Tag Archives: microsoft

Microsoft Drinks from the Cup of Love

My final post in Jesusism-Paulism — “Embrace and Extend“” — is getting good press throughout the blogosphere. Castle Argghhh, Dreaming 5GW, and Spooky Action have already commented on my comparison between Microsoft and early Christianity. Now I will give a specific example of how “love” can be given too strongly and too early – in other words, inappropriately — if one’s OODA loops is too slow.

But love conquers all, and resilient love — love that, when rebuffed, merely loves stronger — unexpected love — is a powerful weapon.

In the words of Ecclesiastes 9:11-12

I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong
,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come:
As fish are caught in a cruel net,
or birds are taken in a snare,
so men are trapped by evil times
that fall unexpectedly upon them
.

The message of Christianity, and the means of Microsoft, is this: your enemy expects resistence. A fool fights fair.

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

Instead, give your enemy love.

Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

Conquer him.


The Observe-Orient-Decide-Act cognition cycle was devised by John Boyd. I have previously described the OODA loop in detail and re-drew it to ease understanding:


Note how “Decide” Is Optional

The secret to the OODA loop is that one can completely skip Decide — one can avoid conscious thought altogether. This allows one to transient quickly from one OODA state to another, allowing one to cut one’s enemy and change posture before the enemy can react in the first place. Chet Richards described samurai Miyamoto Musashi’s strategy similarly:

The focus, however, is never on defending, but on regaining and using the initiative so that you can lead your opponents where you want them to be.

Now, back to Microsoft:

Some years ago it became clear that there was energy in favor of moving to standard, XML methods for storing data. While XML-style standards are hardly a new idea (going back to the 1950s), the correlation of forces had finally swung in a strcutured, standard direction. Microsoftobligingly loved XML standards, creating OfficeOpenXML as the new standard file format for Microsoft Office.

OfficeOpenXML is a perfect example of the embrace & extend philosophy, which takes up the form of an enemy in order to destroy the enemy’s intent. It apperas similar to OpenDocument, originally just the native file format of OpenOffice, and has features such as:

  • A 6,000 page specification document
  • Internal contradictions, such as standard functions that behave differently in different applications
  • Purposefully incorrect statements, such as describing 1900 as a leap year
    Internally and externally incoherent methods of describing numbers and percentages

20 official responses were received by the International Standards Organization on OfficeOpenXML. One (Romania’s) was favorable,14 (Australia’s, Canada’s, Czechia’s, Denmark’s, France’s, Germany’s, Japan’s, Kenya’s, Malaysia’s, New Zealand’s, Singapore’s, Sweden’s, and the United Kingdom’s) were negative, and five (Hungary’s, India’s, Italy’s, Netherland’s, and Norway’s) were ambivalent.

In the same way that Christians adopted Easter and December 25th as festivals, while stripping them of their original meaning and forcing those dates to serve the Church, Microsoft adapts a structured XML standard to defeat the purpose of standards. Nonetheless, Microsoft’s political muscle got OfficeOpenXML fast-tracked for approval. So far, a perfect victory.

However, since OfficeOpenXML was originally proposed OpenDocument has become an OASIS, ISO, and IEC Standard, and supported by Google’s online word processor. Microsoft now faces a market with three major file formats:

  • DOC/XLS/PPT — the old standards for Microsoft Office which are widely used
  • OpenDocument – Microsoft’s main file format competitor, ratified by numerous standards bodies
  • OfficeOpenXml – Microsoft’s new, preferred file format, neither widely used nor recognized as a standard

This bad situation could have been avoided if Microsoft had been more agile — if it had been able to cycle through the OODA loop faster or had been able to embrace OpenDocument once it emerged. In the frist case, it would have been able to pre-empt OpenDocument by getting OfficeOpenXML rapidly confirmed as a standard. In the second case, it could have merely “embraced and extended” OpenDocument by creating its own version.

Nowadays, the only valid options for Microsoft appear to be a conventional attack (trying as hard as possible to defeat OpenDocument with OfficeOpenXML) or a loving attack on OpenDocument specifically (abandoning OfficeOpenXML, and merely creating a slightly incompatible version of OpenDocument). Microsoft is resilient, so my money is on abandoning their failed effort and trying to love OpenDocument to death. Microsoft tried this before. In the early days of the browser wars, Microsoft Internet Explorer identified itself to web sites as “Internet Explorer” through the standard user agent string mechanism. When it became clear this would not work, because Netscape was conventionally more poewrful, Microsoft Internet Explorer attacked Netscape unconventionally by identifying IE as a Netscape browser.

To defeat Netscape, Microsoft embraced and extended Netscape. To defeat OpenDocument, Microsoft will abandon her efforts to defeat OpenDocument and instead embrace and extend.

Microsoft will not cut off the ear of her enemy’s slave, but she will drink from the cup given to her.

Jesusism-Paulism, Part VI: Embrace and Extend

“Nobody ever got fired for buying Big Blue.”

For years IBM’s strength rested on vendor-lock in and vendor-compatibility. A company that wished to buy electronic computer equipment had one choice, Big Blue, which offered complete systems that were entirely under the control of IBM. IBM keyboards communicated in IBM EBCDIC to IBM terminals, connected through IBM wires to IBM mainframes, IBM harddrives, IBM tape backups, and IBM power supplies. The complete solution set took the world by storm, offering One Ruleset (Buy IBM) which entailed numerous sub-products. The system worked.


The Islam of the 1970s

In the same way, the One Ruleset of the Koran swept aside the old Roman world, tearing up the Orthodox and Arian peoples it subjugated, rolling back much of the Christian 4GW revolution. Islam did this almost as an afterthought, as it also spread into formerly Zoroastrian, Hindu, Buddhist, and Animist countries. No one ever got fired for buying Big Blue, and no one ever got beheaded for embracing Islam.

The IBM of the Dark Ages

But IBM met Microsoft.

alpha_chi_ro_omega_md
The Microsoft of the Dark Ages

And Islam met Catholocism.


A famous example of Microsoft’s embrace and extend philosophy is the Redmond corporation’s response to SUN’s Java Programming Language. Java was one of a line of programming languages, beginning with C, whose goal was to make it easy to write a program one time and run it on many different computers. Java went even farther than its predecessors, however, in that the computer would translate the written Java code into a java file that could be read the same way under all programming languages.

The Islamic / IBM solution would have been to fight this, and wipe Java off of the map. This is exactly what Islam did when the Sharia legal code completely displaced ancient Arab laws, completely displaced ancient Roman law, and completely displace dancient Persian laws, in the lands it was implemented. Sharia covered the transition from boyhood to manhood, the transiion from bachelorhood to single life, who may be drafted and who may be head-taxed. The One True Way had an answer for everything.

International Business Machines similarly displaced everything that came before with the Operating System/360. MFT, MVT, BOS/360, TOS/360, and DOS/360 were all specific prescriptions of the OS/320 system, mere details of the IBM way. The conscious goal of IBM was to turn a corporate customer “all blue,” where custom-built IBM hardware ran everything.

Micrososoft’s response to Java was smarter. Instead of condemending Java, calling it a stupid language, and ignoring it, Microsoft opted to embrace and extend. Microsoft devised Visual J++, an implementation for Java that actually provided the best interface for developing Java applications yet. Microsoft perfected the nature of Java from a good idea that was hard to work with to a good idea that was easy to work with.

Microsoft also extended J++ by adding features that were unique to Microsoft’s Windows operating system. These extensions fixed Java’s biggest weakness, lack of speed, by allowing J++ programs to operate the same as programs written in other popular languages (C, C++, etc.) and even faster than Microsoft’s own Visual Basic language.

When SUN complained that Microsoft embrace of Java, when Microsoft’s love and generosity to a potentially dangerous rival, was unfair, Microsoft refused to look away. Microsoft continues development on Java-like languages. Today, if you want to use a Microsoft Java-like language that taps in to all the power of the Microsoft .Net programming environment, you can, for free: Visual J# 2005 Express. Even more lovlingly, Microsoft’ primary programming language, C#, is famous for being frighteningly similar to java. And just as the Jesusist-Paulists adviesd one to repair evil with kindness, Microsoft responded to SUN’s increasing hostility with more love: giving C# away for free.

If “Embrace & Extend” sound like a way of penetrating a market and separating the customers from the old market-leader, it is. Embrace & Extend are the first two pages of the PISRR stages of victory.


Penetrate, Isolate : Embrace, Extend

As embrace & extend leads to a form of subversive victory, the paranoid accusation that Microsoft secretly wished to “embrace, extend, and exterminate” simply makes no sense. Microsoft wishes to embrace, extend, and own.


Down the PISRR Way

Though, more charitably, “extinguish” can be seen as being the very final step, to a world where every individual mattered. As Microsoft’s early vision went, “A PC on every desk and in every home.”


Reharmonize and Win

One can view this as a variation of the original OODA/PISRR loop of victory.

ooda_pisrr_09

However, under the Embrace & Extend system, whether implemented by Microsoft or by the Jeusist-Paulists, the circle is broken. Once the system is embraced and extended into pre-existing systems, and rival organizing principles are abolished, there is nothing more to do. The war would have been won.


The Microsoft Way… The Christian Way

The Jesusist-Paulists of the Catholic Church behaved the same way. They embraced the old cultures of Europe, refusing to look away when revulsion would have been easier than love. And they extended the old orders, giving new life to the status quo ante sancata romana ecclesia. For instance, in southern France where the old Senatorial families still held sway, the family names of the early bishops were the same as the family names of the last Senators. In Ireland, where an indigenous Church had grown after the abduction of the slave boy Patricius, Romanization was handled primarily through institutional fusion. And in the Viking North, the Church refused to look away from the bloody tribes — instead embracing them.

It would have been easier to have, and ignore. But the Christians loved, and embraced.

And, of course extended. Even through the crippling Islamic blockade of western Europe, the practice of slavery faded away. The locus of Jesusism-Paulism, the Bishopric fo Rome, continued intellectual engagement with the Byzantine Empire to the east, continued doctrinal promulgation throughout Europe, and in general did all that a conquering power could do.

Yet even as the Church loved and embraced and extended the cultures of Western Europe to serve Jesusism-Paulism, the counterrevolutions had begun. The old Maoism of Greek civilization was not dead, and for a thousand years it rolled back the success of the 4GWarriors.

What followed next may have been Christianity, but it was not Jesusism-Paulism.

But those are stories for other times.


Jesusism-Paulism, a tdaxp series in six parts
1. Love Your Enemy As You Would Have Him Love You
2. Caiaphas and Diocletian Did Know Better
3. Every Man a Panzer, Every Woman a Soldat
4. The Fall of Rome
5. The People of the Book
6. Embrace and Extend

Dumping Google and Yahoo for Microsoft Live Search

I am generally skeptical of Microsoft’s Franco-Soviet development process. Nonetheless, I have been using a number of common Microsoft programs, such as

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Live Messenger
  • Wordpad

because they work better than competitors. Yet when competitors are required for certain jobs — such as Jedit for editing programs or Google Talk for online message logging — I use those as well.

With that in mind, I have now modified Firefox to use Microsoft Windows Live Search instead of Google. The moment of truth came when I was searching for my article on Citi MasterCard’s reward cuts. Of the top five Windows Live searches, four bring you to my page. Further, the very top result is exactly the one I’m looking for. However, on google there are only four results, and while three will take you there, none are a direct page link.

(I also found through my experiment that spammer sites are now using “tdaxp” as a junk keyword. Before I started this blog, the only pages that contained “tdaxp” were the raw output of some statistical program. So I guess that’s a move up in the world, heh).

I’ve already noticed this with my evolutionary politics notes, with google typically taking you to the category main page while Windows Live Search brings visitors to the actual post.

I began using google back in the google.stanford.edu era. From then to now, I have never had another primary search engine, or recommend that anyone else do so. Now I can say this: I use Windows Live Search. You should, too.

I have installed Stuart Marshall’s Windows Live Engine for Mozilla Firefox, and have changed Firefox’s default behavior by making Windows Live my default search engine (a now removed copy of Yahoo Messenger sneakily changed this behavior and refused to change it back).

I will still use Google apps as they are useful — Google Talk, Goolge Scholar, and GMail especially — but Google Search is no longer the best in the business. Windows Live Search is.

Update: The side search box has been updated to use Windows Live instead of Google. It now looks like thing like:


Additionally, in both Google and Live Search, my friend Mike’s blog “Spooky Action is the 2nd result. Let’s change that, and make Spooky Action #1!

Microsoft Wrong on War and Software

Microsoft’s eye on open source,” by Eileen Yu, CNET News.com, 20 July 2005, http://news.com.com/Microsofts+eye+on+open+source/2008-1082_3-5796496.html?tag=nefd.ac (from Slashdot).

I have been discussing 5th Generation Warfare, a type of struggle very similar to waterfall development. In 5GW, programs / war are planned, analyzed, and designed in secret and then unleashed all ready to go. By contrast, 4th Generation Warfare (4GW) is like prototype development: programs / wars are released in “beta,” it takes many years to get it right, everyone knows about it.

The same knowledge that we learned from development software can be used in creating wars. Programs created through waterfall development are brittle — if a requirement was not known ahead of time, it is extremely difficult to add it later. In software, the most famous example of this is the hapless development of OS / 360, chronicled in The Mythical Man Month.

Because of the 360 debacle, and similar problems with the first version of Microsoft Word for Windows, most companies now use prototyping. Prototyping – or “4th Generation Software Development” — is extremely flexible. While the program will not be perfect right away, it will get “out the door” fast. Major Open Source (Linux, OpenOffice, &c) and Microsoft (Windows, Office, &c) programs use prototyping because of its flexibility.

Which is why Microsoft’s latest “pot calling the kettle white” is so bizarre

 

You can build it, design it, and it will work great. The trouble begins when you want to add things to it, add some services and things like that. Because of the brittle nature of the [open source] platform, when you do that, other things break. We see that in the labs all the time, and our customers see that as well. So that has a (total) cost of ownership impact on it.

 

This would be like an angry 1960s statement by North Korea calling Mao a “capitalist.” It makes no sense. And it shows once again by Microsoft has almost no credibility in the software development community.