Microsoft and Google Battle Over Phones?

There's a hot new rumor that Google is prepping a mobile Internet phone. If the rumor isn't just phony-baloney, then I've got some big questions. Can Google actually build great hardware? What kinds of software innovations are possible? And what kind of connectivity can one expect if the Internet is the data source? Does it rely upon wireless broadband from companies such as Cingular and Verizon?

Meanwhile, Microsoft, whose Smartphone software drives a good many phones, is moving into small-business telephony with a new IP-phone system that will be built by third parties. The key to the system is letting the people in the small or remote office manage the phones, rather than calling in IT or telecom pros.

This is a godsend when you want to move that backstabbing worker in the office next to the gas leak.

Oops, I Meant Microsoft
This newsletter is getting easier and easier to write. My kids feed me a lot of the funny stuff, readers write gobs of great letters and now readers are practically writing items for me.

Take Randy, who told me a great story about a keynote speaker at the Microsoft Small Business summit who probably won't be invited back. Julie Clark said, "When you think of tissues, you think of Kleenex. When you think of computers, you think IBM."

Never-Ending Bill for President 'Dilbert' Saga
As my faithful readers know, Redmond magazine was the first publication to seriously suggest that Bill Gates run for president. As you might also know, overexposed cartoonist Scott Adams had the same brilliant idea six weeks after you all heard about it -- and proceeded to take full credit.

One "Dilbert"-loving columnist, NetworkWorld's Paul McNamara, took the bait, and guessed that "Cartoonist Scott Adams started this flapdoodle with a Nov. 19 post on The Dilbert Blog that suggested there isn't anything wrong with this country that President Bill Gates couldn't cure in less time than it takes to get a new operating system out the door. Hey, everyone enjoys a good chuckle...and don't you just love that Dogbert?" Uh, no, and as for Dogbert, definitely no!

The otherwise upstanding Mr. McNamara continued his speciousness by again giving Adams full credit, even after the Barney/Adams idea seemed to die on the vine.

I've got to admit to being a little miffed, and whipped off this heated little message to my old pal:


As a columnist, imagine that you wrote a piece suggesting that Bill Gates run for president.

Before publishing, you do a thorough search to make sure the idea is not derivative. You find it's not.

You publish the column to 135,000 subscribers and many more pass along readers.

You also post it on the Web where you have a substantial audience.

There is a quick and passionate reader reaction.

Let's say you did this in October of last year.

Six weeks later, Scott Adams blogs about the same topic, and a different columnist from a different publication gives Adams total

Now, let's say the person who wrote the first column about Gates explained to the second columnist who it was that actually published the idea first, and did so to a broad audience.

You would think the second columnist, let's call him Net Buzz, would give proper credit the next time around.

Instead, this columnist, who purports to stand for honesty, once again gives credit to Scott Adams and then fawns over the fact that Adams sent him a seven-word reply.

If that happened to you, would you be irritated? I thought so.

Paul did apologize for his oversight, but somehow never bothered to correct it.

Doug's Mailbag: Web Conferencing Showdown, What Makes Developers Tick, More
Yesterday, I brought up Cisco's $3 billion purchase of WebEx, a direct competitor of Microsoft's Live Meeting in the Web conferencing sphere. One reader points out that Cisco's been down this route before:

Cisco already owns a Web conference tool. It bought Latitude in 2003 and called it MeetingPlace. It only paid $80M for Latitude!

I can think of two reasons why Cisco needs two Web conferencing tools: One, Latitude has not done well because they cannot market, or two, Cisco wants to keep WebEx from Microsoft, Google or EMC.

So which side do you fall on -- WebEx or Live Meeting? A couple of you picked neither:

You asked, so here goes: is way better than WebEx or Live Meeting.

WebEx: Used it a few times but did not like it much.

Live Meeting: Used it during a trial period and sometimes it did not work very well (it also cost more than Has never failed, works fast and I have other customers that use it, too.

Sametime from Lotus/IBM: Not nearly as good as Works OK for customer support problems, but it's slow and not suitable for demos and meetings."

Actually, we don't use either for our collaboration and conferencing suite. We stumbled across a start up called Medianet Innovations at a trade show that provides online conference in voice, video and chat, as well as desktop sharing and URL sharing, and offers the ability to place a "Call" button on our Web site that can spawn a voice, video or chat call from someone outside our organization. Plus, all the chatting (internal and external) is logged and is secured via 128-bit SSL encryption.

Just thought I'd throw this hat out in the ring -- it's not always the two biggies who get the business.

One reader gives his take on how IBM's developerWorks Web site was able to register 5.7 million developers:

So I asked myself, am I one of those 5.7 million developerWorks users? Of course, I remember signing up years ago for a forum through IBM developerWorks. They didn't acquire these users overnight or even in the past year; these users have been acquired through training programs, Webcasts, local presentations on products like Rational and WebSphere, registration required to access many parts of IBM technical information and the technical community forums. As for the legends of Cobol programmers, I would guess they are only a small fraction of this user base. Just within my large company, there are thousands of IT associates who use IBM regularly for developer information on J2EE, Java developer tools, Linux/zLinux, SOA, Web services, XML and the many WebSphere, Rational and Tivoli products.

So what drives developers back to a Web site? Some are really interested in the forums, but the majority are there looking for information required to continue some effort or are looking to learn more about a specific technology. It may be related to IBM or Microsoft (in which I recommend, but in most cases developers are looking for immediate answers to their questions or for general knowledge.

And another reader shares his disappointment with Microsoft's decision to axe FoxPro:

I am not a database programmer anymore, but in the early '90s, I was. I was in the USAF when Microsoft bought FoxPro. Versions 1 and 2 were good for the time, but Visual FoxPro 3 was when I think the package really matured. For a while, the Air Combat Command of the USAF even designated FoxPro as its primary database. After Microsoft bought the program, they were more interested in stealing from it to enhance Access (now and then a mediocre database at best) than promoting FoxPro. Visual FoxPro was object-oriented a full year before Oracle was and Microsoft had an excellent opportunity. Instead, Microsoft sat on it. I've been a loyal supporter of Microsoft from the start and I am a Microsoft partner now, but what Microsoft did to FoxPro was wrong!

Any thoughts? Send them my way at [email protected], or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.


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