Nadella’s challenge: Saving Microsoft | ZDNet

Nadella’s challenge: Saving Microsoft | ZDNet.

So, here’s how I see it coming out. Microsoft will continue to be a giant company, but it will prove unable to dominate the mobile and cloud markets the way it has the desktop market. Without that domination, Microsoft will stagnate and start to fall behind the other technology giants.”

I agree. Only I think its stagnation has been going on longer than suggested, and I’m basing my argument on the difficulty it’s seemingly had in attracting and retaining effectual talent. I don’t doubt that the company appeals to many around the world who have other choices. But are those then hired and, better yet, listened to? Do they write to their friends and express the intense excitement they feel working for a company that’s doing interesting and even adventurous work and making them feel important doing it? (Is there anything that MSFT has done recently that would catch the eye of a brilliant developer who wants to make a difference and feel good about doing it? Any new or novel technology that is not just a copy, an emulation, a Disney-fication of something a little wilder–“disruptive”– but so much more original?)

Sure, enterprises, public sector and private, will continue to buy Microsoft. And SJV-N is right about Azure and Excel, and these will continue to earn MSFT money. But no one complained or complained that Blackberry’s network was terrible or that its email system failed. They critiqued it and first consumers then, massively, enterprises, stopped buying its products because the company demonstrated an inability to be relevant, even to understand what being relevant meant. Yes, I’m echoing the student complaint of the 60s. But they were approaching education–probably not for the first time–as consumers demanding products that mattered to them.

I don’t think MSFT can do what I did with OpenOffice, if only because the brand is so deeply etched into modernity’s consciousness and its size is so vast, much larger than empires: Which was to take a dull office suite a tool for office worker oppression and turn it into a tool for all workers’ freedom.

Windows 8 market share stalls, XP at record low • The Register

Windows 8 market share stalls, XP at record low • The Register.

Basic message is that Win 8.x has failed in the marketplace and people are turning from XP to Win 7. Why? I suggest it reflects the lack of any compelling reason to buy a Windows 8.x box—absent, that is, compulsion from education or work. For a consumer wanting a computer to use Facebook or other social media or to watch or read works online? OS X or the cheapest and most familiar form of Windows. And increasingly: tablets.

It gets worse for MSFT. Apple’s strategic entry into corporations via iPads modulo IBM but also, and much more importantly, via the sheer popularity and liquid integration into established environments ruptures MSFT’s storied claim of the corporation commons as its own.

I don’t expect to see MSFT collapse into itself any time soon. It’s not a credit agency surfing on consumer credibility. And it’s not like Sun or any of the other premillennial stars of the tech world; indeed, the sheer size, the very momentum of the company makes any comparison difficult. It may also prove the case that Azure lifts the rest of the company into the relevancy it’s losing on the desktop. But if I want interesting controversy, excitement, and genius, I don’t look to MSFT but elsewhere, and I think I’m not alone in this dis-regard.

Open Source Bridge: The conference for open source citizens / June 24-27, 2014 / Portland, OR

Open Source Bridge: The conference for open source citizens / June 24-27, 2014 / Portland, OR.

I regret I was unable to participate. However, the idea of having a conference exploring “open source citizenship” (defining what that means is part of the exploration) sounds interesting–enough to consider organizing one in Toronto.

“An Open Audit of an Open Certification Authority”

An Open Audit.

The author, Ian Grigg is Independent Auditor for CAcert. This long work is worth going over. The abstract: 

How does a lightweight community Certification Authority (“CA”) engage in the heavyweight world of PKI and secure browsing?

With the introduction of PKI — Public Key Infrastructure — as a framework that brought together cryptography, contract law, and institutional views from postal and telecommunications ministries, the Internet security framework rapidly became too complex for individuals and small groups to deal with, and the Audit stepped into the gulf to provide a kinder face, in the form of a simple opinion or judgement call. Classically, the audit process oversights a CA for its suitability for reliance in the root lists of popular software distributions.

Yet, a community of Internet enthusiasts does not match the classical target customer of an audit: little money, loose structures, no deadlines, self-directed tasking, uncertain customer list, all inspired by an original goal of as many free certificates as you can use. Internet communities can make up for an apparent lack of professionalism with enthusiasm, numbers, loyalty and innovative thinking, but does that help or hinder a formal, criteria-directed audit process?

This talk tracks the systems audit of CAcert, an open-membership CA, as a case study in auditing versus the open Internet, community versus professionalism, quality versus enthusiasm. It will walk through the background of “what, why, wherefore an audit,” look at how CAcert found itself at this point, and then walk through some big ticket items: risks/liabilities/obligations; assurance and what’s in a name; disputes and reliance; privacy and data protection; the mission of a CA; open governance; and systems and security.

Can CAcert deliver on its goal of free certs? The audit is into its 3rd year as of this writing; and remains incomplete. Some parts are going well, and other parts are not; by the end of the year 2008, we should be able to check all of the important areas, or rethink the process completely. Hence, finally, the talk will close with progress and status, and recommendations for the future.

Improving performance on twitter.com (2012) | Twitter Blogs

Improving performance on twitter.com | Twitter Blogs.

Follows from Brehm’s article on isomorphic JavaScript, in which he discussed how modern JavaScript WebApps work. Twitter’s architectural change (taken back in 2012) was a relevant example because Twitter radically altered the fundamental logic of its operations and removing obstacles to “First Tweet.” It’s a fascinating account not only of the smart use of user data but also of architecture in the service of company goals. One would think that’d be standard but …. many companies don’t seem to know their goals, especially on the Web, and thus cannot really fix matters.

I actually don’t know what Twitter does now to render pages fast on desktops as well as on mobiles.

Spike Brehm (Airbnb) on Isomorphic JavaScript

There’s a reason this seemingly abstruse talk has proliferated across the Web. It’s a superb explication of a complex subject whose actual importance to us as consumers *and* producers was never quite so evident before.

The future of web apps is — ready? — isomorphic JavaScript | VentureBeat | Dev | by Spike Brehm.

FOSS Patents: Refresher Q&A on Oracle v. Google after appellate ruling: this copyright case is NOT about $1 billion

FOSS Patents: Refresher Q&A on Oracle v. Google after appellate ruling: this copyright case is NOT about $1 billion.

I was curious about Florian’s interpretation of the important ruling and also had my own questions about the likely effects the ruling in favor of Oracle would have on, for instance, Android. This Q&A is doubly useful.

(A larger question pertains to the legitimacy of copyright as applied to computer programs. Arguably, as with any thing or practice deemed property, there is always danger to guard against. “Danger” here being, for instance, a tendency to monopoly, enabled by the identity of property to code. Putting a time limit on ownership would presumably-ha!– halt monopoly’s emergence.)

What are the advantages of Outbrain over Taboola?

15 Outbrain: What are the advantages of Outbrain over Taboola? – Quora.

I’ve been tracking native advertising for some time and also looking at its historical antecedents prior to the 20th century. At some point, it became desirable to clarify what was advertising, what supposedly impartial reportage, what editorial. Few actually observed these distinctions, at least judging from a lot of scandalous evidence.

But the clumsiness of contemporary native advertising makes me wonder about better tactics in engaging readers in ways that go beyond titillating or otherwise exciting their interest. I don’t mean to suggest gamification, though that is an option and one that has considerable potential. Rather, I mean to suggest techniques that relate the product to a user’s (or consumer’s) plausible ability to add a kind of value to it. Amazon’s book reviews is probably not a bad instance of this: the books are there for the reading but the reviews make the books something more than commodities that are then passively consumed. There is an element of action and engagement, a structure of commitment.

This sort of commitment can be measured and the data used to identify consumer fatigue or distraction and then prompt tactics to counter that. (It’s understood that all of us will get bored at some point.) Something similar can also be used in open source communities, where the issue is not to produce consumers but producers, and to enable collaboration.

I doubt that either Taboola or Outbrain would work well for open source communities, though I don’t dismiss either (or any of their ilk) out of hand. Previously, what I’ve done is write content myself for the projects; or used Google to find relevant material. But I think that content discovery tools can be adapted interestingly here for specialized markets, as can forms of native advertising that promote relevant content and are clearly labeled as promotions. (E.g., new & improved tools for fast developer communications.)

 

How popular is that programming language?

TIOBE Software: Tiobe Index.

I was curious to see what the relative popularity of languages used by the dominant IaaS and PaaS clouds, e.g., CloudStack and Cloud Foundry. Useful to know.

Open document formats selected to meet user needs

Open document formats selected to meet user needs – Press releases – GOV.UK.

This is the official PR sent out by the UK Gov’t. The OpenDocument Format is maintained by OASIS, an independent consortium “advancing open standards for the information society” (http://goo.gl/eIa5tk). An open standard can be implemented by any application and is thus not vendor specific. Open standards are preferred by many public sector organisations, as well as those in the private sector, as they can maintain purchasing patterns and not have to deal with what they see as the bewildering uncertainties of open source. (I don’t see open source that way; they do.)

I used to be on this and other ODF TCs at Oasis. I may rejoin. Certainly, with this (belated) announcement by the UK, I hope to see more activity in the TC and among other entities desiring escape from vendor lock.

 

 

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