Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/01/18

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Subject: [Leica] Re: Microsoft bashing (off topic)
From: Alexey Merz <>
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999 14:16:55 +0000

"Andreas Frijdal" <>:
>Everybody with some sense of history knows that capitalism produces 
>guys like Bill Gates (or the like to oil barons and the train people).
>Wallstreet considered Apple dead. I doubt if the lollipops will save 

Well, Wall Street was wrong, and those who ignored Wall Street and
bought Apple stock 2-3 years ago are now doing rather nicely. 
Apple has posted several consecutive quarters of profit (note that 
Compac has posted large losses over the same interval) and the iMac
is the single best-selling personal computer, with 7% market share. 
Apple does not control the PC market, but the PC market matters less
and less every day.

It is now apparent that MS will not control either of the two key 
markets on which it has pegged its future. It will not control
embedded consumer devices like cell phones and set-top boxes: MS may 
obtain significant market share but it will not own the field as it
has done with PC's. Consumers are unlikely to care about the MS brand 
in these settings. A variety of standards will prevail, with many
companies producing products as cheap and as useful as those from

And MS will not control the corporate database or web server markets.
Win2K/NT5 contains well over 30 million lines of new code, delivered
as a single bolus. Even MS cannot adequately evaluate that much new code
for reliability. For that reason, mission-critical NT applications will
crash - and crash more often than with gradually evolved and highly tuned
systems like Unix/Linux-Apache (for web service) or Solaris/HPUnix-
Oracle8 (for relational databases).

The consensus amongst web pros whom I've spoken to and read is that 
an NT4 web server can go perhaps 200,000 hits between reboots, while 
a Linux/Apache server can do at least *100-FOLD* better. Y'all think 
NT5 will will be 100-fold more relaiable than NT4, with >30 million 
lines of new code? Even if it is, it will only be AS GOOD AS its free,
open-source competition, which has already established dominance in
that market sector.

So Gates will participate in, but not control, two key strategic
areas that will ultimately be far more important than the PC OS and 
its applications. The PC and its software are already being reduced 
to a (large) niche market with commodity pricing. 

In such a setting, MS cannot do either of the things that have been
critical to its success. It cannot use its control of (and proprietary
information about) the OS to lock out other applications developers.
And it cannot retain high profit margins in what is rapidly becoming 
a commodity market.

The DOJ lawsuit against Microsoft may be deserved, but it is not needed.
Microsoft has already lost its ability to control the course of events
in critical markets. It will be interesting to see if MS can figure out
what to do without the explosive growth that has driven them through the
last decade. IBM didn't.

- -Alexey
Alexey Merz | URL: | email:
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