Good start.

Story: GNU/Linux vs Microsoft on Research & Development: What's the Truth?Total Replies: 5
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Jan 13, 2006
11:28 PM EDT
I think you gave us good starting points from which to expand upon. I am very surprised M$ HAS an R&D budget to be honest. 6 billion is staggering. With that kind of budget you'd think they would proudce inovations every week. Think about it. When was the last time Microsoft added anything to computing world? Except for a few refinements on the GUI and some nice IDE features they then all but eliminated, you have to go back to DOS 2 to really find value added to the computing comunity. Everything else Microsoft has bought or stolen. I personally suspect a large part of the M$ R&D budget is spent simply looking at what company to buy next. I do not feel like I am exagerating very much at all with this. I am trying to think of a single product Microsoft has released in the last 10 years that was not origionally made by another company or that did not look almost exactly like somebody elses work. IE was Netscape with a different facade. IE even copied the little square where Netscape had the spinning world. IE put something different there, forget what it was, but even that little touch was there. SQL Server bought off of Sybase. The first Word version looked and acted identical to Multi-Mate and Wordstar. Each version of windows looks more and more like the old Mac OS.

You could even possibly excuse such if they added to the products. Viseo is almost identical the version they purchased. SQL Server has added a number of features but few survive into the next version of SQL Server. Except for a nice GUI SQL editor they really are still packaging Sybase but with more bugs and security problems. Windows itself brought only fluff. Think about it. My computer being the greatest contribution of the windows desktop. Not exactly groundshaking was it? Windows continues to add features long availible in Nix OS's but it will take decades to catch up even if Nix quit inovating.

As for research value. Most OSS contributers do so without a paycheck. There are thousands and thousands of such people. Whether it be the guy who wrote the driver for this or that obscure piece of hardware or one of they key kernel developers. Few people get the luxory of making a living writing OSS software. Can you picture what would happen if more companies thought of OSS along the lines of what US companies put up with for members of the National Guard? Or even better allowed them 5 hours a week to work on OSS software on company time.

So yes there is a deffinite difference in economics. I feel OSS is better at inovating because it has the most motivated people. OSS has attracted the risk takers, Microsoft the conformists. OSS has been blessed with talented and dedicated people willing to give their hard work away for literally no personal gain. Microsoft is well known to be a sweat shop that wrings massive hours out of fresh collegiate graduates and foriegn workers. Many lines of Microsoft's are written by people with no other proffesional programming experience. Most OSS coders cut their teeth writing other code and code OSS as a sideline. Think about it this way. Who wants to be on an airplane with a pilot making thier first take off? That is what you are potentially doing. Your very life depends on the quality of code more and more each day. If it is windows that flight control, train control or other software is running on you are putting your life in the hands of mostly inexperienced coders with poor motivation and poor objectives. Worked long hours to meet tight deadlines. Before Microsoft shipping code as buggy as Windows was unheard of and unacceptable. Back then nobody would trust something like a street light to a company who had such obvious QA issues as Microsoft. Wall Street learned the hard way as have other industries.

So Microsoft R&D is truely an oxymoron. The economic models defy comparision. It is like comparing rotten apples with an apple tree. The tree produces apples which produce more trees. That is OSS. Microsoft buys apples but nurtures no orchard. Microsoft's harsh and conformist environment is a hinderence to inovation. Microsoft's business model itself is not condusive to innovation. Unlike Xerox which contributed heavily to the development of computers with it's R&D efforts which were blinding ignored by Xerox to the benifit of the world,

Microsoft doesn't even contribute by accident. It is a festering black hole of conformism that sucks the life out of even good ideas before they can be born. Take the registry for example. Great idea. A place for all those random configuration files. Why would anybody in their right mind take such a good idea and destroy it beyond use like Microsoft has? The Windows registry is obtuse, prone to corruption, requires special editors to read/backup/restore. It requires special OS calls to read and write too. Despite all of this it is completely unprotected. Any application can modify the registry. A simple database with strong user controls would have worked quite well. If it is a system setting then only root/admin should have write rights to it and many values should be read restricted to root/admin as an example. Protect it with file system rights to prevent copying by unathorized users. There you go. Nice simple, effective and works. How to you mess something like that up?

My two cents. Excuse my spelling and grammer.

Jan 14, 2006
7:27 AM EDT
Quoting:"...surprised M$ HAS an R&D budget to be honest. 6 billion is staggering. With that kind of budget you'd think they would proudce inovations every week. Think about it. When was the last time Microsoft added anything to computing world?"

You are presuming that is their intent.

What if they like things pretty much as they are? Then removing some of the best and brightest to do very long far out research? What's the harm? Get the drift?

Jan 14, 2006
8:14 PM EDT
Quoting:removing some of the best and brightest to do very long far out research? What's the harm? Get the drift?

A few years ago I ate dinner with the Department Chair of University of Colorado's Computer Science department. He did a good deal of complaining about how Microsoft Research hired a few of his most promising researchers away from academia.

And then he (and a few others at the table) went on to describe MS Research as a "roach hotel": scientists go in but no papers ever come out.

This is another instance of a problem stemming from $40 BILLION in cash, controlled by a fairly small group. In the case of MS Research, they're buying all the industrial research that has (for the last 15 or 20 years) gone on in various universities. Unlike the Universities, or even Bell Labs, nothing gets published.

Jan 15, 2006
5:51 AM EDT
So is this a $6-billion-a-year patent farm? And is he going to be more than slightly ticked off when the patent system suffers its own Boston Tea Party?

Jan 15, 2006
8:40 AM EDT
Leslie, From Montreal

I am not surprised that MS spends 6 billion on R & D. In that expense, only a small portion of that money is for the desktop. The other part is for new software drivers, compilers, technology, networking methodologies and ideas that can be patented. And R & D research into legally blocking potential competitors.

Microsoft sees it's future as having a captive user base, of controlling the internet, and hence of blocking alternate technologies.

In the end, if MS has their way, the only alternate technologies will originate where Microsoft, has no control. That means, you will eventually have to look for innovation offshore. Any onshore alternate technologies will probably only come from the military, or brought in from outside the borders of the United States.

The question is, aside from money, spam, and virus's, and corporations making small fortunes selling system protection for flawed desktop software, what harm is there in having only one way to do things? It, the Microsoft technology way is a money tree, and should not be disrupted. Charity does not begin at home.

By the way, Microsoft bought the DOS operating system. So their start was being business smart. As the top of the hill die with the next generation of management, as we see Gates and the others retire, then I believe that MS will die the same way as other monster.

And there will be operating systems to replace Linux. Linux is a today thing. So don't become a Linux biggot.


Jan 15, 2006
6:15 PM EDT
The notion that the Microsoft technology way is a money tree is only true to the extent that a business is a Microsoft partner. Ask the folks who Microsoft sought to partner with, only to turn around and use their own technologies (in a copyright/patent-infringing way) against them. This comes back to the trust issue I raised in a previous article:

Disrupting the Microsoft money tree is in the best interests of the global consumer market. It is time for people to recognize that the Microsoft money tree causes far greater harm than good. More people will benefit from a free-market economy not dominated by the all-controlling Microsoft.

I have no problem with the BSDs or other libre OSes, even if I prefer to use GNU/Linux.

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