Microsoft Lashes Out at Competition

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2001-10-22 Print this article Print

Bulk of tongue-lashing reserved for for Sun Microsystems

LOS ANGELES - Microsoft Corp. went on the attack Monday, unleashing a barrage of hard-hitting criticism and rhetoric against its main competitors -- one by one. Charles Fitzgerald, the general manager of Microsofts .Net Platform strategy group, spent most of an hourlong media information session ahead of Tuesdays formal opening of the Professional Developers Conference here trashing Sun Microsystems Inc., Oracle Corp., IBM and AOL Time Warner Inc.
But he reserved the bulk of his tongue-lashing for Sun, which he said "ships mostly rhetoric rather than code.
"Javas success was not achieved because of Sun, but rather in spite of it. They also have virtually no software business and appear to neither understand nor like end-users," Fitzgerald said. Suns SPARC road map was significantly lagging that of its prime competitor Intel, and it also faced significant execution problems and was a low-volume, high-cost solution, he said. Regarding its Unix-based Solaris operating system, this "has a stagnant installed base which are reluctant to upgrade. Sun is also the primary loser to Linux. It would be fair to say that Linuxs success has come at the expense of Sun, which probably explains their schizophrenic approach to that operating system," he said. Fitzgerald also took aim at Suns iPlanet e-commerce software, describing these as "a collection of products with little integration. Sun fumbled the Netscape server franchise and bought their first and second Java application servers. Its commitment to the XML Web services world is also questionable," he said. AOL, for its part, while a significant consumer content broker, was constrained by its walled garden approach – where they tried to keep users within their reach and limited their choice – and a lack of platform heritage, he said. "Their control over content and distribution scares content companies and they also sell to the highest bidder," Fitzgerald said. On the Oracle front, it had a "great" platform customer base, but the company had an "all-or-nothing approach to integration," faced fierce competition on the database front from IBM and Microsoft and was a "non-entity" in the XML Web services sphere, Fitzgerald said. IBM also came under fire, but less so given its strategic relationship with Microsoft on some fronts. Fitzgerald restricted his attack to its Websphere e-business application software, which he said was "only integrated at the brand level" rather than at the product level. "What you get is an accumulation of 30 years of middleware and a plethora of programming models. Its sheer complexity benefits IBM as it drives revenue for its Global Services team. IBM has itself boasted that every dollar spent on Websphere software yields $18 in services," he said. In another briefing that took aim at Sun, Greg Leale, a Microsoft group product manager, said the company had hired Vertigo to take Suns reference J2EE blueprint application – its Java Pet Store – and implement it with .Net technology. "We also asked them to look at how building a Web service on .Net and IBM Websphere 4.0 compared, and then also compared them in terms of performance and scalability," he said. The source code and results of these comparisons can be downloaded at
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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