The good and bad of Microsoft

I was thinking today about Microsoft, and what it means to me specifically. Oddly enough, I have no stake in the company, but it has a stake in me since I buy its products and its products have largely been the reason for my financial success.

First off, Microsoft has done a lot of things right. The Xbox 360 is the crown jewel of the empire right now, and it demonstrates that careful thinking and passion can create something truly great. I don't think you'll find a single person who owns one that will say it sucks. It's easily the most impressive piece of consumer electronics I've ever owned.

Then there's Visual Studio and ASP.NET. It took a few years to get there, but the 2005/2006 products are everything I've ever wanted in a development platform (well, as long as you don't count the embarrassing state of the Web unit testing that I bitch about frequently).

But on the dark side of things, they've been stumbling around. Windows Vista has become a nightmare with the constant slipping ship dates. As a recent convert and believer in OS X, Vista is a much needed step in the right direction, but it feels as if it will never ship. Seeing as how the OS (and Office) are what really pay the bills, it's not comforting to see this downward spiral.

Then there's the mess in marketing. It started with the over-use of ".NET" on every product name, and it just keeps getting worse. Who the hell knows what they're even about anymore. It's so hard to understand as a consumer why Microsoft exists, and why it's good for me. It's not easy as a business customer either.

It's funny though how there's such a stark contrast between the good and bad. The company is just so damn big. I hope they can get those smart people in the right places to save the parts that have been such a disaster.


  • What do you suggest for web unit testing instead of rolling your own?

  • I just want it to work, because right now it's broken. The debugger doesn't work with the dev server and it's a pain in the ass.

  • "Oddly enough, I have no stake in the company, but it has a stake in me since I buy its products and its products have largely been the reason for my financial success."

    While I agree with the overall statement of the post, I just wanted to point out the fact that you do have a stake in the company based on this statement. The fact that the products have largely been the reason for your success means that without them you would not be where you are today. Just as they have a stake in you (buying their products) you have a stake in them (utilizing their products)

  • Well I'd like to think that I'm clever enough that I would've found my way with someone else, if need be. ;)

  • Regarding Vista and its delays, (and cock-ups I'm sure) I'd say they should take FreeBSD or some other Linux distro (Ubuntu for instance) and branch a commercial version off that. Sounds familiar? ;-)

    With all MS's talent and developer resources, they should be able to deliver something substantial based on this new platform within a year or two.

  • Forgot to add:

    Who is really eagerly awaiting Vista? I mean seriously...

    IIS7 could be made to run on Win2K3...

  • Give me a break. Why would they do that and break compatibility to two decades of software?

  • I was going to say compatibility is a 'bit' of an issue...

    But ignoring that, it's the way forward. Mono is already there for the taking, heck MS could even contribute to that.

    I know it's not going to happen, but it's what made OSX to what it is today, that's for sure.

  • Besides, since when has MS given a damn about compatibility? They simply stop supporting stuff from t0....

  • A fix for compatibility could be for MS to write a better version of Wine as compatibility layer and simply have existing windows apps run within some emulator environment and have all managed apps run under Mono.

  • Wes, I'd like to have whatever you're smokin' dude.

  • Sorry, that should be Wim.

  • I kinda agree with Jeff here: As a infrastructure architect i must say that there are the better and the worse of MS software atm. There is a distinct quality difference between for example Exchange 2003 and SMS 2003. For example integrating Microsoft Update into SMS ruddenly requires you to do a lot of manual patching and tweaking in a very unfriendly way, whereas all features provided in Exchange are working out of the Box and after every major service pack. I can imagine some other products out there are also "unfinished": They work up to the point where you want to customize it just as much as required to do the job. That's were you often have to do "unfriendly" things (Like drilling down IIS and manually fixing debug server :(

    Let's just say Vista is some attempt to get closer to OS X, which is technically speaking the superior product. Sure, Vista is gonna be more "compatible" and will host a lot more applications, unless they do something about that at Apple, but i think that people using OS X will not easily disband it ;)

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