Of Microsoft and Embarcadero

An Interview for a Microsoft Internship

While I was at college, I applied for an internship at Microsoft. What better company to work at in the 90s? When I passed the first round of resume screening, and was invited to the on campus face to face interview, I was thrilled.

The first question was about which product I used most frequently. I responded, ‘Netscape’. This is circa 1996 🙂 I was applying for a Product Manager position, so my interviewer asked me what I would do if I was the Product Manager for Netscape. I responded, ‘I would turn it into a cross-platform operating system, so I could break the Microsoft/Intel desktop monopoly.’ That promptly ended the first part of the interview. I got the sense that the interview would be divided into two parts, and I had a good chance for the second part of the interview – since I had aced the first part in just a few minutes.

The second question, however, proved to be too tough for me. I was asked how I would design a TV remote. I was given a piece of paper to draw the remote on, which I did. As I was explaining the various buttons and what they did, we spent the remainder of the interview – almost all of the 30 total minutes – discussing Teletext. My European readers will already know what this is, and my American readers may be aware that it does not exist their side of the Atlantic. Unfortunately, I was unable to convince my Microsoft interviewer that indeed, on the European continent, Teletext existed as a technology.

Sadly, I was not called in for the third round of interviews on the Microsoft campus 🙂


Microsoft Plays into Apple’s and Google’s Hand with Windows 8

Whoa, what a leap! What does the above have to do with Windows 8 and its much controversial user interface, all of a sudden? Read on…

Apple and Google are smart enough to realize that they cannot directly challenge Microsoft on the Desktop. We’re all familiar with Steve Ballmer’s chant “Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers.” If you’re not, you should promptly familiarize yourself with it. Windows is hugely successful because of the countless applications built for it. And how easy it has traditionally been to build applications for Windows, compared to every other platform. Neither OSX, nor Linux has the number and diversity of applications that Windows has. Companies like Borland have tried to build a “Visual Basic” for Linux in the past, which might have been a game changer for Linux had it ever been realized.

So what did they do? Apple came up with the iPod. Then the iPhone, which is essentially a turbo-charged iPod with cellular capabilities. Then the iPad, which is essentially a turbo-charged iPhone with tablet capabilities.

Google came up with Android. Oh, they also made fun of Microsoft, a company whose slogan was “Information at your fingertips,” but failed miserably at realizing that vision – with their stellar search engine. Also, they followed up the act with the stuff about Google Documents, etc. – getting all your data online.

Now I am NOT a big fan of the cloud. Not only because the cloud and desktop software installations are kind of…shall we say non-synergic 🙂 But also, because I have trust issues that a massive corporation (any massive corporation) can be trusted with all of my data and files. I want them sitting in front of me…physically. But that’s just me.

Leaving my misgivings aside…do you see the pieces of the puzzle coming together now? Apple and Google ARE finally breaking Microsoft’s Desktop monopoly. Indeed, the Desktop is becoming increasingly irrelevant through the invention of multiple devices (if not cross platform operating systems) that are being used by more and more people daily.

Do you get the biggest irony of all? Microsoft are playing directly into Apple’s and Google’s hand by ruining their only pillar of strength: the Desktop. By hiding the Desktop in Windows 8, indeed by ruining the Desktop experience in every way imaginable, they are doing what Apple and Google could have never done on their own: They are running the Desktop into the ground, the one and only strategic advantage that they have had since their founding days of MS-DOS! What they’re doing is like retarding MS-DOS into CP/M when faced by the threat of DR-DOS.

Hello? Are the Microsoft Monkeys totally unchecked these days? The Microsoft Monkeys got Vista out, and then Windows 7 checked that sad development. What is up with Windows 8 though? Windows 8 is Microsoft playing into Apple’s and Google’s hand. There is no other way of looking at it. Who’s going to check Windows 8? At what cost to the Desktop industry? Will there be any recovering from this for all of us ISVs?

Shame on the old guard at Microsoft. I’ve been witnessing their platform devolve with the whole NT 6.x product line. Now I’m not sure it’ll survive long enough to see a recovery with a future NT 7.x product line. I suppose the rise and fall of every single company is inevitable. But seriously…shame on you, old guard of Microsoft. Soon there’ll be far more fun “apps” than “applications” and it won’t matter what you do.


Of Embarcadero

This may be even more tangentially related, but here goes.

Shame on Embarcadero, for shipping RAD Studio XE3 with an installer built using an unlicensed version of InstallAware. Is your company seriously not rich enough to buy a license – or to grant InstallAware non-expiring licenses for your own product per the product sharing treaty that you unilaterally violated?

Both Delphi and Windows are being so mis-managed by their owners, that us ISVs will probably need to start looking for jobs soon.

In case anybody wants to offer me a job, please feel free to email me for my resume 🙂

5 Replies to “Of Microsoft and Embarcadero”

  1. >And how easy it has traditionally been to build applications for Windows, compared to every other
    >platform. Neither OSX, nor Linux has the number and diversity of applications that Windows has.

    Your conclusion doesn’t even remotely follow from your premise. It’s surprising because you recognize that a Microsoft desktop monopoly exists. There are more applications for Windows than for OS X and Linux (and here I assume you mean commercial applications) because Windows has almost 90% of the market. Do you decide to release products based on how easy they are to create for a given platform or on whether or not you feel you can sell enough to recoup your development costs and make a profit? If I were a mobile developer, I wouldn’t spend time writing apps for WebOS no matter how easy they were to make if I was interested in selling my work.

    If anything, it’s arguably easier to create software for OS X given simply that it only runs on a few models of computer, which makes testing much simpler than for the far more diverse PC ecosystem. Linux has all of the source code available and nothing’s a black box, which also aids development.

    >Companies like Borland have tried to build a “Visual Basic” for Linux in the past, which might have been
    >a game changer for Linux had it ever been realized.

    It never had the potential to be a game changer because it wasn’t what people wanted. At that time, it was Windows developers (like myself then) who wanted to also offer our product for Linux. Linux was beginning to capture the server market and it was a competitive disadvantage to tell customers of business software that there was no way to move one’s products to a Linux server. What we wanted was Delphi for Windows that would allow us to change a few options and then cross-compile for Linux. Instead, Borland did what Embarcadero is doing now: they created a whole new framework that wasn’t directly compatible with (or robust as) existing VCL code and would require a rewrite. One would also need to use a different IDE in Linux to develop the code. Windows users didn’t ask for it, and Linux users not only didn’t want it, they didn’t need it.The breadth and depth of development tools for Linux is amazing, even when only considering the free offerings. Meanwhile, Free Pascal Compiler and Lazarus are today what we potential Delphi cross-platform developers wanted then.

    As for Microsoft and Windows 8, I think you’ve also failed to see what’s really going on here. Ballmer has completely accepted Jobs’ claim that we’re in a “post PC” era (if not true yet, it’s certainly moving in that direction, although I like to think of it as more of a post Wintel era). Microsoft had no viable answer for tablets or mobile. What they did was simply take the WinPhone interface and paste it into Windows 8. The idea is to force users (Metro can’t be deactivated) to use Metro and hope that after they get used to it and go to buy a phone or tablet they’ll choose Windows devices because the interface will already be familiar to them. As the VP of Windows Phone said in a conference call: “The most familiar UI for people worldwide will be Metro very soon. And that’s great for the phone business.”

    It’s Ballmer doing the only thing he ever knew how to do at Microsoft: leverage one monopoly in an attempt to create another.

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