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Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, August 28, 2001. Tuesday, August 28, 2001

On HTP: "The idea of integrating different languages in a single runtime has no appeal to me. I've already made my choice of scripting language, and I'm never going to switch. And if I eat my words, I'm surely never going to switch to Microsoft."

Adam Vandenberg explains that each language will change as it gets absorbed into .NET. This is not at all a surprise. It's great that Adam, who works at Microsoft and runs Flangy News, is willing to fill in the blanks for us.

Here's why this is important to understand now. Today this question -- "What is Python?" -- has a simple answer. Shortly, that will no longer be true. There will be Python as defined by Guido and friends, and Microsoft's Python. They will be different. Code from one will not work in the runtime of the other. Now before you freak out, there's stuff we can do about this. I have to write a short whitepaper on this now. We're at the point where people must understand in clear terms that they have options. It's going to get muddier soon.

Here's good news. This search turned up nothing menacing on Today. What about a year from now? And of course I'm just using Python as an example. There's Perl too. And guess what, I don't believe Microsoft has given up on Java. And what about running Apache modules? You gotta believe the CLR is going to do that too.

Philip Greenspun, in a offlist email said "I like .NET because it will let me program in Lisp again." To which I asked "Can't we find you a nice way to program in Lisp again without leading the young folk of our industry to their intellectual death?"

More comments on Philip's discussion group

Jim Winstead is implementing the Blogger API, server-side.

Mike Amundsen: "More than a year after the initial pronouncements of language equality, only a small handful of non-Microsoft languages are actually available."

ZDNet: Microsoft patents a threat to open source.

News.Com: Industry Standard Bankrupt.

Jericho is a "Java-based weblogging tool which interfaces with the Blogger and Manila XML-RPC interface."

Internet News: Loudcloud Soars on Qwest Deal. "The announcement sent Loudcloud stock soaring 35 percent in early trading Tuesday, adding 49 cents a share to hit $1.88 by mid-morning."

Bob Dylan: "Don't follow leaders, watch the parking meters."

Jon Udell makes something simple way too complicated. The business model for Web Services is choice. The reason to use a publicly-defined protocol with wide support to connect components is that we can swap in different implementations when we want to. There's not much more to it. You could call it freedom, or choice, or freedom of choice. We provide a Web Services interface to Manila to make the product more attractive. It's an important feature for our users, or will be, because it means they can migrate if they want to. Intelligent users and developers migrate to systems that don't lock them in, not away from them. These are the people we want.

Last night I saw a poorly executed movie with an incredible cast and an even better plot. I watched it twice just to revel in its mediocrity. In movies it's not such a big deal. You waste three hours and even then feel good. In software we waste years, sometimes decades, on poorly executed movies with decent plots.

Speaking of wasted decades, an observation on Windows XP that has gone mostly unnoticed. Microsoft has reached the end of the evolution of the MS-DOS codebase. This is good news because XP is built off the codebase that started with NT and continued through Windows 2000. People will like XP because it doesn't crash. Engineers at Microsoft will probably like it too. Maintaining two codebases certainly was inefficient.

A hand-drawn timeline of Windows evolution. Ignore the scale, it's just for conceptual use.

Another random observation. In the old days, apps drove sales of OSes. Visicalc sold Apple IIs. Lotus sold PCs. Pagemaker sold Macs. The OS was an less important. Nowadays, the thing Linux and Windows have in common is developers are mere Value Adders. Apps don't drive the platform. I'm not sure it has to be this way for Linux, btw. What about the Mac? Read Doc's essay from 1997 for a clue to how it works. On the Mac, even the OS isn't the product -- it's the design, the art that's up front.


Tuesday -- lunch with a programmer. Today I'm having lunch with Jim Allchin from Microsoft.

I had a fried oyster sandwich with cole slaw and french fries and iced coffee. I read an article in the NY Times magazine about jury duty. Both the article and sandwich were quite good, as was the weather, so I sat outside.

Twenty minutes after the meeting was supposed to start I got a call from the PR firm saying that they'd be twenty minutes late. "So they'll be here now," I said. "No, twenty minutes from now." Uhhh. That's when I ordered.

After finishing, 45 minutes after the lunch was supposed to start, I left, with no additionial information about Microsoft's operating system strategy.


Last update: Thursday, August 30, 2001 at 11:01 AM Eastern.

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