• United States

How Microsoft did in 2003

Jan 05, 20043 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMicrosoft

* Did Microsoft keep its (well, Dave's) 2003 resolutions?

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and sane holiday and you’re ready to make 2004 the best networking year ever. What’s needed, of course, is a sense of resolve, which is why folks make resolutions when the New Year rolls around. Vendors should do the same, and many do, but they don’t always tell us what those resolutions are. And so, I propose a few to them.

Before promulgating 2004’s resolutions for Microsoft, though, let’s look at how Redmond performed in light of the resolutions I proposed for 2003. The three suggestions were in the areas of security, the law and cooperation. Specifically, I proposed:

1. There’s still a tendency by some people at Microsoft to value user-friendliness over security, but if we put those people to work on making user-friendly security applets (e.g., security wizards) that explain exactly what the consequences of various security configurations and parameters can be, then that could give us the best of both worlds – better security in a user-friendly way. No, not “Clippy” or Microsoft Bob, but useful wizards, intelligently crafted.

2. Get out of the courtroom. Settle with Massachusetts and West Virginia, come to an agreement with Sun over Java and get on with real computing.

3. Let’s go for a new initiative in 2003 called “Sandbox Computing.” Just because it’s your sandbox, doesn’t mean that other kids can’t play in it. You can also go and play in their sandbox. You can each share your sandbox toys, or bring them to the other sandbox. IBM was once as dominant in computing as you are today and although it no longer holds that position, IBM is still a pretty big fish in that pond and it maintains that status by using “Sandbox Computing” techniques.

We didn’t get easier to use security wizards, but we are seeing better patch management. It’s a step in the right direction, but only the first step.

In the courtroom, the anti-trust fallout is still with us, but winding down. The biggest surprise of 2003 was that Microsoft was on the receiving end of a patent suit (from Eolas) that, if it remains unchallenged, will drastically change the way we browse the Web.

On the cooperation front, there was some movement towards the end of the year to make somewhat easier both the process of seeing the Windows source code as well as the licensing of earlier Microsoft technologies but there’s still a long way to go.

Not a failure, exactly, but not a stellar performance either. Next issue, we’ll see about how Microsoft can resolve to make 2004 an even better year for its customers.