[FoRK] Quarters needed for Apple to put Microsoft out of our misery?

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at jarbox.org
Fri Jan 30 10:34:18 PST 2015

> On Jan 29, 2015, at 5:27 PM, Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
[…odd anti-Microsoft screed elided…]

Microsoft 2015 has little in common with Microsoft 2005, so you might want to recalibrate your "facts". I have not used a Windows machine in over a decade but I do interact with various parts of Microsoft (the company) on a regular basis. Microsoft has been furiously reinventing itself for a few years now and Satya Nadella in particular has been effective at transforming the company into something that looks nothing like its past self. 

Microsoft is moving with a speed and purpose these days, and in intelligent directions, that is making me reconsider my perennially bearish outlook on them. Their acquisition spree as of late has also been savvy and reflects a coherent, consistent strategy that will likely actually work for them.

> Now, with the already pervasive use of Linux, cloud services, etc. on servers being boosted to explosive levels by container technology such as Docker, along with related services, there’s little doubt where things are heading. 

All of which is already available from Microsoft, with nice scriptable management interfaces in Python on top even. 

> For some of us, there’s no trust left with Microsoft and the gap between the best approach and Microsoft’s is too great to foresee any bridge. For a long time, those apparently best approaches were often somewhat theoretical or otherwise not practical. Now, they are often immediately, easily, and very inexpensively available with evolutionary momentum that is simply fun to experience. While those still immersed in the Microsoft technology world view may not see it, the other technology realm predictably experiences a lot less angst nearly every step of the way.

Eh, what? This is just flatly wrong. Microsoft often has better tech and better implementations, I am not sure how anyone could credibly argue otherwise. There are three important points you seem to have missed:

- Microsoft’s computer science R&D is prodigious and top notch. Some of it, not enough, makes it into real products. Google wishes they could produce quality computer science as consistently as Microsoft. Quite a few parts of Microsoft’s available tool chain is literally state-of-the-art and often well implemented. 

- Per the first point, you conflate “available outside the Microsoft ecosystem” with “best”. Microsoft has interesting technical capabilities that are difficult to replicate outside of it, and not available from Google, Amazon, et al which is part of their attractiveness to enterprises. A rapidly growing fraction is seamlessly supported on not-Windows. 

- Many parts of the tool chains used in open source stacks are poorly engineered, use mediocre computer science, and/or sacrifice scale and efficiency on the altar of extreme portability. Popular, yes. Best? Not even close, unless you need the aforementioned “extreme portability” above all else which almost no one needs because, as you point out, all the infrastructure these days runs Linux. 

The important change in the last couple years is that Microsoft is becoming completely OS agnostic and cloud-centric as fast as they can do the required engineering. They know they are late to the cloud game but are also effectively leveraging their unique technical capabilities to credibly differentiate in the enterprise space. Their transformation is much more impressive than I would have expected.

> Perhaps, ironically, the purchase of Microsoft would be perceived to have anti-trust issues.

Also, sanity issues. Nothing about the idea of Apple buying Microsoft makes any sense for Apple, Microsoft, or the shareholders of either company. 

The vast majority of well-conceived mergers fail to deliver the anticipated benefits. The odds of success with an ill-conceived merger would be even lower.

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