well as industry alliances. The naive part is that it assumes legislative resolve that does not exist and also assumes Microsoft actually pays taxes which, for the most part, it doesn't. Still, the idea is clever.

It's a good idea. Maybe Europe and Brazil should try it.

Look at the language of the Sun-Microsoft announcement. "Microsoft and Sun will work together to improve collaboration between the Java and .Net technologies, while Microsoft will be allowed to continue to provide product support for the Microsoft Java Virtual Machine in its products. Microsoft was set to end support later this year, raising compatibility and security questions for users." While some people think this means Microsoft will bundle Java again, I think that Microsoft will choose to pursue their own .NET Java (J#), instead. However, with platform independent Java less of a threat, it is easier to agree to improve collaboration. Microsoft will now make their Java work inside the .NET framework as a real option for those who insist on using Java. Meanwhile C# and VB.NET will still be the main .NET languages.

All this simply recognizes that it is too late for Java to succeed in the Windows world. .NET is now too good.

Hmmm. Possibly explains the deal in the first place. Sun needed to cave in because Java has no plausible "run anywhere" claim if it doesn't have some nominal support from Microsoft.

McNealy should have watched "Godfather 3" -- "Never hate your enemies, it clouds your judgement."

Pretty much goes for Oracle too, and Netscape in the day ... all companies which BOAST about and want to beat Microsoft just because their management are jealous.

I bet Stallman isn't jealous of Bill Gates.

The final stage I call "missing the boat," which involves a significant advance in non-Microsoft technology that Redmond chooses to address by not addressing -- they just dictate that it shall not be so, thinking that as always their word is law. Maybe this last stage has to do with Open Source but probably not. This stage has to be something beyond Netscape's browser or Sun's Java, because Microsoft was willing to embrace those and destroy them. Missing the boat means a zig that threatens the heart of Windows, probably associated with a hardware platform shift. Only this time, Microsoft will be too slow and customers, feeling abused and tired of the treadmill, won't be so afraid. Bill Gates (it will still be Bill, because this will happen in the next decade I am sure) will again turn his corporate supertanker and add full power, but this time the competing ship will not only have a head start, it will be able to accelerate faster than Microsoft.

It has happened before. In fact it ALWAYS happens.

What Cringely is, of course, reaching for here is the idea of a disruptive technology. Java and Netscape were NEVER disruptive.


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