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I, Cringely - The Survival of the Nerdiest with Robert X. Cringely
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The Pulpit
Pulpit Comments
May 09, 2008 -- Wimpy
Status: [CLOSED]


How DARE you not address the rotten column last week. After Apple categorically DENIED that they are selling off their pro aps, you have an obligation to your readers to address the issue. And what's with this week's column title? WIMPY??? are you saying you're too much of a wimp to eat crow?

You have to let it out at some point Cringe. Keeping it all bottled up inside you isn't good.

China Man | May 09, 2008 | 3:07PM

I have a couple of your past shows on tape and I was all pumped and ready to watch this one.... right up to the point you mentioned you talk to Carly.

Sorry, I have a long string of bad memories.

Maybe next time.

John | May 09, 2008 | 3:11PM

Apple denies everything, don't you know? What story have they EVER confirmed? So the fact that they denied shopping their pro apps at NAB is meaningless. I'm not the only one to report this, by the way, BECAUSE IT HAPPENED.

I think that if they were to buy Adobe it would make better sense to sell Premiere than Final Cut Pro, but maybe what they were doing was market research to figure the value of such a sale. I can't guess all of Apple's motives but I can tell you they did what I said they did.

Now stop calling names or I'll tell your mother.


Robert X. Cringely | May 09, 2008 | 3:34PM

"So the fact that they denied shopping their pro apps at NAB is meaningless. "

SO that means journalists can make up their own stories, extrapolate the hell out it, then claim no one knows the true facts.

Cringe, I do, at your craptastic skillz.

Stiv Bator | May 09, 2008 | 3:44PM

Perhaps this is off track, but I'd like to comment on this article as opposed to previous infractions...

What's the chances of a class action suit against Microsoft; or some new DoJ anti-trust, anti-dumping, anti-putting-it-to the common man activities? Could the forthcoming deep 6'ing of XP lead to something worse for MS?

Eric | May 09, 2008 | 3:50PM

I thought your column last week was bat shit crazy as well, but I won't call you names. :)

Seriously though, not even mentioning last week's column and the outcry it must have caused is going to get some people's ire up.

Jason | May 09, 2008 | 3:53PM

Thanks for the update. Looks like my next PC will be MAC PC. and oh yes, remove all the XP units from the router

ChuckD | May 09, 2008 | 3:55PM

As a sr. software engineer I can give you my opinion why I'd never ever work for Microsoft. First and foremost, they are know to make uninspiring, mediocre software. To work for them is to say to yourself I don't care about my work, or really, what the the sum of my life's work is about. Second, their business practices are utterly shameful. To work there you have to get up every morning and do the bidding of criminals and crooks. Trust me, I would much, much rather work for a company that competes on its own merits and isn't as successful. I would be ashamed every time I deposited my check.

The only people who can work there are those who just don't care about software, creativity, a moral life, or anything other than a paycheck.

frank | May 09, 2008 | 3:58PM
Matt | May 09, 2008 | 4:09PM

One word... Balmer.

If it was anyone else, their "cojones" wouldn't have disappeared from sight, but dealing with Balmer meant they were facing oblivion.

Think about it.

What products have survived Microsoft branding?


I can't think of any either.

The only thing worse is being a Microsoft "Partner".

That means you will either grow enough to be acquired and fade into oblivion, (and if your product doesn't mesh with their strategy bid it "adieu",) or you won't, and you will fade into oblivion.

Microsoft is a thousand pound gorilla and trying to live with it is bad for your health.

Charles-A Rovira | May 09, 2008 | 4:26PM

I'd watch the show, Bob, if either of the two local PBS stations was carrying it (Tampa, FL). They must figure your show wouldn't interest the aging boomer market they program for.

Ron | May 09, 2008 | 4:32PM


I use Yahoo regularly and have been for nearly 10 years now. Their applications are the not flashiest, but are more intuitive. For the non-computer programmers, Yahoo has a much better interface and is simpler to figure out. The latest MS products look pretty but are not as intuitive, even though I have used MS for a long time as well.

As far as Apple and Adobe, it would be a wonderful arranged marriage. The same type of people (hip, urban, with inflated sense of ego) use the products at my office. The rest of us stick with MS because they have great games and can TOR to outwit the office firewall. Yes our office uses both types of computers. I don't care much for appearing hip, as long as I can traverse the firewall unnoticed. Cheers.

BT | May 09, 2008 | 4:40PM

This is very annoying. I don't see EITHER of my PBS stations listing the transformation age.

Come on PBS!!!! No T-Age, no donation this year. Put THAT in your tote bag and carry it.

EJ White | May 09, 2008 | 4:42PM
| May 09, 2008 | 4:42PM

@Charles-A Rovira

Ummm... FolderShare?

Chad | May 09, 2008 | 4:43PM

The natives are restless tonite! Easy, China boy.

Bob's undoubtedly quite reliable in his reportage of Apple's activities, but I think he extrapolated wrongly. I expect an Apple fishing expedition of some sort is a much more likely story, with the Pro apps for bait. Fishing for what, though?

And Bob hasn't sold me on the advantage to Apple of buying Adobe. Flash technology looks like crap under the hood, according to some interesting AppleInsider articles.

I expect Apple could write their own Flash, Photoshop and/or Illustrator for a lot less than buying Adobe would cost.

So, BOB, what technology does Adobe own that the Apple overlords can bend to their long-term benefit? Postscript? Other patents? A willing brain trust?

Tell it all, brother!

Fred | May 09, 2008 | 4:43PM

I don't know the best days of Yahoo are ahead of them. They have some areas, but Google has superceded them in so many ways that I think Yahoo shareholders will be restless and changes lie ahead.

Qualcomm is no WiMax fan and is supporting the other technology, LTE. As these new wireless networks roll out, the inevitable question is always the same: will the carriers be commoditized and just be dumb bit pipes? Right now the carriers are controlling my handset too much (unless I buy one from Steve Jobs, kudos to him) and I yearn, yes yearn, to make my cellphone as personal as my PC.

John | May 09, 2008 | 4:59PM

I love your column, Bob, but please learn to use the HTML bold tag! Capitalizing words for emphasis went out with the Smith Corona, and now just leads to confusion. "MSN IS a pretty Spartan place" = Microsoft Network Information Services?

A. Reader | May 09, 2008 | 5:07PM


I have to disagree with your analysis of Microsoft and Windows XP EOL. All of the EOL information that I have seen out of Microsoft indicates that they plan to offer security updates for XP Pro until the year 2014. Even Windows 2000 is good until 2011.

I am a system builder and I have never seen so much resistance to a new operating system in my 20+ years in the business. Most users did not notice how bad Windows ME really was until XP was first introduced and they switched over from ME. Then they could not wait to get ME off their other machines. ME could not burn a CD to completion if its life depended on it.

MS would be crazy to drop support for XP. One of the largest hospitals in the State of Michigan is still running Office '97 on Win2K. They are just now looking into updating to XP. Most medium to large businesses in the Detroit area seem happy to skip Vista altogether and wait for Windows 7 to be released.

I see a lot of long time Windows users defecting to the MAC side. They are fed up with all of the Windows security problems. The high maintenance, the work flow interruptions and the downtime. The constant security pop-ups in Vista just add to the perception that its a high maintenance, weak OS they are dealing with. The MAC OS/X looks to be in-control and much more robust by comparison.

I think the best thing MS could do for now would be to drop the Windows tar pit and start over fresh, from scratch, or write an XP style GUI for Linux and switch to supporting open source. But we both know that last one will never happen.

Bill | May 09, 2008 | 5:10PM

Cringely, you are really just making up garbage. You are living in your own fantasy world. Microsoft deliberately tanked earnings so they could justify killing off Windows XP? Get real.

And, your facts are completely wrong. Microsoft has not decided to "end security updates for the venerable operating system". In fact, full support will contine through April 14, 2009, and extended support through April 14, 2014. That's almost six years from now! Security fixes will be available, for free, to all users, through April 14, 2014. Windows XP is not dead.

Spencer Brown | May 09, 2008 | 6:09PM

I think the biggest fear Yahoo people had is based upon technology: Yahoo is Unix/FreeBSD and Microsoft is ...well... Microsoft.

I remember when Hotmail was taken over by Microsoft, and all the servers were converted over from Apache to IIS. What a disaster that was. I bet Hotmail lost at least a third of their customers over that.

A lot of Yahoo employees were probably worried that if MS made Yahoo go Windows/IIS/.NET, they'd find themselves in a very unfamiliar world. Another possible consideration: Apple notebooks are very popular with the employees. Maybe they were worried those notebooks would get taken away, and they'd have to use Vista.

David W. | May 09, 2008 | 6:22PM

@David W: You're right, and don't think Microsoft doesn't know this. Sure they would have taken whoever wanted to go over to the Dark Side from Yahoo! but they didn't care who or how many left either. They wanted two things: the Yahoo! brand, which still has some respect, but mostly Zimbra, the only real competition to Exchange, the source of Microsoft's 'enterprise' lock-in.

Microsoft is willing to let the brand go, but not Zimbra. They'll be back for seconds after they convince the shareholders Yahoo! is worthless.

Bill McGonigle | May 09, 2008 | 6:50PM

I'm not sure Yahoo outsourcing search and ads to Google and returning to the content business will help matters for them in the long run. Given the rise of social media, it's becoming less and less relevant where content comes from. Without some inventive new way for people to use the Internet, Yahoo's traffic and assets will slowly be sold off until the home page resembles a text-based hierarchy of hand-coded links to Jerry's favorite sites on the web.

Rene | May 09, 2008 | 6:54PM

Bob, the National Feed (Satellite) of PBS doesn't seem to be carrying your program, at least in the next two weeks; can you get it on iTunes (or better) or post us a link to your Slingbox? The .torrent would be fine too. :)

Bill McGonigle | May 09, 2008 | 7:23PM

The microsoft this calling, a yahoo is completely correct in holding the negotiation!

MARCIO - BRAZIL | May 09, 2008 | 8:26PM

I think MSFT has to make another run at Yahoo. Facebook is just a dumb soon to be tired as MySpace waste of time. Everyone I know has been like a chinese firework with it. Shoot off like a rocket at first then die out quickly. Social nets may influence the future of business but not in the current grabass form as intantiated on FaceButt.

Fred X | May 09, 2008 | 8:58PM

First time I can ever recall Bob replying directly to comments about his column. Someone maybe China must have pushed a few buttons

chris from Oz | May 09, 2008 | 8:59PM

Cool, I'll definitely watch your show tomorrow.

Didn't someone in Australia just abandon a huge WiMax project because it, like, just didn't work?

Will Cate | May 09, 2008 | 9:16PM

I cant find your show on the new york city schedule

jonas rudofsky | May 09, 2008 | 9:37PM

From Bob's column this week: "But since real WiMax cells are smaller this means installing backhaul circuits -- mainly DS3's (45 megabits per second) -- which in today's world takes us back to that one square mile."

Wow... for a non-engineer like me, this is pretty confusing. Could anyone help explain? Thanks for any help.

Pete | May 09, 2008 | 10:37PM

Beyond needing to remind China Man to eat a few less razor blades with his wheaties, I think the title of this weeks column was right on. It was decidedly wimpy, in a not-enough-of-anything to bite into way. The bit on forcing Vista on the good people pretty much explains why Yahoo types might want to avoid assimilation. I wonder if WiMax will become the wireless version of ISDN and quickly get leapfrogged by something far better. It has been 'coming' for so long that the next tech layer will likely be ready to emerge before WiMax can gain traction.

Reading the bit where someone from inside Apple actually comments on media speculation is jarring since this NEVER happens. Part of the fun of being a reader of Cringely is watching how things play out and whether he saw it or not. I think it's more interesting to contemplate an Apple/Adobe marriage than any other part of that story, but Apple not being in the fray at NAB has to point to something. What that something might be is worth watching for. That, and whether it is a lead up to something between Apple and Adobe. I care because during a recent overhaul of my workstation, Apple and Adobe were the only two vendors I spent any $ with. Everything else went opensource or cloud-based.

mgs | May 09, 2008 | 11:22PM

>>AND it's probably the only place you'll see a Carly Fiorina interview.

Sorry, Bob, Charlie Rose beat you to it.

Aries | May 09, 2008 | 11:51PM

I like what you have to say, pretty much every week. On one point today, I'll disagree with you. I would pay a reasonable price to keep XP running securely. Also, I suspect that the hackers under this scenario will focus their attention on Vista, since most folks will migrate when Mr. Softy tells them they have to.

Steven Simpson | May 10, 2008 | 12:40AM

Ahhh... a Carly Fiorina Interview. I still laugh about the interview she gave Gartner on how HP's Adaptive Enterprise works. She spewed such gibberish like:
"collaborative approach is tailored to a customer's ecosystem to create adaptive infrastructures that use leading software products and architectures and leverage HP's own expertise in the creation of adaptive infrastructures"
"collaborative approach is tailored to a customer's ecosystem to create adaptive infrastructures that use leading software products and architectures and leverage HP's own expertise in the creation of adaptive infrastructures?"
I hear Carly's advising McCain now. God help us...

Dan | May 10, 2008 | 1:56AM

Vista does indeed suck. I've had it for more than a year now, on a PC that I bought from Dell. My internet connection works quite reliably, but there is something really dumb in Vista or Internet Explorer that makes the browser's connection to the internet keep disconnecting and reconnecting (with annoying dialog boxes popping up). Those who dare to report this on Microsoft's so-called "self help" newsgroups just get a mouthful of hubristic abuse from Microsoft MVPs.

Damien | May 10, 2008 | 3:10AM

I believe the WiMax project referred to above was the NSW Government's plan to make Sydney Wi-Fi friendly. But since every project undertaken by the NSW Government in the last ten years has been an expensive farce leading to a catastrophic failure, it's probably not WiMax that is at fault. Warning to anyone about to do business with NSW: get the money up front in cash.

Jon Jermey | May 10, 2008 | 8:13AM

Now lets be fair to NSW. The APEC security money was well spent :-) Just ask The Chasers!

Kevin | May 10, 2008 | 10:05AM

From Computerworld:
"Windows XP will remain in what Microsoft calls "mainstream support" to April 14, 2009, and continue in "extended support" though April 8, 2014, he added. The former delivers free fixes -- for both security patches and other bug fixes -- to everyone. During the latter, all users receive security updates, but nonsecurity hot fixes are given only to companies that have signed support contracts with Microsoft."
So... XP users will receive security updates for six more years. By then, the average cellular phone will be fast enough to run Vista.

Bob | May 10, 2008 | 10:21AM

If folks don't want Vista, they'll vote with their wallets and pay to have help keeping up with XP's viruses.

Partners in Grime | May 10, 2008 | 12:14PM

1.)I did not update to Windows XP until SP2, before I was satisfied with Windows 98SE (forget Millennium, 'twas a very badly made OS, kind of a sad ending to the DOS Windows era). Still, it's not worth upgrading to Vista even if a second or third service pack makes it usable, less buggy or quicker. If you're on a PC or laptop, Ubuntu or openSUSE just works without too much fuss for most civilians, otherwise get a MacPro and buy Office 08 for the Mac. (I miss BeOS, but Zeta had its problems and Haiku if ever reaches 1.0, is so far behind, I can't ever seriously think of taking it for a test drive.)
2.)A Microsoft acquiring and absorbing Yahoo would be successful if it didn't cost so much and both Ballmer and Yang didn't oversee the changeover. It has to be someone outside of company who could heartless enough to cut away the chaff from both companies, focus which directions it needs to pursue and stand up to the board of directors and shareholders when they panicked by all the changes .
3.)The best thing to happen to Facebook is Sheryl Sandberg. She will turn this company into something that actually makes real money and cut out the chaff (maybe she should be the new CEO of Microsoft if Redmond acquires Yahoo.)

Kevin Kunreuther | May 10, 2008 | 1:05PM

Bob, I'm pretty sure those 30 mile cells are for real, but they only work out in areas with more cows (or acres of corn) than people.

A single Wimax site co-located with an under-utilized old-fashioned microwave site would be a quite economical way to provide broadband to a couple hundred families in that 30 mile footprint. Motorola's Canopy system is the main competitor in this market at the moment.

Unfortunately, IIRC Sprint never had a lot of microwave infrastructure, and around here at least, Sprint cellphones don't work when you get much over five miles off a major highway. . .

John Lowther | May 10, 2008 | 1:14PM

You're right, I won't pay for anti-virus for an unsupported XP. But I will gladly pay for VMware Fusion so I can run XP virtually on my Macbook. This way, if I get hacked, I will just revert to my last snapshot so who cares about security updates?

Besides, I would be using Mac OS X for internet access most of the time anyway. And I will probably just load Ubuntu on my other PCs for web and email. I gave my mom a laptop with Ubuntu and she thinks it's easier to use than XP!

One thing for sure...I certainly will not pay the Microsoft tax for Vista!

MSFT doesn't care about us but they don't realize that we have real choices now!

Your pal, Esteban!

Esteban Trabajos | May 10, 2008 | 3:54PM

I've been using Yahoo for awhile, particularly for weather and stocks. Google is best for searching and maps. Microsoft email is ok. But I don't pay for any of these things. All of these companies waste money on so many projects it's hard to keep track but Google and Microsoft have core cash cows. I don't see where Yahoo's cash is even coming from.

Also, I'm a bit doubtful about Microsoft cutting XP off so quick. They only started selling Vista just over a year ago. I have a computer that's a year and half old and Vista wasn't available when I bought it. I was supposed to get a free upgrade but I never did and probably wont since it works pretty good. As for those who want Ubuntu. Lots of cool aide ingestion. It's no better than Red Hat was almost ten years ago. Fedora is worse than Red Hat since they don't maintain it. OpenSolaris is ok if you like to run your programs through a command line. I thought it would be easy with mySQL but guess what, it's not. None of these will work with all sorts of common programs so you need to have a computer with windows around somewhere. As for Apple, I used to have a Mac Classic. I think you still need a windows machine unless you want to set up some virtual windows during your vacation. You could also hang out with some pot smokers and accomplish as much.

Frank | May 10, 2008 | 7:11PM

Err... Mr. Cringely, sir. You are aware that Dell charges EXTRA to ship with XP installed? I'm pretty sure they appreciate the profit. I know many of their customers think it's well worth it.

A dip in Microsoft's profits would seem to suggest getting rid of Vista, which has been a disaster, not the old warhorse, XP.

Zeph | May 10, 2008 | 9:18PM

Several of my friends are Msft engineers. Every one of them thinks Vista sucks and Ballmer is a retard. I ask them if their opinion is uncommon, and they say virtually every employee says that unless they're scared of the company's wrath.

They constantly make remarks about the company's stock performance since Ballmer took over as CEO, and laugh AT him, not WITH him when he dances around, screaming and hollering. Also up for ridicule is the office 2007 interface, i.e. the "ribbon", which even the engineers say it took them hours to figure out how to save or print a word document.

The new Msft naming convention? Vista beta 1 = RTM, beta 2 = sp1, beta 3 = sp2 = windows 7. My friends are already working with windows 7, and say it's no different than vista.

No wonder earnings were down. Sheesh.

Mark Kirby | May 10, 2008 | 11:05PM


I read your lead paragraphs and

"...was all pumped and ready to watch this one.... right up to the point you mentioned you talk to Carly."

Won't be watching.


Dave Barnes | May 10, 2008 | 11:06PM

Microsoft dropping XP? But we just found out it is launching a new program for XP for ultra-low cost laptops.

Microsoft is caught between a rock and a hard place. If it keeps XP it undercuts Vista, and if it drops XP then it cedes the next big hardware market to Linux. This dilemma is because 1) with XP it finally produced a reasonably good OS 2) the apps that half the customers use can run quite well on much leaner hardware than what Dell et al are pushing these days 3) computing is moving to the internet.

eduardo | May 11, 2008 | 1:48AM

eduardo, the discounted XP program is only for low-cost laptops that couldn't run Vista to begin with. Limiting manufacturers to 10" screens and 80GB drives in order to get a discounted XP license isn't exactly going to hurt Vista adoption, especially when those laptops are likely running three year old processor technology.

The only market share being ceded is by Microsoft to Apple, not Linux. The only OS less consumer-friendly than Windows is Linux (yes, even Ubuntu). Those ULPC's aren't going to be bought by businesses, pros, or enthusiasts.

me | May 11, 2008 | 11:30AM

You've left out the most obvious reason.

Microsoft created the much-hated Windows environment, and has a track record of forcing acquired companies to use it.

I think Yahooligans simply don't want to be forced to use Windows when they've been enjoying technology they prefer for decades.

It would be like telling you that instead of writing in English you'd have to convert to Pig Latin, and we need it done yesterday.

Not a really good way to retain employees.


David H Dennis | May 11, 2008 | 1:22PM

Yes, it does undercut vista. That's because a lot of people who otherwise would have had to buy a full-scale laptop to get a version of windows will now be able to get it on a cheaper, smaller XP machine. And remember, the next billion people who will join the personal computer revolution will be in the developing world where cost is everything.

And even then it doesn't really stop linux on the ultra-low cost laptops, because linux is cheaper. Microsoft is doing the best it can under the circumstances, but it still doesn't solve its problem.

eduardo | May 11, 2008 | 7:15PM

Australian WiMax project - There was an election and change of government, the incoming government dropped the project ( OPEL ) prior to implementation. So it was a political decision and the technology was never actually put to the test.

Aussie | May 11, 2008 | 8:38PM

Bob, your not kidding, "Because of PBS scheduling anarchy." It is not showing in San Antonio as far as I can tell.

Is there any chance this show (or your previous efforts) will be available in some other format... anytime... anywhere?


Scott Lewis | May 12, 2008 | 3:12PM

There's an interesting comment in there that is worth examining further. The mention that Yang seems to rely more on emotion than logic. This is something that was part of the dot.coms but appears to have lived on. These guys think of themselves like some kind of artist. No wonder why the software business has been in a funk. They make things more complicated instead of easier and make it possibly harder to deal with American programmers than foreign ones even. All that mumbo jumbo turns people off pretty quick. Time to grow up.

Frank | May 13, 2008 | 4:41AM

My little corner of the world is a solid, secure XP implementation that I can finally say I am happy with. The next technology migration will be to opensource, I've had all I care to deal with regarding MSFT. One commenter nailed it - Apple and Adobe were his only spend. Adobe software may not be perfect, but it has one thing that Apple knows it wants to be - it's everywhere.

GuyFromOhio | May 13, 2008 | 9:35AM

I've heard most of the PBS stations will carry Bob's new show in the next few months. So far only a fraction of them have signed up and added the show to their schedule. Most will follow. I found the show's website and a page with the broadcast schedule.

SeeTheShow | May 13, 2008 | 11:11AM

Please stop whining about whether or not Bob is right with his Apple predictions. You need to step back and understand the history of Information Technology and computer businesses. For decades we had firms that told us a lot, promised us a lot, and then they under delivered and often let us down.

In the 1980's a couple spunky firms hit the scene and began to change things for the better. One of them, company "M" then became greedy and decided to go for world domination. They cheated, they lied, they destroyed their competition through an amazing number of dirty tricks, and they injured their "partners" too. Over the years company "M" has damaged the industry and hasn't made running an IT department any easier.

Another, company "A" started off slow, then did some good things, then lost their focus and leader, then they found their leader and focus, and now they are a technology wonder. We all know company "A" could really transform Information Technology, but in recent years they have passed over many obvious opportunities. They could be very important to the industry. Unfortunately they are telling us nothing. Their plans are a complete mystery. In the absence of factual information, we have to read between the lines and try to anticipate what company "A" may do. I am grateful Mr. Cringely goes out on a limb and tries to figure out what company "A" may do. I am will to accept the fact he may often be wrong. It doesn't matter. If some of the time he helps me make better decisions, I am still ahead of the game.

I think for the most part Mr. Cringely has been very good about telling us when he is making an educated guess. What more do you want from him? Would you prefer he write nothing about company "A", or "M", or "G"? Have you read the industry publications recently? They are clueless about what is going on. To make matters worse, many IT firms are clueless about what to do with their business. If you haven't noticed, but the IT industry is in a real funk. In the absence of facts and sound technology plans, we need people like Bob to help us figure where the industry may be going. For the great information he provides, I can accept some errors.

Sometimes if you expect perfection, you keep people from providing you anything. To get good information in a messed up industry, you have to accept some risks, the risk of error. You can't have everything. So stop beating up the messenger.

StopWhining | May 13, 2008 | 11:44AM

(Disclaimer up front: I work for Yahoo!)

The reason so many Yahoo! employees are loathe to work for Microsoft is simply that Microsoft has a history of not relying on technology to capture markets. With other companies, products live or die based on their usefulness; with Microsoft, hurried knock-offs establish dominance via tie-in to existing monopolies. Therefore, on average Microsoft products are sub-par.

Yahoo! has a high percentage of “pure nerds” on staff, as do most of the companies in the Valley. The primary source of pride is their work; for many, what they build is everything: it trumps money, power, and prestige. Since employment is voluntary, working for a sub-par company is akin to admitting that you, yourself, are sub-par.

Microsoft has had some technological successes in the past, but the company is seen as a technological “me too” rather than a leader: Zune and Aero as blatant copies of Apple; .NET as a platform to mimic Java; search technologies cloned from Google; internet properties that mirrored AOL in its heyday.

In essence, the hatred they receive from the Valley is the bitter harvest they reaped from their treachery in the past. Even the (unlikely) termination of Ballmer wouldn’t undo that feeling. You cannot reverse decades of self-inflicted damage in a few years.

Microsoft simply has to accept increasing irrelevance.

Rob | May 13, 2008 | 7:59PM

"Microsoft simply has to accept increasing irrelevance."

Ahem. Who was in the position to buy who?

John Roberts | May 14, 2008 | 4:18PM

So the show won't be on in Memphis. I guess I live in a technology backwater....

Jay | May 16, 2008 | 11:20AM

I'm waiting for Microsoft to piss off Carl Icahn enough that he makes a run at their board of directors.

BTW, I'm conceding that my prediction about Paul Allen returning to the fold and replacing Ballmer will not come to pass. The business person that should take over and redirect the company is Facebook's current COO, ex-Googler Sheryl Sandberg.

Kevin Kunreuther | May 16, 2008 | 2:04PM

John Roberts:

“Increasing irrelevance” does not imply immediate irrelevance; it just means that at some time in the future the company will be irrelevant. Paul Graham noted that Microsoft is already viewed as technologically irrelevant for the Web.

Microsoft is facing a Microsoft-free future, and it scares them. They saw what happened to IBM, to Digital, to SGI: all high-flyers (and in the case of IBM, perceived invulnerability) that were crushed by the world moving in a direction that they could not follow. Some were able to reinvent themselves, some were swallowed by others, and some simply face extinction.

At this moment, Microsoft has a ton of cash, and… what? Technical leadership? Customer goodwill? Future-proofed products? No, no, and no. They could live on their reserves for more than a decade, provided that there isn’t a run on the stock should the shareholders realize it has no long-term value. But that requires complete blindness from Wall Street, something Ballmer and company shouldn’t and won’t assume: hence the recent forays into alternative revenue streams. They need Yahoo! to stave off the collapse of their monopoly.

The technology world independent of Windows technology wants to see Microsoft suffer for its past sins, so they will not lift a finger to help establish Microsoft 2.0. “Never partner with Microsoft” is advice well worth heeding if you want to survive.

Rob | May 16, 2008 | 5:07PM

Microsoft buying Yahoo might be good for Microsoft, but it wouldn't be good for Yahoo, and I think that's why Jerry Yang was so against doing a deal, and why he held out for a valuation so much higher than the original stock price.

I mean, who really wants to be bought out by a company that:

1) Is a convicted monopolist in 5 or 6 jurisdictions
2) Has carried out a 10 year battle with the EU over whether they would obey the law
3) Has avoided obeying the law in the USA by buying of the Bush regime
4) Threatened to stop making Korean versions of Windows and Office when the Korean competition people moved against them
5) Destroyed emails deliberately rather than turning them over during discovery in the BURST case
6) Redesigned their Email Server software to make it easier to destroy emails so they cannot be turned over in discovery
7) Used dirty tricks to get ISO approval of OOXML
8) Has a reputation that is so low that the company can walk under a snake with a top hat on

In effect what Jerry Yang was saying was that he didn't want his company bought by the Tony Soprano of the tech industry, and I can't blame him one little bit.

Wayne | May 19, 2008 | 12:18AM

Watching The Transformation Age as I write (0400 am - 0500am 19 May 08, Ch. 13, KERA-TV , Dallas-Fort Worth, TX). You need to make an episode based on your recent education columns.

Kevin Kunreuther | May 19, 2008 | 5:40AM

Watching The Transformation Age as I write (0400 am - 0500am 19 May 08, Ch. 13, KERA-TV , Dallas-Fort Worth, TX). You need to make an episode based on your recent education columns.

Kevin Kunreuther | May 19, 2008 | 5:41AM