Babysitting at Microsoft

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Jul 7, 2020

Filed under: Column 157 comments

As I’ve said before, I think Microsoft has outgrown their original reputation as a machine of rapacious corporate dominance. I don’t know if it’s because Bill Gates retired or because it’s grown to be top-heavy and bureaucratic. The days of cutthroat, calculating MS are over, replaced by a fickle leadership and an inability to design quality software.

Yes, their operating system still dominates. Their programming tools are still incredibly popular. But what about the stuff they’ve made in the last 15 years? Have they built anything that was able to stand on its own? I can’t think of anything.

INT – Day – Microsoft headquarters.

Jonny Microsoft is sitting in a playpen in his corner office. An exhausted engineer, Barry, is cleaning up Jonny’s most recent mess. The subtitle in the corner indicates the year is 2006.

Jonny:

NO! I don’t wanna work on a stupid web browser.

Barry:

(Sighs.) Jonny, you already had us install this web browser on everyone’s computer. Don’t you remember the bad press and antitrust case? We took a-

Jonny:

BO-RING!

Barry:

We took a pounding to take this beachhead, let’s at least keep it up-

Jonny:

(Louder) BO-RING!

Barry:

(Growing frustrated.) -keep it updated so all that wasn’t for nothing.

Jonny:

Web browsers are boring! I want Steam.

Barry:

You want to create a competitor to Steam? That’s a lot of responsibility. Are you sure you want to do that?

Jonny:

(Delighted.) YES! I want Steam!

Barry:

If I set up a gaming platform will you promise to update the web browser? It’s in really bad shape and it’s making a mess of web standards.

Jonny:

(Ignoring Barry, jumping up and down in his pen.) STEAM! STEAM! STEAM! We’re going to make the best Steam ever! The! Best! It will be bigger than the biggest Steam ever!

Cut TO:

INT – Day – Jonny’s Office – 2013

It’s 7 years later, but Jonny is still somehow a toddler. Today he’s sitting in a highchair. He’s got the wreckage of a birthday cake in front of him and is shoving fistfuls of frosting into his mouth. Barry is nearby,sweeping up bits of cake that have been flung around the room. He doesn’t look older either, but he does look tired and haggard.

Jonny:

Birthday!

Barry:

(Rolls his eyes.) Sir? It’s not actually your birthday, but you promised that if I got you cake you’d let us work on Games for Windows Live. Are you ready to do that now?

Jonny:

That’s stupid and boring. It’s broken and nobody likes it.

Barry:

(Longsuffering.) Yes it is. That’s why we need to work on it. We just need some budget and we can have our engineers-

Jonny:

You’re a bad engineer and you made a bad Steam!

Barry:

Sir, I told you back in 2007 that it wasn’t ready for release. I said it takes years of work to make a good platform. You told me to release it anyway.

Jonny:

Nobody likes it! Nobody likes you!

Barry:

Yes, everyone hates Games for Windows Live. That’s why I need you to approve the budget so we can fix-

Jonny:

Just throw it away!

Barry:

(Turns white with horror.) Sir? Teams have integrated Games for Windows into their products. Do you understand? They depend on us now. We can’t just abandon them!

Jonny:

THROW. IT. (Grabs a handful of cake and throws it at the window.) AWAY!

(Barry looks bitterly at his boss. Then without saying a word he gathers up Batman Arkham Asylum, Fallout 3, and FUEL, and drops them in the bin with dozens of other games.)

CUT TO:

INT – Day – Jonny’s Office – 2019

Jonny is sitting in the middle of the floor, surrounded by smashed toys. Right now he has a broken Zune in one hand and a Kinect controller in the other. He’s smashing them together and making explosion sounds. There’s a massive television on the wall, which he’s using to watch Ninja play Fortnite on Twitch.

Barry:

Pardon me sir, I wanted to talk to you about the new version of Internet Explorer…

Jonny:

(Looks away from TV.) Is it the best now?

Barry:

(Nervously.) Sir, I talked about this with you last year. It can’t be the best right away. People remember how bad the old one was. Remember when you had us abandon the old one?

(On the television, the Twitch chat goes wild with emotes as Ninja gets a pair of headshots in a row. Jonny turns back to the TV.)

Barry:

(Firmly.) You had us abandon the old one, and now people don’t like our web browser anymore.

Jonny:

(Angry that he missed the action, he glares at Barry.) You said this one was good! You said the programming people did a good job!

Barry:

Yes, they did. Well, they did a good job at copying good ideas from Chrome. The point is, people remember how bad it was after you abandoned it. They still think Internet Explorer is terrible.

Jonny:

(Shrugs.) Just call it something else.

Barry:

They’ll still know that WE made it. They won’t want it.

Jonny:

So just make them download it anyway.

Barry:

You can’t be serious.

Jonny:

If you make everyone download it, then it will be the most popular and I’ll have the best web browser! (Begins gnawing on the broken Zune.)

Barry:

It doesn’t work that way. Do you remember when I talked to you about brand? See, we have a bad brand because you don’t take care of your things.

Jonny:

(Points at the TV.) I want Twitch.

Barry:

(He stares in stunned silence for several seconds.) You can’t buy Twitch. It’s too big, even for us. I’m sorry.

Jonny:

Just make another one then.

Barry:

I’m sorry?

Jonny:

Just make another Twitch and have Ninja on it and have him play Fortnite all the time and get all the shots and then everyone will watch it and people will love it and I’ll have the best Twitch. I’ll be the best!

Barry:

Sir, before we build a streaming platform we should fix our Game Pass service. It’s got a lot of problems.

Jonny:

I WANT A TWITCH RIGHT NOOOW! I HATE YOU. YOU’RE A BAD ENGINEER AND ALSO FIRED.

Barry:

You can fire me if you want, but the next engineer will tell you the same thing.

Jonny:

(Banging the Zune against the Kinect.) I WANT TWITCH! I WANT TWITCH! I WANT TWITCH! I WANT TWITCH!

Barry:

(Wincing.) Okay, okay. If we make a team to build a Twitch competitor, will you give the Skype team some resources? We spent a fortune buying this platform for you and right now it’s disaster. Imagine if there’s a sudden surge in video conferencing and working from home? We should really-

Jonny:

YAY! I’m going to have the best Twitch! I’ll have the most viewers and EVERYBODY will watch it and everyone will love me!

Yes, I fiddled with the timeline a bit so I could have some of these products in the same conversation. You get the idea.

Has Every Advantage. Fails Anyway.

Imagine a gamer trying to cheat at Counter Strike. He’s running an aim bot so he can’t miss. He’s got a top-end gaming PC with a 144Hz display. He’s sitting on a lag-free connection to the game server. And he’s still getting steamrolled by opponents. He keeps rage-quitting, changing his username, and re-joining the game. That’s what Microsoft’s endless parade of failure looks like to me.

Microsoft has a huge pool of talented developers. They have access to massive wealth. Their operating system dominates the desktop space and they can use that to leverage any new product they like. And yet despite all of these apparent advantages, their software is so often broken, buggy, counter-intuitive, or frustrating. They crash-spend to build a half-assed product, ram it down our throats, clutter it up with cruft and bullshit nobody asked for, and then abandon it so they can chase some other fad.

Skype is horrible. The Windows 10 Store is a mess of jank. Their Game Pass service is shamefully cumbersome. Microsoft Office is a sluggish, bloated messI haven’t touched it in half a decade. Maybe they’ve revitalized it since then, but I wouldn’t bet on it.. Bing is seen as a joke search engine for non-technical people who don’t know how to switch to Google. Mixer is dead. Microsoft One Drive somehow manages to be worse than Dropbox, which is almost a heroic accomplishment of anti-usability. Their web browser projects have failed at least twice and their latest effort is basically just Chrome for your grandma. Cortana is a goddamn nuisance. Games for Windows LIVE was so bad it literally ruined many good games and also GTA IV.

They provide free apps with their operating system like a media player, text editor, video editor, all of which are vastly inferior to the free / OSS alternatives. Their software is so terrible, they can’t even compete when their price point is zero!

Yeah, yeah. Visual Studio is pretty good. I’m a fan. But since they use that one good piece of software to make so much additional horrible software, I’m not sure Visual Studio counts as a net positive in the world.

Fun fact: There’s a forced update being rolled out for WindowsEven for Windows 7, which is supposedly no longer supported! that only exists to put Microsoft Edge onto your machine and pressure you into switching. It just happened to hit my laptop while I was trying to set up my home network after our recent move. I’m right in the middle of this complicated project and all of a sudden I realize I no longer have access to the laptop because Microsoft is busy trojan-horsing their next big failure onto my machine.

Laying aside the unfortunate timing and outrageous presumption of this forced update, this is such a massive waste of everyone’s time. Even if it was good and even if there was a market for a new browserThe various sides are all deeply entrenched these days. When was the last time ANYONE wanted to go through the hassle of switching browsers?, I’m sure the company will get bored with it again in five years and orphan the whole project.

What happened to this company? What kind of horrendous Lord of the Flies management style do they have going behind the scenes that turns so much talent into so much waste?

 

Footnotes:

[1] I haven’t touched it in half a decade. Maybe they’ve revitalized it since then, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

[2] Even for Windows 7, which is supposedly no longer supported!

[3] The various sides are all deeply entrenched these days. When was the last time ANYONE wanted to go through the hassle of switching browsers?



From The Archives:
 

157 thoughts on “Babysitting at Microsoft

  1. Kai Durbin says:

    Uhg. So accurate to how they effectively think/act. And now they’re trying to force Edge down our throats. Fuck off, Microsoft. I only use Edge when I decide to click on one of the image links on the lock screen and it defaults to Edge instead of my ACTUAL default (which, for the curious, is Chrome, not Edge).

    1. Daimbert says:

      My work laptop got the update a few months ago, and now every time I start the system it changes my default from Chrome to Edge, so I have to change it back. It’s annoying, but easy enough that all that this has done for Edge is make me very annoyed with it. It might not even be Edge’s fault — it could be some setting from our IT department — but yeah I see no reason to care much about Edge.

      I just got a new laptop because my old one is getting a bit flaky and it would let me separate things easier into two different workspaces (physical, not software). I wonder if it will have the same behaviour.

      1. Steve C says:

        That would make me rage. That is malware.
        I never even knew about Edge because I spent a lot of time and effort to disable windows updates. I know MS is never to be trusted. It perpetually baffles me why other people do. It is like some abusive boyfriend that keeps getting excused.

        1. Daimbert says:

          On my home laptop, I turn all updates off and let it complain bitterly at me that it wants to do them. At work, I don’t have that choice since I have to take the updates that IT forces me to have. On the plus side, they don’t want to update as much as Microsoft does …

          1. zackoid says:

            Are you guys talking about feature updates or all updates? Because not applying security updates to an internet-connected device is suicidal.

            1. Daimbert says:

              I update the firewall and anything like that manually.

            2. Steve C says:

              I cannot speak for others, but I am talking about *all* updates. I have not died.

              I strongly believe that ‘Thou shall update!’ is a misconception about security. It is certainly not suicidal for most individuals. If you are a business, or have reason to fear being deliberate targeted (like Shamus running a blog for his living) then, yes, it is foolhardy. But for someone like me? No. The most I’d be is inconvenienced. All my updates are manual. And they aren’t particularly frequent. Zero day exploits are not something most people need to fear.

              The level of damage done to me by malware over the past 20yrs is negligible. It pales in comparison to the damage in time and money that legitimate updates have caused me. If I got a virus today that required a complete wipe of my system and a fresh install, it *still* wouldn’t be as bad as what I’ve had to deal with from legitimate software and updates.

              Note that I remember what it was like 25-30yrs ago. Malware was actually bad back then. It still wasn’t that bad. I feel people who have never had to deal with real constant threats devote disproportionate time money and effort in ways that do not make logical sense. For example being so concerned that your clock cycles are going to be stolen by malware and your privacy violated so they install always-on anti-virus software that phones home. Which is exactly the same thing.

              Everyone running Windows 7 is NOT committing suicide.

              1. Hector says:

                Also, security features shouldn’t be bundled with other things. There is no integrated Windows10 feature I have *ever* wanted, or found even marginally useful. Windows7 still has superior usability. I would roll my eyes and by agnostic about Win1-0 if it didn’t force incredibly obnoxious updates.

                Also, how on God’s Green Earth does it take as long to apply these updates as to install the OS from scratch? MS has always been bad about efficient updates but if anything they’ve gotten worse. I now assume that an OS update from Microsoft will randomly break things and require at least five hours to complete. That should not happen.

              2. Asdasd says:

                I too disabled updates on Windows 7 a few years ago. Even security, as Microsoft has demonstrated itself impossible to trust not to use security updates as a vector to install other ‘features’ by the backdoor. If I hadn’t it would be endlessly kvetching about end of life and have forced its Edge and telemetry snoopware on me. I know I’m not as secure as I could be but I’ll take my chances. Between two firewalls (hardware and software) and practising sensible browsing habits I’m not too scared.

                Meanwhile on my laptop, Windows 10 constantly subjects me to nagging, forced updates, forced stealth installs, uninstallable software, uninvited splat screens on startup inviting me to partake in god knows what useless initiative (I always skip without reading), and wholesale rearrangements of the operating system (the way the start menu alone works has changed at least three times since I started using it). About the only thing they haven’t updated is the broken wifi which I still manually have to reconnect every time I boot.

                And that’s after going through ALL the settings to restrict it from being as handsy as I possibly can – several times, as the settings themselves are subject to frequent change and consent-by-stealth-update. The state of my parent’s laptop was a thing of horror when I recently looked at it. Seeing the menu filled with shitty Candy Crush apps, installed unbidden, made my stomach turn.

              3. Mistwraithe says:

                I disagree, the rise of ransomware makes malware considerably more dangerous than it was 25-30 years ago. You are far more likely to lose things of real value (ie your important data) now than you were back then.

                Someone who does an amazing job of keeping backups with version history (so that the backup won’t be overwritten by a backup of the ransomware encrypted version before you realise you have a ransomware problem) is potentially in a situation where they don’t have too much to lose, but I suspect such people are very are.

            3. Decius says:

              You can disable security updates.

              On Windows 10, you CANNOT disable feature updates and remain connected to the internet. It will use ring 0 authority to ignore permission settings.

              1. tmtvl says:

                Wow. That seems the inverse of a good idea. People will disable security updates hoping that it stops feature updates and it’ll be terrible.

  2. Daimbert says:

    I might actually blame the engineers more than the management itself, although I’m not an insider, because it really does seem like the company gets bored with what they’re doing and then tries to do something else. As an example, Skype may suck, but for the most part for conferencing and the like Microsoft Teams seems to be the think they’re pushing now, and it isn’t all that bad (I’ve had to use it constantly for work since we’re on a work from home order). Some people hate it, but as a platform it’s better than WebEx in my opinion and combines WebEx and Jabber into one platform, which is convenient, and also integrates into their Office products like E-mail and meeting scheduling fairly well. And Office mostly works well-enough for what I need it for. Why they needed a completely new platform and completely new browser is beyond me, but it does seem like they get bored and then think of a cool idea and try to build the entire thing from scratch. When that’s in their wheelhouse, it works more or less, but when it’s outside of it it ends up being a disaster.

    Chasing cool things and new things and technology, in my experience, is what engineers do when they want to play with those things and can convince management that the cool thing is what people care about, right up to the disasters because the new things are harder to build than expected and would take too much effort to make work for the people who’d actually want to use that sort of product.

    1. Gargamel Le Noir says:

      I’m a software engineer and I can tell you that’s not how it works. I can’t decide that whatever I’m working on at work is boring and start something new. Managers allocate teams and resources to projects. As engineers our choices are more *how* to do it than whether we’re doing it.
      I think Microsoft’s managers all want to be the ones who launch the Next Big Thing, and whenever something underperforms they distance themselves from it as soon as possible.

      1. Richard says:

        It is always managers who do this kind of insane thing.

        Managers do this to get noticed by upper managers or VPs.
        In companies as large as Microsoft, the only way for a manager to advance their career is to either get noticed by a VP, or to get noticed by another company and get hired there instead.

        This means that managers have no personal stake in the medium-term health of any product.
        All they need is for it to start ‘well’ by some arbitrary metric. Once they convince the VPs or hiring agents that it hit that metric, job done.

        Most likely this Edge debacle was some manager who wanted “Edge classic to Chromium upgrades” as their win metric. It doesn’t matter to them that 150% of users hated this, 50% searched for how to uninstall Edge, and 125% will never use it out of principle, it’s installed on every PC running Windows 7 or newer. They “won”.

        You can be pretty sure that every developer on the project told them it was a very bad idea that will backfire horrendously, and were overruled because product success doesn’t line up with that manager’s personal stake.

        – Some senior devs will try by telling the manager directly, others by finding product bugs and features that the manager must accept are more important, in the hope that the misfeatures will get canned for lack of time.

        I don’t know which approach works more often. Probably depends on the target VPs.

        1. Daimbert says:

          In companies as large as Microsoft, the only way for a manager to advance their career is to either get noticed by a VP, or to get noticed by another company and get hired there instead.

          On the flip side, a number of designers will try to influence managers to use new technologies because if they can get some hands-on experience with them on their resume they can either demand higher wages or move to a company that needs them and get a higher wage because those sorts of designers are rare and in-demand. My manager was complaining once about people learning the new technologies and then leaving for higher wages.

        2. Purple Nurple says:

          Well… This is true and also not true. I’ll provide a counterpoint here. I was at Microsoft for several years as a normal software engineer, and I can tell you that this culture comes from both the top and the bottom.

          Software engineers, just like their managers, are also responsible for their own careers, and are always pushing to work on things that get them noticed. Updating and maintaining old software doesn’t get you noticed – making new, shiny, explosively-growing stuff does. That means pretty much all of the career-focused engineers are constantly looking for new projects to work on so they can move upward on the corporate ladder.

          Obviously, you can’t get moved around to a new team just because you feel like it, but with the amount of mobility there is in the software sector, with tens of recruiters emailing you every week, it’s hard for managers not to feel pressured to make you happy. At the very least, this often means that new features get bolted onto old projects that don’t need them, leading to bloat over time, with the old features gathering dust (and bugs).

          In most cases, your career-driven engineers will get bored of even these new features and move on to shiny new teams, and new folks get hired to replace them. Now you’ve got a bunch of new people (or at least people new to this particular project) maintaining your old, venerable project, which is even more of a recipe for disaster.

          1. Echo Tango says:

            I’m lucky enough to be currently working with people, who don’t chase shiny fads constantly. I’ve experienced a bit of it in the past, and it’s not good. ^^;

          2. paercebal says:

            > I was at Microsoft for several years as a normal software engineer, and I can tell you that this culture comes from both the top and the bottom.
            >
            > Updating and maintaining old software doesn’t get you noticed – making new, shiny, explosively-growing stuff does.

            It’s the game rules that pushes players to play a certain way. If employees are more rewarded for producing shiny stuff than for maintaining current stuff, then, by design, the company’s workforce will jump over every new shiny stuff getting around.

            This is a cultural thing, and it comes from the top.

            From the bottom, all an employee can do is try to understand the game rules, and make decision for their career.

          3. Tom says:

            Fundamentally, then, the root cause of the problem in both operations AND managerial employees is endemic career-chasing. It is an affliction that seems almost ubiquitous these days, a malaise driven by our insane culture of WANT.

            From personal experience, I can attest that it is simply taken for granted that everyone, everywhere, will always want more than they have, and that this is a natural and healthy state of things. But to put it another way, this means it is assumed that nobody will ever achieve CONTENTMENT. Indeed, the mere existence of anyone who actually HAS achieved contentment seems to upset everyone else greatly; I have, in fact, been PUNISHED for not actively seeking promotion.

            Call me crazy but, to my mind, a society where contentment is not even ALLOWED is truly sick and, quite probably self-destructive. Ms Thunberg had it spot-on when she spoke of “fairytales of eternal economic growth.” Our entire alleged civilisation is built to ENSURE eternal, universal dissatisfaction – because it cannot actually continue to function without it. Like a cancer, it must keep growing or die, and economic growth is fuelled by want; ergo, for as long as economic growth has been necessary, we have been training ourselves to perpetually feel lacking in something – to always be unhappy, and suppress happiness in others.

            As I understand it, anyone in the medical field who’s been paying attention and knows what to look for is well aware that we are currently experiencing a global epidemic of “dark triad” behaviour – narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy/sociopathy. I’m pretty sure that as long as we pursue laissez-faire, grow-or-die capitalism, this constitutes a feature, not a bug.

      2. Daimbert says:

        I’m a software engineer, too, and I can tell you that many if not most of the time in my experience that’s EXACTLY how it works [grin].

        But, yeah, it’s not the simple application designers who are churning out the main features for a release that drive this, but the “architects”, the people who have the influence to be able to set the engineering and design direction since the managers and higher ups depend on their opinion of what technology is doing. Many of them, in my experience, like to chase cool things but often don’t know or don’t care enough about the impact on the actual applications themselves or how pragmatic the things actually are. In a least a couple of occasions I’ve had these people insist on overhauling a product to use these things and then abandon it when something new came along that they thought was cooler.

        And application managers often get caught by this as well, being forced to move to the new things and put resources into them despite not really caring about it themselves, because the higher up managers have been convinced by the tech experts that this is the next big thing.

        Sure, sometimes there’s pressure from above as well, usually around buzzwords. But I’ve DEFINITELY see it go the other way often enough to say that the Microsoft case reminds me more of those times than the times that management go on their high horse of their own accord.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          I don’t get this “[grin]”. You’re proud that people are building messes and chasing fads?

          1. Drathnoxis says:

            Yes. Let’s, once again, all rail at Daimbert for his use of [grin]s!

            Completely Inappropriate! [scowl]

              1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

                [raised eyebrow]

          2. Daimbert says:

            It replaces a smiley as a way of essentially signalling that even though my sentence might indicate a very strong disagreement that might almost sound like I’m calling him a liar or at least hopelessly deluded, it’s more just a friendly contradiction.

            1. Echo Tango says:

              I’ve never seen anyone use a grin for sarcasm, jokes, or otherwise down-playing their claim like that. It would be an elbow-jab, tongue-in-cheek, wink…grins are for when they’re actually happy with the thing they’re grinning at. Is this a European thing? (I’m in N America.) :O

              1. Daimbert says:

                It’s a personal thing. It replaces a smiley, and a grin is basically a less formal smile most of the time.

      3. Ed Lu says:

        Well… This is true and also not true. I’ll provide a counterpoint here. I was at Microsoft for several years as a normal software engineer, and I can tell you that this culture comes from both the top and the bottom.

        Software engineers, just like their managers, are also responsible for their own careers, and are always pushing to work on things that get them noticed. Updating and maintaining old software doesn’t get you noticed – making new, shiny, explosively-growing stuff does. That means pretty much all of the career-focused engineers are constantly looking for new projects to work on so they can move upward on the corporate ladder.

        Obviously, you can’t get moved around to a new team just because you feel like it, but with the amount of mobility there is in the software sector, with tens of recruiters emailing you every week, it’s hard for managers not to feel pressured to make you happy. At the very least, this often means that new features get bolted onto old projects that don’t need them, leading to bloat over time, with the old features gathering dust (and bugs).

        In most cases, your career-driven engineers will get bored of even these new features and move on to shiny new teams, and new folks get hired to replace them. Now you’ve got a bunch of new people (or at least people new to this particular project) maintaining your old, venerable project, which is even more of a recipe for disaster.

  3. boz says:

    “…But what about the stuff they’ve made in the last 15 years? Have they built anything that was able to stand on its own? I can’t think of anything…”

    You are overlooking the giant in the room Microsoft Azure.
    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/25/microsoft-wins-major-defense-cloud-contract-beating-out-amazon.html

    1. Chris says:

      Yeah, their server tools keep getting better and better as well. I use vSphere at work but dabble in Hyper-V at home, and I’m beginning to wonder why we keep giving VMware so much money. Dotnet Core is a pretty great framework, and C# is a fantastic language. Typescript is vastly superior to JavaScript. Powershell is the bee’s knees, and I adore WSL.

      1. Mistwraithe says:

        Agreed. Microsoft have struggled to deliver anything big in the consumer space (and actively blew it with IE, Skype and the opportunity to make a leading games platform) but they have been strong on the business side.

        As Moridin said below, the Surface range is also pretty cool, although it is embarrassing for Microsoft that Skype keeps crashing the camera on my Surface Laptop…

    2. Moridin says:

      From what I hear the Surface lineup also counts. It seems like most of the products are at least competitive in their niche of (mostly premium) ultraportable machines – good, but not necessarily the best. According to Wikipedia, the surface division is also turning a very nice profit.

      1. DrCapsaicin says:

        I’m a faculty member at a big University in the States and got my boss to buy me a Surface last year. With the move to online classes, it has been an absolute godsend. The pen and screen are WAY more responsive than the Wacoms we have in classrooms. It’s also a fairly powerful laptop that I may or may not have put Steam on (don’t tell anyone). My only complaint about it is that it can get HOT, but I put it on a desk rather than a lap and its fine.

      2. Socks says:

        I have a Surface Book, and it is excellent. Fast, crisp screen and comfortable keyboard.
        I’m not sure why it took MS so long to produce these products.

        I use Edge solely for PDF viewing. Anyone else?

        I use Firefox for everything else, and have done so since the beginning. It is an awesome product (especially with ublock).

    3. raifield says:

      I was going to mention Azure as well. Microsoft’s integration between their on-premise presence, in whatever flavor (Office 365, Windows, Hyper-V, etc.) and Azure just keeps getting tighter. That Shamus wrote an entire article about how much Microsoft sucks and failed to mention Azure is bizarre.

      I work as a cloud engineer (mostly AWS) at a financial firm who still use a lot of Windows desktops. The urge to pull a lever to get our train on the Azure track is a strong one.

      1. Shamus says:

        I left out Azure because I’ve never had any direct contact with it. It just doesn’t come up in the types of work that I do, so I frequently forget that it exists.

        It is encouraging that the company is able to make something good and not abandon it. Then again, this sort of reinforces what I observed above: They love to start new projects. If it becomes a smash hit, then great. But if it isn’t an instant market leader then they lose interest and neglect it until it dies.

        1. Chris says:

          Wait, when did we start talking about Google?

          1. Mr. Wolf says:

            Ha, through the entire article I was wondering the same thing.

        2. Disappointed Horse says:

          You… really only looked at this from a consumer perspective, didn’t you? Ignoring the enterprise space seems… less insightful than I would have expected from you. And yes, navigating Microsoft’s licensing rules is the devil (especially when you start talking about resale or building into saleable solutions), but they’ve got quite a few excellent product lines in the enterprise space.

          1. tmtvl says:

            Well, Shamus seems to be speaking mainly from personal experience, which doesn’t really include Enterprise® products.

            It’s like people bashing Google without taking things like Go, Kubernetes, or the Traffic API into account.

            1. Echo Tango says:

              Professionals also need to interact with the “consumer” software though. Kubernetes works well, but I still need to avoid using Google Drive for anything I want to be able to find again in the future. (Searching is really bad.)

  4. Dreadjaws says:

    I bet Jonny Microsoft and Kenny Google are the most hated kids in the neighborhood.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I mean, there are at least two different websites chronicling Kenny’s abandoned projects. :|

      1. Nimrandir says:

        For what it’s worth, I picture Kenny as being more chill on these conversations, like, “Why don’t we just do something else?”

        Then his engineer Garry is a bit of an enabler, so he just says, “Sure, Kenny. I’ll see what we can do instead.”

        1. Agammamon says:

          Heh, Gary and Kenny. Makes me think of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

          “We do container-orchestration system for automating computer application deployment, the fuck do we know about antiques?”

    2. PowerGrout says:

      …and while while everyone’s busy hating those hapless shmucks Paul Marketing just keeps on doing the real crimes same as always.

  5. Infinitron says:

    I like that they’ve given up and are just releasing everything on Steam now.

  6. Thomas says:

    I don’t think there’s much space between the tech companies now.

    On the positive column Microsoft have seen massive, massive, success with their cloud based business tools in recent years (year on year double digit growth). And as a heavy spreadsheet user I found Excel easier than Google Sheets or OpenOffice. PowerBI is a very successful dashboard tool that’s taking off in the corporate world.

    And on the other hand, Google have produced the Stadia abomination and Google Glass and Nest and Google Plus, their 11 different failed messaging and video calling services, which allowed Zoom to slot into a gap that should never have existed (when a Google senior executive was giving a conference call on pushing their latest video software, his kid wandered into the room and asked if he was using Zoom).

    The big five have so much money that they can keep buying everything out and if it fails they’ll just buy out the competition and try that out too.

    1. Thomas says:

      If I were to rank them, perhaps it would go:
      Google
      Amazon
      Apple
      Facebook
      Microsoft

      But I think you can make strong cases for any order of those bottom three. Azure is a more encompassing market than anything Apple has, and the smartphone market is increasingly tight. On the other hand Apple have a ridiculous bank to fall back on.

      1. Tse says:

        I would say Facebook should definitely be on the bottom. They have widened their offerings a lot, but they are still in far fewer market segments than any of the other 4.

        1. Volvagia says:

          Jeff Bezos is projected to become a TRILLIONAIRE in less than twenty years.

          Amazon
          Google
          Apple
          Microsoft
          Facebook

          1. Thomas says:

            The reason I put Amazon second is I think the chances that AWS gets spun-off forcibly or voluntarily is more likely than the regulatory threats to Google. Bezos would win either way, but a lot of Amazon’s side projects rely on that AWS money. I’m not sure they’d survive on their own merits.

            1. perkface says:

              AWS is by far the best cloud service right now. Nobody else is even close. Azure is going well because MS is using its strangle hold on office software and corporate LDAP services to strong-arm executives into it, even if Azure is three times the price of AWS and less convenient – none of that is hearsay, my company just did that move this year, so it’s very present for me. Azure is at least serviceable.

              Other good MS products:

              * MS Code. Javascript devs seem to love it, everybody else uses IntelliJ for all the other tech stacks.
              * WSL: Windows Subsystem for Linux. If you’re a programmer, install that thing immediately. It’s bloody amazing. You get a real linux shell (or UI, if you like to suffer) for all the linux tools and libraries directly on the windows, which allows you to use any tool from both worlds without any issues. It’s by far the best dev environment right now.
              * Github. MS bought it, and has not killed it so far.
              * Outlook is not as bad as it once was, and there is no competition, so they win this one by default.
              * Teams is a big step up over Skype mostly because Skype is completely trash and teams at least mostly does what you want it to.

              1. tmtvl says:

                What do you mean there’s no competition to Outlook?

                Thunderbird is solid as a rock, and I’ve heard many people speak well of Mailspring.

                That said, I love what MS has done with GitHub, the UI was in dire need of modernization.

                1. Echo Tango says:

                  They made all the styling flat so everything is harder to visually distinguish, and didn’t combine any of the three major toolbars cluttering up the vertical space. That’s not something I would call an improvement.

                2. ElementalAlchemist says:

                  That said, I love what MS has done with GitHub, the UI was in dire need of modernization.

                  You love that they’ve Windows 8-ed it and given it a phone UI?

                  1. tmtvl says:

                    Yes. I kinda like the look. That said, I also like Modern and Postmodern architecture, so y’know, 10 people 10 colors.

              2. pseudonym says:

                I agree, microsoft makes some pretty good stuff.

                Also Active Directory works pretty well when you need to manage a few thousand desktop computers, a ditto amount of users, a couple of hundred laptops, different groups of users (including students, teachers, research personnel, support staff) who can simultaneously belong to different groups such as faculties, have shared email inboxes, mailing lists to entire faculties, etc. All integrated in one tight solution that makes this easy. It can do much more, I have only scratched the surface here.

                I would say active directory is by far their best product. It makes setting up an enterprise computing system easy. It is why almost all businesses, schools, universities and hospitals are on windows in my opinion.

                I dont’t know if linux has such an integrated solution. Maybe RHEL does have some features, but I have no experience with that.

                Google does something similar now I think, which is part of the reason why chromebooks gain traction in schools.

    2. Steve C says:

      Google senior executive was giving a conference call on pushing their latest video software, his kid wandered into the room and asked if he was using Zoom

      Thomas do you have a link for that? It sounds hilarious.

      1. Thomas says:

        Here is the account, about three-quarters of the way down this page:
        https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/24/technology/zoom-rivals-virus-facebook-google.html

        “Late last month, Philipp Schindler, Google’s chief business officer, held a videoconference with thousands of the search giant’s employees using Google Meet, three people who attended the call said. During the session, one employee asked why Zoom was reaping the biggest benefits even though Google had long offered Meet.

        Mr. Schindler tried placating the engineer’s concerns, the people said. Then his young son stumbled into view of the camera and asked if his father was talking to his co-workers on Zoom. Mr. Schindler tried correcting him, but the boy went on to say how much he and his friends loved using Zoom.”

        Sadly I don’t know of any video footage of the event!

  7. Cainis says:

    I was wondering why this happened to my wife’s computer but not mine. It’s only if you’re not on 1909 or higher and it’s really to update Edge to the new Edge because they made it an OS update item instead of being a Windows Store item. IDK why they decided to trigger the FRE like you installed a major update, though.

  8. Steve C says:

    This post feels like it would be a great “This Dumb Industry” video. Plus a really good accompanying skit. So much so I checked youtube before I was done reading it.

  9. tmtvl says:

    First things first: “haha, the one on top of the balloons looks like a willy.”

    Secondly, a good tongue-lashing of Microsoft? Oh I can read that all day and not get sick of it.

    Now for what I care about: Visual Studio created the LSP standard, which has helped make Emacs an even better development platform, so I’m indirectly thankful for Microsoft.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      haha, the one on top of the balloons looks like a willy

      Teeheehee! So it does.

      More on topic, though: to me there seems to be an inevitability – even something…natural? – to the Microsoft situation described. A successful company rises to the top, gets larger, then gets lazy and complacent.
      They can afford to be slipshod and drop the ball in a way a smaller company simply can’t…
      …so they do. And it doesn’t seem new at all.

      Remember when Valve made video games and people ironically (or not) prayed to GabeN? Now whenever I see Valve’s name come up, it’s usually complaints about Steam or people pushing rival platforms like GoG.

      1. galacticplumber says:

        Half Life Alyx is a thing that happened. They still make games… Slowly… Sometimes.

      2. tmtvl says:

        I never particularly cared for Valve games. I was thoroughly underwhelmed by Half Life and the Portal games just didn’t really grab me.

        Everything they’ve done for the GNU/Linux gaming ecosystem converted me into a Valve fan. When I started on GNU/Linux running pretty much any non-FOSS game was pretty much a non-starter and unless you were up for a ton of messing around with Wine you only had about 12 titles to choose from.

        Fast-forward 8 years and there’s tens of thousands of games playable, often just click-and-go. All thanks to Valve putting their weight behind us.

    2. Abnaxis says:

      First things first: “haha, the one on top of the balloons looks like a willy.”

      Goddamnit, now I can’t unsee it!

  10. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    Well at least we got this funny skit out of it! It reminds me of Brennan Lee Mulligan’s hilarious CEO series.

  11. Volvagia says:

    Also: Three generations in and Xbox is basically a dud. Nintendo: 37 franchises, 8 of which are ALWAYS active and they have 10 or so franchises that are good for a surprise reveal. Sony: Has 34 franchises, and they keep about 5 of them active at any one time, though no franchise has stuck through all four, soon to be five generations. Microsoft: 16 actual game franchises (as in “series where Microsoft have published more than ONE game”, not as in “series with multiple titles they happen to own”), but the most they’ve kept active at a single time is five. Right now, they have four. Gears, Forza, Halo and Minecraft. And if that looks like three boring, boring series…and Minecraft? Yeah, that’s why Microsoft has been heading toward crashing out of the industry for awhile now.

    1. raifield says:

      Your post makes me nostalgic for the days of Microsoft Game Studios from the early 2000’s. That resulted in some genuine quality software, though Microsoft was mostly a publisher then, I think.

      1. Thomas says:

        With their recent purchases they’ll probably go through another good run this generation and then come crashing down again when some Microsoft executive gets bored.

      2. jpuroila says:

        Age of Empires II was recently released again…

    2. Mistwraithe says:

      I enjoy Forza Horizons and our family has fun with our Xbox. But possibly we would have even more fun with Sony or Nintendo? Dunno.

  12. James Schend says:

    So this site’s just Slashdot Redux now? Yes yes, we get it, Microsoft is the evils, Bill Gates is a Borg from Star Trek, spell the name with a dollar sign, we get it, we get it, we’ve all read it 500,000 times before. Even if you’re describing exactly how you feel accurately, this content is just BORING and that’s the real problem. If people want to see bitching and whining about Microsoft– excuse me “Micro$oft”– on the Internet well… that’s already like 75% of all content on the internet. We don’t need more of it.

    1. Shamus says:

      Hint: You are not the only person on the internet. If you look closely, you’ll see several people responded above, and many of them appreciated this post.

      Moreover, I made a point of going AGAINST the grain of “Micro$oft is teh evuls!” In the opening I stated that this reputation is a leftover from the 90s. I never even complained about them making money or whatever.

      1. Steve C says:

        It is a fresh and interesting take. Thought you might appreciate a little validation to contrast against the previous criticism.

      2. Echo Tango says:

        I thought this was a hilarious, well-written lampooning! :)

      3. SidheKnight says:

        As a C# Net Core software developer, I really appreciate today’s post.

        Visual Studio appears to be free of the Microsoft curse, it seems (I guess little Johnny didn’t care enough to ruin it).

  13. cassander says:

    Skype is a garbage fire but teams is pretty great. Our office got migrated over to it against our will about 6 months ago and we’ve all been shocked at how good it is. And the plague as led to them updating it further. I don’t know how it happened, but it’s by far my favorite conferencing software.

    1. Richard says:

      In my experience Teams barely works at all. The list of stupid bugs and insane limitations is ridiculous.

      A lot of this is likely because it’s a built on a hodgepodge of technologies (eg Sharepoint) that were never intended to do any of this, along with a desktop client that’s yet another horrific Electron mess.

      My current ‘least favourite bug’ with the desktop app is that attached images don’t display ‘large’. At all. I have to download them to see them.
      The thumbnail is there, but click on it and all I see is “broken img tag”.

      Even when I’m the one who uploaded it.

      1. evileeyore says:

        Yeah… IF you’re running server architecture that works well with Teams, AND your IT guys really know what they’re doing, AND you have plenty of local station resources, THEN Teams runs pretty well (discounting the various bugs that having nothing to do with suboptimization).

        However… if you’re in my offices where our servers aren’t running MS and our local stations don’t have oodles of excess resources, and our IT team is really optimized around our client mandated proprietary programs… than Teams is a buggy mess that hurts almost as much as it helps.

      2. Alexi says:

        > Teams barely works at all.

        After using Discord, Teams feels so clunky and awkward to use

  14. Some Random Internet Jackass says:

    Bing is seen as a joke search engine for non-technical people who don’t know how to switch to Google.

    It’s also supposedly the best search engine for porn.

    Supposedly.

    I’ve never verified this myself of course.

    1. LCF says:

      “Bing is seen as a joke search engine for non-technical people who don’t know how to switch to”

      To DuckDuckGo, I think you mean.

  15. Retsam says:

    Dropping and abandoning products when they get “bored” (i.e. non-profitable) with them is common to all the major tech companies, and I’d actually argue that Microsoft is the least offender in this regard.

    Like, as popular as hating on IE and Edge is, it’s definitely not an example of M$ getting bored and abandoning a product, in fact quite the opposite: they haven’t been the dominant browser since ~2012 and yet they’re still pouring effort into competing with the Google Chrome juggernaut. (Which is a good thing, as Google is making increasingly aggressive and sketchy IE8-like decisions with the platform)

    Comparatively, the Safari browser seems to be on life-support, with fairly little changes being made and starting to fall behind and not support modern web standards, which could make it the new bane of web development in a few years, if it’s not already.

    And Google is infamous for abandoning projects, even relatively successful products – Google Reader is pretty infamous, and you have to feel bad for the people who spent ~$1000 for a Google Glass.

    I definitely think Microsoft has had a lot of misfires over the recent years, with the exception of some gems like VSCode and Typescript (both of which are amazingly well-run projects) it seems like they’ve generally struggled over recent years.

    But I have to say, I think Microsoft might be the modern tech company that I have the most respect for. They’ve done a lot of really good stuff recently, and compared to some of the sketchy stuff that modern Google is doing, it seems like they’re the lesser of multiple evils at this point.

    1. AndrewCC says:

      Microsoft does seem to have its shit togheter the most out of everyone.
      I atribute that to the fact that they’re the only software/web services company that doesn’t also run a social media site (Google has Youtube, Amazon has Twitch, FB, Twitter are obvious).
      The rot in tech companies always starts in the social media division. I’m GLAD that Mixer failed.

      1. Retsam says:

        I don’t know that I’d blame the social media division – after all Microsoft got its (largely deserved) bad reputation in the 90s, pre-social media. (I hate Facebook as a site, but they also are pretty solid in terms of their technical offerings: stuff like React) There’s a lot of factors; but for me I think the biggest is just a natural rise-and-fall cycle:

        When a company is the underdog they’re trying to attract attention and gain traction so they do a lot of “good” stuff – they comply with standards, try to compete with the quality of their offerings, curry favor by “Don’t Be Evil” sort of strategies.

        When a company is the top dog, they generally start abusing their dominance in ways that benefit them, at the expense of competitors (and often customers). This used to be Microsoft, but increasingly these days its Apple and especially Google who are increasingly doing questionable things with their market dominance.

        1. AndrewCC says:

          I’m talking about a particular type of rot. When a company decides that it should use the technology it has not to make money, but to force political/social change on the world.
          See Facebook censorship revelations, Google, Twitter etc.

        2. Rayen says:

          Welcome to running a publicly owned business, Small companies are run by one person or a small group with a shared vision. They do a lot of good stuff to curry favor and make money to accomplish this vision. This attracts investors who give more money. Once they reach the top the vision has usually been accomplished and the people who had the vision have moved on. At that point the company becomes entirely beholden to it’s investors, if the stock isn’t going up people start getting fired. Hard questions such as “What happened to the exponential growth that the company had for the past three years(before the vision was accomplished)?” and “I bought a stake in this company because some dude invested $500 and made $20 million. I’ve invested $50,000 where’s my $2 billion?” get asked and you can’t tell them you’re being stupid and the world doesn’t work like that because they’ll fire you and find a Yes Man to fill your vacancy (see the Andrew Wilson and Roger Goodells of the world). And to keep up the exponential growth they have to do shady shit to gather as much info as possible to not miss any sales and maximize profits (and to cover their butts when it doesn’t work).

    2. Echo Tango says:

      Microsoft didn’t abandon IE, but they didn’t add new features or support standards like the other browsers. Edge was them finally catching up.

      1. Retsam says:

        Microsoft didn’t abandon IE, but they didn’t add new features or support standards like the other browsers.

        This is largely not true. IE8 was really the last truly awful version in terms of standards compliance. IE9, 10, and especially 11 were much better. AFAIK, IE11 supported all the web standards when it was released.

        But the key issue is the phrase “when it was released” – since IE wasn’t an “evergreen”, automatically updating browser (which is actually what a lot of companies liked about it), it was a huge pain to develop for, because you always have to account for users stuck on old versions. Every other major browser forces users to update, so you can safely assume that all but a tiny, tiny fraction will have the latest features.

        So it really wasn’t any amount of neglect or disregard for standards on Microsoft’s part (again, since IE8), but just the model that IE used that made it problematic to develop for.

        1. Retsam says:

          Tangentially, the IE model is more consumer friendly in a lot of ways, and I’m surprised I’ve never seen any significant backlash to the “evergreen” model. You can’t just pick a version and stick to it until it breaks; you’re constantly opted-in to whatever new changes come down the pipe, even if you don’t like them.

          For years, they’ve pretty much only used that power “for good”, but Chrome is starting to dabble with “breaking changes”. They’ve been rolling out new security behaviors which, while well intentioned, are going to cause old websites to stop working unless updated, which is the scenario that the this-site-is-best-on-IE crowd feared.

          I’m not complaining, mind you, I work as a web developer, and evergreen browsers make my life a lot easier. (And do have benefits like security, and more efficient websites, etc) I’m just surprised that I haven’t seen anywhere near as much complaining about auto-updating browsers as I see about, for example, auto-updating operating systems.

  16. Brian says:

    I have been a reseller of the Great Plains product for some 22 years now. Somewhere around 2001, Microsoft bought the company. This was the beginnings of the Microsoft Business Solutions division of Microsoft. Other acquisitions have added to the division over the years. They have been a microcosm of Microsoft’s larger issues. They have had abortive product launch after abortive product launch. There has been a gross lack of understanding of direction of the market. They took what was a deep, cohesive, dynamic partner channel and have dismantled it almost completely. Their latest CRM offering is solid. Their ERP offerings are less so.

    I agree with the above comments that the server/back office products are strong. Azure is a solid platform.

    The Surfacebook is a great computer. I’ve had one for years and it is solid.

    The consumer level software offerings are absolute dross. As pointed out, MS has lacked direction and understanding of the consumer market, in virtually every area, for at least two decades. This is most blatantly demonstrated in Ballmer laughing at the iPhone.

    1. AndrewCC says:

      ERP? Microsoft has Erotic Role-Play offerings?

      What I’m trying to say is: don’t make me have to websearch for some acronyms that only apply to your field of work, please.

      1. Hector says:

        Enterprise Resource Planning. This is a very common term across logistics, accounting, finance, etc. It’s not an obscure term by any stretch of the imagination.

        GP is basically a smaller-scale version of SAP.

        1. The Puzzler says:

          Gross Profit is basically a smaller-scale version of Substance Abuse Prevention?

          1. BlueHorus says:

            No, no, Gilded Parrots is a smaller version of Surfers Against Pornography.

            1. Hector says:

              GP is just GP. It doesn’t stand for anything.It once stood for “Great Plains” as mentioned above, but the entire product name is GP.

              SAP is one of the most famous software packages ever made. It also doesn’t stand for anything; the company name is SAP and so is their flagship product.

              1. Tse says:

                SAP means Systems, Applications and Products. The company has many products and none of them are called just SAP. The flagship product’s current name is SAP S/4HANA. Previous versions were called SAP ERP and SAP Business Suite. Over half the transactions in the world pass through at least one such SAP system.

              2. danielfogli says:

                GP of course means “Gold Pieces” and every reader of this blog should know that ;)

    2. Hector says:

      This is something I feel often gets lost. Bill Gates had some faults and eccentricities, but he was always genuinely interested in solving technical problems with quality software that was useful for everyone. He also always treated the user as best he could. His Microsoft had some blind spots, but for all that it grew very large it was a clumsy, but gentle giant at worst, simply giving away stuff as part of a package.

      Ballmer just wasn’t as nerd-ily inclined and probably less of a visionary. I don’t think it’s an accident that his term saw some big successes – but also so many dead-ends and seemingly arbitrary or random decisions. Nadella, by some accounts, simply doesn’t care at all for anything but Azure. If Windows crashed and burned he wouldn’t twitch, and he’s not going to invest a penny into anything less than a billion-dollar-business. Unfortunately, his people keep destroying the business lines they’ve bought, like Skype.

      Several people up the comments have responded to the Skype debacle by saying that it’s fine, since MS has Teams now. Teams is… OK. It’s fine for now anyway although inferior to alternative options. But Teams is also not a replacement for Skype, and it’s almost exclusively used for business. My friends and I didn’t, and couldn’t, replace Skype with any Microsoft product, so we went to another solution entirely.

      1. Thomas says:

        Microsoft have a lot to fear about being out-manouevered in selling things to everyday people. Smartphones and tables cut into the home PC market a lot, combined with Apple’s laptops and Google pushing it’s Chrome laptops hard in schools, one day we might have a lot of workers who’ve never used Microsoft products and put pressure on their companies to give them what they’re used to.

        Azure would be a lot less attractive if buisnesses didn’t want the whole Windows package.

        1. Hector says:

          Realistically, the two things keeping Microsoft important are Excel and sheer inertia. And Excel really is great. The next-best option doesn’t even come close.

          I do wonder if the Coronavirus shakeup will affect things though. If companies need to trim costs, well, Microsoft is potentially a huge outlay that could very well be pressured. If any company decides they don’t need 100,000 subscriptions to Office365 it will put a huge dent in Microsoft’s margins.

          1. tmtvl says:

            What makes Excel so much better than Calc or R?

            1. Hector says:

              Excel is basically a Ferrari compared to Calc’s Model T, in every respect. And R is a very good specialty program but I don’t think it has the kind of features that Excel users want.

              1. tmtvl says:

                Okay, as a very stupid user who only sees “durr, rectangles!” I honestly can’t tell the difference between Excel and Calc.
                Could you elaborate?

                1. Hector says:

                  I have, and use, both. But to be honest, I only use Calc because it’s free.

                  Excel is faster, works with any and every format more easily, has quick options to do nearly everything I want, and the layout is far better. Excel has much better-designed options and can frequently, though not always, instantly “read” the data and intelligently format it appropriately. Excel has a number of quick buttons to do things which would require far more work in Calc. It’s also around 20 years more advanced than Calc – and I mean that literally because Calc is almost identical yo the version of Excel from 20 years ago. Then again, I think a lot of the “upgrades” to Excel in the last few years made it less usable.

            2. I love R, I use it all the time. But the simple fact is that if you present most people with an R script, or code in general, as proof that the results you’ve given them are calculated correctly, they’ll blankly stare at you, and would much rather have an Excel file so they can audit it themselves. I’m not even talking about general population here, I’m talking people like health economists, who are not exactly strangers to technical / numeric work, and are perfectly happy writing entire models in VB, as long as the results are given on the spreadsheet in a way that’s easy to audit.

              Evan Miller’s post covers this pretty well.

        2. tmtvl says:

          I’ll never understand the Macbook craze, they’re super expensive for decent hardware with the third worst operating system I’ve ever had the misfortune of using.
          Though it must be said that was back with Yosemite, maybe they’ve since fixed… everything.

          1. Blue Painted says:

            I dread to think what your first two “worst operating systems” were if Mac OS (or was it OS X?) is only third worst.

            When I first encountered it, I was told, straight faced, “It’s entirely intuitive when you’ve learned how to use it.” That’s not even funny anymore.

            1. BlueHorus says:

              “It’s entirely intuitive when you’ve learned how to use it” That’s not even funny

              I dunno…I laughed upon reading that. The internal contradiction is perfect; that sentence would fit right into an ironic comedy skit.

              Reminds me of argument like ‘[insert game here] gets really good 10 of hours in!’ or ‘[different game] is great if you ignore the [obviously terrible bits that everyone agrees are awful]!’

            2. tmtvl says:

              Solaris is the second worst. The very worst I’ll keep to myself because it strays close to skirting the Twenty Sided Rules.

              That said, any OS is entirely intuitive when you’ve learned how to use it. When my father wanted to learn to use GNU/Linux after Win XP got discontinued he picked up GNOME in a matter of minutes when I was struggling with it (too used to KDE).

  17. Hal says:

    My employer has a lot of intranet sites that have to use IE; you can’t even use Edge. I blame the Europeans. But this means that you have to keep IE as your default browser so that all of the tie-ins to the intranet sites works smoothly.

    The awful side effect is that, if you’re using the internet for literally anything else, you’re opening web pages with IE. I can’t imagine how that isn’t a security liability.

    1. baud says:

      Rejoice! We’re at last releasing a new version of our product that will support Chrome in addition to IE, after half a decade of asking the Management ™ to do so (and we were refused each time because they focused on new features to get more clients…). We should have a working version (with half the features supported by IE) by the end of summer (more or less, depending on the incoming budget cuts).

      Though since I had to work with IE, I did a lot of browsing at work with IE and apart from a few websites that didn’t work, I don’t think I had any issues (though I never browsed in sites likely to have crappy content in ads).

      1. Blue Painted says:

        I’ve been adding “Please stop using IE” nudges to our systems … why anyone would when there’s Chrome I just don’t know.

    2. Sven says:

      The new Edge (the one based on Chrome) has a mode that lets you open specific sites in a tab using the Internet Explorer engine: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/deployedge/edge-ie-mode

      1. CloverMan-88 says:

        When your company core business requires using intranet sites to search internal databases for 8h a day, and 80% of staff is almost technically illiterate, it’s easier to force your IT department to keep supporting IE6. I’ve seen this way too many times.

  18. AndrewCC says:

    Shamus hates Microsoft as much as I hate Google.

  19. NotetheCode says:

    We’ve been using Teams a lot at work (and even more with the current pandemic) and it’s worked well so far, even when interlocutors are on another continent; I think it’s supposed to be Skype’s replacement. Office (at least the products installed on my work machine) work well enough to let me do my job on word and powerpoint documents. And powershell has been getting better.
    Also I’m having fun with the Halo Master Chief Collection.

    So Microsoft is still releasing some good software, even if they have a lot of bad release too and abandoned products along the road.

  20. Leviathan902 says:

    Game Pass is more or less fixed from a usability standpoint now and is awesome.

    There’s an app. It’s still awkwardly named (I think it’s just called Xbox when there’s like a dozen other apps with Xbox in the name), but you download the app, login with your Microsoft account and that’s it. There’s a game pass tab that has all the game pass games in it, you click download on the ones you want, you can change install directories now (yay!) and it downloads and just works.

    Game pass for PC has been an…ahem…game changer for me in the past 6 months. If you’re interested at all in the service (it’s a very good value for the money) you might want to give it another look.

    1. Sannom says:

      Plus, you don’t even have to use Game Pass after buying/installing the games. Microsoft has an official partnership with CD Projeckt to integrate the Game Pass into GOG Galaxy 2.0, so you can use that instead of the app after installing (buying ?) the game.

  21. Timothy Coish says:

    Gonna have to hard counter-signal people claiming that VS Code is good software. It was great for me, up until about a year ago. At that point there was some update that borderline broke Intellisense for me, the thing that “quickly,” checks to see if the code you’re typing is syntactically valid. The initial way that it was broken was simply not recognizing Unity functions, such as Vector3.DotProduct(stuffs). Initially I chalked this up to an understandable if irritating Unity/VS Code shared failure. However, it has gotten worse and worse, to the point now where the last hobby project I was working on had two beyond obnoxious failures of VS Code.

    First, and most obnoxious, was that I had two Enums that I had created for a chess program, PIECE_TYPE, and PIECES. When I would type PIECES, VS Code would just go ahead and change what I had written to PIECE_TYPE. I’m not making this up, they just went ahead and decided that they knew better than me, and outright changed what I had written, despite what I had written being completely correct. If I deleted this, and typed it again, they would change it again. I had to delete just the last few characters, because then it understand that it fucked up. Visual Studio also apparently has this problem now, where they just say “YOLO,” and change what you typed. This is beyond irritating.

    Secondly, and more laughably, VS Code now has noticeable lag between when I type things in, and when the characters actually come up. I’m talking close to half a second of lag, very noticeable. For those who don’t understand, this is approximately 100,000x slower than it should be. The program needs to get input from the operating system, which could have a latency of 10ms maximum, then update the text, then finally render the text. In the absolute worst case scenario, this could take a maximum of 26 ms, if we just missed the last frame render and the input window. And yet, this is taking more like 200-500ms.

    The actual code to update a goddamn text editor is so simple, so cache friendly, and so non-hardware intensive that we had computers in the 1970’s that could give you a completely seemless experience doing this. We are talking about changing the value of a single byte. This should take about 4 nanoseconds for a CPU. It’s not possible for this to take longer than a microsecond, even if we get a cache miss somehow.

    Now I’m not saying that they just mysteriously have terrible performance, I suspect that Intellisense, as mentioned above, is what’s causing this. Because going through all the code written and checking that the last changed code is valid is a bigger task, although this was already being done seamlessly in previous versions of VS Code. No, instead, coinciding perfectly with the ultra-obnoxious hyper-aggressive update to Intellisense do we see this massive stuttering every single time I type.

    And I am genuinely thunderstruck at how quickly my user experience has gone down the tubes. First of all, don’t have code checking that is trash. It’s better to have something that does very little but is 99.999% correct than something that does a huge amount but does aggravating bullshit half the time. This would be true even before performance considerations. Second, if you have made a text editor in the year 2020 that displays lag when a user types, you are banished from programming. That’s it. Done. And if you have done this just to give the user a lower quality software you need to be punished somehow for this.

    So no, for me Microsoft has managed to make software that I actually use on a daily basis go from excellent in 2018 to almost intolerable in 2020. Impressive.

    1. Timothy Coish says:

      Also, here’s a great rant by Casey Muratori on how terrible Visual Studio is, and how it’s moving in the wrong direction. Also, kind of a satisfying rant about obnoxious people on Twitter.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GC-0tCy4P1U

    2. Retsam says:

      Can’t say I’ve had any of those issues. I definitely haven’t seen a noticeable performance decline in the years I’ve been using it, and its intellisense works very well for me. (Though I think that’s the sort of thing that varies from language to language)

      Personally, it’s the best editor I’ve used, by far. 90% of the features of a full-fledged IDE, without the bloat. It’s a lot snappier than something like Eclipse or the Jetbrains IDEs. Maybe SublimeText has slightly better performance (it’s native, while VSCode is built on electron), but VSCode is much more customizable and has a strong plugin system.

      And obviously you can’t beat the performance of something like vim (or ed – the standard text editor), but you also don’t get many of the IDE features without doing a lot of configuration).

      And opinions about text editors, and anecdotes about “it doesn’t work well on my machine” aside: I feel it’s really hard to argue that it’s not a really well-run software project. It had a really solid initial offering and they’ve continually made improvements at an impressive rate, <a href=https://code.visualstudio.com/updates/v1_46?pushing out a large chunk of updates basically every month for over three years now.

      And it’s completely free – not even a “free but we’ll collect your data or show you adds or nag you about the premium version” sort of strategy. As far as I can tell, the only benefit Microsoft gets from VSCode is good publicity.

  22. Foo Bar says:

    The big advantage with BING is that it doesn’t memory-hole pages that google disagrees with the politics of.

    Say you read an editorial about abortion that you want to read again later. Write down the title, author, and newspaper. Type that all into google and it won’t come up. You can go to page 50 of the results and you will never get a link to that editorial. Type the same thing into BING – first result.

    1. AndrewCC says:

      Nothing more dystopian than a huge, rich corp forcing its politics on the world.
      This bad ideea always starts in the social media divisions of a company and spreads throughout.

    2. Joshua says:

      Try searching for politically sensitive information on Bing in China… (Not that anybody uses it)

  23. ccesarano says:

    After I got that update, I got another one some days later with the “Welcome to Windows!” splash screen. Which was bizarre. And I was not told what updates Microsoft had forced onto my computer.

    I feel like there’s two reasons Microsoft can so consistently fail at this stage: the first is sheer momentum. Why do people use Windows? Because they don’t want to use Apple computers and have too much software relying on Windows that won’t work on Linux/Unix (though I have a feeling this will become less of an issue as time progresses). You use Windows and therefore Windows software due to familiarity.

    But I think the real reason is because Microsoft has bamboozled just about every corporation into believing they not only want Windows, but Microsoft software. Think about how many managers have been fooled into believing SharePoint is a good idea. The last five years at a consistent company was quite eye-opening for me, as I learned just how little the people in charge of allocating the money speak with the people that do the actual work. They instead let a salesman convince them what is and isn’t good. It’s like a used car salesman runs into something that only found out cars exist that morning and convinces them to buy this “really sweet” Ford Pinto.

    The worst part is that I’ve gotten into conversations with people about Microsoft’s “success” and whether their success is due to competence or not, and the fact that they’re still in business somehow proves that they’re competent. If we expand this into their Xbox, they somehow took a great start in the Xbox 360 generation and started to completely demolish it with trend chasing. The entirety of the Xbox One generation has been them trying to course correct, and now they’ve just bought a whole bunch of other promising studios to try and fill in the gap.

    The one thing I really liked out of Microsoft that released in my lifetime was the Zune. Its music player is still a favorite of mine, it synched up with my device perfectly, and the UI for the device just… made so much more sense to me than the wheel and other junk of the iPod, or even my Creative Zen. I wish my Zune still worked (I think the battery died), and because they shut down everything having to do with the Zune you can’t even properly set a used one up on your system without some hackery (that I screwed up and effectively bricked a second Zune with (I should probably give that another go actually)). I know in this day and age it is all about phones, but that’s the worst part: when the Windows Phone was using the same UI as the Zune but minor differences, I was considering switching from Android to Windows Phone. Then they swapped out to the tiles and I just… nope. Still on Android.

    And frankly, I like having a dedicated music player. It doesn’t have to share its storage with other media, and it allowed better and easier synchronization than Amazon’s trashy music app allows.

    Microsoft is a company that has been able to swindle corporations so long that it has allowed them to fail too often without learning the right lessons, thus ensuring they’ll fail over and over.

    1. Steve C says:

      the fact that they’re still in business somehow proves that they’re competent.

      Yup. It doesn’t prove anything. For example my parents have operated a business for 45yrs. They are not competent. Their saving graces is they don’t have any debt. So they can afford to be terrible.

  24. wumpus says:

    Microsoft has a huge pool of talented developers. They have access to massive wealth. Their operating system dominates the desktop space and they can use that to leverage any new product they like. And yet despite all of these apparent advantages, their software is so often broken, buggy, counter-intuitive, or frustrating. They crash-spend to build a half-assed product, ram it down our throats, clutter it up with cruft and bullshit nobody asked for, and then abandon it so they can chase some other fad.

    This is precisely Microsoft’s modus operandi, and always has been. They’ve _never_ been innovators. Never. They have, from the start, begged, bought, or stolen other people’s or companies’ ideas and then tried to dominate the market for the resulting apps or products. Once they established an effective monopoly on productivity tools (Office) and operating systems (Windows), they then did everything in their power to maintain and extend that monopoly. Their twin strategies for years were FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) and EEE (embrace, extend, extinguish) with respect to competing standards and technologies.

    Fortunately, their grasp slipped, and it’s now a (number of) competitive market(s). But they’re still trying to find the Next Big Thing that they can use to bootstrap themselves back into market dominance. And since they’re not set up to innovate, but rather to exploit, they’re always several steps behind. That, and they’re an enormous, bloated bureaucracy at this point, with warring internal factions and numerous people all trying to attach their names to short term ‘successes’ in the manner many have documented above.

  25. MadTinkerer says:

    Microsoft: the company that expects me to pay a subscription for Office and FREAKING SOLITAIRE, yet can’t update Photo Viewer to implement Google’s Webm picture standard.

    Microsoft: the company that expects me to ever use the Microsoft Store, or connect my phone and other devices to my computer(which would collect “telemetry” from them, of course), or use Edge for anything other than downloading other browsers, or not try to disable every “feature” of Win10 that wasn’t in Win7.

    Microsoft: the company that tried and failed to turn my old desktop into an ipad for “free”. Then they convinced hardware manufacturers to block Windows 7 at the hardware level so I did eventually need to have Win10 on my new desktop. Then I had to turn off most of the default “telemetry” (spyware) settings on my new desktop just to make it remotely as useful as Win7. Then I had to edit the registry to keep M$ from reverting MY changes when Win10 updates. I still get security updates but only security updates.

    Incidentally, that one change to the registry seems to be preventing the forced Edge update, among others. So I have no idea what everyone is complaining about, even though I was finally forced to use Win10. I guess I’m a better computer surgeon than I thought I was.

    I wish I could just use Linux for everything, but I currently need Win10 for work and over half of my PC game collection, so I guess I have to put up with it for now. At least Win10 isn’t as difficult to perform surgery on as I was worried it was going to be. But then, they probably only care about “telemetry” from users who aren’t actively resisting M$ collecting the “telemetry” in the first place.

    1. Hector says:

      Is there a guide to doing the same?

      1. MadTinkerer says:

        I just followed a few of this guy’s videos: Chris Titus Tech

        If I remember correctly the most important thing I did was described in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HryjIsPx6Zg&list=PLc7fktTRMBox4cnUiShLPKg_-em5MJNP1&index=43 I’m pretty sure that’s what blocked the annoying Edge update.

        Doing everything he explains in all of the Win10 videos is certainly overkill for anyone (I would definitely rather just install and learn Linux rather than try to fix absolutely everything with Win10… too bad I need it for work…), but following just a few of the videos is super helpful and not too time consuming at all.

        There are other good tech tips channels that explain stuff about Win10, but he’s probably the most relevant to your question.

  26. Joe says:

    “When was the last time ANYONE wanted to go through the hassle of switching browsers?”

    I was having some problems with Firefox late last year, I think. Tried to move full time to Chrome. Ended up mostly sticking with Firefox, but bouncing over to Chrome when needed.

  27. Yerushalmi says:

    Microsoft recently rolled out an update for Word that changes how saving works. Now, if you hit Ctrl+S on a new document, you are offered a list of “recent folders” to save to. If you want to save to a folder that you *haven’t* used recently? It takes at least three clicks just to get to the file browser!

  28. raifield says:

    I have to wonder what the next iteration of Windows is going to look like. The in-production Microsoft Flight Simulator leverages Azure to build and maintain an accurate 1:1 virtual globe, which will be amazing if they can pull it off.

    Extrapolate that and I suspect two versions of Windows from now (Windows 2030?) will simply be Software As A Service: you won’t purchase a disc/USB stick. You’ll simply turn on your new computer and it will guide you through the process to subscribe to Windows for $5/month, after which it’ll download the entire operating system and, so long as you maintain your subscription, maintain itself.

    So Windows 10, only monthly instead of a one-time cost. The Azure VDI technology is there, it’s just a matter of whether Microsoft can scale the thing out enough.

    TL;DR: In the future we’ll all be buying thin clients.

    1. Hector says:

      I doubt this, because as costs go up alternatives look better. Linux isn’t a great option, but if you have shell out 60$ annually for Windows lots more people will do it. And the more do it the more will find it easier and better options will become available.

  29. evileeyore says:

    “Even for Windows 7, which is supposedly no longer supported!”

    Haha! Jokes on them, I turned off updating for my Win7 machine when they stopped supporting it. Just incase they decided to release destructive updates to force a migration to the newer OS.

    They said I was paranoid…

  30. Marc Forrester says:

    Microsoft had an internal policy for too many years that the every department track performance stats and fire the lowest scoring x% annually. I’m sure you can imagine the kind of utopian, co-operative, raise-all-the-boats culture this generates.

    1. sheer_falacy says:

      If that policy ever existed it’s been gone for a long time now.

      1. wumpus says:

        This policy definitely existed. It was only in late 2012 that they switched it out, according to this article:

        https://blog.impraise.com/360-feedback/microsoft-throws-stack-ranking-out-the-window

        1. Shamus says:

          Thanks for that link. That was a really interesting read.

  31. Len says:

    I appreciate good rants, but this wasn’t a good rant.

    If you seriously can’t think of anything good that Microsoft has done (from a developer’s perspective alone: Azure, Teams, OneDrive, Windows Subsystem on Linux, VSCode, Surface, Dynamics…) despite the fact that the company’s doing better than ever, then perhaps you might not be qualified to rant about Microsoft.

    Of course they’ve had their share of failures and abandoned products. It’s a good thing for a company to be trying out new business lines and products and seeing what works, when the alternative is stagnation and death. No company has a 100% strike rate, and by that metric Microsoft isn’t much worse. Just look at Google’s abandonware list.

    > Skype is horrible. The Windows 10 Store is a mess of jank. Their Game Pass service is shamefully cumbersome. Microsoft Office is a sluggish, bloated mess[1]. Bing is seen as a joke search engine for non-technical people who don’t know how to switch to Google. Mixer is dead. Microsoft One Drive somehow manages to be worse than Dropbox, which is almost a heroic accomplishment of anti-usability. Their web browser projects have failed at least twice and their latest effort is basically just Chrome for your grandma. Cortana is a goddamn nuisance. Games for Windows LIVE was so bad it literally ruined many good games and also GTA IV.

    Skype is being phased out, but works entirely fine albeit with an outdated UI. Windows 10 store works great and allows your apps to update without having to manually update each one; there needs to be more apps on it but that’s an ecosystem problem. Office works smoothly even on my very under-powered Surface Go, and now has excellent mobile and online apps. Of course Bing will be inferior, Google only has how many years of advantage up on them? One Drive is significantly cheaper than Dropbox and not much worse (how is it not usable?). Edge was fine, new Edge is still fine, lack of extension ecosystem is not an easy problem to fix.

    > They provide free apps with their operating system like a media player, text editor, video editor, all of which are vastly inferior to the free / OSS alternatives. Their software is so terrible, they can’t even compete when their price point is zero!

    …because you don’t include everything and the kitchen sink when packaging an OS, otherwise the installation size will bloat, which is why only apps with basic functionality is included?

    Maybe the rant would sound better to those who already think Microsoft sucks. But it just comes off as ill-informed to me.

    1. jpuroila says:

      “…because you don’t include everything and the kitchen sink when packaging an OS, otherwise the installation size will bloat, which is why only apps with basic functionality is included?”

      Windows is bloated ANYWAY, and for things like media player and text editor, distros like Ubuntu offer perfectly good software out of the box. You can’t seriously argue that replacing notepad or windows media player with something usable would noticeably increase the bloat.

      1. Blue Painted says:

        Ubuntu, and all other flavours of *nix including Mac OS has one major function for me … it’s so when various friends and relations who have gone that route come to me with computer trouble I can say “Sorry, no, I don’t know anything about X. Isn’t it supposed to ‘just work’?”

    2. Agammamon says:

      …because you don’t include everything and the kitchen sink when packaging an OS, otherwise the installation size will bloat, which is why only apps with basic functionality is included?

      Why include them at all then? *They’re* bloat in themselves. Making a bare-bones version available is fine – don’t force its installation. If you’re going to force the installation then it had better be competitive with other offerings.

    3. Taxi says:

      Shamus has ranted about MS products before, very specifically and very accurately. This piece feels quite venomous, but I sense it’s just because there’s really nothing left to say about how incompetent MS is with their consumer products.

      Yes, professional products seem to be popular, but that’s like a completely different entity. I don’t care how good or bad Azure is, but I can see how broken Windows 10 updates are, I can see how MS fucked up Skype and I can see how MS hilariously fails at copying popular ideas.

      The policy of sniffing out a trend and then buying a knock-off product and shoving it in everyone’s faces using the monopoly power was working for MS in the 80’s and 90’s, but today consumers actually have choices and so the Zunes and Bings and Windows Phones and that Twitch knockoff are beyond pathetic. While those can be at least ignored, most people still need computers and there Windows is still hard to ignore sadly.

  32. Agammamon says:

    What happened to this company?

    I think the answer is simple – they want to be Apple. But they don’t know why Apple is the way it is nor do they seem to know why people who use Windows use Windows.

    So you have Apple. Apple is mostly for people who want ‘computer as appliance’. They do stuff *on* the computer but not so much *to* the computer – it just works. Linux is the opposite, its for people who want fine control of what’s going on under the hood and if the productivity apps suffer a bit, well, they’re willing to make that sacrifice.

    Windows is for those of us in the middle. We want it to mostly just work but we want easy access to at least coarse control under the hood.

    Secondly, Apple focus test the hell out of their shit. When Apple says ‘this is the way its going to be’ its because that way is both genuinely better for the majority of their users and most of them were basically doing it that way already. Refine, polish, polish, polish.

    Microsoft just throws some shit out and calls it good. ‘Hey, you don’t need any other apps, we’ve got you covered with these bare-bones barely functional apps, come stay in our walled garden’. I fucking hate Apple but their walled garden is a freaking Eden compared to MS’s. As such, when Apple pushes an update its both considerate of the user and a welcome service. When MS does it its an imposition, not the least because its going to reinstall crap you uninstalled in the first place because it was useless to you and you didn’t want it taking up space. Maybe Apple does the latter but no one feels the need to uninstall their shitty Xbox App so they don’t notice?

    Windows 10 is the best version of Windows and its the version that is making me seriously consider the move to Linux.

  33. whitehelm says:

    Am I the only one who didn’t care about the Edge update? Windows never seems to auto-update for me, it just adds an icon to the taskbar letting me know an update is ready to be installed and I can do it whenever. When I got around to actually updating, Edge opened once upon restart to display the new features and start transferring settings from Firefox. I clicked a couple times to cancel that and close the browser, and it hasn’t bugged me again. If they were pushing updates every month or so I might get annoyed but it seems like a one-time mild annoyance.

  34. EwgB says:

    As developer I have to say, even Visual Studio, which is a pretty great IDE, is no longer the flagship product in it’s space. I’ve used Intellij Rider for a while, and it is a significantly better IDE in my opinion, and many of my colleagues. The only thing Visual Studio has going for it is the Hippe Freeloader Edition, which is pretty powerful and costs nothing to a hobby developer. Intellij Rider costs a pretty penny even for an individual, and you have to pay every year.
    As an aside for Java devs, the Java version of the IDE, Intellij IDEA is so much better than Eclipse, it’s not even funny. And this one has a freeloader edition that has a majority of the tools on board, so unless you are principled about supporting open source there is no good reason to use Eclipse.

  35. Smith says:

    I refused to switch to Windows 10 because I didn’t want to deal with Cortana and all the telemetry nonsense. When you talked about the forced Edge update, I felt quite smug about sticking with 7.

    Then you said it’s in 7 as well.

    Good thing I never installed Edge and have automatic updates disabled.

    1. EwgB says:

      You don’t have to deal with Cortana if you don’t want to. As far as I’m aware she isn’t really tightly integrated in the UI side of things. Or at least I’ve never run across anything. Honestly, I wouldn’t even know how to use Cortana if I wanted to on my system.

  36. Taxi says:

    MS can only work under one of 2 conditions:

    1) it can be a monopoly
    2) it provides services to businesses (or some professional area)

    Products for consumers where they need to compete = an absolute fail. The only real exception I can think of is the Xbox brand. They’ve done that well but had some luck there and also for some small monopolies in that area (console multiplayer FPS, next-gen for a year with 360, some 360 exclusives before PS3 caught up etc.).

    Remember MS has built its empire on taking other people’s work and using it as their own. MS-DOS was bought for some pennies and sold to IBM before they had it, Windows was based on whatever Apple was doing plus BSD and OS/2 (I think?), IE was just slightly reskinned Mosaic, EVERY. SINGLE. OFFICE. PROGRAM was originally a separate program bought with the entire company etc.

    So this has worked for a while since it was allowing MS to grow and building up their monopolies and cash.

    But then the internet came and things suddenly became a lot faster and more transparent to the consumer. And so since the late 90’s MS is just pathetic.

    First Yahoo steamrolled over everything and even MSN couldn’t keep up.

    Then Google popularized rapid development with beta products, while Apple returned to the scene with highly polished products. MS with its logic of buying/stealing/copying something promising and maybe slowly developing it couldn’t keep up even moreso with either.

    Other start-ups kept popping up with one of those 2 approaches. But it was no longer possible to just buy an startup, because when something became popular, it happened so suddenly it would be worth a billion within a few months. Sometimes MS would still just shell out the money, like with Skype or Minecraft, but that’s not feasible to do all the time. Other times they try to build their own version, and hilarity (or frustration) ensues like with Zune, Bing, MS Phone, Windows Vista, 8 and 10, GfWL, their app store, web services, Edge aaaaaaaaaaand so on and so on.

    Meanwhile they are actually decently competitive in professional areas apparently. Their web servers seem to compete with Amazon, colab services with Google, databases and programming tools with I dunno who. First that’s where the real money is and corps and professionals are way less likely to switch over due to some frustration, unlike consumers out of monopolies.

  37. Pink says:

    I’m still in the market for a browser because I’m still waiting for one that will have the ui and features of 2007 firefox, since in exchange for core security updates I’ve had to give way too much up.

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