John Topley’s Weblog

The Enemy Within

My partner asked me recently why people hate Microsoft so much and it's a question I've been pondering for a while, as well as thinking about my own attitudes towards the world's largest software company. I consider myself to be in an unusual position in that I'm a Java developer who does actually like Microsoft. This is considered heresy by many in the Java world where the assumption made is that you can't like both. I may just have lost some readers who visit this site for the occasional Java content, but I don't take such a binary view of the world. I think that Microsoft is just about the best place to work if you're passionate about developing software and even those who work for competitors grudgingly agree. I should love to work as a developer at Microsoft if I were a lot cleverer and if I could stomach living in America (no offense intended if you do).

It's not accidental that a large proportion of the brightest people in the business work for Microsoft. Some would claim that this is down to the lure of MS cash. I don't buy that argument because for people this smart remuneration would be generous at any company, besides which the acquisition of wealth is not their prime motivation. It's the opportunity to do great stuff and reach a large number of people. As I'm writing this I'm deliberately trying to be as objective as I can and I'm trying not to just come across as an MS fanboy because I don't think I am. I'm certainly not reticent about criticising Microsoft when I think they need to do better; indeed you can find several examples on this site.

I welcome diversity in the computing arena and I actively take opportunities to learn about non-Microsoft technology. For example, today whilst I should have been working I read quite a lot about Apple OS X—which I think is a great OS—and I also burnt a CD with Knoppix Linux on it (more about that another time).

What really annoys me is when people are so blinded by their hatred of Microsoft that they lose all objectivity and go about spouting drivel to others, when they haven't even thought about what it is they're actually saying and why they're saying it. Often they're just repeating the anti-MS mantra because that's what you do. When so-called IT professionals display this prejudice in an official capacity in meetings, I'm afraid I lose all respect I may have had for them. I flip the bozo bit. The same goes for those who refer to M$ or Micro$oft.

I believe that competition is healthy and improves the breed. I'm glad that Linux exists and continues to improve because it keeps Microsoft focused on improving the Windows operating system that I choose to use. Witness Windows Longhorn, which is shaping up to be the most exciting and interesting realise of Windows for a decade. I may not always choose to use Windows (or whatever its successors are called) but it serves my present needs well. Similarly, Java and J2EE forced Microsoft to do something about its mediocre developer tools offering at the time of Visual Studio 6, which led to the creation of .NET. This in turn has forced Sun to wake up and improve its technology. It's no co-incidence that Java 1.5 is the most interesting version of Java in years and features language improvements—such as generics—that are also debuting in C# soon.

Talking of Java, it's often claimed that Microsoft tried to destroy Java because they added Windows-specific extensions to their J++ variant. It's easy to see how Microsoft would feel threatened by Java, which is after all a platform in its own right that to an extent makes the underlying operating system irrelevant, no matter what it happens to be. There were/are undoubtedly executives within Microsoft who made or make it their top priority to neutralise the Java threat. However, people don't generally see the other side of the coin, which is that there are developers within Microsoft who are Java enthusiasts and who wanted to make it a great platform for developing Windows applications. And to do that, they had to add in some platform-specific features which you could take advantage of if you knew you were writing for Windows only and if you wanted to. It's also worth remembering that for a time the Microsoft JVM that shipped with Internet Explorer was the fastest one around that actually ended up on user's machines. Of course it's hopelessly out of date now, which benefits no one.

Anders Hejlsberg, the powerhouse behind Borland Turbo Pascal and one of the brains behind Borland Delphi, was involved with the creation of J++, which in many ways laid the groundwork for what was to follow with .NET. C# is often called a rip-off of Java, but it's not a shameless clone because it added some neat new tricks of its own. And Sun Microsystems aren't the origin of everything original within language and framework design any more than Microsoft or any other single company are; Borland helped Sun design their JavaBeans component architecture because Sun were impressed by Borland's VCL created by…Anders Hejlserg et al.

I don't view Microsoft as some monolithic entity, with 50,000 employees focused on the one aim of destroying their closest rivals. It's hard enough trying to get tens of people pulling together in the same direction—believe me I know—let alone tens of thousands! Time and time again the accounts coming out of Microsoft from insiders are of a company that in many ways is run along Darwinian lines, with different groups competing against each other and not co-operating. Hardly an environment conducive to nurturing grand conspiracies.

I think that the two biggest threats to Microsoft right now are previous versions of its own software and its reputation. The two are closely linked because Microsoft's current reputation is largely formed from what it's done in the past and not what it's doing today. I'm thinking in particular about Windows and its reputation for being insecure and unstable. I'm not saying that reputation is undeserved because both of those things have been true about Windows for a long time, but I genuinely believe that the situation is getting better and that's happening because Microsoft's customers are demanding it. Windows XP Service Pack 2 does a lot of right things in the area of security and Windows has been a stable operating system for years now. I haven't seen a blue screen of death on either my home or work PC for at least three years. Really.

Windows has got such a bad reputation that there are those within Microsoft who are even suggesting the unthinkable: that Microsoft throw away the Windows brand name plus all that's invested in it, and call the next version something else. I don't think it will happen but it's an intriguing idea. It's very easy to criticise Windows over security and stability without really thinking about why it's the way it is. What many of the naysayers don't consider is the fact that the direction of Windows is driven by consumer demand. The top priority at Microsoft when developing software has almost always been to preserve backwards compatibility, because Microsoft knows full well that customers won't tolerate not being able to run their existing software using a new version of the OS. This has informed the design direction of Windows and has led to many complex trade-offs involving compatibility, security and stability. If you don't believe me then go and read Raymond Chen's blog—it's a real eye-opener. This stuff is damn hard to get right. Don't forget that Apple have completely broken backwards-compatibility more than once and a fraction of the software that Windows has to support runs on the Macintosh.

It's amazing how many jokes Windows has become the butt of, particularly when it comes to stability. It's even entered mainstream culture. We've all heard those jokes, some of us have probably made them too. I regularly get exposed to them at work. There's a Java related website I visit that features a different programming question every day in the style of the Sun Certified Java Programmer exam. I came across this question recently:

“Your chief Software designer has shown you a sketch of the new Computer parts system she is about to create. At the top of the hierarchy is a Class called Computer and under this are two child classes. One is called LinuxPC and one is called WindowsPC. The main difference between the two is that one runs the Linux operating System and the other runs the Windows System (of course another difference is that one needs constant re-booting and the other runs reliably). Under the WindowsPC are two Sub classes one called Server and one Called Workstation. How might you appraise your designers work?”

—Amongst the possible multiple choice answers were:

“3. Ask for the option of WindowsPC to be removed as it will soon be obsolete.”

These aren't official questions from Sun and I didn't dignify this one with an answer. Yes, Windows 9x wasn't a paragon of stability but then it was never designed to be. It was designed to be as stable as possible within the constraints of the other requirements that it had to meet. The top requirement was that it had to run all your old 16-bit Windows and MS-DOS software as well as the new 32-bit applications. Of course, no customer actually asked for instability in Windows 9x, but they ended up with some because it's a trade-off. The vastly superior Windows NT was always planned to replace it, it's just taking years for that to happen.

In terms of security, of course Microsoft have to do a lot better and I believe that they will. Their biggest headache is the masses of machines out there connected to the Internet that are running a legacy version of Windows that was developed when the explosion of the Web caught Microsoft by surprise. Consumers weren't demanding security then. I draw parallels with the automotive industry, which is also driven by consumer demand. In Europe, for years only the luxury car manufacturers offered safety features over and above the basic. I'm thinking of technologies such as airbags, side impact protection and anti-lock brakes. Now safety has become a major selling point and differentiator that can make the difference between the car buyer closing the deal or walking away. It's the same with computer security, which is now Microsoft's stated top priority.

There's no denying that things that used to be turned on by default in previous versions of Windows are turned off by default in Windows Server 2003. The focus has shifted 180 degrees from ease of use with positive action required to make things secure, to secure by default with positive action required to make things less secure. Interestingly, I was in a meeting last week where someone pointed out that the Oracle 9iAS J2EE application server comes with a lot of features turned on by default post-installation, some of which could be exploited and used to compromise the system. I know it's a different order of magnitude from millions of computers running Windows but I don't hear Oracle getting it in the neck even slightly over that.

Windows is often mindlessly criticised for being bloated, as if its EXEs and DLLs are somehow padded out with zeroes in a grand conspiracy to use more disk space and sell more hard drives. The code taking up the space does actually do something you know! The people who whinge that Windows is a bloated behemoth would be the first to complain if they couldn't run all their software under a Diet Windows or if using it was unfathomable to them.

Over the years I've noticed that those who hate Microsoft often fit into one or more of the following categories:

  • People who hate Microsoft because of their size. Microsoft is a high visibility target. There's a nice quote I like by Windows spelunker Andrew Schulman that says that Microsoft aren't the biggest fish in the ocean, they are the ocean. It wasn't always thus. Lots of people hated Apple Computer in the 1980s at the time when Apple was the giant ruling the computer industry with an iron fist and bullying the lesser players with endless lawsuits.
  • People who hate Microsoft because it's the thing to do. In other words, lots of other people do it. Microsoft bashing has become a popular pastime. Just as no one ever got fired for buying Microsoft, so no one ever got beaten up for hating Microsoft. Well, maybe in Redmond.
  • People who hate Microsoft because they think the software is rubbish. I'm sure if you asked the Windows developers at Microsoft if there were things they'd have done differently given the opportunity to start afresh with no backwards compatibility constraints, they'd have been giving you suggestions all week. In fact, that's what happened with the Windows NT architecture. And it worked, because it's been with us eleven years now (sixteen years if you include development time).
  • People who hate Microsoft because of the antitrust actions. You can tell these people because they take great delight in using the terms “Microsoft” and “convicted monopolist” together whenever they refer to the company. Did the antitrust actions really achieve anything apart from make some lawyers richer and produce a funny video clip of BillG looking awkward whilst testifying?
  • People who hate Microsoft because they're just whingers. After all, complaining is far easier than actually taking positive steps to improve their own software. This is also known as The Larry Ellison Syndrome. Scott McNealy was also a sufferer of this but has recently been cured by a large injection.
  • People who hate Microsoft because of Bill Gates. Everything I've read about Bill Gates indicates that money is not his prime motivator. That doesn't mean that he doesn't care about it and he certainly doesn't appear to squander it! It would seem that Bill's passion is improving people's lives through software. Microsoft software, yes but then what do you expect? That's his company! It's called c-a-p-i-t-a-l-i-s-m, get over it. Someone has to be the richest man in the world and I'd rather it was someone like Bill Gates who gives an awful lot of his money to charity. It's easy to be cynical about these things but I'd rather live in a world where philanphropists pour huge sums of cash into AIDS research (for example) than not.
  • People who hate Microsoft because Microsoft are phenomenally successful. I've never understood the notion of excessive profits or the idea that businesses should somehow be penalised for being too successful. Who sets the bar on these things? Great fortunes can be built in business and great fortunes can quickly be lost by businesses when they take their eye off the ball. IBM ruled the roost for years. I genuinely believe that you can be successful if you build a better mousetrap and persevere.

And me? As I stated at the beginning, I like Microsoft and its software. I don't think Microsoft are perfect and I know that their software isn't, but I think that they get more things right, more of the time than most of their competitors do. The important point is that I make up my own mind about things and try to keep it open.


There are 33 comments on this post. Comments are closed.

  • avatar John C
    21 April 2004 at 22:15

    Very interesting post. I'd have to agree with you on virtually everything you said. People I've known who hate Microsoft almost entirely do so out of some form of jealousy (when I get to the root of it) and I think that's rather sad. I just want an easy life and Microsoft products in general make my life easier. Yeah, I could install Linux (and I even have done in the past) but I want an easy life and it's too much work when what I've got already does the job. Nothing to do with religion! I've fancied working for MS for years and recently (after reading a lot of MS blogs) I've started to really want to work for them. Of course, as you say they only recruit the best, geekiest people and Redmond is a long way away. So it'll probably never happen... But the thing those blogs show me is that the people who work there are passionate about technology and trying to do the best they can. You can't judge a company without looking at the people who work there from the bottom up.

  • avatar JohnnieC
    23 April 2004 at 19:40

    It has almost become 'cool' to bash Microsoft. Having worked in the Mac world in the past, I've seen this goofy religious stuff far too often. Now it's the same thing repeated regarding Linux. I wonder if any of the Linux zealots realize that success in the Linux platform may cost Microsoft, but it is to the advantage to IBM (the worlds largest computer company). And there's plenty to hate about IBM (using the same logic as the MS haters).

  • avatar R. Aaron Zupancic
    25 April 2004 at 01:50

    I wholeheartedly agree! I've had the privilege of being on the inside of MS as a consultant and on the outside as an observer. I won't reiterate your points as you make them very well and I couldn't state them better, but I'm sick and tired of the constant MS bashing and general disdain in the computing world. It's personally hurtful at times - especially when it comes from coworkers or family members. Most of the loathing and bad-mouthing is completely unfounded and without any real understanding of what goes on or why. Having been on the inside I caught a first-hand view of the energy and passion. It is awesome! People claim that MS isn't innovative or they simply steal other company's ideas (or take the companies themselves). That's just a load of bull. The folks at MS have an astounding desire to get things done and get them done well. This leads to amazing innovation. Well I won't rant on, but thank you for putting into words my exact feelings. :)

  • avatar redvamp128
    25 April 2004 at 03:11

    The main reason I have seen a decrease in the bashing is that for every bash people do or say about Microsoft it takes it to heart. People say that IE is so not secure.... So Microsoft said "We will make our Browser Secure".... People said "Windows Crashes if I look at it funny"....This was pre Windows steps by Microsoft were taken to allow the system to still operate after an error or crash (though it still happens) but not as often. People said " LINUX is better than Windows" then Microsoft asked "WHY?" took careful notes...Then Linux became the target of SCO- but however in all cases when it came to pattent rights... Microsoft Said "Protect the USER from those costs!" So you see how just by listening to the bashing Microsoft wins... People said "What about our privacy" Then Microsoft said "Privacy and Security is our Main focus." So for every blow taken on by Microsoft the company has made the changes to counter the claims. That is the main reasons why bashing is now out of style. People Speak....Microsoft Listens :)

  • avatar Neal
    25 April 2004 at 03:59

    Love it !!! Hope you don't mind I use this as ammo when attacked again by my linux coworkers on their lack of "trust" in implementing Microsoft apps. Well said !!

  • avatar jeanmarc
    25 April 2004 at 13:26

    What about people who hate Microsoft because they kill Be,inc ? I really don't mind if Microsoft have about +95% of the software market, but they kill competitors and hence innovation.

  • avatar Max Gabriel
    25 April 2004 at 22:46

    Very interesting and insightful blog. I'd like to add one more point about innovation, I haven't seen any other company in the industry innovating itself so rapidly in multi dimensional fronts other than MS. ..

  • avatar MrNoir
    25 April 2004 at 22:52

    The MicroSoft bashing is a bit boring, I agree. But, MicroSoft themselves do indulge in a bit bashing themselves, and claiming they just feel threatened so it's okay is a bit off mark. MicroSoft themselves created this bash another ethos, they are a victim of their own antisocialness. Well at least we have choice nowadays, and if you are into computers then you generally end up in the Linux camp, as Linux allows you to tinker more and gets you closer to the underlying system. MicroSoft has been about geting people to use computers, any people. They were championed by the computer enthusiasts of the past as they were the cheapest. Nowadays Linux is cheaper, and day by day more usability tricks are being put into Linux, in many cases Linux is now easier to use. Would I care if MicroSoft went under not really, it would be nice to have a number of software houses in the mainstream instead of one dominating key areas of a computer system. MicroSoft stands for anti-competitive, and that's why I dislike the company. And for what it is worth Linux is far more fun to use than Windows.

  • avatar IM
    26 April 2004 at 12:14

    The Zealot Ecosystem. MICRO$HIT:Dollar + Scatological - Extreme mouth-foamer. Will tend to harmlessly work self into apoplectic state. MICROS~1:Short filename mangling. Indicates pretensions to technical expertise. Expect server uptime boasting (often *BSD based) from this type of specimen. Microcrap:Mildly scatalogical, no dollar. Slightly above-normal-level zealot. Micro$oft:Dollar sign. Just your run of the mill zealot MicroSoft: Note the capitalised S. A krypto-zealot. Cannot bring self to spell the word normally, but at the same time doesnt want to be openly laughed at. This type makes efforts to pronounce the word awkwardly in spoken communications. Probably resorts to the dollar when among friends (see above)

  • avatar panicboy
    26 April 2004 at 20:20

    Not mentioned: people who hate (or dislike) Microsoft because it's a poor corporate citizen and a bully. A lot of bad Microsoft behavior has been exposed in lawsuits over the years, and this is rarely acknowledged or accepted by Microsoft employees. They refuse to believe it, or just pooh-pooh it as the way everyone else does business. And this is wrong. One expects poor behavior from a disadvantaged underdog. To see it from the tech sector leader who owns the playing field is particularly galling. That MS is unapologetic about this behavior and shows no signs of remorse or interest in changing its practices only makes things worse for the company's image.

  • avatar JRB
    26 April 2004 at 20:38

    >People who hate Microsoft because >of the antitrust actions. >Did the antitrust actions really >achieve anything apart from make >some lawyers richer and produce a >funny video clip of BillG looking >awkward whilst testifying? Okay, lets just ignore the fact that they -were- convicted and -are- a monopoly, shall we? No, you're right, the anti-trust actions did little more than prove that the US government is just a stooge for big business, but let's not forget the fact that it was real people/real companies squashed by Microsoft that started the whole action in the first place. I think you've miss-titled that group. It should be "people who hate Microsoft because of their business practises".

  • avatar Larry Osterman
    26 April 2004 at 20:45

    IM: Actually some of the people who call Microsoft "MicroSoft" are reiterating the old spelling of the company's name. Way back when in the 1970's Microsoft went by "MicroSoft" :). Now you're probably right - the reason's more likely that they are Krypto-Zealot's, but... :)

  • avatar Ed Brill
    26 April 2004 at 21:24

    I have to concur with "Panicboy". Having seen a lot of this behavior first-hand, it is the root of my own professional challenges in competing with Microsoft. Much of what has gone in this area will, for various reasons, never see the light of public day, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.

  • avatar Samuel Herschbein
    26 April 2004 at 22:20

    The difference between Microsoft the corporation and Microsoft the community of workers needs to be distinct. It is possible to dislike/hate Microsoft the corporation and still respect the people who work there. I'm in Seattle, I've had many friends over the years who've worked at Microsoft. Many were competent. Yet I dislike Microsoft as a corporation with a passion, based on personal experience. But that isn't relevant to the points I'm making. Americans like issues to be black or white. Love or hate the war in Iraq. Love or hate Microsoft. Love or hate abortion. Blah, blah, blah. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be irreverantly categorized based on a soundbyte. When one choses to pigeon hole others based on how they perceive other's beliefs, nobody benefits and the mire of humanity continues. Humanity takes two steps forward everyday. Zealotry, pettiness, etc. set us back 1.9999999 steps every day...

  • avatar Jorgen
    27 April 2004 at 00:39

    Jealousy? Yes, shoot the messenger. Blame it on the complainers obvious human faults and foibles.

  • avatar renjith
    27 April 2004 at 05:28

    Yet another bolg - paid by M$ ??

  • avatar Simon
    27 April 2004 at 08:12

    People who hate Microsoft because they think the software is rubbish The software is not rubbish. Take .Net, take Longhorn.... quite good pieces of software actually. Only, the software is never finished. Why not fix .Net 1.1 bugs instead of promoting Longhorn all around? It's the "next version will be better" syndrome that's unbearable. Do customers really want this? Or is it not market pressure actually? Sometimes it feels like MS is only shipping (excellent) demoes or betas, and then shifting to the next product... People who hate Microsoft because of the antitrust actions Well, MS do kill competitors, don't they? Agreed, we're in a capitalist world. But nobody likes too-big fishes.

  • avatar Jan Van Puyvelde
    27 April 2004 at 11:34

    Nice read. But consider this: - backwards compatibility: unless I'm mistaken, Windows 2003 doesn't run versions of Office and Exchange other than 2003. (BTW: I'm still running 98SE and don't want to upgrade my pc just because XP needs more power.) - the only problem I have with MS is the abuse of the OS monopoly. 70-85% profit margin on OS and Office; come on. - have you actually read judge Jackson's Findings of Fact ( html) ? That's enough proof of bullying tactics. - Splitting MS in an OS company and one for all the rest is still the right thing to do. As a start, publishing ALL APIs and Office file formats would level the playing field.

  • avatar Jeff
    27 April 2004 at 13:44 7/121033.aspx

  • avatar JonR
    27 April 2004 at 15:13

    i've been in many meetings which included people who actually think saying "but it's Microsoft" is a sound argument for not adopting a certain technology for a project. thankfully, these types are easy to deal with: you simply get on with the project regardless. in my experience, your average zealot (of *any* technology) tends not to be the kind of person who actually builds anything of any significance...

  • avatar redvamp128
    28 April 2004 at 02:35

    Well on my Windows 2003 Server I have installed and runs perfect Office 2000 with all the service packs installed. I am not sure about the exchange server issues. The question I have is did you submit a feedback form for Windows 2003 Server- I belive there is a link on the main page- It is possible that there is a fix or possibly using the ACT 3.0 (application compatability Toolkit) to allow it to configure correctly to install.

  • avatar Robert O'Callahan
    28 April 2004 at 19:05

    I agreed that most of the reasons you listed for disliking Microsoft are bogus. But the position of "People who hate Microsoft because of the antitrust actions" --- better phrased as "People who hate Microsoft because of their business practices" --- is completely reasonable. The fact is, Microsoft were convicted on multiple counts of violating anti-trust law by using their monopoly to unfairly exclude competitors, most of the convictions were upheld on appeal --- and then there was no meaningful punishment, nor has anything much changed in the way Microsoft does business. (This is the big contrast to IBM, which was at least as dirty but after being beaten up by the DoJ, changed its culture completely.) The list of dirty tricks is so long that most people have forgotten most of them. Many others have never become public ... partly because many companies are afraid of Microsoft's retribution should they speak out. For example, in 1997 DEC Research (where I was an intern that summer) was working on the Shark project: "network appliances" as a low-TCO desktop solution. These devices did not run Windows. Late in 1997 the project was cancelled; to explain why, DEC management read to the researchers a letter from Gates to the then DEC CEO (Palmer?) explaining that he'd heard about the project, that Microsoft regarded it as a threat to Windows and Office revenues, and that DEC had better cancel it if they wanted Microsoft to continue to support Windows NT on Alpha. DEC never widely publicized this, presumably for the same reason that they capitulated in the first place: fear of Microsoft. I've heard all the excuses --- that was then, this is now; everyone does it; everyone *wants* to do it --- but they don't work. The fact is that Microsoft is better at planning, executing and getting away with it than anyone else. One more thing: if you really want to improve the software ecosystem --- even if you really just want to make Microsoft software better --- the best way to do that is to NOT work at Microsoft. It's clear from history that Microsoft does their best work by far when they're under the gun of serious competition, and serious competition is what they've nearly succeeded in eliminating. The way to get great software out of Microsoft is to compete with them; they'll take your good ideas, learn from your mistakes, and probably leverage their monopoly to crush you, but you'll be satisfied that they'll have done better work than they would have otherwise. Grim satisfaction, to be sure.

  • avatar Randall Shimizu
    28 April 2004 at 22:27

    There are many reasons to dislike Microsoft.... My main objection to Microsoft is how monopolistic they are. Microsoft's whole strategy is based upon "extend and embrace". Microsoft is now espousing 'integrated innovation'. This is Microsoft's attmept to tie desktop applications to the web. Microsoft's protocols like activeX,.NET,j# have inherent architectual security flaws. What's really irritating is how insecure their software is. Microsoft's Trusted computing concept is essentially a false dichotomy. You can't have a secure os when they have architectual flaws. Microsoft has failed when it comes to developing security tools. Virtually all of Microsoft's security strategy rests upon patching. Now that being said I know people for Microsoft. Some of them have asked why do you hate Microsoft..?? My response is that I have experience from the OS/2 days.... I am also amazed by how closed minded the Microsoft culture. Microsoft is unwilling tolerate any dissent. The MSDN eula prohibits the publishing of MS benchmarks without their prior consent. So Microsoft will come out with some study that states c# has let's say 20% faster that Java. The user groups seem closed minded as well. A few years back on the members of the SDW2003 ( asked how Apache compares to .NET. One leader of the group than indicated that the issue should be discussed on the list server. Several weeks later I brought up this issue. Now mind you that we were discussing Apache on Windows. The list manager then told me that this was off topic several months later.

  • avatar Randall Shimizu
    28 April 2004 at 23:06

    j++: Microsoft's sole reason for J++ was to pollute the Java language. In doing so Microsoft broke the Java sandbox. As a result Microsoft introduced the only Java virus in the wild. Well David Greer got fired from @stake for publishing cyber insecurity: "Just as no one ever got fired for buying Microsoft, so no one ever got beaten up for hating Microsoft. " people hate Microsoft because of what they do with their size: "people hate Microsoft because of their size....."

  • avatar Brian Duff
    29 April 2004 at 01:10

    I found myself nodding a lot in agreement while I read this. I also spent a few seconds being just a little bit petrified that you drew attention to my slightly subversive blog about Oracle's attitude to technology at exactly the time one of Oracle's VPs is spending a lot of time getting to grips with this blog thing :P ah.. synchronicity I work for Oracle. Oracle are almost universally considered to be a strongly anti-Microsoft company. I don't speak for the company when I say this, but I don't get that. Oracle use Microsoft software just like everyone else. And it's not just because it's dominant. It actually works pretty well a lot of the time. Like it or not, Microsoft actually do innovate. They mostly produce great software. They're not perfect. They make mistakes (oh... office assistant, where art thou?). They actually seem to be a little slow sometimes to catch on to new things. It took Microsoft a while to latch onto the Internet thing. When they did, by hell they latched on to it. I found C# and .net very interesting, because those technologies are entirely, 100% a reaction to Java. In a way C# and .net validate Java's success. Microsoft took a while to latch on to the fact that Java was successful too. Will Sun/Java go the way of Netscape? I hope not, but it's entirely possible. If it does, it won't be because of Microsoft abusing it's monopoly or being uncompetitive. It will be plain and simple, because they made the technology better. I have a vested interest in hoping that doesn't happen. But I'm balanced enough (and pointedly, not *automatically* biased against Microsoft) to at least concede that it's a fair fight.

  • avatar Smithy
    30 April 2004 at 18:48

    Reasonably fair article about Microsoft, especially from a European, but I must take issue with the premise that "people hate Microsoft". I have sen at least 5 polls from virtually every major business magazine in America including Fortune, Bussinessweek, Forbes etc etc, and in every single poll, the American public overwhelmingly like and support Microsoft. In fact the latest list of Fortune's "most admired" companies in America has Microsoft in the top 5, just as it was last year and the year before. Even your own Financial Times in Europe has Microsoft in the top 5 of the world's most admired companies. Equally business magazines in Asia have Microsoft as the most admired or one of the most admired comoanies on the entire planet. So I am not really sure where you are getting your "people hate Microsoft" from , unless you are spending too much time at and other Linux sites which are full of open source nutcases of doubtful sanity and intelligence. As far as "normal" consumers are concerned, they continue to vote for Microsoft with their checkbooks every single day they go out and purchase Microsoft products rather than software products from any other company. Is there some visceral hatred of Microsoft in old Europe because Microsoft is a very very succesful Amercan company? You bet. Is most of that hatred due to the usual anti-American hatred from European left-wing crazies? Oh yes. Is there a lot of anti-Microsoft hatred in Europe due to the normal European jealousy of anything that is American and very succesful especially, like Microsoft, since old Europe has no equivalent to Microsoft? Oh yes! But to suggest that "joe sixpack" in America enjoying his superb Windows XP computer to play GTA Vice City or playing "Halo" on his XBOX is full of hatred for Microsoft is way way NOT the case and far from reality.

  • avatar John Topley
    30 April 2004 at 19:02

    You started off okay there Smithy, but then spoilt it a bit with the anti-European rant. The people who hate Microsoft that I'm exposed to are other IT professionals.

  • avatar Smithy
    30 April 2004 at 19:19

    John, about that "anti-European rant", it comes out of the constant, unrelenting, unremitting anti-American hatred that we in America have been getting from old European outfits like "The Guardian", " The Independent", "The Mirror" and the rabid BBC like forever. Its gotten to the point where I basically don't take anything I read in the European press very seriously. Whatever I read from outfits like the BBC about America automatically get filed away in the "garbage file". Even your own independent commission found the BBC guilty of making things up as they went along, and then defending the lies they told afterwards as well, ending in some poor guy commiting suicide. Sad.

  • avatar Sassy
    03 May 2004 at 19:31

    Some of us run servers. Microsoft products _still _suck _as _servers. Get used to it, we all have.

  • avatar John Topley
    04 May 2004 at 11:13

    That's not good enough. You've got to say why they suck.

  • avatar Andrew
    06 May 2004 at 10:22

    Boasting about server uptime? That's a valid argument. If you want your website online, it's nice to know it's bulletproof. No need to belittle people for being gung-ho about uptime. On another note, WTF is up with XP's Mack-truck sized security holes? When installing XP onto a new computer, it's a good idea to install ZoneAlarm first before connecting to the internet... sad that your system will get infected with worms before you even log into Windows Update. :( BTW, also agree whole-heartedly with other comments regarding biz practises, etc.

  • avatar John Topley
    06 May 2004 at 18:05

    You make it sound as if the executive boards at Sun Microsystems, Oracle et al. sit around discussing how they can be nice to their competitors!

  • avatar jp
    22 May 2004 at 07:44

    It's kind of funny that first we use their software 10 years and then when they became monopoly we start to complain they are doing bad. I'am developing for Microsoft and I have been developing software for IIS until Microsoft made their own version. I guess hatred from developers comes from how they expand their business to new areas and that way gives hard time to their old friends and turn them to enemies. However, that's how everyone does when they grow.

Microsoft's current reputation is largely formed from what it's done in the past and not what it's doing today.


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