This is hysterical:    A graphic map depicting the epic struggle of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) against the Empire of
Microsoft:

click for much bigger graph

Msft_1

For our discussions about Mister Softee, see:

Microsoft Chasing Google (2004)

Microsoft: The "Innovator"   (part II)  (2005)

A few words about Microsoft (2006)

Google vs Microsoft: Now We’re Getting Serious

Google vs Microsoft: Part II (NYT’s Version)

and just for giggles: FrankenSteve

Hat Tip on the MSFT Empire to Noah Blackstein!

Category: Corporate Management

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

12 Responses to “Empire of Microsoft”

  1. RB says:

    There’s at least one positive to a monopoly that may not even benefit the company directly as much as the industry — which is R&D. I know some really smart people working in Microsoft Labs. Other than IBM, there aren’t many companies funding long-term research in the way AT&T Labs used to.

  2. B says:

    It’s funny that the author appears to be from China. The country that has mastered ripping off intellectualy property and then selling hacked copies globally. From cars to motorcycles to gaming consoles to networking gear to software to books to movies to music to golf clubs to hand bags to medicine to to to to. It’s 25% of the Chinese economy and the only profitable part.

    A little extra info from the dweeb himself. Sounds quite credible for the basement crowd, that is. The reality is and always will be that software will be monetized as are nearly everything in a capitalist society. Btw, freeware isn’t new. Half of everything on that chart started forty years ago with Unix, which was originally freeware used mostly in the research and university settings. That is, until IBM, NCR, ATT, HP and others figured out how to charge for it. Linux is really an attempt at resurrecting the concept. Oh, and I don’t have enough typing time to tell you why that chart is hilariously………..hilarious. I don’t think even the most devout Microsoft haters would argue it is a rather senseless chart. But, seeing more writings of the author below explain it all. Fringe man.

    ————————————-
    More quotes from the chart’s author.

    Free Software:
    Hackers comeback

    Free Software, also known by the marketing name Open Source, Is the Future. The Free Software Movement is the modern form of the Hackers’ Culture, described in the 1984 book Hackers, Heros of the Computer Revolution. The moral values of Free Software are best summarized in the Hackers’ Ethic:

    1. Always yield the Hands-On Imperative! Access to computers – and anything else which might teach you about the way the world works – should be unlimited and total.

    2. All information should be free.

    3. Mistrust Authority – Promote Decentralization.

    4. Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race, or position.

    5. You can create art and beauty on a computer.

    6. Computers can change your life for the better.

    (Levy, 1984)

    Thus, Free Software is the revival of the original computing culture, where Software Sharing and Software Freedom were the basic way of life. But as more people got involved in computers, money and business movitvations took over, and the values of the original hackers were lost. People began to see software as commerical products and tools of exploitation, and software went proprietary.

  3. wcw says:

    Absolutely. Basic, Bell labs-style R&D is not worth the investment unless you do happen to reap monopoly rents. Now, there are two problems with this: reaping monopoly rents is antithetical to a well-functioning capitalist system, and not investing in basic, Bell labs-style R&D is of long-term utility to all.

    The solution to any canonical collective-action problem like this one would seem to be government funding. Microsoft has a lot of cash, it’s true, and they generate forty or so billion (~$40B) in revenue per year. The US government, by contrast, is projected to generate over two thousand, four hundred billion (>$2,400B) in fiscal 2007.

    I know which pockets I think should fund basic R&D.

    As for free (free-speech style) software, that also seems a solution to a collective action problem.

  4. Blissex says:

    «I know which pockets I think should fund basic R&D.»

    Unfortunately that means on-budget costs, and Congress is very fond of ways to take things off-budget (hey, they have managed to take a couple of wars off budget) and in particular Congress are fond of unfunded mandates, usually very, very expensive ones.

    For example if the policy goal is to have more R&D more R&D labs funded by grants, or prizes for producing inventions could be used (and have been used).

    But the government has instead a policy of ever greater duration and scope of patents (even if they are misused this way, because patents are for publishing trade secrets, not for stimulating innovation), because patents are free, to the government, even if very expensive to the general public in terms of monopoly rent to pay and reduced opportunity for innovation.

    «monopoly rents is antithetical to a well-functioning capitalist system»

    In such a system monopoly rents are impossible, but this is an irrelevant observation because the economies of the USA and other advanced countries are not running under a capitalist system, never mind a well functioning one.

    Monopoly rents are a very large part of the economic system we have, to the point that some wise person at the Economist once wrote that most successful companies are so because they have succeeded in creating some monopoly rent for themselves. Watch around, and check for yourself, it may help your trading :-).

  5. Dave says:

    Doesn’t Oracle also deserve a spot up there? And can we also get some fallen heroes for Netscape and Real Networks?

  6. RB says:

    Government funding is part of the answer but not all. A good example of something that came out of government funding mostly would be the ARPAnet which was the precursor of the Internet. The people that contributed belonged to UCLA, BBN, Xerox PARC, Bell Labs etc.

    Arguably, the most significant invention of the last fifty years was the transistor which came out of Bell Labs. The advantage that places like Bell Labs (and by extension industry-sponsored research) had was that you had in one place, fully trained experts who were working on the same project and who had the luxury of working on long-term projects with a good probability of failure.

    University research has produced some significant successes — Google being the most recent example . But in contrast with research organizations, University research usually has one star (the professor) with scientists-in-training working on individual projects which are reasonably closed-ended and likely to succeed in a timeframe of a few years. Besides, while University professors do write up proposals for joint research (that’s where the big money is), the end result is more often than not that they go off to their respective corners to do their own thing. After all, many did go back to academia so that they could do their own thing.

    So, what is the solution? More so, it is a commentary that it is probably unlikely that we will see something ground-breakingly different in technology (on the scale of integrated circuits, lasers and the Internet) with the current short-term focus of industry research.

  7. RB says:

    Government funding is part of the answer but not all. A good example of something that came out of government funding mostly would be the ARPAnet which was the precursor of the Internet. The people that contributed belonged to UCLA, BBN, Xerox PARC, Bell Labs etc.

    Arguably, the most significant invention of the last fifty years was the transistor which came out of Bell Labs. The advantage that places like Bell Labs (and by extension industry-sponsored research) had was that you had in one place, fully trained experts who were working on the same project and who had the luxury of working on long-term projects with a good probability of failure.

    University research has produced some significant successes — Google being the most recent example . But in contrast with research organizations, University research usually has one star (the professor) with scientists-in-training working on individual projects which are reasonably closed-ended and likely to succeed in a timeframe of a few years. Besides, while University professors do write up proposals for joint research (that’s where the big money is), the end result is more often than not that they go off to their respective corners to do their own thing. After all, many did go back to academia so that they could do their own thing.

    So, what is the solution? More so, it is a commentary that it is probably unlikely that we will see something ground-breakingly different in technology (on the scale of integrated circuits, lasers and the Internet) with the current short-term focus of industry research.

  8. KirkH says:

    True, there are a lot of geeks that think capitalism is evil. They lean towards Chomskyesque anarchism rather than Libertarianism which, considering the average intelligence of the geek, must due to a lack of economic education and not outright stupidity.

    R&D is getting much cheaper thanks to Moore’s Law, the emergence of open standards, the internet, etc. which are fueling this pro-am revolution. Basement dwelling nerds aren’t going to create the next fusion reactor but they might just create the operating system that runs the thing.

    Microsoft has the mythical man month problem. Software development doesn’t scale as well as Spec Home construction for instance. To use a horrible analogy, it’s like the Laffer curve. Microsoft is at the point of diminishing returns in terms of man power as the complexity of their software grows exponentially with lines of code. Maybe that’s why Google gives their engineers time to work on their own little projects.

  9. Guy says:

    I agree with all of the criticism of MS, including their propensity for copying rather than innovating. I think their sheer size, and their ability to throw resources at new ventures has limited their ability to focus and do anything particularly well.

    MS has an interesting problem in that they have to satisfy corporate and retail customers. Their monopoly with Windows makes virtually every entity on the planet a potential customer. They have to retain that broad customer base for Windows, but segment the customer base for other products.

    MS has never had a consistent web strategy for retail customers. eBay, iPod/iTunes, and Google prove that the most successful web-based business models create an online market. They assemble a network of suppliers and partners to serve a user community centered on a specific activity.

    MS’s web strategy lacked focus. They tried to leverage their existing customer base by incorporating new features into their OS. They ventured into media with MSNBC. They went after clicks and users, but a business model never materialized. They never created a cohesive group of suppliers, partners, and customers.

    MS has to compete with Google to defend their retail base. The threat from a company like Google is that they can offer MS Office functionality like word processing, spreadsheet, and email as web services.

    MS has loyal corporate customers that they can’t ignore. Their entry in to the server, database, and business software was a valid attempt to leverage that customer base. They should focus on ease-of-use, flexibility, and price for smaller businesses with limited IT staffs. I think they should offer some of their business software as an on-demand, subscription service, like Salesforce.com. I was surprised by Salesforce.com’s success.

    My experience was that corporate customers preferred UNIX servers over NT servers, and Oracle or DB2 databases over SQL Server databases, for large-scale, high-volume installations. MS didn’t match Oracle and IBM for scalability and reliability. I can’t quote statistics, but this was my experience as recently as two years ago.

    I’m confused by the x-box venture. I don’t see any synergies with sales, marketing, or engineering between the games division and any other division.

  10. Yeebee says:

    It’s incredible how much technology and how many products come out of Microsoft. It really would be a Herculean task to manage all that. Amazing really.

  11. Ant says:

    Doesn’t Oracle also deserve a spot up there? And can we also get some fallen heroes for Netscape and Real Networks?

    I don’t think so… unless I’m missing something, none of the companies you mentioned are examples of FOSS.

    I’m confused by the x-box venture. I don’t see any synergies with sales, marketing, or engineering between the games division and any other division.

    My 3 cents (inflation, y’know): ironically, I believe that that’s exactly why it’s one of the best products MSFT has shipped recently. One good route around the innovator’s dilemma is setting up skunkworks teams who don’t have to report to managers of legacy products.

    Semi-related. Joel Spolsky wrote one of the more interesting Bill G departure pieces this month: http://tinyurl.com/zzekr

    -Ant

  12. tmcgee says:

    i love this site for such wonderful links and da sheet (which isn’t shit, of course)