There are few in the Windows IT industry who have yet to experience the wisdom and wit of popular author and expert Mark Minasi. Minasi has numerous books and magazine articles to his credit, and he is well known for his columns and appearances in radio and television. Minasi took some time to share his musings about Microsoft with SearchWin2000.com. Among his enjoyable observations? There could be PCs with chrome or fins in our future. You don't get it? Read on.
What's your assessment of how Microsoft is doing overall, pros, cons, etc.?
Mark Minasi: Microsoft's biggest problem is that it's not a high-tech company anymore. It's like the automobile industry. Look at the changes from Windows 3.0 to 3.1. There was a lot of stuff. Also from 3.1 to Windows 95. Big changes. Major changes in Windows 2000. [The difference between] the typical PC you would buy in 1981 versus 1991? Night and day: In 1991 you might have a 386 or a 486, maybe 16 mgs of RAM, maybe a network card. But how much has it changed in the last 14 years? Not much.
In the automobile industry, in 1926, headlights were a big deal. Since the 1950s, things haven't changed so much. Maybe they would add fins or chrome. So I don't know. Maybe look for laptops with fins.
Does this mean you can't make money? Heck no. But [Microsoft] isn't doing it because they're changing the technology.
So if you could be the one setting goals for Microsoft in 2006, what would the goals be?
Minasi: Let's step back and look at the technology. What does the average person need a computer for? E-mail? The Web? How can Windows be reengineered so that the Sony rootkit is impossible? The one feature that Microsoft has [yet] to add is reliability. And reliability gives us the side effect of security.
And how can it be more reliable and safer? We keep our credit cards on computers. Our documents are on computers. I don't know if any software company has earned our trust and that's sad because we've had computers for 60 years now.
Microsoft has to think about a world where PCs are only one way to get to [information]. A lot of people that interact with technology have their whole Internet experience on a cell phone. I have friends who have grown up on IM who can deal with the pain and suffering of the phone pad. Maybe this means the next 100 million Americans who pop up are just going to buy a phone or Palm Pilot? [Microsoft people] are smart people and I'm sure they are thinking about how long we will have computers the way we do now.
Are you excited about Vista or Longhorn Server, based on what you've seen and heard thus far?
Minasi: No. Let's talk first about [Windows Server 2003] R2. That was a press release and a paint job. I am stunned that they would put this out. And Vista, that boils down to Microsoft saying in 2006 that you can take a PC and make it just as nice as a Mac in 2001. I know it's a line that I've used before, but I am right.
Whoever said to Microsoft: 'I've got lots of CPU sitting around. Can you waste it with some glitter?'
You assume that CPUs will get faster, so we can waste CPUs. But Intel said last year that Pentiums are maxing out. They are going to make better use of the cycles they have. You won't see a 20 terabyte drive in your laptop unless there is a technology change. When Microsoft shows you the beta it's slow, and by the time they ship [the software], the new hardware will be there.
But here's the world's premium chip company saying that this is it. We are wed to the Intel platform, but we are also wed to the Intel opcodes. If a new technology, whatever it is, can do Intel opcodes, then groovy. But it's a long time between when something is talked about and when it becomes an actual product.
What is the real value of software services? Is this something for the enterprise or is it really just an option for the individual user?
Minasi: It doesn't make sense to me. Microsoft, like any other software company, has always wanted to make software not something you own but something you rent. But they are basically there. You can't buy new Windows 2000. If you do, you would be crazy with the bugs and security issues. So you buy Windows 2003. They just want to have a subscription service.