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MS web screw-up posts last year's Muglia news

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Last year's speech by Bob Muglia to the TechEd conference was funnier than this year's - which may of course be why it was last year's that was posted on the Microsoft web site last week. The goof ran for several days, and wasn't corrected until the weekend (with backdating of the posting date), Of course there was no comment or apology from Microsoft. The January 1998 speech at Palm Springs showed in hindsight how many of Muglia's promises then haven't been fulfilled. There's also the strange business of Muglia's job title. His official CV on Microsoft's web site has him as SVP, Business & Productivity Group, but the hidden HTML in the correct version of his Dallas speech has demoted him to VP of server applications. This may be just sloppiness (he was previously SVP of the Applications and Tools Group), but it may be he will hear an announcement of a demotion shortly. Looking at last year's speech, Muglia was full of NT5 being released "later this year" (meaning later in 1998), but we all knew at the time that that was a joke. Then IE was described as "a very standard base technology". It's the word "standard" that bother us: the time really has come to give the word a legal status (like false claims to be a policeman or solicitor) so that only standards that have been approved by recognised standards organisations can receive the moniker, and not proprietary protocols. But the most amusing non-development has turned out to be COM on multiple platforms. There was Muglia huffing and puffing about how "COM will be available on several other platforms, non-Microsoft platforms, supported directly from Microsoft, sold and supported directly from Microsoft... a Solaris, HPUX, Digital Unix, AIX... application can have its business logic encapsulate din a COM component... and work seamlessly with other business objects running on Windows and Windows NT." Well that was last year's story. As we now know, that will not happen because Microsoft is washing its hands of interoperability (See story). Muglia even twittered on about how the plan built on the relationship that Microsoft had with the Open Group. Most hilarious of all was Muglia's announcement: "For a long time, the COM world and the CORBA world have been totally separated, and corporations have been building solutions on COM, they've been building solutions on CORBA, and there's been no way to really bridge those two gaps. It's been left in the customers' hands. So, today we're announcing, in conjunction with Iona, that Iona... is licensing COM from Microsoft and will begin integrating COM into their CORBA-based solution, so that you can, if you have a CORBA application running on Unix or on the mainframe, that those things can be pulled together and COM and CORBA is bridged. This is a huge step forward because the services, the underlying services that we showed for the transaction capabilities, those will be available to coordinate with CORBA-based applications, and COM is the basis for this, DCOM is the basis for this... this is a key announcement because it marks the beginning of the end of the gap between COM and CORBA ... (Applause)." Well, save the applause, because MS now has no intention of supporting a COM-CORBA bridge. Having seen Muglia's complete volte-face, what can we believe from his speech this year? It was supposedly centred on how Microsoft was going to help knowledge workers, by which was meant the former clerks who now mostly add data to databases with a most worrying level of inaccuracy. It was of course an extension of Gates' digital dashboard speech from the CEO meeting a week earlier, and it was pretty hard for Muglia to flesh out such a thin idea. He confessed that his example "was very recently put together for me" so he was hardly the leader presenting a new idea. Muglia brought up how Exchange, a brutal piece of Microsoft software, will evolve in the next version, codenamed "Platinum", to pave the way for Web Store and supposedly speed applications development. We shall see, and shall report on how key messages will probably disappear again before they reach the dashboard of each employee, as is inevitable with Microsoft's quality control. Nor were we encouraged by Muglia's announcement of "Grizzly", which we were told is to be included in MS Office Developer Edition for building combined Internet and SQL Server applications. A further unlikely announcement was that Microsoft was "leading an initiative to establish common definitions and terminology across separate systems to allow information to be related and exposed through a digital dashboard". Perhaps the OMG should explain to its errant member that already exists - and of course Microsoft is there to get innovative ideas, for re-innovation. All in all, the Muglia II speech showed that Microsoft thinks it has got away with breaking the terms of the consent decree and can glue together more applications in the future to make it increasingly difficult in practice to use non-Microsoft software in conjunction with Windows. Since the trial will not hear any new evidence about this, unless Judge Jackson comes up with effective remedies, the future of the software industry looks rather bleak at the moment. ®

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