The HeliOS Project is now.....

The HeliOS Project is now.....
Same mission, same folks...just a different name

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Microsoft Stockholder? Take Stock in This...

Although I've written "open letters" before, I don't do it often. They are mostly perceived as over-dramatic and written by people with hugely inflated opinions of self-importance.

Guilty as charged, often and without apology.

But now is a good time to write one of those open letters. Do you own Microsoft stock? Then it's you I want to have a little chat with. And yes...I end my sentences with prepositions. It's part of the hugely inflated ego thing. My thanks to Carla Schroeder for planting the seeds of thought. She does so more often than she realizes.

Dear Microsoft Stockholder,

Let's get this out of the way. I owned stock in Microsoft from 1997 until 2002. I owned Microsoft stock long before I became a Linux Advocate and I would have dumped this flatline flotsam had I never heard of Linux. I only mention this to spare you from looking terribly silly when said assumptions are proved wrong.

Let's take a look at this portion of your portfolio...If the visual of the past 5 years of MS stock isn't enough to persuade you to rethink your investment options, then what I have to say just might.

According to Roy Schestowitz of, even these mediocre numbers
had to be artificially bolstered by Microsoft purchasing millions in their own stock during 2006. See chart spike above.

The "Giant" goes on Defense

One of the most amusing things about the recent Microsoft struggle is the fact that No One is forcing them to go into a purely defensive posture. I'll explain who No One is in a moment. Microsoft is reeling from the stunning disaster of Vista. What was touted as the "next great step in computing evolution" has not only failed to is being shunned by business and desktop user alike. Vista has proved to be such a loser, that Microsoft is rolling back XP's demise date and is now allowing companies like Dell to offer it again. If that wasn't bad enough, Microsoft has started offering XP (home edition mind you...neatly emasculated of all the cool features) on the Asus Eee PC. A smart move you say?

Normally if I were an MS stockholder, I would agree. But then again, it's rationale like this which may explain why you still hold MS stock.

Now let me introduce you to No One.

These Market-shifting changes...the rollback to Windows XP, the entry into the small laptop market...these moves have been spawned not by the giant companies that compete with Microsoft such as Sun and Redhat. No, these history-changing decisions were brought about by Linux.

Linux belongs to No One. Linux isn't can't purchase stock in it. You can't defeat it by purchasing it and then disassembling it so it can't compete against you. You can't even take it to court and sue it for infringing on your patents. Steve Ballmer has blustered and bullied to his full potential with threats to do exactly that...

And still he hasn't. Why?

Because he cannot. First off, he doesn't have the proof and is only making such a public display of his ignorance so as to scare the enterprise away from using Linux. Second, doing so would open Microsoft up to divulging their patents and then the world would finally see Microsoft for what they are.

Innovators? Market Leaders?

Please. Microsoft hasn't "innovated" since Windows 95. All they appear to be capable of doing now is purchasing companies with needed technology and incorporating it into their own cobbled together system. If you think not, check out the product that "protects" you from viruses and spyware within Windows. It is technology developed by a company formally known as Giant. MS bought them, disassembled the company, assimilated the technology into Windows and went on their business of doing the same thing to countless other companies along the way.

While we are passing along the subject of anti-virus and spyware, let me ask you this. While MS does offer a somewhat crippled product to protect Windows, they push the customer toward a subscription purchase to get the full monty. Why am I being cornered into purchasing a "fix" for a problem Microsoft created?

The invasion of Windows by every script kiddie and bored hacker in the world is directly attributable to the shoddy code that makes up Windows. Shouldn't the full application be offered as part of Windows? Let me ask you this as well.

Why should I purchase and use a product that requires I purchase and use another product in order for the first product to work the way it is supposed to work?

Six out of ten tech support calls I've taken that deal with low performance computers are resolved by either removing or repairing the anti-virus software. People are amazed at how responsive their computers become after this garbage has been purged from their systems. It often has the same effect on your system that a boat anchor has on a paddle boat.

If you run Windows, you most certainly are expected to knuckle-under to the 90 day trial software from Norton or McAfee and purchase the 1 year subscription. That is unless you are hounded by Microsoft's own One Care to protect you. Do you think that the 90 day period is arbitrary? That time frame was calculated for its maximum psychological affect when marketing became a science. Of course, it has become an industry standard throughout the world...not just in software sales.

They wait until you are comfortable with the software and as 90 days approaches, they "warn" you that unless you purchase the entire year of "protection", your computer will be vulnerable. The pop-ups become more frequent and dire as the 90 day limit approaches. As you can see from the above link, your Windows computer is vulnerable even with said "protection".

Welcome to the world that is Windows. that's being a wise consumer. Purchase a product that makes you purchase another one so it will work....and then THAT product will fail you with just the smallest amount of effort. In fairness though, all likelihood dictates you probably didn't know you had a you do.

Any other corporation would have been drug into Senate and House Judiciary hearings for doing business this way.

So now No One is encroaching upon Microsoft soil, but it's not just the everyday computer user. The United States Army recently fired Microsoft and installed Linux on many mission critical troop computers. Their reasoning was simple.

If your computer crashes, it's an inconvenience. If our computer crashes...people die.

Our US military cannot trust Microsoft to do what they should be doing all along. Producing a safe, reliable computing environment for our military. The US Army did the only thing they could do to protect our combat troops.

They switched this mission-critical software to Linux.

As did the New York Stock Exchange and large chunks of Wall Street.

As are entire cities, state and local governments and even entire national governments. Many will wonder why and the answer is surprisingly simple.

People, whether they own one desktop/laptop or multi-billion dollar corporations want to be free to use their computers as they wish. They don't want to purchase one disk per each computer they own. Microsoft's big push for Digital Rights Management (DRM) and Trusted Computing in itself should be enough to scare any computer user away from MS but people detest and fear change. They would rather deal with the tricks and stunts they have to learn in order to keep Windows working than learn another system.

Here's some good news. Linux has proved to be so much easier than Windows that 11 year old kids are using it after only 10 minutes of exposure.

This dislike for learning new technical things; it is the center of the genius of Bill Gates. Gates isn't brilliant for keeping Windows as the dominant system. He is a genius because he recognizes this weakness in the human condition.

But he neglected to take one strong factor seriously. People have a saturation point when it comes to being abused. When people's finances are being adversely impacted, we will do what we have to do in order to make it stop. As you can see from the links above, from individuals to entire nations, people are beginning to see the light. People are beginning to understand the restrictions and the violations that a Windows computer brings.

Let me get this straight. I tell my computer that I do not want any automated updates and Microsoft comes in and updates it anyway? Oh...I should have read the End Users License Agreement you say? It states that Microsoft can do this? No One is going to allow this to happen when they discover they now have a choice.

No One is switching to Linux.

And that has Microsoft doing things that Monster corporations have never been able to make them do. Simple dedicated individuals and programmers have forced Microsoft into the unenviable position of admitting they are being pushed around by No One ( see ITEM 1A. Risk Factors)...

By a system that doesn't even have an address, a stock symbol or a CEO.

This might be a good time to get your broker on the's only going to get worse.

No One is seeing to it.

Can You Digg It?

All-Righty Then...



Anonymous said...

Nicely written but I would suggest to change the final sentence to "No One, is switching to Linux" with the comma there to give the correct meaning ;)

Anonymous said...

Helios. Do you often make it a habit to b**** slap a grizzly bear? Dude, I'd hate to be in your shoes when this crosses Ballmers desk.

kozmcrae said...

Thanks for the link Ken. It was a very interesting read. My take on their theme was: "We're the only one in this business being held to these standards and it just isn't fair." It's their behavior, not their "success", as some would have it, that's attracting all this unwanted attention.

As bad as ITEM 1A may seem, there were some additional items left out:

1. The cumulative effects of CEO Steve Ballmer's onstage antics, false accusations against major sectors of the industry, and reports of office furniture abuse, are beginning to impact the company image.

2. The return on our efforts with the BSA are in decline as businesses seek to remove all possibilities of noncompliance by moving to Open Source solutions one hundred percent.

3. Our alliance with content providers and the Vista DRM solutions package have not provided us with the expected revenue and may indeed mitigate future revenues.

4. Our position as market leader is not being fully appreciated by some major resellers. This is a serious trend as it is difficult to manage without attracting negative Governmental attention.

Dr. Roy Schestowitz said...

Hi, Ken,

When showing MSFT graphs you must point out that Microsoft has pumped $36,000,000,000 into its own stock since 2006. It's important.

Moreover, Microsoft is left with just $26 billion the bank and lost $30 in market cap since Feb 1st.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100%. Holding their stock is worse than investing in bonds or leaving your cash sit around in a money market account. But I'm sure the Motley Fool is pumping them up like their some sort of super opportunity.

Roy has some great insight to add. That certainly explains why their value hasn't gone lower than the 28 - 30 range.

I'd like to comment on Gates being a genius. I'm not too sure he ever was. I think he is, in fact, an opportunist. When you consider the complete lack of innovation from m$ and every 'prediction' that Bill has made has been either entirely inaccurate, empty of any real meaning, or just intuitively obvious to the most casual observer, he doesn't seem too smart anymore.

One more thing about m$ re Ballmer. I would think that any board that allows this inept, insensitive moron to continue to embarrass the company should probably get dumped like toxic waste. Ballmer is one of the worst CEOs since Jack Welch. At least Welch had a good PR machine to keep his image relatively positive to the uninformed public.

FelixTheCat said...

Fairly unrelated to the post's subject, seeing that chart reminded me of those days I tried getting into trading stocks based on technicals. I immediately started looking for the floor and ceiling to see when I would buy low and sell high. :) I never got the funds together to do something like that, but some of the stocks I followed really took off.

Anyway, back to the subject, this is a great summary of what you've been harping on for the past few years, and this is quite precise. It hints at some predictions that more than a few folks would probably like to see come about. ;)

Anonymous said...

anonymous said:

"Dude, I'd hate to be in your shoes when this crosses Ballmers desk."

What's Darth Ballmer going to do, anonymous, throw a chair at him?

Great job, Helios.

Larry Cafiero

Unknown said...

Great writing as usual Helios. Keep it up.