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How to Hate Microsoft?

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    One of my most-read, and most-memorable weblogs was the "how to hate Microsoft?" one I wrote just before the PDC last year.

    The comments there influenced Channel9. We wanted a better place to come and discuss these kinds of issues. And now we have it. So, let's continue the conversation I started there. What do you hate about Microsoft? What would you like to see it change?

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    This is a great idea! Now everybody will think you're nobody till sombody puts you on channel9...

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    Oh I haven't had a good rant in a long time, so please crave my indulgence Smiley

    Can we talk "Patterns and Practices" or more specifically "Microsoft Application Blocks"?

    A great idea for developers! Reuse! Reduced programming effort! Best of breed guidelines. Nice free PDF books if you don't want to go to a store and buy the real book.

    All launched through a neat website with specialist areas on GotDotNet.


    Except that different blocks have been developed in isolation with no real communication between the developers of the different blocks.

    Want to use the UIP application block? Naive enough to assume it might use the Exception Publishing block or the Logging block or the caching block? Wrong! Can I use the Logging block (with IEF) or the Exception Publishing block together or are they in conflict (apparently so!)

    Or how about 'best of breed' guidelines? When I see a program using Response.Redirect when Server.Transfer will work perfectly fine I really have to wonder about the quality of this "best of breed" reusable block I'm taking on board.

    How about documentation? Well sometimes it's there. Like the Exception Handling guide. Great stuff about making sure if you throw your own custom exceptions you should inherit from ApplicationException. So today in a code review someone points out to me that the framework developers actually say DON'T inherit from ApplicationException (you can read why in the Framework Volume 1 book Addison-Wesley just published). Doh!

    GotDotNet has some specialist areas for the different application blocks but questions and comments often go unanswered or, from my hasty look around one block earlier this week, are responded to with an enthusiastic expression of incredible naivety about real applications. I haven't worked out yet if it's because application block code is written by "ivory tower" architects rather than developers, or is just a lack of understanding about what many of us do in the real world.

    Will these blocks just disappear into the ether, as so many other "embarrassments" have done in the past? Or is there any chance of communication between whichever managers decided this was a good idea, and a more consolidated approach to provide something that we'd all be proud to use? Perhaps even code reviews from those interested in using the blocks?

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    I think you have to give credit to Microsoft for doing all this application blocks stuff in the first place - certainly they could be more coherent with each other, but it's still early days (most are still version 1), and as they mature they can only get more consistent with each other and stable.

    With the bit about Response.Redirect vs Server.Transfer, I guess you're referring to UIP? On the GotDotNet forum for UIP, the developers have explained that a decision was made based on customer feedback that they would prefer the URL not to remain constant in the browser address box. The main thing is, you get the full source, so its possible to change these things to fit your needs, or you can use them just to get architectural ideas.

    (BTW, very curious - why shouldn't ApplicationException be inherited from - I think I remember reading this once, but forgot why)

    I'm struggling to think of things to complain about with Microsoft, as with all this openness in the last couple of years they have addressed most of my major concerns. However, I still get annoyed at the documentaion for .NET - generally its first class, but there are sometimes glaring errors or misinformation, and its still up there on MSDN - e.g. things like the order of certain events in Windows Forms apps, or the exact return value of certain functions in all cases - sometimes the most obvious case is missed out. Also, maybe some links to relevant parts of the .NET Framework Development Guide from the FCL references. And how about incorporating QuickStarts directly into the docs?

    The docs are the most polished yet from Microsoft, I think, but surely you could have a small team chugging away through all that stuff to really squeeze out the last mistakes from it. I encounter mistakes in the docs on an almost daily basis, and I often use the feedback thing to report the mistake, but nothing ever seems to change.

    However, that was scraping the barrel a bit, and I would still say the .NET documentation is way above previous efforts, and most other companies. But it could go just that extra few yards, and be practically faultless.

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    POLAX this channel 9 thing is Microsoft's attempt to improve their product(s)?

    But there's so many more reaons why people hate Microsoft than their products...

    That attitude which treats lying, stealing, bullying as side-effects of doing will channel 9 help change THAT?!? That's something like a drinking won't improve until you admit you've got a problem.

    I read a recent interview with ... what's that guy's name...MS' #2 (currently CEO)...oh yeah Ballmer. Can the guy say one sentence without lying?!?'s really sad...if you ask about the specifics of the article I think it was in computerworld and I can bring it with me next time I post...

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    "What do you hate about Microsoft? What would you like to see it change?"

    I hate guys who care more about producing deals than making a good impact. If you want this site to flourish, don't let your marketing or sales people even know the name of it. No one at Microsoft seems to understand that code is more philosophy than engeering and certainly more than version releases for a marketing model. If Microsoft would have been more philisophical in the beginning it wouldn't have taken Microsoft 25 years to include a firewall like we're seeing with XP SP2 - it would have been done a long time ago like it was at Berkeley. That's the one thing you'll have a hard time competing against - people who don't have time restrictions, who code because they want to express philosophy. The only reason DOS died is because they didn't think far enough ahead with it, they just bastardized VMS and marketed the hell out of it (see: "Breaking the 640k barrier!"). The UNIX command line is still alive and well because of one thing: PHILOSOPHY. So far you guys have made great strides in behaving more like Slashdot. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

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    Microsoft illustrates the perils of being in the software business pretty clearly.  In order to make money in software, you essentially have to have sales people that lie,and then some really brilliant developers to try to make the salespeoples' lies into realities... or as close as you can get.  In Microsoft's case, they have made a ton of money now by getting "pretty close".  The question I have is, will they make the push to go for "exactly right", or will they continue to skirt around the developer's dream stuff in order to keep their sales figures high?  Keep in mind that for the average user, windows crashes a lot because of the stuff they are installing.  I have seen a lot of people bash windows, but is windows really what's crashing, or is it because you're running a ton of other software that just doesn't work right?  That other software might crash less if we knew how Windows was working, and that's the argument behind going to open source.  Also, Microsoft may be bad in theory, but have you tried to use DB2 Everyplace?  How about other large comanies' software support?  Microsoft is the worst except for all the others... each company has its shortcomings.  For Microsoft, theirs are under the watchful eye of 92% of the userbase... that makes for a fair amount of scrutiny.  I would like to see Microsoft spend every dime in the bank on redoing every line of code in their existing software until it is right, or until they run out of money... but I'd bet the shareholders would want to talk to me after that Smiley

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    I'd say this guy hates Microsoft Smiley

    Too funny, you have to check it out.

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    Ok, a subtopic appeared, asking "WHY do people hate microsoft?"
    Personally, I do not hate Microsoft, I'm not a militant Anti-MS-Dude Wink.
    However, in the past, MS killed off competitors in very unfair and brutal ways by abusing its enormous monopoly. This is fact, and this resulted in a terrible image for microsoft. Now, If one reads Gates visions about MS software being everywhere - from clocks to PCs to handhelds, DVD players etc. one rapidly begins to think about the consequences. MS is known for the "embrace&extend" method, which undermines standards and makes it impossible for other developers to gain access to MS formats & APIs - except by the official methods provided by MS itself. This way MS effectively "locks-in" developers, with them being unable to write code totally independent from MS without considerable amount of reverse-engineering. Interoperability has always been harmed by this strategy, and this is something that upsets many people (including me, sometimes). What is so wrong about releasing the Office2003 file format specs - from a technical point of view? I know, someone will say "they do this for locking in people in Office, so that they can't use other office programs", and it seems to be true; however, this is stuff for another debate.
    Note that I do not consider MS as being "inherently evil" or whatever; for instance, I really appreciate their work on .NET, the excellent DirectX 9 API and Visual Studio. I also like this weblog idea, but I do not like their efforts to possess the only options for solutions to IT problems.

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    What I hate about Microsoft is that you got where you are through unethical, and often illegal, behavior. Now you have a number of monopolies (including OS, office apps, and web browser) because of this.

    I also hate the fact that no matter what I do, some day you will probably end up being my competitor. Even if you were to become more ethical today (but there's evidence that you haven't), you can continue to leverage your ill-gotten monopolies to destroy competitors.

    If you want me to not hate you, here's what you have to do:

    • Apologize
    • To prove you mean it, don't fight the EU's charges against you. Just admit that they're right.
    • Stop lying, cheating and stealing
    • Stop leveraging your monopolies. To do this, you need to shut down all of your divisions that exist solely to leverage your monopoly into other markets. They're just losing money anyway. This includes Xbox, MSN, UltimateTV and your various "media" efforts (ie: Windows media, music store, etc.). Alternatively, you could spawn these off as separate companies, not funded from Microsoft's coffers. The end result would be the same.
    • Split OS, Office and IE into separate companies, with separate boards of directors.
    Even that wouldn't completely make up for the wrongs you've committed, but it'd be a very good start. You'd still have an OS monoploy. Being an engineer, it annoys me that one of the most technically inferior solutions came out on top. Perhaps Longhorn will be an improvement. In combination with the above, you'd probably be able to break-even.

    You need to realize is that your customers aren't just the people who use your products. The people who develop for your products are also your customers (yes, even if they manage to do it without buying any products from you). You are competing with your own customers by always leveraging yourself into your customer's markets. Even if I didn't care about your past unethical behavior, I don't want to feed the 800 pound gorilla if I know he's going to come after me eventually.

    The key point here is that even if Longhorn is amazingly advanced, a lot of people will still hate you, because your success stems from your unethical behavior. There isn't a technological solution to eliminating this hate. If you really don't want to be hated, then you need to clean up your act.

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    Edited to point out this is response to Pete's comments above about application blocks.

    Well I'm not sure about "credit" - more like competitive necessity given the inroads the open source (and particularly J2EE) have made into the corporate community. Of course I may be biased having recently left a large corporation that decided to reverse its "two pronged" approach of J2EE and Microsoft and decided to concentrate on one - guess which one lost out!  Microsoft HAD to put effort into this area (just like they had to throw away "object-oriented" VB and invent .NET, years after the competition), it's just a shame more effort and quality wasn't put in earlier and after the initial push (some "big league" accounts threatening to move on?) things have gone rather quiet.

    I have to disagree with you about this Only being version one of the application blocks. It's more than two years since the first blocks appeared. Kind of shows the real priority of doing a good job I guess.

    Yes, in my Response.Redirect comment I was talking UIP. I missed the explanation (which is "negotiable"). Unfortunately I didn't miss the explanation (or lack of responses) to questions like "Have you guys looked at Whidbey and where does this fit in? Does this have any future?" or "Have you looked at the caching application block?" (answer "No"). I guess I was just disappointed at how poor the samples were - you couldn't even use the back or forward buttons with the browser version when I looked at the code.

    I think what really upsets me most about Microsoft is the frustration of feeling they are their own worst enemies. I don't think I've known a company where I've found so many good, likeable people who are genuinely passionate about what they do. If I had to join a company I guess Microsoft would be that company. But nobody seems to be controlling the passion. It's a bit like the over-enthusiastic kid who rushes into things without taking 10 seconds to think things through first (over-use of the word "cool" all over this site is another indication to this old fart of the obsession with being "hip" and "now" rather than necessarily taking a bit more time to build quality into something). Microsoft support of CSS and general standards compliance in Internet Explorer has been appalling and too much of the "developer" material turns out to be marketing wishlist rather than reality (got badly burnt on using early MDAC releases, ADC later RDC, cryptography - all stuff that the MSDN articles were implying worked today). If anything I see more and more focus on "simple canned demo's" rather than "real world" issues and problems, even at "developer only - no Powerpoint demo this, we're going to show you code" presentations.

    The application blocks seem to have more than their fair share of that "early enthusiasm", although I agree some excellent publications have come out of the exercise (and also agree with all your comments on MSDN). So I'm optimistic that things are getting better in some areas of the company, albeit relieved I'm not having to suffer the pain a colleague currently trying to install BizTalk Server 2004 is Wink

    As for ApplicationExceptions - something to do with a mistaken design based around the idea that differentiation between SystemException and ApplicationException would be important and detectable at the "top level" of a program vs the realisation that they stop the object model being as shallow as is ideal while not adding any extra value. Sorry I can't quote you precise chapter and verse - I don't have the book to hand.

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    1. Microsoft guiding baystar to failing SCO Unix to keep the trouble stirring on the Linux front
    2. Microsoft stealing technology like they did with Apple, Stac Electronics, Sun Microsystems - Then using monopolistic wealth to outlive a case in court so they opposing company either folds, cries uncle and settles, or suffers great loss, thus killing competition.
    3. Microsoft trademarking the name "windows" which is a generic term. Yes, I know there are a "few" companies with trademarked generic names. I am speaking of Microsoft now. Others can speak of those companies elsewhere
    4. Microsoft being a burden of society in regards to pushing their technology on the market place with great resistence from the marketplace, but then the market place caves becuase there are things more important to do in life than fight a whining idiot.
    5. Steve Ballmer
    6. Microsoft spending $6.5 billion a year in R&D and THIS is all we have to show for their efforts when people out there are writing better software for free.
    7. Microsoft acting (key word is acting) as if they should be the only providers of computer technology
    8. Being forced to buy a copy of Microsoft Windows with the purchase of a low cost (under $1000 retail) DELL, HP, or Gateway computer.  I could buy a 3rd party PC without Windows, but maybe I want a DELL with something else besides Windows. It can't be done unless I buy an expensive (over $2000) system.

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    Microsofts biggest problem isn't the way it kills off competetors, it's the way it kills off partners and supporters. Specifically I'm talking about MSBuild vs. nAnt. There are several other products where Microsoft could release a free product and kill their best friends business, RSS aggregators for Outlook could be one piece of roadkill under the Microsoft tires.

    Microsofts goal seems to be to become the "Kleenex" of the software industry and they have succeeded to a large extent, Apple is eating into their lead a little. But until a few years ago they didn't want to take on the responsibility, e.g. security issues, of being the software leader. They seem to be getting better, only time will tell.

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    Guys let me explain afew things about life.

    There is no such thing as a FREE lunch!


    If you were a plumber, you would ask customers for time and materials, same if your were a baker or candle-stick maker. Are you getting the point yet? We make software and therefore will expect to get paid for it just like any other business.


    Microsoft is a company … in business. They make money just like every other business. It's not personal, it's business. Lets not make them apologise for that.


    Software isn’t like Guns or Oil. GreenPeace doesn't get upset to much about software.


    Any lets be honest … if Microsoft produced rubbish? Would you buy it? Mmm perhaps once? Twice? But over and over again means that they must be doing something right. To me, this very website is showing a different attitude from MS, it's up to us to recognise this and work with it.


    If we are unhappily it's time to be more constructive. If you can not be constructive I would suggest that this isn’t the place for you. You always, always have a choice!


    Blimey, if Sun can burry the hatchet … I'm sure you can too!

    So stop over intellectualising and lets get on with the job inhand ... making good software.

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    I'd say that guy is lame since he doesn't allow people to post comments on his site. So much for his "open" mindset, eh?


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    I used to truly hate M$. From the early days using AmigaOS and then on to Linux. Big bad Microsoft that builds nothing but crap and then forces ppl to use it. Well, the thing about being a Software Engineer today is that sooner or later you have to build something that is either running on Windows or somehow interfaces with Microsoft products. So one day I decided to give it a fair chance. Instead of just ranting and whining as soon as something malfunctioned I actually tried to find out WHY some things are designed they way they are. And how the economics and usability of "normal" users fits into that picture. Simply put, trying not to be so close
    minded. And some stuff still sucks. I sometimes still have to reinstall a whole machine because there is no way to find out what made it go all fubar. But I have also come to realise what Microsoft products can do for me. And that some people don't even bother looking at the knowledge base before they exclaim that Microsoft Sucks.
    I think Microsoft is a victim of their own usability. Almost anyone can install and start using a Windows machine. And they come to expect that it should never fail. And when it does fail, (maybe because the user deleted half the drive) it's never their own fault. It's always Microsoft's fault. And since everyone else is saying that Microsoft suck - it's a pretty safe opinion to have.
    I don't buy it anymore. Microsoft is a company. They make some good stuff. Some bad stuff. And that's life. So I pick the rasins from the cake and try to be happy.

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    I'll say this. I don't HATE Micrsoft, but it's coming really close. I can talk about my reasons why I've been disapointed in MS's business practices, ethics, monopolies, etc, etc, blah blah, but I think most of the people have done a good job doing that for me. So I'll focus on the meat and heart of what I "think" I believe Channel 9 is supposed to be about which is software development. And I'll start by adding to DaveO's comments. He brings up some very good points which I'd like to expand on. (And don't take anything personal DaveO, it's just a point I'm making)


    DaveO wrote:

    Guys let me explain afew things about life.

    There is no such thing as a FREE lunch!

    If you were a plumber, you would ask customers for time and materials, same if your were a baker or candle-stick maker. Are you getting the point yet? We make software and therefore will expect to get paid for it just like any other business.



    Absolutely nothing wrong with that. I agree 100%. What you might not understand is that as Microsoft being so close to a Monopoly as it is, the price for software is absolutley ludicrise. Liscening, it's insane! For the kinds of prices that MS sells it's products for, I really expect Rolles Royes, not Fords (or Dodges, or Chryslers, etc). I get buggy products that your manuals are supposed to say it works, but it doesn't. Either I have to upgrade my hardware, downgrade my hardware, wait patiently and quietly for a fix, or spend what, $120 an hour to talk to another developer wanna-be for him/her to admit, "yeah it's a bug - we know we got problem we need to fix." Can I take this software back? NO! I opened the box! Try explaining all of this thing to your employer who just shelled out the money based on your advice, based on your limited product availablity, based on Microsoft's thrusted recommendations.

    Those kinds of business practices are only working on the ignorant wealthy. Until you address many of these issues you are only going to incourage pirating for the purpose of education, productivity, and innovation. That's right, I do believe MS is stifiling education, productvity, and innovation. Think about it.



    DaveO wrote:


    Microsoft is a company … in business. They make money just like every other business. It's not personal, it's business. Lets not make them apologise for that.



    True. However false advertising is also a crime. If I buy a product that say's it's supposed to do something, and doesn't it's called defective. If have NO recourse to return a defective product for a full refund, that's called fraud. Fraud is also a crime.


    Hey, if Microsoft wants to make a Microsoft only Operating System that runs only Microsoft products, so be it. That is business. However don't sell a product that says it's capable of running third-party software, when it's showing evidence of corruption towards running that software (ex. Netscape, RealPlayer, Sun's Java lawsuits) and then start pleading the fifth and innocence. Those companies asked for very ligidment reason for the "source code" to make their product work correctly with Microsoft's Operating System. It appears to me that Microsoft was trying to choke out the competition by using false advertising. Microsoft truly thinks that's "ethical?"




    DaveO wrote:

    Any lets be honest … if Microsoft produced rubbish? Would you buy it? Mmm perhaps once? Twice? But over and over again means that they must be doing something right. To me, this very website is showing a different attitude from MS, it's up to us to recognise this and work with it.



    Hmm, now there's a thought? Have I ever bought anything from Microsoft? Yes.


    Win 3.1 : Starting platform. Didn't know much back then


    Visual C++ 3.0, 4.0: Had problems. Was very pissed off. Later found out it was a tiker toy of bugs and MS gave me C++ 5.0 for free and some money back. Cool. Haven't cared to use after a while.


    Win 98SE : 1st Microsoft Operating System that proved to be promissing. Everyhing else afterwards hasn't impressed me in the slightest.

    Office97: 1st Office product that proved to be promising. Great Product, Great Ideas. Office 2000 was just a duplicate, sorta. Coverting our Access97 database to Access2000 was a total and compelete nightmare. Guess what, it never happened. We quit using office2000 and Stuck with 97. Note: these aren't simple databases. These took years and probably needed to be done in VB, but here again we are relying on Microsoft's trust that Access2000 would fix our problems.


    Windows 2000 Pro & Adv Server (Hot Pack): Didn't care for it to much. Gave Win 200 Pro away. Tried running a web server with Adv Server. That lasted a week. I replaced it with Red Hat 7.0 and found out it was twice, no three times as fast, maybe even faster.


    Visio 2002: Great product, great ideas.



    That's it my friend. I haven't been encouraged to purchase any more software from Microsoft. Correction. I haven't been encouraged to USE any more software from Microsoft. Why? Becuase I thought it SUCKED! Eight years of Hardcore, and I mean Hardcore programming with Microsoft products has run me dry. And I am tired of it.

    Games and Visio right now are the only 2 things that are keeping a Windows partition on my Red Hat 9 system. Do you think that will last forever?

    I can't even begin to mention all of the work-arounds I've had to write for Microsoft's Development software becuase they either didn't work, or didn't provide decent controls that were the same as some of Microsoft's current ActiveX controls they were using.

    Example, Visual Basic 6 has 3 ActiveX Scroll Bar controls. THREE! and none of them worked. Either I got GDI errors, DLL erros, or the mouse would stick/Scroll bar would not operate as it should. I've had to re-write (or will eventually) almost all of the essential ActiveX controls that Microsoft provided with there software becuase of errors or features. Could I have just fixed them? Possibly, I had the "Source Code"!

    Sure I use VB 6 at my work, and Windows 2000, and we are going to get Windows 2003 soon. Only becuase I had too. So far, Win 2003 WILL BE the last Microsoft product our company will ever purchase again. We have already talked about and agreed to move our platforms over to a Linux based system. We are going to be running OpenOffice for Windows, Gimp for Windows. Our Firewalls will be Linux based, soon our Webserver will be converted over to use a linux platform and a SQL (PostgreSQL) database backend.


    And you know what? So many many other companies are following suit. Everything from small to large businesses. Heck, when I was following the Red Hat stocks 2 years ago, I learned of many business that were converting over to Linux. The Texas Stock Exchange is the first that comes to mind. Pixar uses a server farm with hundreds of machines just for rendering. Just rendering! Can you imaging purchasing 500 Adv Server Licenses at $1,000 each just to utilize only three processes, clustering, networking, and rendering? That would be $500,000. How about $10,000? That seems for fair.



    DaveO wrote:

    If we are unhappily it's time to be more constructive. If you can not be constructive I would suggest that this isn’t the place for you. You always, always have a choice!



    Well, I tried to give some very serious, very constructive critizism in my very first post ( <>) The topic was Why is Channel 9 Stuped. I would have created my own topic, but apparently that will be coming out in realase canidate 1 patch, or something like that. Instead I was cornered by lenn putting words in my mouth stating that I "thought" Channel 9 was stupid. lenn continued to prove my point that I thought this site was a joke, and the developers at Microsoft would not take our opinions seriously by stating:


    - "Believe me ... I don't take myself or this site seriously. I am just a punk * kid from DC trying who wants to play too."


    a. If he was serious, then why am I where or even bothering.


    b. If he was being sarcastic, then obviously he wasn't taking ANYTHING I had to say very seriously.


    But hey, I can only give my opinions and suggestions. Microsoft can take from it what it's worth. And believe me, as part of the developer community we will make our decision based on your (Microsoft's) reflection of our comments.



    DaveO wrote:

    Blimey, if Sun can burry the hatchet … I'm sure you can too!



    I think you need to do a little more research on the Sun lawsuit. As Sun took Microsoft to court for specifically violating a Sun License agreement that Microsoft signed onto is only business, not personal. Why can't Microsoft "burry the hatchet?"



    DaveO wrote:


    So stop over intellectualising and lets get on with the job inhand ... making good software.




    Yes, you should. And in doing that I would advice you take my posts very seriously, for I AM a serious developer. I influence the client around me, and so far my advice is NOT using Microsoft products. I you are asking Why then you haven't read my post.


    Will I ever use Microsoft products? It may be possible. ANything is possible, but for now you have a long way to go.


    My finally advice to you for now, Open Source. I would seriously, seriously consider Open Sourcing. And I don't mean little cat food projects. You will need to start earning trust back from your clients, and it starts with the developers.

    PS> Case in point! I tried submitting this and guess what, it lost all of my work! Good thing I saved part of it. But now it looks like most of my fonts, bolds, italics, etc are all messed up now. SOrry if it looks bad, but why should I go back and redue everything again.

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    Open source is all well and good if it pays the rent and to date I haven't made a penny from my open source code, but plenty of people have taken and used my code, I have an email box full of thank you's.

    I read your post and DaveO's and I'm sorry to say mate, you do go on! Get over it! Move on!

    Microsoft aren't perfect, but as you can see from most of the posts this website isn't all about that. It's about coders listening, understanding and making a difference.

    So m8, stop spinning the boring rhetoric, possitively contribute !!! ... or don't post at all please.



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