Waking up rich and confused. That’s how one analyst explained the recurring product delays at Microsoft, and the principle can describe similar problems at chip giant Intel. Instead of waking up sick and washed out, employees at these companies are seemingly dawdling a bit because of past successes and a hazy outlook, says C|NET News.
The decline and fall of the Wintel empire
Submitted by Jason Knight 2004-08-05 Microsoft 16 Comments
Are we ready for the Dark Ages of information technology? Because that’s what happened when the Roman Empire fell.. until the renaissance and enlightenment, centuries later.
It seems unfair, post-gigahertz race, to bundle Microsoft and Intel in any sort of alliance. Rumors that Windows XP 64-bit was delayed to coincide with iAMD64 availability are completely ridiculous. Windows XP SP2 is much more attributable to the delay of 64-bit Windows than anything to do with Intel.
Instead, Intel finds itself in a situation more comparable to that of NVIDIA, with a healthy competitor (AMD/ATI) gaining ground and in many cases surpassing its products. PCI express problems, driver cheating/optimizations, and behind the scenes product posturing are hallmarks of stiff competition in today’s computer hardware (read: not software) game.
Microsoft is in a very different position. SP2/Longhorn/Trusted Computing Initiative are parts of a major strategy shift for MS, striving to eradicate the public perception (and that of this writer) that they are content to sit on their monopoly. Unfortunately, as Microsoft has found, and even as Novell has found, putting together a truly revolutionary computing platform is a task prone to underestimation: the devil is in the details.
In the last 5 years we have fallen into the, relative, IT dark ages due to Microsoft’s feelings of absolute security. They have stopped innovating in favor of litigating. Windows 95 was the peak of the their innovative period. They truly defined the PC operating system. Now Linux is the barbarian tribe at it’s gates ready to lay waste. As in Europe, a rennaisance will rise from the ashes.
It don’t think it’s fair to compare the Intel/Microsoft analogies.
Intel is a company that has constant pushed the envelop with regards to microelectronics and computer architecture. The latest Pentiums are -arguably- the fastest, cheapest, CPUs in existence; which, even with drastically simplified instruction sets, their competitors can’t meet. Their delays are the result of 1) A move to a vastly more complicated and expensive fabrication process (90nm) 2) The necessity for increased design verification because of increased complexity and electrical necessity 3) The current state of the art transistor technology is reaching a platou. Intel is having difficulty because the problem of designing CPUs of such performance is becoming increasingly more difficult, and never before have engineers had to create full-custom chips of such complexity before -ever.
Microsoft, however, is a different case. Microsoft has, through out the years been more interested in bolting on new features to an already well developed operating system with the sole intention of gaining sales. Further, they have bolted such component, the web-browser for example, that -using typical software engineering methologies- was recognised as being a bad idea, but coded anyway for the sole purpose of pushing a competitor out of their market. Microsoft’s Operating System is their bread-and-butter, however, it is clear that the more they reuse and build on the same old, same old code, the more the cracks appear. A stable, fully functional, secure Operating system is complex; but it CAN and HAS been achieved -just look at OSX. Instead, people should be questioning why, with a limitless monopoly, and 80% profit on each sale and billions in the bank, why, are they still having problems? Oh yeah, they are: Longhorn. But that won’t be around for at least two more years, and in the mean time you’ll just have to make do; afterall, how many alternatives are there to Windows? And, this is a fact Microsoft knows only too well.
employees at these companies are seemingly dawdling a bit because of past successes and a hazy outlook, says C|NET News
That’s an optimistic appraisal. Wait until they release something before you dance on their graves.
Even if all their current projects, such as Longhorn, become wildly successful, Microsoft will still be at a crossroads. When a company becomes so dominant, it faces the conundrum of saturation: their products and/or services are so ubiquitous that their growth rate tapers off. The only ways to maintain their revenue streams are to either develop into a service/solutions provider, or to continue to produce must-have innovations, a skill for which Microsoft is not widely known, despite their PR. They’ve probably accrued their mind-boggling cash reserves as a buffer against any upcoming shocks in the software sector (Linux comes to mind; Redmond is TERRIFIED of Tux), or they could be poised to leave it altogether. They don’t need to sell software to make money; they’ve certainly got enough cash to transform themselves into a new company. I always tell people that Microsoft is really a financial services organization that sells software, in the same way that McDonald’s is really a real estate company (one of the largest on the planet) that sells burgers and fries.
The latest Pentiums are -arguably- the fastest, cheapest, CPUs in existence; which, even with drastically simplified instruction sets, their competitors can’t meet
errrm… beg your pardon, but the current amd athlon-64 bit processoris faster, cheaper and generally better.
r, it is clear that the more they reuse and build on the same old, same old code, the more the cracks appear. A stable, fully functional, secure Operating system is complex; but it CAN and HAS been achieved -just look at OSX. Instead
Well this is a bad comparison I’m afraid. OSX is hardly made from ground up. It reuses a whole bunch of stuff from other technologies *cough*BSD*Cough*…
A proper example would rather be like BeOS… but as you can see Be Inc didn’t survive and their IP got bought.
I DO believe however that it IS possible to really do something innovative but I don’t believe that the *Nix way is what will be the revolution, no something creative must be done. Most likely we will be taken by storm whenever whatever arrives… I mean who knows what the Chinese might do? Or howabout SequelOS (like any has even heard about it)….
Future is out there… let’s see what happens.
Are we ready for the Dark Ages of information technology? Because that’s what happened when the Roman Empire fell.. until the renaissance and enlightenment, centuries later
Fellow, tech progress during the Roman Empire was Zero. It was its fall that set the conditions for research which would start slowly but never looking back until it blossomed from the 14th century on. Of course, most of the people get your (the wrong) idea, just like most believe LT wrote Linux alone or William Gates was born poor.
What both companies are finding is that the Joy of being a monopoly isn’t really all that. It was fun to be Bill Gates back in 1999 when the price of PCs was falling and everybody wanted one…
Enter today’s environment… For both Intel and Microsoft everybody that can afford a PC has one or two. PC’s haven’t meaningfully progressed much in the last 4 years except for games [I write this on a 1.2g box 3 years old!] AMD is still growing because they sell an order of maginitude less chips than intel. yes, they are really that much smaller. MS is now its OWN competition…why replace Win98 or office 2000…all the games and software still support it. For 80% of people it’s a waste of money.
Neither company is running to “grab the bull” either. MS has had nearly 2 years of AMD-64 released [and god knows how long before!] to get the OS out and they’re still dragging. There was an opportunity to leap ahead and it wasn’t “profitable enough” to manage. There in lies the problem! It’s no longer “profitable enough” for the current industry leaders to stay cutting edge..so they ignore it…and use their money to take it out on everybody else.
It’s all about the M.I.P.S, not the clocks
MS didn’t stall with AMD-64 because they didn’t didn’t think it was worth the money to get out the door sooner.
They stalled to give Intel time to catch up (so they could release an OS they are sure would support both platforms).
Had Intel released a 64 bit desktop processor 2 years ago, you can bet that MS would have released an OS for it before 6 or 8 months from now.
This is one case where being a monopoly (sorta) helped Intel.
They are slipping yes, but it is still far too early to declare them a fallen empire.
No, its about the clock frequency.
The AMD may have a higher PERFORMANCE but thats simply the result of having a larger data bus (64bits over 32bits). What I was saying was that creating a fast CPU, 4Ghz with the ALUs running at 8GHz is very difficult to achieve electronically. At these speeds all manner of signal integrity and timing issues become significant and requires great skill, ingenuity and cutting edge modelling software to achieve. It is my opinion that is these issues that are giving Intel so many head aches.
Frankly, knowing the issues involved, I don’t have a clue how intel can develop CMOS chips that operate at that speed -and, I guess AMD and IBM et. al. don’t know either.
“Had Intel released a 64 bit desktop processor 2 years ago”
Ever heard of Itanium….
Ever heard of Itanium….
ya. ever heard why amd 64 did it better with compatibility and how intel finally got around to cloning it. ?
“Ever heard of Itanium….”
“64 bit desktop processor”
Itanium is not aimed at the desktop market and MS _does_ have a version of windows XP for it.