The sum of Microsoft's fears

The sum of Microsoft's fears

Summary: What do you think is underneath the future? And how are you going to become the indispensable supplier of whatever it is?

SHARE:
15

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft chief software architectHere's the problem Ray Ozzie faces, as I see it. It's what I'd tell him if he were sitting across the desk from me.

Open source is not your competitor. Fighting a war against open source is like the U.S. fighting a "War Against Terrorism." You're putting a noun against a verb.

Open source is not a company or a group of companies. It's another way of doing business. It's another way of developing software in collaboration with customers, it's zero-cost marketing and distribution, it's a different mind set.

It's been around for 10 years. I shouldn't have to tell you this.

It's nice for you to admit your guys are running scared. They should be. But they're running in 1,000 different directions. They're not running forward to a clear, explicit, profitable goal.

This was Bill Gates' genius. He recognized the secret to winning the industry, as it was in the 1980s, was to wriggle under the bottom of the software stack and control the foundation. He lasered in on that, got everyone else to laser in on it, and he won.

So what's the bottom of the stack now? Google seems to have a Clue. It's the code and the resources web services are made of.

Not so much the services themselves. That's digging for gold. But the tools used to build and run them. That's selling picks, shovels, and jeans to the miners.

So what's your vision? What do you think is underneath the future? And how are you going to become the indispensable supplier of whatever it is?

Sorry to say you have yet to answer that question. Judging by what you said today, you have yet to even ask it.

You're a fine engineer, Ray Ozzie. But you're no Bill Gates. And for that open source is thankful.

Topics: Microsoft, Open Source

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

15 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • 1000 different directions (What is MS trying to do)

    so true ... What is MS trying to do.

    - Attack developers - i develop lots of small ""windows helpers""

    - Attack techies - I have many windows customers and install Firefox, 7zip, FoxIt, and set the default to Google. These products make windows run smoother.

    I suppose MS is attacking me - Kinda makes one proud
    bcarpent1228
    • Google?

      I stear everyone I can away from anything with the Google brand on it, short of their search page.

      Nothing slows down a machine more then a Google Desktop or other "installed" Google application.
      AllKnowingAllSeeing
      • Pliny speaks the truth (nt)

        (nt)
        klumper
      • Google ? - as default search

        You are right - i only switch their search engine to Google.
        bcarpent1228
    • Scroogle

      I set the default search engine to scroogle.org. Check it out!
      Roger Ramjet
  • RE: The sum of Microsoft's fears

    OpenSource has been around a lot longer than 10 years! ]:)
    Linux User 147560
    • As an explicit concept

      open source is only a decade old. I know, FOSS is much, much older.
      DanaBlankenhorn
  • you should read what Ozzie said

    I'm afraid it's a good deal subtler, and much stronger in ideas than you have recognised.

    And no, I don't have any good feeling for M$. However, they do do the scutwork to keep a platform going that the community uses.

    Having just tried OpenOffice the latest, I see why I went to Adobe for tools. Parse that, and you'll get an idea of what is Ray's opportunity - and I am pretty sure not ever at all ideological software's.

    Narr vi
    Narr vi
  • You totally missed the point

    Ray Ozzie and Microsoft have not described Open Source as a competitor - they said it was more disruptive than google. All your articel does is point out how correct that assertion is.

    The whole open source movement is of course more disruptive to a historically closed/proprietary software vendor than any other single company.
    wperr
    • So if it's disrupting...you need a strategy to counter that disruption

      Which Ozzie has yet to articulate.

      Microsoft has many businesses now. Online businesses. A gaming business. What's essentially a mainframe business. As well as the desktop businesses.

      But if you analyze the balance sheet you find the lion's share of the business coming from the area most disrupted by open source. Ruh-roh.

      So what's the strategy for countering this? In 25 words or less. Elevator pitch me.
      DanaBlankenhorn
  • Silverlight

    Silverlight is aiming to be the online foundation for rich media delivery. It's enforced by the suppliers via DRM who are able to the set the terms of delivery and thus contribute more strength to the garden wall MS is trying to build.

    I think they do get it.

    Anyone with *nix at home and a Netflix account knows they get it because without it, some Netflix customers cannot get the online movies they pay for.
    shawn_dude
    • I Like "Yes Minister"

      You mean DRM will save Microsoft from the nasty open source bogeyman? I mention "Yes Minister" because I recently saw it, via NetFlix, as much to try out the service as anything else.

      It's still funny.
      DanaBlankenhorn
  • Another great article, Dana

    The only hope Ray Ozzie (or Microsoft) has, is to get rid of the activation garbage, the WGA crap, and DRM, and quit treating their customers like criminals. Also quit stabbing their "partners" and developers in the back.

    They need to realize, buying one (or more) of their products don't necessarily mean the purchaser wants to be a lifetime contributer to their revenue stream. Trying to force a customer to be a perpetual customer won't work. You bleed them dry, you'll have a bunch of dead customers. Keep stabbing your "partners" and developers in the back, and pretty soon you won't have any partners, and you'll have only a bunch of renegade developers.

    The end (draws nearer each day).
    Ole Man
    • aww shucks...

      I'm not certain all of Microsoft's problems are tied to its support of DRM, and the assumption that its customers are criminals. But every economic transaction must be a free exchange, and when customers feel coerced they resist. Look at Zune.

      My main recommendation is that Ozzie boil down his vision to 25 words or less. What's the key to the future? What's your elevator pitch.

      Great companies have great elevator pitches. Gates had one. Jobs has one. Google has one.
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • The link may be subtle

        But obvious to many.

        I say the "key to the future" is producing a reasonably priced product that is desirable to the public, NOT producing the desired product (to the producer), and trying, by hook or crook, to force the public to buy it, Nor trying to, by hook or crook, force the customer to police (and pay for) the distribution and use of it.

        So I exceeded your 25 word limit. Wait till you see one of Zuny's responses (diatribes).
        Ole Man