Reading Between The Lines: Gates And Ballmer

You can learn a lot about a person from their style of communication. I am not talking about their ability to convey intelligent thoughts in a written format — I mean by simply listening to the words coming out of their mouth. Best of all, once transcribed, the facts really jump right out at you. When I read this post about Ballmer’s and Gates’ feelings on the idea of Microsoft breaking up into smaller companies, I noticed that Gates actually offered a valid path of thought while Ballmer was boring me with buzzwords. “Economic dis-synergies?” Seriously, Steve?

While both men presented strong arguments for Microsoft remaining intact, I actually felt like I had a better time understanding the logic behind the thoughts after reading Gates’ own thoughts on Microsoft. Well, once I excused the word synergy. Guys, ten years ago called – they want their buzz words back!

Getting back on track, it seemed evident to me that in a round-about way both men were trying to say that the company’s components were not strong enough to stand alone in the market place without diluting the brand. So while the Xbox could become its own company, it would miss out in cross promotions and cross-branding with its counterpart software. With the diluted brand of MCE and Xbox living as two separate things, keeping the two compatible and recognizable to the public might become a real challenge. I am likely a little off here, but I think the general theme rings true.

I come back full circle to one thing that was perhaps the most telling in this interview and it’s the white-knuckled control Microsoft continues to hold on its assets. Who cares if someone has a concept that would better the product — it’s going to be Microsoft’s way or forget it. Worse is Ballmer’s dream of Microsoft becoming to software what Google has become to information. Too late, man. Sorry. You have the OS, enterprise, and gaming markets working for you. But honestly, search isn’t your game.

And last, the one thing this article seems to reflect is what feels like stagnation in the company. I know for a fact there are young, bright minds in Microsoft screaming to be heard. Yet instead, we hear the old guard drone on about synergy. Come on, guys! If you’d like the company to remain relevant and not just become a legacy commitment for future generations, it’s time to really study what people want and who isn’t already doing it. Bing = fails hard for search. It works, but it’s no better than Google. Windows Phone 7 could be fantastic, but it just needs to iron out some kinks along the way.

I agree that Microsoft may not need to be broken up. But for the love of Pete, someone needs to drain the swamp over there in the exec offices. Fresh ideas and fresh blood. Windows Phone 7 Live Tiles is one example…what’s next?

Twittering For Bill Gates

Honestly never thought I would see the day. But sure enough, Microsoft founder Bill Gates is currently getting his feet wet in the waters of Twitter. I guess considering his new role in the various charity actions he is involved with these years, getting more in-tune with the social networking scene was long overdue.

Thus far Gates has given a Tweet-out to Ryan Seacrest for his work in raising money for the earthquake victims of Haiti, in addition to receiving his official welcome from Ashton Kutcher. Bundled with a few well placed retweets and it is fast becoming obvious that Bill is on his way to becoming a real serious Tweet-master!

All kidding aside, Gates is not giving the impression that he is going to be a heavy Twitter user. Worse, he is like me in continuing to fall back to using the Web interface instead of one of those API powered deals for posting his latest tweets to all of his peeps. In any case, welcome to Twitter Mr. Gates.

[awsbullet:bill gates charity]

Ex-Microsoft Employee – Microsoft Today ‘A Lot Like IBM Was In 1985’

After Mike Dodge was laid off from Microsoft last month after 5 years working for the software giant, he was immediately scooped up by Google. In a recent interview he shared some of his thoughts concerning Microsoft and Google and the differences between the two companies. The one comment he made does seem to sum up where Microsoft may be heading, since his opinion of Microsoft is that they look a lot like IBM was in 1985.

But this one sentence seems to express how many feel about Microsoft today:

Microsoft is still a powerful company – $60 billion in revenue and very profitable – but I think after 20 years they are losing the innovation edge. The most innovative companies today are Google, Apple and Facebook. Very few companies can dominate an industry for more than 20 years. It is just the natural competitive cycle. Another factor – Bill Gates leaving the company. The transition was smooth, but not having Bill there every day has far-reaching implications.

I personally believe that Bill Gates leaving did have a far-reaching implications, not only inside Microsoft, but also outside of the firm. Mr. Ballmer does not seem to convey confidence in the company. There was also this statement:

Microsoft is a vast company with products in just about every market. It is tough to compete and be the leader in every market. Even in desktop operating systems, where Microsoft has dominated for years, Vista has been a disappointment. So, you can never rest, never stop innovating. Windows 7 looks like a pretty solid product.

Vista will leave a mark on the company for many years to come. Rushing the operating system to market hurt the credibility of Microsoft and even though Windows 7 is an improvement, some still sting from the problems Vista caused and how it took almost a year to fix issues with the OS.

So what do you think?

Comments welcome.


Obama, Gates & Crowley – Where Are The Adults?

Before I begin, let me state that I am not writing this article to put blame on any of the participants involved in what I would like to call the ‘Beer Summit’. But more of an observation of what happened after the incident that has made this entire fiasco border on insanity.

First of all let me state that I voted for President Obama. My feeling at the time was that he was the best candidate for the position. I also supported the President in the decisions he has made in trying to get our country out of a financial mess that has affected all Americans. But when the President of the United States of America gets on national television and states that the actions of the police were stupid, without knowing all of the facts, it makes one wonder.

This man is supposed to represent all Americans regardless of race or nationality. Is his presidency so void of other problems that he has the time to mend race relations between two people — one black, one white — that, in my opinion, acted improperly? Does our President have the time to sit down with both men to have a beer thinking that all will be well over a glass of suds?

This matter should be left in the hands of the local government to decide who acted properly or not. Was the arrest justified or not? Were the parties involved both to blame for an incident that got out of hand? Whatever the case, the locals should have handled it, not the President.

Maybe all three of these individuals are in need of some adult supervision.

This is my personal opinion.

What do you think?

Bill Gates – Google OS Looks A Lot Like Linux

Bill Gates has stepped up to the plate and took a swing at the newly announced Google Chrome operating system saying it looks like Linux. Mr. Gates did say the Google hasn’t really said much about the new OS so it is hard to really comment on it. In fact the less Google says the more interesting it becomes. The former head of Microsoft also stated in an article the following information:

As for the notion that the browser needs to act more like an OS, he noted that the browser has already become an extremely broad concept, with all of the plug-ins and other things that are now done inside a browser.

“It just shows the word browser has become a truly meaningless word,” Gates said. “What’s a browser? What’s not a browser? If you’re playing a movie, is that a browser or not a browser? If you’re doing annotations, is that a browser? If you’re editing text, is that a browser or not a browser? In large part, it’s more an abuse of terminology than a real change.”

Steve Ballmer, the current head of the Redmond software giant,  has his own thoughts:

“We don’t need a new operating system,” Ballmer said Tuesday, as part of his keynote at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans. “What we do need to do is to continue to evolve Windows, Windows Applications, IE (Internet Explorer), the way IE works in totality with Windows and how we build applications like Office…and we need to make sure we can bring our customers and partners with us.”

No one expects Microsoft to be happy about the Google announcement, though it wasn’t exactly a surprise. Rumors have been flying for several years that Google was in fact developing such a system. But as I have stated before, I believe that Windows and Chrome are going to be apples and oranges.

If the Google Chrome OS doesn’t live up to expectations, it also will go the way of other Linux distributions that have little appeal to the masses. Chrome needs to boot fast and get the user on the Internet quickly. Chrome should also include a variety of different browsers to allow the user some choice in what they use. It will also need to support a large number of printers and other hardware. It should be interesting to see how Google overcomes these problems.

Opinions please.


Gates and Schmidt Do Lunch

Bill Gates of Microsoft fame and CEO Eric Schmidt of rival Google had lunch together today. But before anyone panics and see pictures of a Microsoft – Google alliance, it was at the Sun Valley meeting for moguls that both were attending. There was one awkward moment that Julia Angwin wrote in her article for the Wall Street Journal.

She stated:

Mr. Gates and his former lieutenant Nathan Myhrvold were walking out of the morning session when two reporters, including this one, asked Mr. Gates for a comment on the new Google operating system.

“No comment,” Mr. Gates replied, while walking out the door.

From behind the reporters, Mr. Schmidt materialized. “It would be better if you don’t make that comment,” he said as he came forward to shake hands with Mr. Gates.

The two laughed, shook hands and walked into the private lunch area together.

I must say that was a class act by both men in handling an awkward moment. Kudos to both of them. But I  would of liked to have been a fly on the wall during the lunch itself. LOL

Comments welcome.

WJS article here.

Bing Can’t Buy Search – Needs To Earn It

We knew it would be happen. It was only a matter of time before the fur would start to fly between Google and Microsoft over search. Microsoft is spending some $100 million on advertising their new Bing search engine. But as I have previously mentioned, TV advertising didn’t work for Ask and I doubt it will work for Microsoft. Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising and with the Internet, word of mouth travels around the globe.

Over at Google, CEO Eric Schmidt made some interesting statements concerning Bing. Some of the ones I liked were:

But he certainly puts out a conflicted message that Bing isn’t a serious competitor and yet argues that it’s serious enough that talk of a Google monopoly seems “unwarranted.”

There is this one as well:

Plus, a somewhat passionate message that Microsoft can’t expect to buy its way into search share.

But my favorite was this one:

Schmidt: It’s not the first entry for Microsoft. They do this about once a year.

So true. It makes one think that Microsoft is having an identity crisis trying to find their way after missing the Internet boat. Though Gates knew the importance that the Internet would play in the future, Microsoft has failed to grasp even the basics of what people want. It could explain why their stock has remained stagnant for some 7 years.

But what do you think?

Comments as always are welcome.


Microsoft Drops Seinfeld – Company Is Out Of Touch

Anyone who was tortured watching the lameness of the commercials with Gates & Seinfeld together can only come to one conclusion. Microsoft is totally out of touch with consumers or the company seems to think we are all idiots. So which is it people? I don’t consider myself an idiot and I doubt that you do either.

That only leaves one other conclusion. Microsoft is so far away from what the public wants that they can’t see the forest from the tress. Get over it. The public doesn’t like Vista, which is your Edsel.

If those Apple vs PC commercials really bother you that much, buy all of the TV stations and refuse Apple’s business. But one thing you as a company cannot change. Apple has a better mouse trap.

The good news is that Microsoft has decided to drop future commercials with these two together. It seems that few found the commercials funny. It also seems that Seinfeld is being blamed for the lack of humor that was not displayed on the tube.

So what do you think? Is Microsoft fighting a battle it cannot win? Is the mighty software giant from Redmond starting to lose its gusto?

Comments welcome.


PS It seems that Microsoft is going to continue their ad campaign using a PC lookalike.


Microsoft Explains Seinfeld & Gates Commercial

Microsoft has had to call major newspapers and had to explain to reporters what the Seinfeld – Gates commercial actually meant. Which in itself is funny compared to the commercial which totally lacked any humor. In fact the commercial basically made no sense at all. Including the butt wiggle by Gates.

So here is the official explanation of what the commercial really meant:

As they walk out of the store together eating churros, Seinfeld asks Gates if he and the other great brains at Microsoft “are ever going to come out with something that will make our computers moist and chewy like cake so we can just eat them while we’re working?”

In response, Gates wiggles his bottom.

The ad barely mentions the word “Microsoft” and never mentions Windows. Nevertheless, the Microsoft officials who phoned reporters Friday said it is indeed a campaign to brand Windows, “the start of a conversation … easily the largest marketing campaign we’ve ever had.”

Microsoft plans to hire 155 “gurus” by the end of the year to work in Circuit City, Best Buy and other retailers to help customers pick out PCs, said Eric Hollreiser of Microsoft – presumably the way Seinfeld helped Gates pick out shoes.

Microsoft is also working with PC manufacturers to deliver “a compelling Windows experience” – to study how long it takes, for example, for Windows to start up and shut down. Mobile phones and Microsoft’s Web site are also part of the plan. Hollreiser said Microsoft will do “a terrific job of delivering consumer information.”

Which brings up a question. When was the last time some one needed to explain a commercial to you? 

Comments welcome.


Windows 7 – Can It Really Boot Up Under 15 Seconds?

Over at the Engineering Windows 7 blog there is a recent posting in which the problem of booting up is concerned. What problem? The time it takes. Now before you get all excited and start to dance in the streets, there is only one minor issue.


In the lab, a very good system is one that boots in under 15 seconds.


Notice the words ‘a very good system’.  What does this term really mean? The reason I am being skeptical about the 15 second boot time is because we have been down this path garden path before.


I recall a press conference in which Bill Gates stated that the next version of Windows [which turned out to be Vista] was going to boot in under 30 seconds. That Microsoft was going to be working with motherboard manufactures and other hardware vendors to make this a reality. Does anyone remember this beside me?


We were also promised a host of other features that we never did see in the final release. But that’s another story.


So my question for you Vista users is this , how long does it take for your system to boot?


Comments welcome.





Microsoft To Fight Back Apple TV Ads

Microsoft is going to spend $300 million big ones, in an effort to fight those MAC vs PC ads that the company feels has hurt their image. The software giant is going to hire Jerry Seinfeld to poke fun at the MAC, which Microsoft feels is the cause of the bad Vista feeling. In fact, Microsoft is so serious about this that they are bringing in a secret weapon. Boy, do I feel sorry for Apple.

But will the ads be a little to late to make a real difference?

 Microsoft’s new $300 million campaign (one of Redmond’s largest ever) is set to launch with a $10 million assist from “key celebrity pitchman” Jerry Seinfeld.

 The campaign is said to be based on the idea of “Windows, Not Walls,” stressing the need to “break down barriers that prevent people and ideas from connecting.” Something we think open-sourcers might have a laugh at. Anywho, the immediate goal of the campaign is to reverse the negative public perception of Vista and thus incorporates elements of the Mojave Experiment.

But this is the real reason for the campaign ‘is to reverse the negative public perception of Vista.’ Good luck.Both Dell and HP are reporting that 1/3 of the business computers they sell come with Windows XP preinstalled. Users are willing to pay a premium having to buy both Windows Business Vista and XP, just to keep the latter. Why is that?

So who is the secret weapon that Microsoft will bring in to trounce upon the Apple folks? None other than Bill Gates. The first ad will have Gates on horseback wearing a suite of armour and armed with a lance charging at a windmill. :-)

What do you think? Will this new campaign work? Or will the world wait for Windows 7?

Comments welcome.


Windows 7 – Why Microsoft Is Not Saying Anything

Over at ZD-Net they are having a meeting of the minds trying to figure out why Microsoft is being silent about the next version of Windows dubbed 7, as in Windows 7. There is also some discussion that testers and those in the groove are being left out as well. But one could conclude that the silence by Microsoft could mean a variety of different things.

When Vista was under development, Microsoft had provided us with a road map of new features that was going to make us dump XP in a heart beat. One of the features was called  WinFS which was going to sit on top of the NTFS file system and would make grouping attributes such as project, author etc., easier. But WinFS did not make the final product. There were some other features that also did not make it to Vista because they did not work properly. Add to this the famous Jim Allchin memo to Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer which stated:

From: Jim Allchin
Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2004 8:38 AM
To: Bill Gates; Steve Ballmer
Subject: losing our way…

This is a rant. I’m sorry.

I am not sure how the company lost sight of what matters to our customers (both business and home) the most, but in my view we lost our way. I think our teams lost sight of what bug-free means, what resilience means, what full scenarios mean, what security means, what performance means, how important current applications are, and really understanding what the most important problems [our] customers face are. I see lots of random features and some great vision, but that doesn’t translate onto great products.

I would buy a Mac today if I was not working at Microsoft. If you run the equivalent of VPC on a MAC you get access to basically all Windows application software (although not the hardware). Apple did not lose their way. You must watch this new video below. I know this doesn’t show anything for businesses, but my point is about the philosophy that Apple uses. They think scenario. They think simple. They think fast. I know there is nothing hugely deep in this. [Note: link no longer works]

I must tell you everything in my soul tells me that we should do what I called plan (b) yesterday We need a simple fast storage system. LH is a pig and I don’t see any solution to this problem. If we are to rise to the challenge of Linux and Apple, we need to start taking the lessons of “scenario, simple, fast” to heart.


Now. Does anyone need to wonder why Microsoft is remaining mum on Windows 7. If they provide  information as they did with Longhorn, they may have other embarrassing moments. But the big reason is that the company is trying to palm off, I mean sell Vista. Telling the masses that Windows 7 will be better than Vista will just make more of us wait for the next Windows to hit the street.

Comments welcome.

PS For those here in the US have a safe Memorial Day holiday. For those of us here in the mid-west may God protect you and your family from the vicious weather that is plaguing the area.



Should Gates Stay At Microsoft And Put Off Retirement?

We will fight them on the beaches, in the trenches, in the air and under the sea. No matter where they try to hide, we will destroy them! A famous speech from a WWII leader. Nope just the mind set of Microsoft while they attempt to swallow up Yahoo. You may have noticed that Bill Gates is still hanging out and was the spokesperson for the new cashback scheme being offered over at Live Search.

Let’s face it. Steve Ballmer is a clown at times who’s antics are well known. But is he the kind of leader that Microsoft needs when they are facing such a crucial battle?  Microsoft is well aware that they need to try and catch Google before the world famous search company has control of the universe. But who is going to lead this charge?

Look what happened at Dell. Michael Dell gave the reins to his company over to a CEO who ran the good ship Dell right into the ground. Whether Dell will be able to recover from this down ward spiral is left to be seen. But one can look back at Carly Fiorina’s decision to merge HP-Compaq, once considered ludicrous by some, as a deal that has paid handsome rewards for the HP empire. If someone would of said five years ago that Dell would fall to the #3 spot, they would of been called daffy. Yet it did happen and the #4 spot is available if one asks Acer. :-)

So getting back to this Microsoft, Yahoo and Google debacle. The folks at Redmond are well aware that in order to remain in their position as the tip of the sword, they need to make a huge splash on the Internet and Yahoo is a must have. This is where I believe that Microsoft will need to depend on Bill Gates to save the company. Bill knows where all of the skeletons are, which buttons to push, and how to succeed where few have.

So what do you think? Should Gates stick around?

Comments welcome.

'I Can't Believe This' Awards

In the category of “I Can’t Believe This’ Awards there are several nominees who we are all familiar with.

Dell – In a advertised special which included various Dell models and a all-in-one printer, the ad didn’t specifically state that the printer did not include a printer cable. To which Dell responded:

“Dell said that the company does not supply cables as standard with printers because it believes that purchasers are likely to possess one already and would not necessarily need or want a new one.”

That makes sense. When I buy a new car I don’t want a set of new tires coming with it, since my old car already has tires! Using that same logic why include a mouse or keyboard with a new computer? Wouldn’t the purchaser most likely have a mouse or keyboard already?

Full article here.

Dell doesn’t seem to thrilled with Vista either. Dell has been toning down its sales pitch for Vista. Dell’s European client services business manager, Niall Fitzgerald was asked if buyers are waiting for Vista SP1?

While Fitzgerald accepted that some business are holding back from migrating to Vista, he denied that there is a widespread feeling that it is better to wait until Service Pack 1. “I have heard that, and I don’t buy it,” Fitzgerald said. “It used to be a thing people did, and it might have been the case with, say, Windows 2000, but not now.”

Heh Fritz baby. There are still a lot of us who are in fact waiting for SP1 and if that doesn’t fix Vista maybe Sp2! I guess Microsoft is allowing OEMs to offer XP because Vista is in such high demand.

Full article here.

Sorry Bill. Your crown has been stolen from you by by a Mexican phone company. Yes, Bill Gates is now #2.

A Mexican telecoms tycoon has toppled Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, as the world’s richest man after amassing a $67.8 billion fortune.

It is hard to believe that Bill has lost his title to a Mexican phone company since Vista is selling so well. Just because Bill has his software being sold all around the world and this telco is limited to Latin America, sure didn’t scare this financial wizard.

Full story here.

During a presentation given by a Symantec employee touting the benefits of the Norton products, the screen was interrupted while Kaspersky anti-virus software was updated. At least the employee knew which of the better products to use. LOL

Full story here.

Red Hat wants to negotiate with Microsoft for what they term as interoperability.

But the Linux vendor wants to limit those talks to pure interoperability between Windows and Red Hat Linux, with the goal of solving real customer problems, Paul Cormier, Red Hat’s executive vice president of engineering, told eWEEK.

“I want to talk to the folks at Microsoft about our two operating systems and how we can work together to solve real customer problems without attaching any unrelated strings, such as intellectual property,” he said.

No offense Paul. But it is not going to happen without paying blood money to Redmond. You should know that there is little if any concern between MS and what customers want or need. Maybe if Red Hat bought a million X-Box consoles and didn’t file any warranty claims, may be a step in the right direction!
Full story here.

Comments welcome.

[tags]dell, gates, microsoft, kaspersky, red hat, [/tags]

Short Takes On Computer Stuff – May 20, 2007

Google Wifi SF – It seems that Google has been off starting the wifi project in San Francisco until July. They didn’t specify their reasoning behind the latest move.

Faulty Symantec Patch – Some users using Symantec 360 may have been the victims of a faulty patch which the company has since removed. If you are one of the lucky 360 users, you may wish to contact Symantec.

KDE Version 4.0 – KDE is getting ready to release their 4.0 alpha version for the Linux desktop. Many are hoping this is going to be their best yet GUI. Reminder that alpha software is preview and may not reflect what the final version may or mat not look like.

Memory – It looks like prices for memory should be dropping from a high of about $120 per 1G to below $100, or maybe even lower. Which is always nice. :-)

Google guys marry – Seems that Gary Price and Sergey Brin the two founders of Google were married last weekend to woman they either met at or through their stint at Google. Congrats to all.

PC World – The editor over at PC World who had quit over the Apple article is now back and the junior exec. is doing something else. :-)

Dell + Ubuntu – There was some concern tht Dell might drop Ubuntu under pressure from Microsoft, but it appears this is only a rumor. Both Dell and Ubuntu said everything is moving along just fine. Linux users are concerned how much Dell is going to charge for the new computers.

Gates – Bill says that 40 million copies of Vista have been sold. He didn’t mention how many were uninstalled. :-) Oops, correction on that number. It is ‘nearly’ 40 million.

Gates Again – Bill says he sees a close relationship between the PC and how it interacts with the Internet. Gee, I didn’t know that! LOL Someone might want to contact Google and let them know about this new revelation.

Linus Torvalds said – “It’s certainly a lot more likely that Microsoft violates patents than Linux does.” I am shocked! :-)

Amazon – The website giant Amazon will be offering DRM-free music downloads later this year.

Vista Trojan – A new trojan has surfaced that can piggyback on a legitimate download files to trick Vista UAC.

[tags]computer, stuff, gates, dell, amazon, trojan, linux, google,  [/tags]