Editorial: Movers, Shakers and Microsoft

Can someone please tell me who pulled out all the stops these last few weeks? First there was Baan's CEO, Mary Coleman, abruptly resigning after just seven months at the helm. Then there was Lotus' CEO Jeff Papows calling it quits, followed by news of Telstra's intention to acquire OzEmail in a deal valued at over $300 million. This, of course, was overshadowed by AOL and Time Warner merging to create the world's biggest online media powerhouse worth a cool $US350 billion. But the blue ribbon goes to Mr Gates who -- after a 25-year reign -- hands over the position of top dog to his right-hand man Steve Ballmer.

OK, so there's been no rest for the wicked this year so far. But something tells me folks, it's not going to slow down anytime soon.

Expect this year to witness a large part of the masses -- particularly leading vendors -- execute aggressive plans to re-invent their image, tread in foreign territories and embark on new e-business ventures to master the ultimate goal -- to dominate your mind share.

In Bill's case, it's not so much re-invention. He's returning to his grassroots. Sure, there's industry speculation suggesting his motive was based on a last-ditch effort to avoid the Department of Justice's wrath and prevent Microsoft from a split, but somehow I think Bill wants do to what (he thinks) he does best -- code, develop, produce.

As detailed in our news pages, Computerworld obtained an internal e-mail sent by Gates. He made it extremely clear that as the chairman and chief software architect, he will spend "100%" of his time working on product breakthroughs, while Ballmer looks after the day-to-day running at Microsoft.

But what really grabbed my attention were the regular references both of them made to the Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS) -- Microsoft's latest vision which will include a range of applications and tools geared towards voice recognition and Internet-based services.

Gates wrote: "Like our commitment to the GUI . . . the Next Generation Windows Services platform will consist of creating a revolutionary platform as well as a set of key services for our customers that build on that platform." These, according to Gates, will provide "crucial Internet services to Windows" and will offer storage, directory and identity, billing, publishing, communications and personalisation.

But wait, it gets better. "Microsoft will release a breakthrough version of Windows that will allow the PC and server to seamlessly leverage and expose NGWS services to users."

C'mon, Bill, surely you don't expect us to hold our breath for this one.

If this new "breakthrough" version of Windows shares the same shipping history as Windows 2000, I'm sure we can all rest easy for a while. But then again, if Bill's back doing what he "loves best", maybe we won't have to. We'll keep you posted.

Y2K, a slap in the face?

When you're right no one remembers, when you're wrong no one forgets. Ain't that the truth for IT professionals at the moment? Take my colleague's column on the opposite page, The Y2K 'ransom', for example.

As he sees it, Y2K hysteria has a lot to answer to. For one thing, he considers the Y2K tab a "monumental failure". He also points out that the gazillions spent worldwide has hurt your credibility as an IT professional. He questions whether the enormous capital invested in Y2K safeguarding was money thrown at a problem "under the hysterical conditions that one usually finds when paying ransom to rescue a kidnap victim".

So there was an element of hype propagated by some IT pundits and the media. And companies even made a buck out of it. No one's denying that. But if anyone's going to make the "ransom/kidnap" argument, then maybe they should consider the good 'ol fire alarm analogy -- there's no guarantee it will ever be used but then, there's no price high enough to ensure peace of mind. It's human nature to err on the side of safety. Get used to it, Paul.

As for questioning IT's conduct with the likes of "can we now truly trust IT's budgetary forecasts" and "will IT pull the same stunt again when it comes to GST compliance?" Well, that's just a slap in the face for all the Y2K project managers out there who poured blood, sweat and tears into fixes over the last five years.

What ever happened to the pat on the back? If there's any noise to be made over Y2K's anticlimax, it should be none other than a standing ovation. Full stop.

Computerworld 2000

Welcome to the new look, new feel Computerworld. So, what do you think . . . does it pass? We seem to think so. In fact, we think it looks pretty damn good. For those of you who are borderline impressed, stay tuned! Look and feel aside, however, we know beauty is only skin deep. And that's why we're driving CW's editorial content beyond traditional weekly reporting to cover more in-depth, analytical coverage that justifiably conveys what's happening in your industry and what it means to you in the long run.

As for having your say, you know the drill -- contact me on (02) 9901 0701 or e-mail me at Angela_Prodromou@idg.com.auEnjoy!

Angela Prodromou



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